Summer's here...or almost here for most of us! That's right, in Northern Virginia school is STILL in session! Just three more days! We've got sunshine, flip-flops, beach books, and of course, professional development on our minds. It's important to take time in the summer to focus on our professional practice so that we can come back to school in August, prepped and ready to engage with our new students.
This week we are thrilled to have our pointers for finding ways to reflect, reach out and re-imagine featured on the ASCD Inservice blog. How will you recharge this summer?
I wish the standardized tests would go away.
I try in my teaching and learning to assume best intentions. I believe (or most days I want to believe) that the government officials who dreamed up standardized tests did so to ensure that teachers were doing their jobs and not turning a blind eye to the needs in front of them. That pains me because the vast majority of teachers I know are professionals who work tirelessly to help all students learn and they don't require a standardized test to push them to do their jobs. But I also know that in many school districts progress isn't being made and that these tests are an attempt to make sure all kids get the education they so rightly deserve.
Branding has come up recently in education, largely due to the April publication of a book written by Eric Sheninger and Trish Rubin called BrandED: Tell Your Story, Build Relationships, and Empower Learning. I have long been fascinated by brands and branding, perhaps driven by the time I spent working as a librarian at an advertising agency and later at a big pharmaceutical and consumer goods company. I love the idea of bringing branding into schools and building a professional brand. And, I find it makes such logical sense as the director of a library program because our goals so closely align with the purpose of branding: We need to share our library story, communicate our messaging, and build relationships.
But I get concerned when I hear that someone wants to be a librarian because they are tired of teaching, because they want a desk job, because it's less work. Because, well, it isn't. Every level is different -- I speak with the voice of a middle school librarian. And I really want you to join this magical field, but I want you to do it for the right reasons.
I am going to lay it all out on the table. I am failing big, at work life balance. The irony is that I consider myself a champion of work life balance. I am always talking about how to achieve it (I gave a talk to +1500 plus teachers this summer touching on this very topic), but the truth is I am having a hard time taking my own advice. Thanks to my mother, I watched too much Oprah as a child. I remember an episode where Oprah talked about how life sends you messages and it will send them subtly and then eventually if you don't get it, life will start screaming at you until it gets your attention. Well, this weekend, my child handing me this amazing piece of art. Yes, that's me, staring at a computer, ignoring her because I was, you guessed it, working. So universe, consider yourself heard. I am from this moment forward going to recalibrate my life. At least I am going to try and I am going to start by heeding my own advice. If you are a teacher (or heck, a working parent) looking to do the same, read on.
We know that it’s hard to get to conferences. They are too expensive or too far away. So we wanted to share a few of the things that we learned on our journey (some big, some small) in the hopes it might empower you in your own teaching and learning.
I've thought about flipping my classroom. A lot. But I never do. Flipping means a lot of different things to educators, but the big idea is that kids learn outside of the classroom (via technology) so that they things like practice, discuss, and create in the classroom when they have this valuable time with teachers and peers. As much as this idea appeals to me in theory, in practice I've finally reached a verdict in the case for flipping. I can't and won't do it. Here's why:
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