The White Elephant

image credit: https://goo.gl/eAPDq5

It’s that time of year again, when we all go back to school. Some districts have started; some are about to.  Here in NJ, we typically start after Labor Day.

For the past five years, I have been privileged to kick things off by gathering everyone together and sharing new goals, fun videos, exciting images and apps, and discussing issues that we conquered the previous year. I have recorded each of them; you can watch them by clicking here.

Last year, I inserted a slide of a white elephant.  The prior year had some challenges, something that comes with change. There were rumors running amok, and I had people asking me questions about some issues up to the moment before we started. It wasn’t one white elephant; it was a parade. I wanted to address the parade with everyone in the room, head on. I don’t avoid controversy, and I certainly don’t hide behind any white elephants. It was and will always be my opinion that we address issues openly, so that we can all move forward.

That being said, I addressed them, and I placed a strong emphasis on what had happened the past year, was just that, the past. It was a new year, and what had happened, had happened. No grudges, no drama, no one cares, and onward we go. People get passionate when change takes place, especially when they don’t want it. They will also do anything, say anything, and organize in a way that will prevent the change. That’s okay, too. In fact, it’s hopefully encouraged where you are. We are born with these inalienable rights that should be practiced because we can. It’s the beautiful part of our democracy. Can you tell that I was a civics teacher?

It should be noted that I think protesting and disagreeing are far different from going on a gotcha campaign, a “fishing expedition,”or what I call “loading the shotgun.” (If one loads a shotgun with buckshot and fires, it sprays. Some of it will stick to a target; some won’t). The latter does nobody good. It’s a waste of time, money, and energy that should be focused on you and your students.

This is a new school year. What happened in the past is the past.  Don’t be the white elephant in your room or school this year. Start fresh, start positive, and start with a smile. Holding a grudge, celebrating a coup, or even relishing in bitterness and spite will do no student, colleague, or, most importantly, you any good.

If you’re starting a new school year, have a great one.  If you just retired, congratulations and enjoy your next chapter; you earned it. If you’re a student, parent, or board member, make it a great year. You deserve it!

Onward!

 

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You’re Not Mental

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image credit: https://media3.giphy.com/media/4Ya8UtZz4PEuk/200_s.gif

I hope everyone knows the above quote.  If not, you need to stop reading this and Netflix this movie!

I’ve done it, you’ve done it, and everyone you’ve worked with has done it.  At some point, you’ve taken a day off, but you didn’t use a vacation day, you weren’t sick, and you did things just for yourself with it. Shopped. Went out to eat. Got a massage or had a spa day. Watched a movie. Saw a baseball game. Binge-watched a series. Slept in. You get the idea. The phrase “mental-health day” has circulated in the workplace for years, yet many shy away from saying that’s what they’re taking.

NBC Nightly News recently aired a story about an employee who emailed her boss saying she was taking a mental-health day. Her boss replied, supporting her.

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image credit: http://www.boredpanda.com/woman-email-mental-health-day-ceo-response-madalyn-parker/

So…why is this important, and how does this relate to the field of education?

In our line of work, we need to be at the top of our game every single day. We need to be all-in.  We need to be cognizant that giving any less effort only hurts us. Taking time for ourselves in order to decompress and partake in wellness activities is paramount for us to succeed. We are not confined to a cubicle or in a monotonous job. We are taking care of the future who will eventually be taking care of us.

While the summer is a great time to recharge and relax, we need to be doing this during the school year as well. We need to eat right, exercise, and partake in wellness. We all need mental-health days. Don’t shy away from it; be proud of it.

GO SMALL!

I have shared blog posts from Dave Burgess with you before, but this post is rather important.  Sometimes, changing the littlest thing will bring the biggest result. Read below on how to do it in a school. The original post can be found here: http://daveburgess.com/go-small/ )


Go BIG! Take a leap! Shoot for the moon! Jump in with both feet!

We hear this type of advice all the time, and quite frankly, I’m often somebody who gives it. It can be a motivational and inspirational message for some (hopefully!), and it may be just what they need to hear to make major breakthroughs in their lives and career.

For others, it is perhaps overwhelming.

It’s easy to look at all the amazing and innovative developments in education that have taken place over the last few years and to get a major case of “analysis paralysis.” Where do I start? What do I tackle first? How can I make all of these changes all at once? How can I possibly learn everything I need to know to do this? The year has already started, so how can I change course mid-stream? What if students flounder under all this new freedom and autonomy? Am I qualified to lead my students in this new direction?

The struggle is real! I get it…I really do. We see rockstar teachers on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, and presenting at conferences who have created UNBELIEVABLY empowering classes for their students, and it is easy to feel as if what we are doing is less than adequate. It’s hard to live up to the Pinterest boards and still keep some sort of balance and sanity. How did they get this awesome?

The answer may surprise you, because they often fail to share the most critical part of the journey. The struggle. These classrooms are the product of what is usually a continuous search for new and better, for a mindset of being willing to make small shifts and adjustments in order to test out and experiment with innovative new practices. You are just looking at the end result and feeling overwhelmed but not seeing that each step along the way, when broken down, is very approachable. All of this stuff is doable!

Makeover shows are wildly popular because they show the before and after…PLUS  the journey to transformation. It is in that journey where the real fun and adventure lie. That’s the part that pulls us in. If only a teacher who has traveled this path of the classroom and pedagogical transformation would share the whole story and break it down and just be fully transparent…

It has happened!

Joy Kirr is an unbelievably amazing 7th-grade teacher from Illinois who has been prolifically sharing her ideas and resources for YEARS! Many people who have wanted to jump into the Genius Hour world, for example, have successfully done so using her curated resources. She has truly empowered her students and has designed a learning environment that is not only highly successful…it is flat-out inspirational to behold.

She is that rock-star teacher we were talking about earlier…except that wasn’t always the case. It was a process of making many very small and gradual shifts, all totally doable, over a period of time. We have convinced Joy to swing open the doors of her classroom…the doors of her career…and openly share these shifts and how they have changed her as an educator and, more importantly, changed the class experience for her kids. We have just released her long-awaited book project, Shift This: How to Implement Gradual Changes for MASSIVE Impact In Your Classroom. This is powerful stuff! Classroom set-up and environment, grading practices, homework, class work, student-directed learning, Genius Hour…it ‘s all here. You will be fascinated by her journey and also inspired to take your own.

You can check out Shift This on Amazon (34% off!) here:
https://goo.gl/B59V3Y

Or Barnes & Noble (34% off!) here:
https://goo.gl/gGmV23

When educators who are connected to Joy on social media found out this project was happening, the response was almost universal. “Yes! I want that! She has helped me many times and deserves more recognition for how long she has selflessly served the community.” I hope you will support this new project.  Follow Joy if you aren’t already and tap into the #ShiftThis hashtag on Twitter to continue the discussion.


 

Slut Shaming – Part II

 

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image credit: netflix.com

 

If you haven’t heard the buzz, the Netflix mini-series “13 Reasons Why” has taken over many conversations in the educational community.  Based on the book by Jay Asher,  it focuses on high schoolers (set in today’s educational environment) with the usual cliques (cool kids, preppies, honors kids, jocks, band kids, and…). A student at their school, Hannah, takes her own life, and another student, Clay, returns home from school to find that he has received a package in the mail containing seven double-sided cassette tapes from Hannah, each tape detailing an incident and a person that played into why she killed herself.  They had been sent to several others before arriving at Clay’s door.  There were 13 parts on Netflix, and, after watching each segment, I had a nasty knot in my stomach. Some knots were from my own awkward high-school experiences; others were from the blatant evil that today’s students can be subjected to or can utilize.

I don’t want to give away the entire story, but it starts with an incident that I blogged about last spring–slut shaming.  (On a side note, that post gained a bit of traction when someone became completely paranoid and thought he/she was the only one who received it. This is not sexual harassment; this is educational information.) Hannah has a picture taken of her with a boy on a “date” which is seen by the boy’s friend and taken completely out of context.  His friend grabs the phone and then sends the picture out to an entire class, which eventually makes it around the entire school.

Topics include the aforementioned slut shaming, rape, sexual assault, cover-ups, and societal acceptance–the daily grind of what high-school life is today. High school is an interesting navigation as is.  Throw in today’s technology, and you have a whole new world–a world where previous generations can’t even begin to fathom what is happening in school anymore.  It’s no longer passing notes and settling the score at the flagpole over some stolen milk money.

Teen suicide is the second largest cause of death in the US. For every teen who commits suicide, at least six others are thinking about following that same path. Despite such a terrible statistic, conversations are happening every single day about getting people the help they need. While the series has launched a multitude of proactive stances and resources, it has also caused some copy-cat incidents and some concerns from mental health experts.

Thankfully, 13RW is a fictional story. It is meant to raise awareness of suicide and is not based on any single or real person. However, while Hannah’s story is not real, students often do have similar experiences and thoughts to those of the characters and identify with those they see on TV or in movies. Therefore, it is important to remember that there are healthy ways to cope with the topics covered in this series, and acting on suicidal thoughts is not one of them.

If you have watched the show and feel that you need support or someone to talk to, reach out. Talk with a friend, family member, counselor, or therapist. There is always someone who will listen. Suicide should never be a response to life’s challenges or adversities. The vast majority of people who experience bullying, the death of a friend, or any other crisis addressed in 13RW do not die by suicide. In fact, most do reach out, talk to others, seek help, or find other productive ways of coping. They go on to lead healthy, normal lives.

Suicide is never a heroic or romantic act. Although some might watch 13RW and see Hannah in that light, there is nothing heroic at all. In fact, 13RW can be viewed as a tragedy. It is important to know that, in spite of the portrayal of a serious treatment failure in 13RW, there are many treatment options for all types of distress and mental illness.  Treatment works.

Suicide affects everyone, and we all can do something to help if we see or hear warning signs that someone is at risk.  Talking openly and honestly about emotional distress and suicide is okay.  It will not make others more suicidal or put the idea of suicide into their minds. If you are concerned about someone, ask him/her about it. Knowing how to acknowledge and respond to those who share their thoughts of emotional distress or suicide with you is important. Don’t judge them or their thoughts. Listen. Be caring and kind. Offer to stay with them. Offer to go with them to get help or to contact a crisis line.

In my opinion, how the counselor responded in this series is not appropriate and not typical of most counselors. School counselors are professionals and are a trustworthy source for help. While not everyone will know what to say or have a helpful reaction, there are people who do, so keep trying to find someone who will help you. If someone tells you that he/she is suicidal, take that information seriously and get help.

Leaving messages from beyond the grave is a dramatization produced in Hollywood and is not possible in real life. Memorializing someone who died by suicide is not a recommended practice. Decorating someone’s locker who died by suicide and/or taking selfies in front of such a memorial is not appropriate and does not honor the life of the person who died by suicide. Hannah’s suicide blames other people for her death.

Suicide is never the fault of survivors of suicide loss. There are resources and support groups for suicide-loss survivors. If you are immediately concerned about yourself or a friend, reach out for help by texting 741741 or visiting  http://www.crisistextline.org/. You can also learn about emotional health and how to support a friend by going to https://www.jedfoundation.org/help, and you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 | En Espanol: 1-888-628-9454 | Deaf and Hard of Hearing: 1-800-799-4889 or by visiting Suicidepreventionlifeline.org.

Amazon, iTunes & Fake News

I’m pleased to share with everyone that my first podcast, ThE TuB, was published! We had a great time making it; you can check it out on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, and Libsyn.

I’m also pleased to announce the first of EitnerEDU’s flash-reads called “Closing The Door.”  Flash-reads are a new concept for me–ten pages or less, offered at either 99 cents or free. You can find them on Amazon, the iBook store, and the Barnes & Noble Nook website.

Last but not least, I have come to terms with “fake news” and how easily it can dominate a conversation, movement, or person. What was once libel, slander, and even character assassination is now merely accepted in talk radio, forums, chat rooms, tweets, and even in print.

With the release of the EitnerEDU flash-reads and podcasts, I am vowing that all content will be factual and practical. There will be no words taken out of context or content fabrication. All information will be presented that has applicable meaning that you can use as you grow, learn, and move forward.

@EitnerEDU Launches a New Podcast…from the Hot Tub!

Eitner Education debuts in its’ new podcast called “The Tub”! Each episode will feature a trend in schools, a trending book in education, and something to turnkey into your educational lifestyle. This podcast is for all leaders, teachers, and everyone in between.

My first podcast features Rebecca Coda and Rick Jetter, co-authors of “Escaping the School Leaders Dunk Tank”, which is available on amazon, Barnes & Noble, and classy bookstores everywhere!

I hope you enjoy this; thanks for coming on the journey with me!

About The Authors

Dr.  Rick Jetter  is an Educational Consultant, Speaker & Trainer, and Multi-Genre Author. He was a solid “D+” student in 7th grade and he has a cool dog, named George Jetter. Dr. J. also types faster (with two index fingers) than he talks. Dr. J. is interested in all types of topics–especially the ones that no one wants to truly take on (even though they say they do while their fingers are crossed behind their backs).

For more information about the book, Escaping the School Leader’s Dunk Tank: How to Prevail When Others Want to See You Drown, visit http://www.leadershipdunktank.com

Dr. J. has also successfully worked with other authors on their ideas and creative concepts by offering book concept and writing strategies through his own unique coaching process.

He is the founder of and lead consultant at RJ Consultants.

Rebecca Coda is the founder of the Digital Native Network. http://www.digitalnativenetwork.net She currently serves as a STEM Coach, weekly contributing columnist for School Leader’s Now, and article contributor on LinkedIn. She has over 18 years’ experience in education as a teacher, ELA curriculum and assessment writer, and technology program leader. Rebecca is a National Board Certified Teacher & Arizona K12 Center Master Teacher. She is a Christian and lives each day by faith, hope, and love.

Interested in hopping into the tub? Join me on my podcasting journey!

 

Dual Enrollment? Yep.

The face of education is changing each and every day.  Things that were not even crossing our minds five years ago are now expected. One of those things is dual enrollment.  Never heard of it?  Read below. 

Note: This post is available in original form at http://www.straighterline.com/blog/what-is-dual-enrollment/  and was composed by Beth Dumbauld of straighterline.com. 


What is dual enrollment, and is it something aspiring college students should do? If you are a high school student who wants to get some or all of your college core courses completed by the time you graduate high school, there are several things you’ll need to do to get started.

You’ll want to know exactly what your state requires — minimum GPA, the number of courses or hours you can take, whether or not the college or university you want to attend accepts all or only some of your dual enrollment courses and much, much more.

The requirements can be quite different from state to state. Not all colleges and universities unconditionally accept dual enrollment courses for credit. We have some resources for you to read that will help you figure out what your state requires and how you can start the dual enrollment process.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, dual enrollment is defined as “…students enroll in postsecondary coursework while also enrolled in high school…”or put another way, it is when high school students (usually juniors and seniors) earn college credits while enrolled in separate courses that are not part of their high school curriculum. This is known as concurrent enrollment. You may also see “early college” as a way to describe dual enrollment.

Dual credit” refers to students who earn academic credits at two institutions — their high school and a college or university that participates in dual enrollment programs.

Some typical classes that are offered for dual enrollment courses include:

If you are a home-schooled student and are interested in dual enrollment classes, you’re also eligible to take them, as long as you meet all of your state’s requirements.

Why Should I Consider Dual Enrollment?

There are several reasons why high school students should work with their parents and school to participate in dual enrollment programs. These benefits include:

  • Getting multiple credits either at a reduced cost or free, depending upon state programs
  • Save money on tuition costs, which will reduce total student debt for college grads
  • Allow economically disadvantaged students the opportunity to take college level courses through state programs– an opportunity they might not otherwise have
  • The dual enrollment classes high school students take may transfer to higher education institutions, depending upon the school
  • High school students who complete dual enrollment classes that are accepted for graduation requirements could graduate early and get a head start in beginning their careers
  • Many dual enrollment classes are offered online, so if the college or university you are interested in is not within driving distance, you can still take their classes

According to Jackie Weisman, a Program Associate with Sonjara, Inc., ” I was a dual enrollment student as a high school junior and senior (2000, 2001) at Chesapeake Community College and I truly feel like it gave me a leg up on the ‘college experience’. I remember at the time feeling like I was being given a taste of what college would be like from registering, purchasing books and actually attending and successfully completing the classes.”

However, there can be some drawbacks to participating in dual enrollment programs:

  • Students who are heavily involved in athletics or other extracurricular activities may find they don’t have enough time to do well in dual enrollment courses
  • Not completing, or getting a poor grade in dual enrollment courses are part of the high school transcript; this could negatively impact the student’s ability to get accepted at the college of her choice
  • Depending upon the school, dual enrollment courses may not be accepted for credit; without doing some research into the courses and the schools a student wants to attend, this could end up wasting time taking classes that won’t count
  • High school teachers who teach dual enrollment courses may not be as qualified as professors at the college or university level; your knowledge may not be as in-depth at the end of the course.

It seems like participating in dual enrollment programs carry some risk! However, this article goes over the basics at a high level, and there are resources you can research and find out exactly what the requirements are for your state and school. Before you commit to completing dual enrollment courses, be honest with yourself and look at your school schedule and lifestyle.

Do you have the time, energy and motivation to complete dual enrollment courses? Is tutoring help available in case you get stuck on understanding course concepts?

If you said “Yes” to this, then read on!

Who Is Eligible To Take Dual Enrollment Courses?

According to the Education Commission of the States, most states require potential dual enrollment participants to be in either the 10th or the 11th grade. However, some states waive this requirement if a student is considered to be gifted. Several states require a minimum GPA, including Alabama, Florida and Louisiana. Some of these specify a GPA of 2.0 out of 4.0.

States like Hawaii, California and New Mexico require written approval and recommendation from school officials for dual enrollment participation. Students in Oregon, Ohio and Kentucky must meet post-secondary admission requirements before being allowed to take dual enrollment courses. These requirements may vary from college to college, so you’ll need to work with the appropriate admissions office to get specifics.

Want to try an online class? Take two free lessons on us today!

How Do I Get Started On Attending Dual Enrollment Courses?

The process varies from state-to-state. In general, students should discuss their interest with parents and school officials. Multiple states require minimum scores on tests like PSAT, ACT or college placement tests. These states include Arizona, Louisiana, and Mississippi. Other states do not have documented processes, so students in these states Alaska, Georgia and the District of Columbia.

Open enrollment is not an option. Threshold requirements exist to ensure students have the best possible chance of successfully completing course requirements to earn a passing grade.

Is There A Limit On Dual Enrollment Courses I Can Take?

There are wildly varying limits, depending upon which state the student is in. In general, the caps on taking dual enrollment classes tend to be high, so it would be difficult to max out for most high school students. Some states have no set state policy, such as Alabama, Delaware, Missouri, Nebraska, and Arkansas. Florida states a student must be enrolled to earn at least 12 credit hours, but not more than 15 per semester. Iowa caps the number at 24 semester hours per academic year. Minnesota does not define hours but defines caps in course work years.

How Are Grades Calculated For Dual Enrollment Courses?

It is up to individual school districts to develop and apply a weighted grade or score on high school transcripts. Examples include Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina. Before enrolling in dual courses, review the grading/weighting/scoring criteria and methods with your individual school district. You should also discuss dual enrollment course grading with the college/university admissions offices you are considering applying to.

How Hard Are Dual Enrollment Courses?

If you already have completed challenging high school courses, you should feel confident about tackling college class work for dual enrollment purposes. However, unlike high school, where you go to class every day, most college and university courses only meet once or twice a week. In between times, you are expected to read and understand large amounts of textbook content, so you’ll need to budget time during the day and evening to keep up with the course pace.

If the textbook is hard to understand, you will need to make time to email or call the professor or find a tutor to help you. Tutoring will cost extra money, so consider how you would accomplish this.

Another consideration for dual enrollment courses is that you may have fewer projects to complete, but each one has a large percentage of your final grade. If you miss one major assignment, this could cause you to fail the class.

This is not to discourage you from taking dual enrollment classes but be realistic in your time and expectations.

Want to see how it works? Take two free lessons on us today!

Does Taking Dual Enrollment Courses Help Me During The Admissions Process?

If you’re considering taking dual enrollment classes, you need to research the admissions process for the colleges or universities you are interested in. For example, some colleges consider dual enrollment courses to be “double dipping.” If you don’t carefully research before taking the classes, you could find that your time and energy would have been better spent doing other things!

Are you a student athlete who wants to compete in your sport at the college or university level? There are NCAA considerations you need to understand. For example, if you want to take dual enrollment classes at a community college, but plan on attending a major university, those community college credits may impact your eligibility to play competitively. In addition, those credits may not be accepted for graduation purposes at the larger college or university. Again, doing some research and asking questions ahead of time may save you from being negatively impacted.

On the other hand, taking dual enrollment courses casts you in a favorable light, because you’ve shown motivation and initiative in demonstrating how committed you are to getting a college education.

Kristen Moon of Moon Prep LLC said ” As an independent college counselor, I always get the questions: “Will this help me with the admissions process? The answer is yes. Dual enrollment programs show initiative on the part of the student. It also shows a love of learning and an eagerness to challenge yourself. With the college admissions process more competitive than ever, students need an edge and dual enrollment can provide one.”

Some Final Words On Dual Enrollment Courses

You can see there are many advantages and benefits to researching on, planning for and completing dual enrollment courses. Here’s how you do it:

  • Talk to your school officials and find out everything you need to do in order to qualify for taking dual enrollment classes
  • Research the colleges and universities you’re considering applying to — get in-depth information from the admissions offices on whether or not credits fully transfer and if you are impacting your eligibility requirements by taking dual enrollment classes
  • Look at your schedule to see if you can budget enough time to successfully take and pass dual enrollment classes
  • If everything looks right for your situation, enroll and attend classes

Are you ready to explore dual enrollment requirements and qualifications now? Here’s an in-depth guide that breaks down eligibility requirements for each state.

Believe in Magic

When people talk about childhood idols & heroes, I always say David Copperfield.  No, not the character from Dickens.  The other character:

 

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image credit: vegas.com

If you don’t know of the man above, David Copperfield is an international illusionist who has performed all over the world.  He did a series of specials in the 80’s and 90’s on television and currently performs daily in Las Vegas.

David Copperfield wasn’t just simple magic. There was spectacle; there were music and lights; there was a story; there was the attractive girl; there was the impossible becoming possible in a few minutes.  Illusions were almost performed like MTV music videos.  I was obsessed.

My love for illusions and magic was instantaneous. There was a magic shop in town that I was stopping in every day after school to either learn a trick or save up lunch money (sorry Mom) and buy a new trick each week.  At one point, I had a duffle bag full of all sorts of tricks.

AsI got older, I tried to break out into the entertainment scene.  I had  a clown costume and a mime outfit.  I tried rocking out some tricks and entertainment at street fairs and local township events.  I thought I had something really special in 6th-grade until I bombed two magic tricks on stage. I didn’t really generate much business in 7th and 8th grade, but I did manage to start a clown ministry program at my church. It was cool, but high school came along, and my bag of tricks retired to the attic.

Fast forward about 14 years to my first administrative position as an Assistant Principal in a middle school.  Truly a job where you will never know what will happen, I came across a special 6th-grade student named Max. Max had school phobia to the worst degree.  On many days in the beginning of the year, Max refused to leave the car. On the days he did, he was so reluctant to come in, he would be crying and sometimes even screaming. I was determined to find a way to get Max into school in a safe and quiet manner.

And then it happened. Like magic.

I went home that day and searched all over for my bag of magic tricks. I found it. Like riding a bike, the magic tricks came back after a few tries. I practiced on my wife and my dog.  I was determined to get the patter (a magic term for story) down and if there were any movements as well.  The next day that Max was refusing to get out of the car, I had my magic bag. While some Child Study Team members looked at me oddly for performing the vanishing coloring book trick to a 6th-grader who was kicking the door so I couldn;t open it, he was hooked.  Eventually, he asked how I did it.  That’s when I broke the magician’s code. I told Max I would show him how the trick works IF he came in. Just like that…magic.

Once a week, I would teach Max a new trick that he could try on his classmates and family members at home, but only if he could come in without fuss and go right to class. WE did this for about 2 months, and then he didn’t want the magic anymore; he just wanted to come into class.

I got to use the bag of tricks with a few more students in LAC, and even where I am now. The same deal is reached; if you {come to school} or {behave} or {get all of your homework done}, you can learn a new trick. Believe in the power of magic; it works wonders in lives of all ages.

 

still doin’ that

With the school year going into full swing, so are many of the weekend September festivities:  festivals, football, and fall TV.  For educators, it is also a time for weekend conferences, workshops, and EdCamps.

Ever since becoming a superintendent, I have been faced with the same questions at least once a week.  Below is a simple Q & A for you.

“Why do you still participate in EdCamps, conferences, and  weekend workshops?” 

The simple answer is because I enjoy them.  I enjoy learning at these workshops. I enjoy learning from others and with others.  I enjoy networking.  Mostly, I enjoy seeing how other students are learning and how I can harness their triumphs for my own students and teachers.

Yes, some conferences are the same ol‘ same ol.”   I don’t go to those.

Yes, I often run into many of the same people.  So?  Chances are those people are a part of my PLN (personal learning network), and I learn more from them than from anyone else.

Are those folks that do all of these conferences or tweets in some cult or clique? Eh, some of them.  Just because we are on Twitter or the 18,000,000 other avenues of social media does not mean we all get along  – or should for that matter. Difference is good.  Everyone doing the same thing…. bad.  The movers and the shakers always find each other, not for popularity, but so they can grow together. Anyone who is too cool to say, “Hi,” to you or spends their time spewing slander? Drop ’em like French class.  (Remember that movie?)

Do you feel bad is you miss one?  LOL – no.  There have been many conferences/EdcCamps I have experienced.  Some were great; some were not.  In some cases, I served on the organizing committee.  You do your time, and you move on.  If it truly speaks to you, you stick around.  It is not mandated by any means. There are scads of conferences and EdCamps that I’ve partaken in and don’t partake in now.  It’s not a game changer if I don’t go or help out, and it never should be.  If any EdCamp or conference is built around one person, there’s a big problem.

How do you get the time?  That’s the tricky issue these days.  I have an amazing family at home, and my 18-month-old twins require much time and talent.  Not only that, but  I want to spend as much time with them as possible.  Family first, always.

What if you go alone?  ho cares?  You are going for you.  I work the same way.  I’m here to learn something.  If I don’t learn, it’s a waste of my time.

Seriously, you really enjoy this stuff THAT much?  Hell, yeah!  Education is my passion; it’s what drives me.  I am a fearless workhorse who wants nothing more than to have every available option for my students and staff, so that they can learn as well.  I want our students to be productive members of society.  Those students will be taking care of me down the road.  Why would I not want the best for them?

Until the next conference, EdCamp, or whatever the next big thing will be…

 

 

 

 

 

 

My next book purchase  = The Classroom Chef

Want to read some brilliance? Check out the next book coming out from the amazing folks at Dave Burgess Publishing; it’s going to knock some off of their feet.  The following was written by Dave Burgess himself:

Fast food joints and chain restaurants are ubiquitous on our landscape. New ones pop up all the time, others shut down, and we barely notice.

Why is that?

Because they are dime a dozen, they are the cookie cutters of the restaurant industry, and they are the old-school factory model in an age that increasingly appreciates personalization.

I travel a TON right now…I have a truly crazy schedule. But I also know that I can walk into any (insert the name of any chain restaurant) and get the exact same meal as I did last week in a completely different part of the country. Heck…even in ANOTHER country! Even in their storefront at the airport for god’s sake! They have placed the highest value on consistency and the ability to duplicate and scale their businesses. They have a formula… a recipe to follow…that allows anyone to buy a franchise, plug in the formula, and voilà…instant business. It’s easy! Even the menus and the way the food is prepared have been simplified to the point where you can hire a new cook and easily train them to crank out the same meals as the person they are replacing.

There is a comfort in consistency. A rigid recipe can be reassuring. A formula may not be fun…but sure is easy!

But when is the last time you left a fast food joint raving about how special the meal was that particular time? When was the last time you just had to know who prepared your chain restaurant meal because it was so exquisite? Have you ever heard a story about a short-order cook leaving one establishment to go to another and the customer base moved with him/her? No way!

This happens all the time in the restaurant world, though! What’s the difference?

Simple. There is a huge difference between a short-order cook and a CHEF.

Chefs bring a unique talent, style, flair…a panache to their work. They have a perspective. They have an agenda. They understand the significance of presentation and how to provide just the right balance of everything to create an extraordinary culinary experience to their clients. The menu is more likely to change to reflect growth, newly acquired dishes, and customer feedback. You can’t expect, nor would you likely be happy with, the same meal served and prepared exactly the same each time. There are specialty items that may be available only tonight…just because the chef decided to do something new and different. Tonight is unique.

For far too long we have been serving fast food education to our students.

Cookie cutter, scripted lesson plans (Gag reflex)

Worksheet packets of drivel

Assignments out of textbooks that are so old they have to be dusted off each year

Pre-packaged programs and ready-made curriculum from giant publishing companies that know as much about engaging kids as I do about craft beer. (That’s right, the pirate captain has never had a sip of alcohol in his entire life! #oddfactsaboutDaveBurgess)

We need more educational chefs! Thank goodness John Stevens (@Jstevens009) and Matt Vaudrey (@mrvaudrey) have come to the rescue with one of our newest releases, The Classroom Chef: Sharpen Your Lessons, Season your Classes, Make Math Meaningful.

Let’s get your first question out of way right now: “Is this a math book, then?”

Yes and no.

Is Teach Like a Pirate a U.S. History book? Nope! Every single example in TLAP is drawn from my class but the applications are meant for, and used in, classes of ALL subjects and ALL levels from pre-K to adult ed.

Same thing is true of The Classroom Chef. This is a book about becoming a more engaging and effective teacher. This is a book about powerful pedagogy. It is about the trials, tribulations, and ultimately successes that come from taking risks and seeking something more than short-order recipes in the classroom.

That being said, every single example in the book is drawn from actual math lessons and from multiple levels. Many are straight out of Matt’s and John’s classes giving them the authenticity we all look for…this stuff works! They send MAJOR shout outs to the power of collaboration with their #MTBoS community and there is even a KILLER math lesson about a cookie-eating monster that was contributed by first grade teacher, Jamie Duncan (@jamiedunc3).

There is NO OTHER SUBJECT that I get more questions and comments about as I travel and talk about Teach Like a PIRATE than math. “What does this look like in math?” “I see how this could be applied in social studies and English…but I teach math. My subject is too dry, objective, and skill based for this stuff.”

Bullsh%&!!!

The Classroom Chef is what it looks like in math!!

Too dry?

How about teaching math with mullets, dropping barbies off high places with bungee cords, running action figures and dolls down epic ziplines, discussing GIGANTIC sharks, delivering life-altering lessons on 9/11, and arguing heatedly about toilet paper…all while delivering curriculum and having students master mathematical concepts.

How about starting a math fight? Get them so wound up about which side they have committed to in masterfully designed scenarios that they are desperate to prove they are right. Uh oh!!! The only way they can win is by understanding and using math! Stevens and Vaudrey are pretty tricky!!!

The book is cleverly organized into chef-themed sections: preparing the kitchen, setting the table, appetizers, entrees, side dishes, desserts, and paying the bill.

Appetizers: Ways to creatively hook students at the beginning of class

Entrees: FULL lessons…with a powerful section after the examples about how to prepare your own entrées.

Side Dishes: Taking lessons from good to great to amazing by adding engaging elements.

Dessert: Thoughts on Assessment

The Bill: A plea for courage and risk-taking in your practice.

There is even a “take-out food” section of resources and links for you to be able to find additional ideas and on-going support as you learn to prepare and season your lessons!

Oh! And please don’t skip the footnotes! Hilarious and one of my favorite parts!

Matt and John also deliver KILLER workshops, so feel free to contact us about that, as well. OF COURSE, they come dressed in their fine white chef outfits with striking, tall, white chef hats to inspire and work with your colleagues.

Pick up the Classroom Chef right here on Amazon:

http://goo.gl/ibR9hy

Or here on Barnes & Noble online:

http://goo.gl/Lva8Ey

Be a chef! Prepare tasty lessons that your students will LOVE!