Friday, April 20, 2018

It is the Little Things that Count

It is the Little Things that Count

Morale - 

A lot of times, it is the little things that count, especially with morale. My campus has been participating in a campaign called "I've Been Mugged". A teacher on campus receives a coffee mug full of goodies as a Thank You gesture from an anonymous source. That teacher enjoys the goodies, refills the mug and passes it on to another teacher. It does not take much to say "Thank You", "Job well-done" or "You are appreciated". Yet, it seems like teachers are usually the last ones to receive compliments although they are usually the first ones to give out a high-five or a "Great Job" to students. We have stickers that were made and we place on our door after we have been "mugged", so that other teachers will know who has received and who has not. I am hoping that several more teachers get "mugged" before the year ends. 

Accomplishments - 

As I scrolled through Twitter, I landed on a Tweet from TeacherCast that sent me to a YouTube link How to Use Padlet to create a Blog in New Google Sites. As luck would have it, I have my auto-play turned on and after I watched the first video, the next in line started playing. I absolutely fell in love with a video from Flipped Classroom Tutorials - How to do more with Google Sites

I do not code, I know some basics of HTML and do not like the time it takes me to think through the HTML process to complete a coding sequence. This video shared several tips that I easily put to use and now have several cool new aspects in my Google Site. Again, it is the little things... this video showed me how to do something and the site to use to execute. As I tested my coding knowledge, I could get immediate feedback. After several attempts, I had my site displaying a moving header and a collapsible page. Now, I know why teachers are encouraged to give immediate feedback. Those little nudges that encourage a student to keep working help raise confidence and when a job or assignment is finally finished, that feeling of accomplishment is extreme.

Here is to the little things that make your day brighter as the last days of school approach. In this stressful period of mandatory testing and/or trying to get that last chapter/project in - we all need a boost in our morale and that feeling of accomplishment.  

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Teachers as Learners

Teachers as Learners: 

By chance, as I was scrolling through Twitter today, I found a new blog post: https://rockntheboat.com/2018/01/27/teachers-as-learners-moving-from-unintentional-to-engaged-to-empowered/ by Laura Steinbrink. This post really hit home for me because of my teachers. 

The last two professional development days at my campus were tricky. Originally, I was scheduled to do a small group PD on video in the classroom in November. My district technology director and I were going to host small sessions over the same content. However, I was out at the TCEA Campus Tech Specialist Academy. My tech director offered to host the training of all my campus teachers entirely on his own. Unfortunately, too many of my teachers had something "more important" than attending a half-day training and called the campus principal to get out of the session. 

Fast forward to January, my tech director and I teamed up to host the video training. Most of my teachers were not engaged. Some saw the usefulness of video and have created several of their own for their classrooms. However, most have not used video and see no benefit to using video in their classroom. Several have even commented on how they had other work to do and wasted a morning in the training. 

This type of attitude is very draining as a campus tech struggling to get teachers to understand that technology is here to stay and can actually help in the classroom. To be honest, most of my teachers complain about students' attitudes towards learning, yet they have the same attitude! I will be taking Steinbrink's visual (see below) and posting in teacher workrooms. Hopefully, this will make an impact on some. I want my teachers to move from Unintentional to Empowered - and not be afraid! 


Thursday, January 18, 2018

Do you have Ed Tech Goals?

Do you have Ed Tech Goals for the new year? I am asking myself - what do I want to accomplish as the new year and new semester begin?

Creating an Online Learning Platform for teachers -
We recently trained teachers on using video in the classroom. I believe that this is a great resource to offer our students and have purchased the premium version of Screencastify for my students and teachers. Now, I have come to realize that if I encourage my teachers to utilize a program, I should probably use the program, also. You know... practice what I preach. :)

I intend to use Screencastify to make "How To" videos for my staff that I will roll out at the end of the school year. I have plans to create video-based training that my staff can access during the summer - when they are relaxed and actually have time to devote to learning. My goal is to offer a multitude of sessions that teachers can pick and choose from that will fit into their classroom plans. I will show how to use the program, provide reasons to use the program and examples of the program being used. After a recent survey of my teachers, regarding training, I have learned that they prefer online training and need to know the "Why" of the training. Hopefully, I live up to their expectations and mine. Once I get rolling with the teacher side of the training, I will develop the student side to let them know what is available.


Becoming more visible - 
As the campus tech, I feel the responsibility to be more visible on campus and online. I need to be out walking around the campus, visiting classrooms and documenting how technology is being used on campus. Then, I could showcase technology being used on my campus through Twitter and my website. This would help me become more visible online. Even though I work with technology, it is not in my nature to share "all of my business" with the world; but, I know that I need to model sharing information so that my teachers will follow. I need to promote my school and the technology being used. 

So, I will be working on these two goals for the second semester. I actually think that making the videos will be easier for me than promoting on social media. Here's to a fabulous new year!

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Campus Technology Specialist...

Campus Technology Specialist - 

The week before Thanksgiving break, I had the opportunity to attend a Campus Technology Specialist Academy hosted by TCEA in Austin. During the 2-day academy, I attended several sessions on professional development activities and badging - some of my "hot topics" of this school year. 

Professional Development - 

How does your district/campus handle technology-based professional development for teachers? In the past, I have offered a Tech Tuesday session. We would meet for about 30 minutes after school on Tuesdays and I would show teachers how to use a technology tool. Attendance slowly dwindled to 1 or 2 participants. Last year I implemented a Tech Tidbits newsletter that I would send out weekly. I used Smore and could track the number of times the document was opened. At the beginning of the school year, I had great response. As the year went, less people were opening and reading the newsletter. This year, I have based my information on my website and send an email notice every once in a while. After attending the Campus Tech Academy, I plan on creating an online professional development platform to provide my teachers technology training. My goal is to have it personalized for my campus and to roll it out in May - that way teachers can work through lessons during the summer. I know they would have less stress during the summer and this would give them time to implement some new technology tools in their lesson plans. 

Badging - 

Now that I have my professional development planned, I need to decide how I will reward my teachers. I attended a session on badging and found several sites that would either send electronic badges or let me create badges that I can print. Personally, I would like to have the badges in electronic format so that I can put below my signature line. However, I feel that I might get more involvement if I print badges for teachers to display - maybe develop some friendly competition between teachers. So, are badges enough of a reward? Do I need to plan on providing a prize, also? I do not have a training budget to buy prizes, so I would definitely have to think outside the box so that I do not spend a ton of money. 

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Participation in school activities...

Monday - Movie Day

Do you participate in school activities? I love when it is Homecoming / Red Ribbon week at my school because I love to dress up!! 

Thursday - Camo Day
Once upon a time, we had several days of dress up opportunities at my school. One week of Homecoming festivities and one week of Red Ribbon week, plus we had the occasional Pink Out day. It was a blast to find the absolute "best" costume. One of my fellow teachers and I usually get together and plan our outfits. We generally have a friendly competition and bounce ideas off of each other. Sometimes we even share the shopping list, lol. 
Tuesday - Galaxy Day
Wednesday - Twin Day
During October, we celebrated both Homecoming and Red Ribbon Week from October 23 - 27. Pinterest really came in handy this year! I searched for a Movie themed costume with short hair - I think I portrayed Ursala really well. On Tuesday, we had Galaxy Day - that one was fun because there really is not a rhyme or reason to being an alien. Wednesday, my teacher friend and I were Ketchup and Mustard for Twin Day. Thursday was the easiest day - Camo Day. I live in East Texas and it is hunting season... nearly every store has something with camo on it. And finally - Friday was Color Wars. Seniors were to wear Neon Yellow, Juniors were to wear Neon Orange, Sophomores were to wear Neon Green and Freshmen were to wear Neon Pink. Since I am a Campus Technology Specialist and I teach all grades I decided to wear all colors. Fortunately, this has been one of the dress up days the past several years and I have the colors down. I have not taught a "specific" grade since I moved to the High School in 2009. 

I have really enjoyed seeing the smiles on the students' faces when they see me coming down the hall or into classrooms. I even had students that started stopping by my office just to see what I was wearing that day. I truly believe one of the ways to show students that we care is to participate in activities on campus. I do not dance well, so I don't get in on the pep rally fun and I do not play volleyball, so I don't participate in the student versus teacher game. But, I can dress up! I also try to attend games and performances. This year I have fallen down on attending  Volleyball and Football games. However, there is still Basketball and Concerts! 

The next time your school has an event, make the effort to support your students, in any way you can. It will definitely make a difference to them, whether they admit it or not. 

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Chromebooks...

This year, my district rolled out Chromebooks in grades 9-11. So far, we have about 650 of the 740 Chromebooks assigned. Students could choose to receive one of the school-issued Chromebooks or bring their own device. 

This is my first experience with handling issues with students having their own devices to carry home. I did not realize the extent that my Tech Assistants and I would be called upon to assist with Chromebook issues. Some are relatively easy to solve, like rejoining our Wi-Fi network. Others are a little more in-depth. We have had several issues of the Chromebooks not powering up, which have been warranty repairs and we have had to contact the company and ship devices for repair. We have also had several devices damaged accidentally. We have had to use our group insurance policy for these repairs. Needless to say, my Tech Assistants and I have learned several new jobs this year. 

In addition, I have learned that I need to be more organized... I created a "Control Form" for the Chromebooks... keeping track of which students have issues, if we give the student a loaner, and if the device is sent out for insurance or warranty repair. I can definitely vouch for the phrase "learn from experience" because I am learning every day what we should have done. :) For example, I learned the hard way that if you deprovision a device when you send it out for repairs that you should re-enroll it and add the correct Wi-Fi access information before giving the device back to the student. Yep, my first three devices repaired and returned to students came back to me during the same class period. There was no WiFi...OOPS!!

Putting more technology in the hands of my students has definitely been a learning experience! I am sure that by this time next year, I will be an "old pro" at handling Chromebooks. 


Tuesday, October 3, 2017

2017 Brings Tech Changes...

Change 1: This year I am training students as Tech Lounge Assistants. I have ten students that have been placed in classes throughout the day that I can now send out on jobs or leave the office with a person answering the phone and assisting drop-ins. 

Change 2: We have rolled out 740 Chromebooks to our 9-11 grades on campus. We have experienced warranty issues and insurance issues. So far, everything is going okay; however, this is a new aspect that I am learning about along with my assistants. 

Change 3: New look, new logo. My campus librarian and I co-wrote a grant with our local Education Foundation. We used the phrase Lion's Learning Lounges as our title of the grant. We were lucky enough to be funded and have since implemented the Tech Lounge and Library Lounge logos, as seen above.