Writing my way through the school year!

Archive for the ‘Professional Development’ Category

“Cheat Sheets” Saving My Voice and My Sanity!

One year I was being observed and the class I had was trying to sign into Schoology, again. I was frustrated because a. I was being observed and b. This was not the first time they had signed into Schoology. And to be honest if I wasn’t being observed, I might not have been quite as frustrated. But that’s another story…

So, during the post observation my administrator suggested that I create “cheat sheets.” I  said, “I keep telling them how to do it, they should get it.” And then, I went home and created the “cheat sheet”, and I have been doing it ever since. READ MORE..


Professional(?) Development

I attended a professional development workshop today.  I spent  three hours with  a roomful of 4th and 5th grade teachers who were being taught strategies from people who work with math, not with  students, math.  They are not teachers.  Yes, they go into classrooms and try out their ideas, but they do not teach.  I and my colleagues sat for three hours in a room, listening to  something we  could have been told  in an half-hour.  And let’s not  forget, the forced collaborative activities, just to liven things up!   They lost us in the first half hour. Have you ever been to a workshop in which teachers have no interest? Hushed, some not so hushed, conversations, doodlings scrawled all over agendas, eye rolling, and blank stares are witnessed all over  the room. Rude? Yes, I agree, but having been stuck in countless situations like these, I empathize.

Why not let teachers choose what they would like as professional development?  I would think that we would know what we need.  I am fortunate to be in a school where my principal values our opinion, however, that is not always true of the district. Not only is attendance mandatory, but then, you are forced to use what you are taught, good or bad.

I have to admit, the first half-hour of the workshop was beneficial,  but the entire workshop would have been even more beneficial and effective  if  the teachers in attendance from various  schools were able to  sit together and share ideas.  Who better to learn from, then another teacher who is successful?  Here’s another idea, why not let us work in our classrooms?  Three hours of classroom time in the middle of the school year?  Manna from heaven, seriously! Why are these options not available to us?  My colleagues and I have come to the conclusion that ” they” are afraid we are going to goof off.  So  like children, our time is monitored.

I’m not saying all district professional development workshops are horrible.  There have been some really good ones, where, I not only learned a lot, but I used what I learned in my classroom.  I would just like to see teachers treated professionally more often, and have our opinion count in the developing of our professionalism.

“Teaching the Teacher” Webinars are wonderful!

Teachers are an ever-evolving bunch, , we are constantly learning.   If we don’t learn, we become stale, and it is almost impossible to engage our 21st century students.  But, thanks to the advances in technology, teachers can expand their mind without leaving their homes.  Online courses and  tutorials in every subject imaginable are available on Youtube,   Teachertube , and of course,  Google.  But my favorite resource  are webinars.  I discovered webinars about  a year or two  ago, and have been hooked ever since. What is a webinar?   It’s a web seminar.  All you have to do is register.  You will even get reminder emails, which is great, if you are as forgetful as I am!    I love webinars for a number of reasons. They are free!   Usually, you get a choice of dates and times. I don’t have to leave my house.  I can cook breakfast, lunch, or dinner while listening and watching. It is a fantastic way to build a PLN (Professional Learning Network) because people from all over the world participate.  If it’s live, you can ask questions, make comments, or provide helpful information to your peers.  Links are embedded directly into the text chat,so, no worries about checking out  that exciting new site that was introduced.  You can always go back and obtain any information you missed, because the webinars are recorded.  And most of all, you get tons and tons of information from your presenter and/or the other participants!.  I usually attend technology webinars, because that’s my thing, but there are so many out there,I’m sure there’s one for whatever your passion is. If you’re really brave, you can even host your own webinar! I’ve listed a few sites that host webinars that are beneficial to educators below. Try one! Webinars are wonderful!

LearnCentral(Connect,Share, Inspire) ,

All New Edmodo webinars

Discovery Education

PBS Teachers Live

Classroom 2.0 Live

Thinkfinity Webinars

Solution Tree PLC webinars


A bout twenty years ago, when I was teaching in New York,  I was observed by an “administrator.”  I had about 4 years of teaching under my belt. I was asked how I think I had done, and I replied, “I think it went well.”  He smirked,  “Well, you must think very highly of yourself.”  I won’t go into how I handled that situation, but no violence or profanity were involved. 🙂

Fast forward to 2011.  You would think that after 26 years of teaching, observations would be easy. But no, I still get butterflies in my stomach.  I still feel this need to “perform”. I still feel the need to warn my children to behave because “they” are being observed.(You know they know better) My observation went well, integrating technology wows them every time, but it still made me think.

How can someone possibly know what kind of teacher I am by observing me, once a year, for about an hour? Administrators have so much on their plate, it’s rare that  they enter your classroom, unless you have problems. Many decisions about a teacher are based on these observations, and even if it’s twice a year, it’s still harsh.  I realize that if a teacher is really horrible, there will be  other indicators.  On your observation day there are factors that affect your performance. You might  have a “bad” class, or that day Sammy decided he was going to fight Jason, or the kids just didn’t get it, no matter what you tried.  And we know, there are inept, incompetent, teachers who know how to put on the dog and pony show.  I’ve known teachers who sit at their desk, all day, every day, but the day of their observation, watch out! I have been fortunate to have administrators who use observations for what they are, observations, a chance for compliments and constructive criticism. Unfortunately, many teachers are not that lucky.   I’ve come a long way since that observation in New York, but I guess I still have a little of that young teacher who heard, “You must think very highly of yourself,” lurking inside.

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