Sunday, June 15, 2014

Times... They Are Changing! Taking Charge of Our Own Professional Development

Change Ahead.... I think this sums it up nicely.  As educators, we need this big warning sign in front of us to prepare us for the road ahead.  Gone are the days of multi-day conferences paid for by the district.  Gone are the days of release time to visit other teachers, schools, or districts to observe best practices.  And gone are the days of districts reimbursing us for classes and workshops!  We are being asked to do more with less time, training and resources.

How do we implement CCSS, PARCC, new Teacher Evaluations/accountability, PBIS, RtI, iPads, Chromebooks, SMARTboards, mobile technology, etc.... without any training?  It is overwhelming, frustrating and downright impossible.  But we can no longer count on our school districts, professional organizations, or administrators to help us keep up and keep current.  We need to start taking control of our own Professional Development!  I know many out there would say "why should I do this on my time and my dime?".  Well, I will respond by saying because we are teachers!  And as teachers we should be models for our students.  If we are striving to make them life-long learners, then isn't it our responsibility to be life-long learners as well?  To be the best we can be for our students, we MUST keep up... we MUST continue to grow and learn!  Here are some reasons why taking control of our own Professional Development will revolutionize how we teach!

Learning should be and can be fun... if we create our own learning!  If we are in charge of our learning, we can decide how our instruction is delivered, we can decide when we learn, we decide where it takes place,we decide who delivers it and we decide what we learn!  How cool is that?  No more scouring our mail for Workshops being offered in our area at a cost our districts are willing to pay on a day that substitutes are available and presented by speakers that won't put you to sleep!  So go out there and make your learning FUN!!

Another GREAT reason to take control of your own PD is the abundance of tools available to us thanks to the wonderful world of technology!  The way we as professionals learn is forever changed with the internet and mobile technology.  Twitter, Blogs, Facebook, Google +, Wikis, On-Line Learning, iTechnology Apps. Google Apps., Skype... the list is exhaustive (and sometimes exhausting!).  These technology tools have revolutionized Professional Development.  Learning is available to us 24/7 at little or no cost right from our own homes.  No more forms in triplicate, no more checking 5 different school calendars, no more sub. plans!  You can log in to any one of these tools at any time of day or night and let the learning begin.

I think my favorite reason for taking control of our own PD is Collaboration.  Technology has made our world a very small place.  And when it comes to learning and growing, that is a great thing!  It is amazing to me that I can log on to Twitter and members of my PLN are not just local, but global.  I am learning from Educators in England, Canada, Australia many other countries.  How incredible is that?  Regardless of what form of Social Media we choose, there are such amazing things we can learn from each other.  I cannot tell you how fabulous it is to connect with a favorite Children's Book author only to find out they would be more than happy to Skype with your class.  Or validating it is to get feedback on your blog posting from an administrator in another state or country or finding out that other teachers across the country are going to start using something in their classrooms that you suggested.  Learning from each other is the most powerful form of Professional Development I can think of.  We are there, in the classrooms, doing it every day.  We need each other!  We need to support, validate, learn and grow together.

So get out there!  Stop waiting for your school districts to give you "in-service training".  Stop waiting to find the perfect conference or workshop to attend.  And PLEASE change your thinking of "not on my time or my dime".  Take charge of your own Professional Development.  Develop a PLN.  Learn, Grow and and model Life-Long Learning to your students and to your colleagues!!  You won't regret it!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Happy Blogger!

Well friends..... in my short few weeks of blogging I've already been nominated for an award!  And it's because I've only been blogging for such a short period of time that I'm eligible for this honor.  So, thank you to my friend and co-worker Greg Armamentos for the prestigious Liebster Award for being a NEW BLOGGER!!

Here are the Liebster Award rules:
A. List 11 Facts about yourself.
B. Answer the 11 questions put forward by whoever nominated you.
C. Ask 11 new questions to 5+ bloggers. They must have less than 200 followers on Bloglovin’ (or their preferred blog site). You cannot re-nominate the blog that nominated you.
D. Go to their blogs and inform them that they have been nominated!

About Me:
1.  Have wanted to be a teacher since I was 8 years old
2.  Was inspired to become a Special Ed. Teacher when I was 16 and a family at my church had a baby born with Down's Syndrome.
3.  Got my love of reading from my Mom who is an AVID reader, and even now when her eyesight is getting bad, is still searching for ways to read her beloved books.
4.  Spent 2 weeks in Africa with a team of teachers working in the schools and conducting teacher workshops in literacy.
5.  I have been playing the flute since 5th grade and still play occasionally in church
6.  I love to learn and would spend my whole life in school if I could
7. Have a secret dream to be a dolphin therapy trainer
8.  Feel really connected to the ocean and would love to live on the east coast some day
9.  Crazy in love with my two nephews Payton and Kyle
10.  Still have and read many of my favorite books from childhood.  Can't give them up!
11.  Love my life....the ups, downs, good and bad!

My 11 questions to answer from my nominator:
  1. How would you describe your teaching (or leadership) style? - Collaborative.  Because I teach Low Incidence, I have 5 program assistants and many therapists to work with on a daily basis.  If I pretend to know everything, my students will not be getting the best of what we can give them.  We all need to be working as a team to help our students learn and grow. 
  2. What is one piece of advice you would give your younger self? - Stop trying to please everyone else.  Trust in yourself and trust in God.
  3. What is your favorite quote, and why is it meaningful to you?- "Be the change you want to see in the world"  Mother Theresa.  It's easy for us to sit back and critique, criticize and judge, but if you really want something to change, go out there and change it!
  4. Describe one "do-over" you'd like to have?- I wish I could go back and learn more about how to manage my personal finances better.
  5. Who is your favorite sports team?- Chicago Bears!!!!
  6. Which author would you most like to meet, and what is one question you would ask him/her?- this may seem odd, but Laura Ingalls Wilder.  I would love to know more about that period of time and what is was like teaching in those days.
  7. Name a book that you could read again and again and discover something new?- The Bible 
  8. What is your guilty pleasure? Why?- Reading romance novels.  They are a quick read and requires absolutely no brain cells :)
  9. Which song do you like to crank up really loud and either sing or dance to it?- Paradise by the Dash Board Light by Meatloaf! :)
  10. What is one career accomplishment you still have?- Finish my Master's Degree
  11. Name one activity/hobby you do today that you have been doing since you were a child (and you can't say reading). What motivates you to continue?- I started playing the flute in 5th grade and played through High School and College.  I still play in church and actually march a couple of parades a year with a "Fossil Band" made up of aging band geeks that just can't give it up!!  I just love to play and march.....also brings makes many great memories of HS and College.
Okay... tag, you're it.... here are my 11 questions for my Liebster Award winners:
1.  What teacher inspired you growing up and why?
2.  Who has been the one person you always turned to for encouragement and strength?
3.  Do you have dreams for after retirement, or is too hard to imagine not teaching?
4.  If you weren't a teacher, what would you be doing?
5.  What is your favorite thing(s) to do in the summer?
6.  What was your favorite book as a child?
7.  Where is the farthest you've ever traveled?
8.  Cold climate or Warm climate and why?
9.  What part of our American history would you like to know more about?
10.  What has been your biggest flop so far as a teacher?
11.  What are you most proud of in your life?

You inspire me @jesslifteach, @bkuhl2you, @rusulalrubail, @jenhoulette, @lauragilchrist, @bethsanderson