Monday, April 17, 2017

Having Heart: A Quick Book Recommendation

I have been reading over this interesting book by Timothy K. Kanold called 
Heart!: Fully Forming Your Professional Life As a Teacher and Leader and I wanted to share a couple of things that stood out to me. 

The first chapter is all about happiness. What role does happiness play in our daily lives, what can we do to see the happiness around us, what happens when happiness is gone, and other ideas that we, as teachers, do not stop and think about as much as we should. Sometimes we are so focused on the happiness of our students, we forget to take a look at how we are feeling. 

As you read through the book, there are questions you are asked to consider and they write your thoughts down in the book. I like this because it is asking the reader to fully engage in the book and become part of the process. Each chapter has these spaces and it is wonderful to dive deep into a book and dive deep into your own psyche. 

Another interesting aspect of the book is the piece on Engagement. It asks people to be fully engaged in the moment, not engaged ahead. It was interesting to think about when I reflected on my engagement. Am I truly engaged in the moment or living in the next moment? Are the students fully engaged or are they preparing for something else? 

The book also touches on the energy aspect of engagement. A fully engaged person will be very tired in my experience. I had an amazing class the other day where kids were designing and students were discussing the novel and I was with them every step of the way and I was exhausted by the end of class. My full engagement leaves me a shell of human emotionally and physically. The reflection pieces in this chapter are perfect at getting to the core of your tiredness. 

There is so much more in the book and I would highly recommend picking it up. I'm very happy my friend shared a copy with me and I hope you will read it as well. You will not regret it. 

Hugs and High Fives!


Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Technology Does Not Magically Make Teaching/Learning Better

There is a myth out there that integrating technology in your classroom makes you a better teacher.

It is important to be clear that there is so much more to technology integration than having students stare at a screen. There are too many people out there that think that teachers want the newest technology because it will automatically make test scores soar and make all students smarter. That is not how it works.

Having access to technology offers opportunity. That is the most important thing that technology brings to a classroom.

It is up to teachers to take the opportunity and see what they can do to transform their classroom. Just having it is the first step, not the only step. The tool is only as useful as the skills of the person using it.

A brand new circular saw could help a craftsman build a house, but a person who has never held one before could loose a digit. While technology integration is less perilous, the concept still applies here. A skilled teacher craftsman is needed to get the most out of the tools they are given to craft the best lessons for the students. Teachers are craftsman and they just want access to the best tools to make their job a little bit easier for everyone involved.

From the student perspective, technology also offers them opportunity. One of the biggest opportunities is great access to information. Digital copies of materials are now readily available for almost everything read in class. Now, just because the story is accessible online, does not mean that they are going to understand it more, but they will have easier access which could allow them to read it more than once or listen to it while they read with text to speech software. It gives students the opportunity to access the information it different ways which can lead to better understanding. Great teachers show students how to get the most out of these opportunities.

Another opportunity for students is demonstrating knowledge. I remember when there were students who had a family video camera and they were able to create the coolest projects with access to this new technology. Students who had the passion for visual storytelling were able to demonstrate understanding using video. There are plenty of new tools released every week that allow students to express their ideas and thoughts on anything they are covering in class. Again, the opportunity to use them is not enough. It is the understanding of how to use these tools effectively that matters most.

What makes a teacher, any teacher, better is using any tool to get the most out of their curriculum and their students. Just having access to the tools is not enough. It is how an educator leverages the tools to create a learning environment where everyone can excel.

- Hugs and High Fives