8 Ways to Become a Better Educator Every Day

Great teachers self-assess. Poor teachers change nothing.

8 Ways to Become a Better Educator Every Day

Test yourself. Is your teaching solid? Don’t take for granted that students are learning. Give yourself a regular check up. Great teachers learn. They learn about their pupils. They understand their classroom.  They make it better. Great teachers become a better educator every day.

I can tell a great teacher with one question.

“What is the next thing you want to do in your classroom?”

The great ones will immediately talk about the lessons that didn’t work. They’ll share their student’s struggles. They’ll reveal their weaknesses as a teacher. By listening to them, you might be tempted to think that they are an ineffective teacher. You’d be wrong.

Ineffective teachers are some of the most self-confident ones you’ll meet. They have few things they’d change. So, they languish in mediocrity.

Effective teachers are always improving, so they’re always setting their sights on new goals. They are always leveling up and trying new things.

8 Ways to Become a Better Educator Every Day

1. Take the time to reflect.

Journal. Write down areas of weakness. Brainstorm ways to improve. Good practices become best practices with reflection.

2. Ask your students.

Dean Shareski asks his students to give him feedback on each assignment. You can get student feedback at any point in the year. Capture all feedback in the journal where you’ll reflect. (Dean also learns a great deal from their self-assessment, even if it is more questions.)

3. Look at your results.

Administrators don’t like surprises. Good teachers don’t like them either. When your class average drops rapidly — you should be figuring out why. Ask questions. Look at what you did. Figure out what students don’t know.

4. Know who you want to be.

Great teachers make a “to be” list before making a “to do” list. Examine your values. Examine your behavior. How do you line up? What can you do to improve?

5. Know who you don’t want to be.

You can reboot any day you choose. Most teachers have a bad day sometimes.

Great teachers never make bad days a habit. Yelling. A lesson plan that failed. A disciplinary problem. It is your classroom. It is your determination to act that will make it better. Your job is to know when you’re not measuring up. Take action.

6. Seek answers, don’t find fault.

You can take action. Improve your classroom. I had a class one year that became chatty in March. They would not quiet down. I told them that we’d reboot tomorrow with a new seating chart. (UK Teacher Tom Bennett gets the credit for helping me realize this.) 

Although students were not happy about their new seats at first, I reminded them that we were there to learn. I’d rather be happy with learning than have students happy with me. With a new seating chart, we picked up the pace. In the end, we were all happier because we were making progress. And we made great strides.

7. Choose to change.

In this podcast, Michael Hyatt talks about goals. He said that goals should not be inside your comfort zone, but in your discomfort zone. He also mentioned staying out of the “delusional zone.”

Greatness lies outside our comfort zone. But you’re delusional if you think there’s a perfect classroom. Yours is not. Mine is not. But the risk is usually not that we shoot too high. The problem is that some teachers don’t aim to change at all.

8. Face Your Fears

I love what teacher Jon Smith says,

“As teachers, we have to not be fearful of what could happen but focus on what this idea could become.”

As teachers, we have to not be fearful of what could happen but focus on what this idea could become.

I’ve heard that FEAR stands for “False Evidence Appearing Real.” We fear change and trying new things, but we shouldn’t. Instead, we should fear complacency. We should fear a mindset that refuses to change. Because when we refuse to change, we refuse to learn. We give up our role as a lead learner when we refuse to change.

The kids in our room are fearful every day because they are asked to learn every day. They have to see us learning too!

Grow, Don’t Rot.

Some teachers get tired. They think that it is easier to stay the same than to change. If you think you can stay the same, that is a lie. You can’t. You’re either getting better or getting worse. You can’t stay the same. It isn’t possible. Nature abhors a vacuum. In the South we say,

”When you’re green, you’re growing. When you’re ripe, you rot.”

Don’t rot, dear friends. Grow.

Growth is a slow, steady thing. When you learn and apply a little bit consistently, you look back and realize what a big difference it has made. Become a better educator every day. When you do, it means that you’ll be an incredible teacher after a pretty short period. All that growth adds up!

One thing is sure: to not grow is to die slowly. Level up a little bit every day. Your students will be glad you did.

The post 8 Ways to Become a Better Educator Every Day appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!


from Cool Cat Teacher Blog http://www.coolcatteacher.com/become-a-better-educator-every-day/

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Top Blog Posts on the Cool Cat Teacher Blog

November 2015

November has been a busy month. Not only are teachers using new tools, but they are struggling with burnout and old-fashioned interpersonal skills. We are needing inspiration and simple edtech advice as shown by the top blog posts here on the Cool Cat Teacher Blog and shows this month.

Top 10 Blog Posts and Shows on the Cool Cat Teacher Blog and Every Classroom Matters Podcast

Top 10 Blog Posts of November 2015: The Cool Cat Teacher Blog

  1. 10 Ways to Flip a Kid and Turn Their Day Around
  2. Note Taking Skills for 21st Century Students
  3. Why Teachers Need to Keep Going Even When It’s Hard
  4. 5 Ways to Teach Gratitude in Your Classroom
  5. 15 Best Google Drive Add-Ons for Education
  6. How to Use Padlet: A Fantastic Tool for Teaching
  7. 10 Inspirational Videos for Teachers
  8. What To Do When Someone Hates You
  9. 6 Reading Comprehension Problems and What To Do About Them
  10. 8 Great Ways to Level Up Game Based Learning in the Classroom

Top Shows of November 2015: Every Classroom Matters

Every Classroom Matters continues to have more than 110K downloads each month and growing (November stats aren’t in yet.) Thank you to all of you who listen, share, and share your ideas for guests on the show. 

  1. Alec Couros’ Epic Educational Truths – Alec reflects on his career as a teacher and Sylvia Duckworth draws an amazing sketchnote to go with it.
  2. My Lesson Plan is Not Working, The Kids Are Not Learning, I’m Freaking Out with Alicia Roberts
  3. Throwing Students Across the Room Doesn’t Work, This Does Classroom Management expert Steve Miletto reflects with me what could have been done differently in Spring Hill.
  4. How We Can Stop Teaching to the Test and Start Learning (For a Change) with Eric Sheninger about his new book Uncommon Learning
  5. Kid President: Kids Inspiring Kids to Change the World – This was an October Show with Brad Montague, founder of Kid President but it continued to be widely shared in November.
  6. 6 Learning Experiences You Should Give to Every Student with David Jakes as we reflect upon classroom design
  7. How Teachers Can Self-Publish Books with David Hopkins from the UK gives us a simple how-to on self publishing
  8. Improving Teaching through Student Reflections with Dean Shareski who reflects honestly about how we should have students reflect as we improve our lessons.
  9. How I Motivated my Autistic Students to Publish 63 books with Jon Smith
  10. Hip Hop Language Education: Using Rap to Teach, Really? with Jason Levine

November has been a great month! We have several weeks of very hard work left in December and then we have a little break. Yahoo! I know it is silly that I’m still tired after Thanksgiving break, but that is the truth. It is the end of the grading period and final exams at my school. These are stressful times and keeping up with everything is just nuts!

Thank you to the sponsors of Every Classroom Matters!

We’ve had some fantastic sponsors for the show recently! If you haven’t checked them out, take a moment to look at these amazing sponsors:

  • VIF Learning Center has fantastic lesson plans and ways for educators to connect.
  • Lesley University has wonderful online education classes for busy teachers.
  • Bloomz – how I’m connecting with parents this year! I love it and continue to share this one everywhere I go!
  • Volunteer Spot – An awesome tool to connect parents, teachers, and volunteers and easily set up parent teacher conferences.
  • Help Teaching – has a free, fantastic test maker and lots of Common Core and standards aligned resources to help you create and make resources to use in your classroom
  • Staples – I loved doing back to school work with them. This is where I shop! (Just today I picked up my planner paper.)

These organizations have support Every Classroom Matters and the mission of helping every teacher level up every day! I hope you’ll click the links, try their services, and support those who support the show! Remember, your classroom matters! Thank you to all of you who are listening! I have some new sponsors I’ll be announcing soon who are supporting the show and this blog! Thank you for making this work possible.

My Blog Birthday is This Week!

This week I’ll be celebrating 10 years of blogging! Time has flown and so much has happened in 10 years. I’d love to tell your stories. If you have a favorite blog post or something that helped you that should be shared, will you please share by sending me an email at vicki at coolcatteacher dot com!

If you started blogging, did something cool, or had something great happen – shoot me a picture of it or share a blog post. I’m not sure what I’m going to do to celebrate and thank you all for ten great years, but I’m looking forward to hearing your suggestions!

 

 

 

 

 

The post Top Blog Posts on the Cool Cat Teacher Blog appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!


from Cool Cat Teacher Blog http://www.coolcatteacher.com/top-blog-posts-on-the-cool-cat-teacher-blog/

WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY about Talking to Children About Terrorism

Every Classroom Matters Episode 193

Talking to children about terrorism with Dr. Steven Berkowitz.How should we be talking to children about terrorism? Did you know children under six shouldn’t be watching the news? Do you know the biggest worries of high schoolers when they hear of terrorism? Child trauma expert Dr. Steven Berkowitz helps parents and teachers understand how we talk to kids of various ages about terrorism.

Now is the time to listen to and share this show before Thanksgiving family dinner conversations.

Important Takeways: What the Experts Say About Talking to Children About Terrorism

  • Recommendations for watching the news with children
  • The biggest worries of high schoolers and how to talk to them
  • What to say when kids ask “Will this happen to me?”
  • How the news can cause trauma in children
  • How teachers can help children through tough times

Dr. Berkowitz is a widely quoted expert in child trauma. His advice is simple but important for all teachers to understand right now. What you say to kids matters, especially when they are upset.

 This past week, I used what Dr. Steven Berkowitz taught me in this show as I talked to some upset children. I received a grateful email from a precious parent thanking me because now her child has her mind at ease. You might not think this is important, but if kids are talking, they want to talk with adults. As always, get traumatized kids help.

Educator Resources and Links from the Show

Great quotes from the show you can share…

How to Talk witah Kids About Terrorism infographic

The consensus is that exposure to the media can cause trauma in kids.

Talking with children about terrorism don't put your anxiety onto the kids

Talking to kids about terrorism.

You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or elsewhere, get the RSS feed, or listen via the media player above.button-itunes

Join the Every Classroom Matters Awesome Educators Network on Facebook

The post WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY about Talking to Children About Terrorism appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!


from Cool Cat Teacher Blog http://www.coolcatteacher.com/talking-to-children-about-terrorism/

Project Based Learning: Teaching Students to Be Curators

Every Classroom Matters Episode 191

Project Based Learning Teaching Students to Be Great Curators

What is the secret to effective online project based learning? How can we get kids excited about writing? Nancy White shares how. She reflects upon two big projects. Nancy had one that worked well. She had another one that floundered. What was the difference? Apply Nancy’s principles and have better online writing today.

Important Takeaways- Project Based Learning: Teaching Students to Be Great Curators

  • How an army of retired educators made an enormous difference in student writing.
  • The importance of the first few days of student blogging.
  • How students can be curators.
  • The secret of inquiry-based learning.
  • Something Nancy says that confirms Vicki’s same experience with student blogging.

Nancy White’s candid reflections on student writing apply to all online student projects. The audience is a vital part of online work. What you do in the first few days makes a big difference.

Nancy’s reflection about audience aligns with my own. Building a writing community is so important. Take a moment to check out my book Reinventing Writing. I dedicate a whole chapter to building writing communities. Building an audience is a vital part of building a community. Perhaps some retired educators could help volunteer and fill a huge need for online student work.

Educator Resources and Links from the Show

Great quotes from the show you can share…

-We have to constantly be evaluating our own work.-

Help students dig deep and ask their own questions.1

Students need an audience. Vicki Davis about online project based learning.

project based learning students as curators

Improve student writing by helping them become curators.

You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or elsewhere, get the RSS feed, or listen via the media player above.button-itunes

Join the Every Classroom Matters Awesome Educators Network on Facebook

The post Project Based Learning: Teaching Students to Be Curators appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!


from Cool Cat Teacher Blog http://www.coolcatteacher.com/project-based-learning-student-curators/

Can You Fix Twitter Counts? (and Why They Are Broken)

Social Media Insights

Twitter counts on blog posts are broken. Can you fix Twitter counts? Why did this happen? Is Twitter in trouble? Let’s not panic, let’s analyze what has happened and how we can still find Twitter counts on a page (for now.)

Can you fix Twitter counts? And why they are broken

Although Twitter announced some time ago their plan to get rid of the counts that show how many times a page has been tweeted, they turned off the service on November 20. Now, my blog and many others across the web just show a tweet button, but no count. You’re not alone. We’re all in the same boat.

To make more money, Twitter wants us to use their gnip API service to retrieve Twitter counts. The only drawback — a BIG ONE — $300-500 per month to retrieve Twitter counts. That is crazy and out of reach for many of us.

How Can I Find out Twitter Counts for a Page?

So, here is an alternative fix to the big price tag until things get sorted out:

  1. Install the Buzz Sumo Chrome Extension
  2. Sign up for the Free Buzz Sumo Account

You can now use this to see how many Twitter shares a page has if you want to see that. But Buzz Sumo says they won’t be pulling the data live. They say most of the shares happen in the first three days, so after that, they may not update their shares quite as much (due to costs.)

fix twitter counts

You can’t fix Twitter counts on blog posts, but using Buzz Sumo, you can see what they are.

Why Did Twitter Break Their Share Counts?

Many of us have come to depend on the “social cred” of a blog post or site. When you go to a blog post and see that it has hundreds of shares, you think differently about the post than otherwise. So, why did Twitter say they wanted to “break” this.

Spam. Some blame the “bots.” Indeed, some sites have gamed the system and hired or had “bots” share and reshare their content. By removing the temptation, the use of bots will no longer help get more shares and perhaps make better content on Twitter in the long run. (Less spam.)

Money. In the end, Twitter says they have to be “sustainable.” In other words, they have to pay the bills. They claim this use was “undocumented.” We didn’t make it, so we don’t guarantee it, says Twitter. In the end, they have to pay for their service. They need to monetize it. But that doesn’t explain why Facebook, Linked In, and Pinterest all provide the service while Twitter won’t anymore.

Traffic. If you could imagine that every page with a Twitter counter sent a count to Twitter’s API service. I would imagine this was a lot of traffic. But, you can’t really fix Twitter counts even with the new option from gnip.

Inaccurate. Twitter often argued that reshares were not truly a reflection of engagement. On this one point, I’ll agree. Often, I share tweets on my top tweets of the week that, on the surface, do not look to be popular. Due to reshares, conversations, and clicks they are popular. But, I would argue, just because these numbers aren’t an accurate reflection of engagement, doesn’t mean they aren’t useful.

I agree with Stuart Thomas on Memeburn that,

If Twitter’s going to thrive, as it’s shareholders need it to, then it needs to do everything in its power to keep publishers onside. Killing share counts might not see them neglecting Twitter all together, it’s too valuable for that, but it’s surely a sign that it’s not willing to compromise when it comes to their wants and desires. If this is the start of a greater trend, then Twitter may well be sowing the seeds of its own destruction.

Unintended Consequences.

When you break trust with your user base, you’d better watch out. I will admit that Google’s continue discontinuation and finally their cancelling of Google Reader caused me to swap to WordPress for my blog. Sure, Google has a right to make money and so does Twitter.

Services always COST SOMETHING. But not giving us the option to pay a reasonable fee and cancelling the service is short-sighted.

But one has to be very careful when upsetting the 1%. Klossner’s 90-9-1 principle shows that 1% of users on social media create most of the content. Nine percent are “active lurkers” with 90% “passive lurkers.

The bottom line is that Facebook, Pinterest, and other platforms provide this data. Since Twitter does not, it may cause many of us to gravitate towards sharing on other social media. I’m not sure that it will be intentional. And face it, the $300-500 price tag is not an option that many average users are going to be willing to accept.

Time will tell if the less spammy content on Twitter will result from killing the Twitter count button. Time will tell if people will stay on Twitter more or if they’ll naturally share on Facebook or something else more.

Certainly, a whole slew of Twitter spammers are crying in their soup today, and I guess that is a good thing.

Meanwhile, I’ll use Buzz Sumo and make up my mind about what I think. There’s no fix, just one Chrome extension or deep deep pockets that can fix your Twitter share button.

We are yet again reminded that “free” has a price. And, for better or worse, the change will leave lots of annoyed birds out there.

The post Can You Fix Twitter Counts? (and Why They Are Broken) appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!


from Cool Cat Teacher Blog http://www.coolcatteacher.com/can-you-fix-twitter-counts/

Alec Couros’ 6 Epic Educational Truths

Every Classroom Matters Episode 193

Alec Couros Epic Educational Truths When you see an accomplished educator like Alec Couros, it is easy to think that he’s always been this way. You might believe that he’s never made mistakes. You might think that everything was perfect from day one. In this conversation, Alec takes us through his educational journey and the truths he’s learned along each step.

As we listened to the show, Sylvia Duckworth and I jotted down six epic educational truths. (I put the epic in there, he wouldn’t, but I think you’ll agree, some of these insights are profound. Hat tip to Sylvia for her sketchnote below!) I appreciate Alec’s candor. I believe his journey as a teacher will inspire you like it has me.

Thank you VIF Learning, today’s sponsor.

Today’s sponsor is VIF Learning. VIF Learning has lesson plans, classroom connections and many ways for educators to connect and join classrooms to become globally connected. Click here to try out VIF Learning Center

VIF Learning Center

Essential Questions: Alec Couros’ 6 Epic Truths About Education

  • Did Alec immediately know he wanted to be a teacher?
  • How do you recognize when a moment is important to a child?
  • What is the problem with childhood today? How can adults help?
  • What did Alec learn about learning as he led a MOOC with educators from more than 75 countries?

Alec Couros epic educational truths

It takes years for master craftsmen to perfect their art. So, why do we expect ourselves (and others) to be masters the moment they enter the classroom?

If we can help this generation of teachers joining our ranks persist instead of always being dissed, we might just find that many of them are great teachers who got off to a rough start. I appreciate Alec’s@courosa transparency in today’s show. As he talked, I felt like yelling “Yes, That was me!”

The craftsmanship of teaching starts with another ship — relationship. We can do this. Bumps in the road don’t mean that the road isn’t worth traveling.

You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or elsewhere, get the RSS feed, or listen via the media player above.button-itunes

The post Alec Couros’ 6 Epic Educational Truths appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!


from Cool Cat Teacher Blog http://www.coolcatteacher.com/alec-epic/

Top Posts for Teachers This Week

News and Trends: Sunday, November 22, 2015

This was a busy week at my school. Kids weren’t too excited to be there but we got so much done anyway. Friday was capped off with sharing with each student something that makes them special. The response was amazing from parents but it was about the students. Every student needs to know they matter. But you can only tell each student how they are unique if you KNOW THEM. You must have a relationship. That is what teaching is about anyway! Relationship first, then learning can happen.

Top Education blog posts for teachers this week

1. 10 Ways to Flip a Kid and Turn His Day Around

Inspired by a comment Kevin Honeycutt made on my show and enhanced with Sylvia Duckworth’s sketchnote, what a great discussion for so many schools to be having! This was #2 on last week’s list.

10 Ways to Flip a Kid - Sketchnote by @sylviaduckworth

2. 8 Ways to Level Up Game Based Learning in the Classroom

Worksheets with points doesn’t work. But authentic games do. Full of real classroom examples and great books to read, this blog post is hot.

Some games are computerized worksheets. That is what Game Designers Mean by 'Chocolate on Broccoli." Dr. Lee Graham

3. 5 Ways to Teach Gratitude in Your Classroom

You can teach gratitude. This updated post resonates with the Thanksgiving season.

4. Notetaking Skills for 21st Century Students

5. 15 Best Google DriveAdd Ons for Education

6. How We Can Stop TEACHING TO THE TEST and Start Empowering Learning (For a Change)

This show with Eric Sheninger based on his new book Uncommon Learning is being shared like crazy. Eric is spot on and I highly recommend reading his new book.

If something is important to us, we find a way. If not, then we'll always find an excuse. Eric Sheninger

If something is important to us, we find a way. If not, then we’ll always find an excuse. Eric Sheninger

7. 6 Ways to Motivate Teachers: Be the Hope

Teacher motivation is hot in November. Lots of us struggle this time of year.

8. Why Teachers Need to Keep Going Even When It’s Hard

This powerful piece continues to be shared by educators grappling with the hard things happening in our world.

Sketchnote about "Why Teachers Need to Keep Going Even When It's Hard" by Sylvia Duckworth

Sketchnote about “Why Teachers Need to Keep Going Even When It’s Hard” by Sylvia Duckworth

9. How Teachers Can Self-Publish Books

David Hopkins, an educator from the UK, shares a practical guide for educators to self publish books in this episode of Every Classroom Matters.

How teachers can self publish books

10. 6 Reading Comprehension Problems and What to Do About Them

The post Top Posts for Teachers This Week appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!


from Cool Cat Teacher Blog http://www.coolcatteacher.com/top-posts-for-teachers-this-week/