Wednesday, September 28, 2011

No Office Day - Should have done this years ago!

I have structured my school week where I am not in my office every Tuesday morning. I explained this to my staff on the first day of the year and I also explained that if I needed to be reached, my cell phone would be on. So far, I have only been needed back in my office once in 4 weeks!
I have never been more energized as I am on Tuesday in my school. I have been able to connect with numerous students and staff and I have also been able to have some rich conversations with students on "their" terms and in "their" spaces in the classrooms.
I have learned about technology use like how to digitally sign-out books from our city library, from 2 students in our Autism classroom - this never would have happened had I not come to them!
I also have watched my Industrial Arts teacher explain how to use the table saw. I also have talked with students in our Photography 30 class and they eloquently have explained to me that this course and the teacher have been instrumental on helping them to decide on a future career. Again, I could have called them down to my office and asked them how everything was going but those conversations are often short and not very comfortable for the students.
I also watched some students yesterday in an Arts Education class and participated with them in a voice projection activity where we were whispering to ourt partners from a variety of distances and really focusing on our listening skills.

I often tell my staff that I am going to try to get into their classrooms more often at the beginning of the school year and too many times other activities and events prevent this from happening - well not this year! This first month of school I have been into 13 classrooms and observed students and teachers and had many conversations about learning! This is awesome and I encourage all administrators to structure your week in such a way as to make this part of your own expected practice.
The only downside I see is that it is 6 more days until Tuesday morning comes again! I actually got outside and watched a girls PE class play touch football! They were awesome!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

PLC or PLN? That is the question!

I am sure we in education are quite aware of PLC (Professional Learning Communities) as they have been in the literature for many years A PLC is something that many of us would say exists in our schools in one form or another.  With experts such as Dufour, Eaker, and Marzano one can find plenty of evidence that a school that functions as a professional learning community is one which will likely be experiencing success on many levels.

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But what about a PLN (Personal Learning Network)?  You don't have to delve very far into Twitter to see educators mentioning their own PLN and the valuable resources, both in terms of ideas but also in terms of similar professionals who are going through similar expereinces all over the world!
The cool thing is that the PLN does not cost anything ( no professional fees, no conference and travel fees, no actual print resource costs, etc.) and yet there is a vast amount of information and support available as one expands their PLN.
In my expereince, I have really only been actively on Twitter since July 2011, and I have been amazed at how many educators and principals I have talked with, shared ideas with and learned from in not only a short period of time, but traditionally, this has been time that I usually "turn-off" my own learning!
The beauty of the link between one's PLN and Twitter is that I can decide who to follow, when to follow, when to post links, etc. and none of this learning is tied to a specific location or time, as a traditional conference or learning event has been in the past.
In fact, could it be that my PLN will truly develop into a PLC, or perhaps be blended with numerous PLC's across the globe?  Yes, I think it could rather easily!  Just think if an entire high school was functioning as a vibrant, connected, and functional PLN - how would this change the game?
I am not suggesting that an educator should abolish their PLC for a PLN but I do think the PLN is a great tool for all learners and can truly ignite your passion and connect you with similar-minded colleagues.

As of today, I currently have numerous colleagues who I am exchanging ideas with and learning from on a daily basis!  I am grateful for what they have shared with me and am hopeful that I am also able to share some good ideas!
As your school year gets started, if you haven't joined twitter and began to develop your own PLN, I want to encoruage you to "jump-in"! 
I have listed a few great resources for you to include as you develop your own PLN below:
How To Build Your Own Personal Learning Network . . .
The Educator's PLN
Using Twitter to Develop Your PLN  This last one is a prezi and has some great videos embedded in it that are helpful!