Recently I attended the EdTech Team Roseville Summit. For the past five years they have been coming out to Placer County providing a two-day workshop that has had some of the best speakers and professional development at the regional level that I've seen. This last weekend was again another home run. Empowering keynotes.... informational sessions... great side conversations.... and list keeps going.
But in this blog post I'm going to talk more about the people who attended, and in particular those who didn’t attend.
While at the Summit, I was in between sessions and a group of us were talking about the event. One of the teachers said “it's always the same teachers I see… why can’t we get others here?” And I totally agree, the educators I see attending from my own district are the ones who tend to always to be the ones who go above and beyond. So I feel that frustration, and to be blunt, I had my hardest time in five years convincing educators my own district to attend. I would say “hey… it two miles away” and “hey… it will cost you nothing” and “hey… its catered by Panera”. Yet still the answer would be “No, thanks”.
Now after a bit of reflection, here is my assessment of why I think we, my district and all the others out there too, are in this situation:
First off, I think it's just there is too much on educator’s plates.
Admins and teachers alike are every year bombarded with more and more “must do’s”. From new adoptions to new testing to more accountability to more paperwork… it all just keeps piling up. To hear more about this, take a moment to listen to this episode of Jennifer Gonzalez’s “Cult of Pedagogy” podcast on the subject off “too much”
So, when we come around asking to take part in stretching yourself and becoming a more connected and innovator educator, many feel simply “I don't have time” or “I can’t add one more thing to my plate”.
But if I could push back just a little from the #toobusy, I’d say…. “Give it a chance!” The ideas and inspiration that one walks away from PD like this ranges from revolutionary (“this is changing the way I teach!” i.e. Peardeck for my slides and direct instruction) to simple (“hmmm.. I could use that idea for one of my lessons” i.e. Google Arts and Culture)
#2) Admin Support
I feel that in order to really light a fire under a teacher, you need a principal. If we can get more administrators to
A) come to events like this and other specific admin targeted PD, then we can get them to see the relevance and
B) have them push it in their staff meetings, newsletters and emails, then we can increase participation
#3) Stuck in Orbit
I feel that #toobusy is the easy answer to “why aren’t you going”. But this is one which I see so very often and not many even realize it. This is what I call “stuck in orbit”. What I mean by this is that we find ourselves in regular patterns of doing things that, overtime, become easier and more comfortable. These orbits define our professional role and we tend to like being there. There are many different orbits… they are specific to each of us. Here are a few examples:
* I’m a 5th grade teacher who is passionate about science
* I’m the athletic director and I teach world history
* I’m 7th grade ELA teacher and I run the after school drama club
The issue is when opportunities like the PD events I mentioned before come up, most say “no thanks” because it's just too hard / not worth it / waste of time. And I understand that it's hard… just like any planetary orbit, if there is something that changes that orbit, chaos can ensue. But hey… it can also create life right?
If you ask me… a little chaos is kind of needed.
So much of the power about Twitter in education is the connections we make with one another. It is these people whom we are connected which we call our Personal Learning Network. Cultivating these the people in this network is not always easy… where does one go to FIND other educators who inspire ? We are all in education, but each of us wears different hats. You may teach Fifth grade or French, be interested in AP Physics or Assisted Technology, but regardless of your role there is most likely a conversation happening on Twitter for you. The challenge is… finding where it is. Therefore I am sharing this list of Education Hashtags.
Although there has been other Twitter lists (and I borrowed from several of them) some are too big and some outdated. So, I decided to just make my of Goldilocks version… one which is “just right”.
Here is my Education Hashtag List you can check out
With that being said, I am always looking for more, so if you see something missing please shoot me a message.
One of the great bonuses with being in education is the wonderful Winter Break that I'm in the middle of right now. For many of us, this is a time to get caught up on our reading or for audiophiles like myself get caught up on some listening as well. During these breaks, I often like to get away from the world of education to bit spend some of my time listening to other types of programs. So I thought I'd wrap up 2017 and share out some of my favorite listens that I've had over the past year that have nothing to do with education. But I guess like all teachers anytime we hear something that moves us or inspires us, it always gives us pause to consider how we can take it back to our classroom or change our overall mindset. With that being said here are my top 5 favorite episodes of non education podcast for this year. I'd love to be able to hear back from others with some of your recommendations of some episodes that really connected with you.
I've provided links to these specific episodes but I would highly encourage you to download and listen to these shows using your podcast player (for me, my go to app is Pocket Casts)
#1) Revisionist History: "A Good Walk Spoiled"
When people who've never tried a podcast ask me for a recommendations to get started I usually turn to this show Revisionist History and in particular this episode as well as my other favorite titled “The Big Man Can't Shoot”. Malcolm Gladwell is first and foremost a fantastic Storyteller and also somebody who spends time and thought diving deep into the conversations he wants to share with us. In this particular episode he was moved by his experiences in Los Angeles and how the city of such size has an alarming lack of public parks in stark contrast to a very large number of golf courses. For someone who is not a golfer and questions the sheer size of golf courses in our society today this podcast really resonated with me no matter where you stand in the debate about golf I think anyone would find this a good listen.
#2) The Way I Heard It: "Francisco's Flakes"
Growing up, I had a wide range of tastes regarding what I listened to. I had a fair amount of Flock of Seagulls and Dexy’s Midnight Runners, but also I listened to a lot of old time radio (classic mystery, suspense and sci fi shows from the 40’s and 50’s) as well as Paul Harvey’s “The Rest of the Story”. Now Paul was a conservative radio pioneer which would not label me a fan of today, but it was his Rest of The Story which I really enjoyed. A few years back NPR did a story about him which you can read here,
but I love how they described this him as “...also a delightful history teacher — with a velvety voice that turned the news into narrative and entertainment each week on his famous segment The Rest of the Story” It was in these segments where he would go into the backstory a famous person waiting only until the very end to give the reveal and offering to us that “know we know the rest of the story”.
It is this type of show in which Mike Rowe brings to the podcast world with his “The Way I Heard It”. In that same vein, Mike, tells an intriguing story, one which you will find yourself guessing who or what it is he is talking about.
I am offering up this episode called “Francisco’s Flakes” but it would spoil the finish to tell you any of what it is about. Mike is such a likeable person with a fantastic voice and you'll find yourself just wanting to dive into more and more of his episodes.
Side note: I actually have a small and funny connection with Mike Rowe. .You can check it out click on the game show section of my website and find scrolling to the video at the bottom of the page.
#3) Reply All: "Long Distance"
This description says it all:
“This week, a telephone scammer makes a terrible mistake. He calls Alex Goldman”
You will also need to hear the second part of this podcast as well.
I can’t give much of this away but you will think differently about the next scam phone call you recieve.
#4) Story and Star Wars: "Rogue One"
Anyone who is either met me or even seen my Twitter profile picture knows I'm a bit of a Star Wars Junkie. Besides just the novelty and the fun Kitsch of the movie I truly love so much about the Star Wars universe and I find myself listening and reading about this world often. This last year I discovered this wonderful podcaster named Alastair Stephens and his is one of the smoothest voices and smartest analysis I’ve heard in the world of podcasting. He dives deep into many of our most well known stories and his analysis of the Star Wars stories may be the best I’ve heard. This one on Rogue One is a must listen for any Star Wars fan.
#5) NPR Fresh Air: "Churchill, Orwell And The Fight Against Totalitarianism"
For my last pick, I will go back to an episode of Fresh Air from NPR from May of 2017. Terry Gross is the host and she is my favorite interviewer. She probes the lives of actors, authors, and politicians and when I listen I feel like I am sitting and just listening into a conversation with two people. In this episode she interviews Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Tom Ricks on his book "Churchill And Orwell: The Fight For Freedom" where says the writings of Churchill and Orwell still resonate today because they stood up against totalitarianism from the far right and left.
Nowadays when we are on a computer we most likely are living in a browser window. The days of installing software on your PC have given way to living in the browser. As to which browser we are using, that is an another interesting story.
But since we live in browser so much today, I've been wondering what others are using for their start up or home page. For many, the idea of a homepage or start up page in itself is a bit of a dated concept but I've been a looking at ideas to change my daily routine. Here are some ideas I've looked at. But let me ask you all... What is your home page?
Seems like one of the most popular "home page" is just simply Google
Symbaloo is a popular tool that allows you to access your bookmarks and online favorites.
Google offered a service called iGoogle which they removed a few years back. It was a start page where you could customize links and widgets. When it was removed I had a few friends who were pretty disappointed. For those of who you like this type of home page, you may want to check out Start.Me.
4) Home - New Tab Page
Similar to Start.Me , this New Tab Page is a Chrome extension that does several things. It give you quick links as well as notifications such as email and weather.
5) Quotes Wallpaper
For those of you wanting a little inspiration or motivation. Try checking the Chrome store for different "new tab" extensions. This one will give you a new quote each time.
So... like I asked above...