#edublogsclub – Leadership

What a topic.  Leadership.  This is such an important topic and something I’ve thought a lot about as I had to endure a poor leader or flourish with an inspiring leader.

Here’s my two cents.  I think a lot of the qualities of an effective leader are those that also make an effective teacher.  The best school leaders I have worked with were ones that got us to work for them because we liked them and because they cared about us.  I believe that a good leader doesn’t just stand at the front and decree “I am your leader” (like my blog post image), but is someone who rallies people around them by cultivating relationships.  A leader implies followers.   A leader can be backed by an army or relationships, but the leader who has cultivated relationships will outlast the leader who leads by will and force.  An effective leader is sharp, willing to take blame, more than willing to share accomplishments, follows through with what s/he says and most of all cares about the people s/he is leading.  A leader is careful of his/her words because relationships are a key factor in effective leadership. Undermining relationships with gossip or lack of fait is a quick way to diminish one’s capacity to lead.    A leader brings people together and facilitates a group or team achieving a a common goal.

With students, I think teaching leadership is ongoing.  Demonstrating to students that being kind and generous is more effective than demeaning and rude.  Establishing norms for communication; face to face and digitally.  Encouraging students to take chances and take responsibility and praising them when they do.  These are all necessary for growing leadership in students.

Week in Review

This week, more than some others had me working on all of my different projects.

Monday– I found out I had been accepted as a Google Certified Trainer.  I am beyond thrilled to be part of this group and so enthusiastic to see what opportunities this will bring.  That said, I’m nearly overwhelmed by everything there is to learn.  It felt a little bit like the starting gun going off in a race and I haven’t figured out what my stride is or had a moment to catch my breath.

Tuesday– Nothing worth reporting- except still trying to figure out if I will be using a textbook for the Spring semester at the college.  Given that this starts in two weeks, a decision is imminent.  At this point I feel like I just need to flip a coin.

Wednesday– Training for my work helping new teachers and helping two of our younger teacher facilitate a staff workshop on student centered learning.  They did great!

Thursday– PBIS Team work day.  This is an amazing group of leaders at our school who care very much about creating a safe and flourishing environment for our students.  And as a bonus, they are all freaking funny, so we get to laugh a lot.

Friday-Kara and Megan from Creative Language Class came to our district and gave a workshop on Performance Based Assessments.  No matter what other projects I am involved with, I think I am always a French teacher first and at heart.   This was by far the most exciting training day I’d had in a while.  What stuck was me most was Kara’s comment “You don’t sit on a park bench and talk about past tense.”  So true!  I’m going to use this as a litmus test on for activities.  I don’t think I have a ton of activities with my students where I ask them to sit on a park bench and talk about past tense, but it is always worth re-evaluating.


Start Planning Your Sub Plans Now

Inspired by a friend who had to be absent the week before finals because her husband had to have emergency surgery, I put together my best sub plans advice.

I am a sub plan master Ninja.  The last semester I taught, in an 18 week period, there were only two weeks I was there all five days.  When I was on a five day streak the principal told me the students were probably wondering “when this sub was going to leave.”  My principal’s got jokes.  Additionally, I never had a sub who spoke any French, so everything had to be independent.

We don’t want to be absent, but it happens.  Your kids get sick.  You get sick.  You go to the hospital because you have a headache and the next thing you know you’re having a spinal tap and are transferred to the regional hospital because they think you have a brain bleed, but it’s really just a headache and you’re out the whole week.  (That only happened once.)  My point is stuff happens, but you can start getting ready now for when you have to be gone.

Four things to do now to prepare for a sub:

  1.  Learn to screencast.  A simple option is the Chrome extension Screencastify. It uploads automatically to your Google Drive and you can share with students easily through Google Classroom and thereby bypass filter and network issues.  Create your slides and talk students through what you want them to do.  Narrate.  Teach.  Tell them to push pause and do something on a piece of paper.  Students can watch at their leisure or as a whole class. Very hard for a student to say they didn’t understand what to do if you’re telling them in a video.  Practice students experiencing your screencasting skills on a day when you are there.  Maybe a day when you’re going to go over an IPA.  Maybe a day when students are in and out registering for classes.  Maybe a day when you want half of them to do one thing and half of them to do another.  Most importantly, have students practice before you are gone.  A bonus is once you’ve learned to screencast, you can screencast your stories and lessons for students who were absent.
  2. Learn to EdPuzzle.  EdPuzzle allows you to take videos and ask questions with them.  Multiple choice, short answer.  You import the video and then make the questions.  You can even choose from videos that already have questions added.  EdPuzzle connects to your Google Classroom and you get a report of the answers students go right or wrong.  Take your screencast from #1 and add questions to it.  Most importantly, have students practice EdPuzzle before you are gone.
  3. Learn to Recap.  I’m sold on Recap.  Recap allows students to record video of themselves responding to a prompt.  You get to choose how long their response can be.  I used it this year when I was at ACTFL- I had students respond to two prompts and I left them feedback sitting in the exhibitor hall.  You can record a video for students to watch, but I found that a bit glitchy still.  If students don’t want to video themselves, tell them to cover up their video camera and it will just record their voice.  Most importantly, have them practice with this before you are gone.
  4. Put everything in Google Classroom.  I would argue that whatever students do should be in Google Classroom, so that you have a record of what they do.  A few years ago I was out a few days, but had planned “work days” for students to work on their Francophone Country reports.  The day before the report was due a mom called me saying her daughter was worried because she didn’t have Internet at home.  When I checked the revision history I could see that while she was present those days there had been zero revisions to her slides.  When I told mom this she said, “She’ll have it done tomorrow.”  Having students do work here can keep them accountable.  Plus, you only need to pop in remotely on a couple of students’ work in order to remind the whole class that you are checking up on them.
  5. Most importantly, avoid giving students a new assignment with new technology when you’re gone.  That’s a terrible, no good, very bad idea and that’s the experience talking.


#Edublogsclub – My office and classroom

I’m very lucky because even though I no longer have classes at the high school, I was still allowed to keep my classroom as my workspace.  This was partly because as the after school coordinator my room is used after school for a variety of activities and during the day as a meeting space for teachers.  Because of this, my room has an impromptu closet for after school robotics materials and ping pong tables, flexible furniture, a conference room table and enough cabinet storage to store all of the after school supplies.  I am extremely lucky.

Additionally, my room is connected to three other classrooms, though only one other teacher.  This is something else I feel extremely grateful for…adult contact.  As teachers we spend most of our day isolated from other adults and it has helped on numerous occasions to be able to walk into the other room just to be able to vent or talk to another adult.

My work area has transformed from my desk, 40 student desks, a desk for my projector, computer, overhead, papers, and photocopies for three different classes to a simple desk and hutch.  Not having three different classes to prepare for has made the job of organizing and keeping tidy so much easier!  Now I have a plain desk that I can actually clean off at the end of every day.  That never happened when I was teaching.

My favorite part of my classroom is my art wall.  At the end of French II I always had students do a huge cultural project.  One of their choices was to reproduce a famous work of art.  Many of the students let me keep their work and I have put them up with my copies of other works.  I bet you can’t even tell the poster reproductions from the student reproductions!  Just looking at the wall is calming and I am always impressed at the artistic ability of these students even years later.  I’ve never been much of a classroom decorator, but these posters serve me well.

art wall

My other workspace at the community college is what I have called the most boring room possible.  There’s nothing on the walls.  The desks are long and difficult to re-arrange.  It’s often smelly and the temperature is either hot or cold.  I’m not there very long and it reminds me how much I appreciate the workspace I have at the high school.  The lack of “interest” on the walls continually reminds me that the environment, while important, doesn’t in itself make the class engaging.  The students and I are the ones responsible for that and I think we do a pretty good job!

#Edublogsclub – My Blog Story

I saw this #edublogsclub a couple of weeks ago and decided to check it out.  I signed up yesterday so that I could challenge myself to write weekly about something even if I thought I had nothing to say.

So here’s the first one!

I’m definitely new to educational blogging.  I blogged for a while for friends and family about the crazy antics of my animals (dogs, ducks, chickens, and turtles) but I haven’t done that in a loooong time.  I’ve always enjoyed writing and I like trying to be witty and entertaining in writing and I’m trying to include some of that in my writing here (where appropriate.)

I keep up with blogs through Feedly and Twitter.  I read every morning while I ride my spinner bike and exercise.  I’m always looking for new blogs to add.  I follow blogs on all different topics- social media marketing, edtech, languages and even math and science.  Since my job as an instructional technology coach is to help all disciplines I like to have an idea what’s going trending in other subjects.

My goals for this #edublogsclub are to motivate me to post every week.  I have lots of ideas, but I know when I start back at the college in February finding the time to blog will be hard.  My hope is that having a prompt will prompt (ha ha) me to post something short and maybe that will help me keep up with my own ideas.


Stop Motion Video via Google Slides

I’m an expert at stop motion video.  By that I mean my classroom is next to the Computer Media and Pathway Academy (CAMP) film rooms and every year I get to participate by proximity as 60+ students film stop motion videos for a couple of weeks.  With that depth of knowledge and expertise, I set out to make a stop motion video intro for my new tech tip series for my school called “Tech Bytes.”

First, I knew I needed to draw.  I thought about using stock images, but I knew it would be just as easy to make my own, plus then I knew I had full rights to use them.  I tried Google Draw, but it didn’t have what I needed so I used Sketchpad.  Then I created my apple and copied it into a Google Slide.  I have zero actual artistic talent and I wanted to use the Slides to approximate the movement.  I pasted in apples in different slides in different positions until I had what I needed.  It took me an hour to figure out how to make a bite on the computer because I have zero artistic talent.  I wanted to ask the art teacher for help, but she was giving a final and that seemed rude, so I figured it out myself.

Once I had all of the slides together I could click through and see that I had the “animation” correct.  Finally, I downloaded each slide as a jpg and then imported them into iMovie.  Once I added the music, I asked the CAMP teacher to look at it and help me fix it because she’s the expert.  She, of course, had some very useful advice.

Overall, this was a moderately simple project and I think students could use the same steps to create an animated stop motion video themselves for projects or story telling.  Even if you didn’t have iMovie, publishing the slide deck and auto-advancing the slides would allow for the movement.  Students could make their own short films!

Here’s the very first Tech Bytes