• ISTE Standards for Coaches

    Practical Communication Skills to Help Your Coaching Get Off The Ground

    Communication is at the crux of our society. And while it is such an important part of our daily life we stop explicitly teaching it as our kids get older. Right now I have a baby and toddler at home and we spend a large part of our time teaching appropriate ways to communicate (or more so, what ways are inappropriate… demanding food, glaring at mom, throwing toys in frustration, etc.). I’m sure all of you caregivers and parents out there are nodding your heads in agreement. During those early years, kids are like little sponges, observing and soaking in how to communicate both verbally and nonverbally. Why is it…

  • ISTE Standards for Coaches

    The Roles and Responsibilities of Successful Coaching-Teacher Relationships

    Coaching is a powerful practice schools can adopt in order to provide support for their staff and encourage continuous professional growth. Like the quote states above, school leaders should aim to create a learning community for teachers that are focused on trust, collaboration, and growth. Too often teachers chat in the halls but carry out their work in the silos of their classrooms. Coaches can help remedy this situation. They play an integral part because they can come alongside teachers and meet them where they are at. Just like we wouldn’t impose a one-size-fits-all curriculum for our students, we should recognize that our teachers have varying needs, skill levels, and…

  • ISTE Standards for Coaches

    Service-Learning IGNITE Talk

    Combatting Apathy With Empathy: A Focus on Technology and Service-Learning Two years ago I sat down with the fourth-grade teachers at our school to co-write a persuasive writing unit for ELA. We wanted to use project-based learning (PBL) to give our students an authentic challenge or task to motivate them and at the same time refining their skills in persuasive writing. We also were interested in trying out service-learning, a form of experiential learning, where students partner with community groups to make a difference. We met weekly to design the curriculum and after several months of work, we emerged with our Community Helpers Unit.  We have taught the unit for several…

  • ISTE Standards for Coaches

    A Roadmap for Choosing New Technology

    A long long time ago in a galaxy far far away…. wait, wrong story.  A long long time ago in a classroom far far away there were students dreaming of one to one devices and teachers advocating for interactive whiteboards and student-adaptive technologies. Now, fast forward to 2020 and we have it all! From kid-friendly robots you can code, to platforms that connect you with classrooms around the world, and digital learning tools on every subject imaginable. The problem now is that teachers are inundated with various forms of educational technology and teachers, principals, and district leaders need to have a clear protocol for choosing which ones to adopt.  Let’s…

  • ISTE Standards for Coaches

    Shaking Up PD

    Redesigning your professional development to be effective, meaningful, and powerful. What is the problem with PD?  Imagine plopping down into a seat at 3:30 pm. You look up at the clock and pray that this professional development session goes by quickly. You pull a snack out of your bag or perhaps you begin to sip your second cup of coffee as your brain shifts to thinking about the stack of papers you have to grade and the lesson you need to finish preparing for tomorrow. Your principal emailed details about today’s training, but it didn’t spark your interest and you’re not sure how it will relate to your teaching.  Ever…

  • ISTE Standards for Coaches

    Culturally Responsive Classrooms: Where to Start

    As people have taken to the streets lately to demand equality, I have watched, reflected, and dialogued with loved ones asking the question, “How am I advocating for equity in my own spheres of influence?” Educators are in such a special and powerful position to impact the next generation. I am eager to examine, reflect, and change how I teach so that I can create a culturally inclusive classroom. I invite you to be part of the process.  What is Culturally Responsive Teaching?  Twenty-five years ago Gloria Ladson-Billings developed the theory of culturally relevant pedagogy. Her theory was built on the cornerstone that schools should be places where meaningful relationships…

  • ISTE Standards for Coaches

    Redesigning Math Courses for Distance Learning

    Nearpod  Nearpod is an ingenious platform that allows teachers to create tech-infused lessons. I believe Nearpod can help teachers deliver quality instruction during distance learning that is also fun and engaging for students. You can find Nearpod online or by downloading the free app. There are synchronous and asynchronous options for teaching. On their website, Nearpod advertises: “Easily synchronize and control live lessons across all student devices. Seamlessly use your favorite web conferencing platform for distance learning settings.” However, there is also the option for asynchronous lessons that can be assigned to students so that they can access them anytime and anywhere. Perhaps you’ve also been trying to figure out…

  • Teaching, Learning and Assessments

    The Power of a Podcast

    Ever wonder what it would be like if sharks had legs?  How about if it was possible to teach science through silly songs?  Or where you can hear music from the Jelly of the Month Club and the Boogers?  Then you need to check out podcasts. From exploring little-known moments in history to discussing questions like “Is it okay to fight bullies?”, podcasts will get you thinking, laughing, and questioning. Why podcasts should be a part of every classroom: Podcasts are a great way to give students voice and empower them to creatively share what they’re learning about. They can become a summative performance task for virtually every subject. For…

  • Teaching, Learning and Assessments

    The C’s of Distance Learning

    Exploring Best Practices This worldwide pandemic has pushed millions of teachers and students into the realm of distance learning. While the concept of distance learning is not new, it is for many of us and it offers a new set of challenges that differ from classroom instruction. So today I would like to explore the question together: What are best practices of distance learning? My principal has asked me to lead a professional development session on this very topic. And my first thought was “Me? I don’t feel equipped.” I wouldn’t want to stand and lecture as the “expert”- I am by no means the expert on distance learning. So…

  • Teaching, Learning and Assessments

    Should I Join the Maker Movement?

    And the Learning Sciences Behind Them What is a MakerSpace? Makerspaces have been a hot fad in the educational world for the past couple of years. What are they all about and are they worth our time and money? What do the learning sciences tell us about makerspaces? Jennifer Gonzalez, the author of the popular blog Cult of Pedagogy, interviewed John Spencer on his expertise in makerspaces. Spencer has co-authored two books, Launch: Using Design Thinking to Boost Creativity and Bring Out the Maker in Every Student, and Empower: What Happens When Students Own their Learning. When asked to explain what a makerspace was Spencer (2018) said: I see a…

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