Thursday, August 29, 2013

15 Second Bud Nippin'

One of the really cool tools that Teisha Kothe has brought to Blue Star Elementary as our principal is the "15 Second Intervention".

It is the original work of Dr. Marcia McEvoy and gives both adults and kids ways to channel their inner Barney Fife and nip small behavioral problems in the bud. You are direct, respectful, and allow no arguing. If a student wants to argue, tell them we can discuss it after school Here is how it goes:

"I saw you __________. (Say exactly what you saw or heard.)
That was (mean/hurtful/disrespectful/dangerous/whatever is appropriate).
I would never let someone do that to you. It's not okay that you did that to  (other student).
We don't do that here.
It needs to stop."

We practice this as a staff and practice it with our kids. It gives the whole building a common approach. Deputy Fife would approve.


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Take 30 seconds and let in the light

[caption id="attachment_255" align="alignleft" width="300"]Twilight shot with a 30 second exposure. Twilight shot with a 30 second exposure.[/caption]

This morning I rolled out of bed at 4:45 and grabbed my Nikon D40 dslr camera. Armed with a tripod and a lawn chair I headed out to get a glimpse of the Perseid Meteor shower. With any luck I might get a picture of one of the shooting stars. I didn't end up with any meteors but returned home with some other cool shots.

The key to shooting in the dark is patience and stability. The results can be very rewarding. The formula is quite simple. Put your camera on a tripod to prevent any blurring and allow the shutter to stay open as long as possible. I was switching between 15 and 30 second exposures. This is a lot different from how we normally take pictures. Usually we want bright light that allows us to snap off as many as possible in a second. Great things can happen when we slow the pace. Thirty seconds can seem painfully long to wait but it lets in all of the ambient light to create an image when we seem to be in almost complete darkness. What often happens is that when you look at your pictures you see things you never saw with your eyes while shooting. Don't expect the pictures all to be perfect. This morning I took sixty-six pictures and had seven worthy of sharing with my Facebook friends. Even to a handful of those pictures I did a little post-production editing. There was originally a power pole right in the middle of where the light shines through the trees in this picture.

Since turning the calendar to August it is hard not to think about school. I got to thinking this morning that the way shooting in the dark works is a great metaphor for things we can discover in our kids, our teaching,  and in ourselves.

1. Be stable and have good support.
2. Open your mind (shutter) and just wait, allowing ideas to enter.
3. Reflect, critique, and sort.
4. Tweak your results a bit.
5. Share.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Take your teaching to the DVR World

Don't leave your learners sitting like the mailbox by the side of the road. Find ways to record teaching and learning so you and your students can pause, rewind, fast-forward, and share content.

When I was a kid if I wasn't in front of the TV at 8:00 PM on Friday Night, I missed "Dukes of Hazard". Today's kids have no concept of "It's not on." They have Tivo, Netflix, or an app for almost any network where they can access their favorite shows on demand.

Here is some insight on ways to record your teaching, check for understanding, and let them teach.

My presentation from the Zeeland Educational Technology Academy on August 13, 2013.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Mobile Reach #55: Summer Acronym Summary ~ ADE, DEN, GCT, and More

Last week I had the chance to join the hosts of the Mobile Reach Show and talk about the various professional learning organization that fuel our teaching.

Hosting the show are Jennie Magiera, Sue Gorman, and Dave Freeburg who I first met face-to-face in 2011 at the Apple Distinguished Educator institute. We were joined by Josh Mika and Scott Meech who both became ADE's with us that summer.  Scott and I first met in 2008 as we became Google Certified Teachers together at the Google Teacher Academy in Chicago.

Prior to the show I had just returned from my week at the Discovery Educator Network Summer Institute and shared how that experience compared to the acronym opportunities other teachers are attending this summer.

Head on over to the Mobile Reach homepage to either listen or watch this episode. 

Friday, August 9, 2013

Lead, follow, AND, get out of the way.

Screen Shot 2013-08-09 at 12.49.20 PMI just spent two days of the last month of summer fully immersed in school stuff. Am I nuts?


Having been lucky enough to have been invited to my school district's first ever Admin/Staff Leadership retreat, I had the unique opportunity to see my Hamilton Community Schools admin team in a bit more human light. I had the unique opportunity to help create the professional development schedule and offerings for the coming year. I discovered the amazing talent we have teaching down the hall from me and in the other Hamilton buildings. I had my voice valued by colleagues and supervisors.

This was no sacrifice, this was a gift.

Not only did I leave the retreat feeling energized and excited that as a leadership team we had drawn great relevance around our staff meetings, grade level time, and PD days...all focused on school improvement and putting individual needs of kids first, I gained some insight on being a leader

My biggest take away was what I learned about leadership. We have heard many times that so-and-so needs to either lead, follow, or get out of the way. For me though, I want to do all three.

Lead: Set the example. Share your vision. Contribute insight. Be a helpful guy.
Follow: Understand that you don't know everything and that a lot can be learned from those who have more experience, or are better at something than you are.
Get out of the way: Don't let your ego get in the way of progress because you insist on putting your stamp on it or "showing them who's in charge". Know when to keep your mouth shut and when to support something great.

I hope the Hamilton retreat becomes a yearly event and I hope to see more colleagues invited to future gatherings...and accept the opportunity to learn and build together.

Let's all lead, follow, and get out of the way during this upcoming school year.