The Education Tool That You’re Not Using!

This Might Be What You’re Missing!

Imagine someone gave you a tool that would greatly help you in your professional growth.  All you need to do is learn how to work it.  If you took a few minutes of your time to understand it and work with it, it would pay off significantly!  Would you take that time?  Would you figure it out?  Well, you do have a very powerful tool!  And you are more than likely not taking advantage of it!  Let me explain.

I’m going to start off talking about my early days in education.  When I transitioned from the classroom to the Instructional Specialist position, I put in a lot of hours and time trying to prove to my administrators that I had what it took to become a leader.  After long hours, I started to… the only way that I can explain it is, I felt “thin,” like I was being stretched.

I was putting a lot out, but I wasn’t putting anything in.  Because I have done a lot of leadership development, outside of the education setting, I knew this wasn’t a good place and that I needed to start putting new ideas and fresh insights into my mind.

Because I like technology, I started looking into using RSS readers and podcasts to start reading articles and listening to shows that were providing new and fresh ideas in education, technology, and leadership.

Benefits of Purposeful Growth

Something happened!  I started feeling energized.  At work, I started seeing things with fresh perspectives, trying new things out and providing good ideas to others.  I saw the benefit of purposefully planning my personal development.  

You can’t stay stagnant.  You need to always grow yourself!

At work, I started seeing things with fresh perspectives, trying new things out and providing good ideas to others. I saw the benefit of purposefully planning my personal development. Click To Tweet

A Tool for Everyone

If you drive to work, workout, run, walk the dog or just have the radio on in the house during the day, you can listen to podcasts.

If you drive to work, workout, run, walk the dog or just have the radio on in the house during the day, you can listen to podcasts. Click To Tweet

Technology has increased so much that it is so easy to bring up a podcast on your phone and listen to it.  In fact, you can set it to where it downloads automatically, and it just appears.  You can listen to it and then delete it from your phone to save space!

If you are going to start listening to podcasts, you’ll need an APP.  There are many good APPS out there for Android phones.  I use Pocket Cast.  It cost $3.99, but it is worth it!  Before Pocket Cast, I used Beyond Pod. Stitcher also has a good APP that you can download for free.  iPhone and Ipad users have iTunes that will download podcasts.

Most of these APPS have a search function that you can just type in the name of a podcast or just a topic.  If a podcast you’re looking for doesn’t show up, you’ll have to get the RSS feed, usually displayed on the podcast’s website, to add to your podcast APP.  But it is very simple!

If you are looking for some great podcasts to follow, check these out:

Get That APP!

Check out this video on the Pocket Cast APP.

 

Here are some other links to videos that show you other podcast APPS

Final Thoughts

If you have time where you can put in some earphones or listen in your vehicle, you have the opportunity to add some real beneficial ideas and information to your mind.  Remember, there are podcasts on every topic imaginable!  There is something for you.

Do you already listen to podcasts?  Please share some of your favorite podcasts in the comments below.

Peace,
Todd

Growing Has Never Been So Easy! Intentional Learning As An Educator Using Twitter

 

Your Path to Intentional Learning

Great teachers don’t rely on their district’s staff development training cycle to learn and grow in their craft.  No!  They intentionally seek staff development opportunities out.  In the past, a teacher wanting to grow and learn would have contacted their local educational center, participated in a book study, taken a college course or met up with like-minded teachers.  These are all still viable solutions!

Great teachers don't rely on their district's staff development training cycle to learn and grow in their craft. Click To Tweet

But today, educators have a great tool at their disposal, Twitter.

I first understood the value of Twitter to grow professionally after listening to a presentation by Alan November.  Side note – You only need to attend one of his presentations, like ever!  He says the same thing every single time!

Basically, November said the power of Twitter was in following great thought leaders in your field.  These great thought leaders are putting out great ideas, links to blog posts, videos, podcasts and resources that many times you can directly apply to your craft.  For educators, Twitter is a goldmine for all of these opportunities!

I was recently asked to share some tips on using Twitter to grow professionally.  I would like to share them with you here too!

Find Some Great Twitter Chats

Twitter Chats are one of the greatest ways that educators can grow professionally on Twitter.  A Twitter Chat happens when Twitter users respond to questions tweeted out by a moderator.  The questions are usually on a certain topic and followed by a hashtag (ex. #txeduchat).  You learn as you respond to questions, but then read and respond to the responses of others.  Many users will share out resources like I stated above.

I must warn you though!  Twitter Chats go very fast and can be very overwhelming if you have never participated in one.  For the new Twitter user, it is not uncommon to finish answering question one, only to find out everyone is on question three.  Don’t worry or stress about that!  People come in and out of Twitter Chats all the time.

Twitter Chats are one of the greatest ways that educators can grow professionally on Twitter. Click To Tweet

If it makes you feel more comfortable, feel free to just lurk and read responses until you feel comfortable to jump in and start participating.

If you’re not sure where to find a Twitter Chat, the website Education Chats lists out a ton of education Twitter Chats by date, time and time zone.

If you're not sure where to find a Twitter Chat, the website Education Chats lists out a ton of education Twitter Chats by date, time and time zone. Click To Tweet

And if you would like a video walkthrough on how to participate in a Twitter Chat, watch the video below.

Don’t Fill Your Twitter Feed with Junk

You can follow anyone you like on Twitter.  But I highly suggest you don’t follow others that are not going to lend to your professional growth.  For example, you can follow every single Kardashian on Twitter.  But other than provide some entertainment and keep you up-to-date on the latest pop-culture ( which is fine if that is your thing), what actual value is there to your professional growth?

The more followers you add, the more cluttered your Twitter feed becomes.  There are bots out there that will follow you to get you to follow them back.  Then after you follow them, they will unfollow you.  If you have a habit of following people who follow you, it might be a good idea to go through those you follow and unfollow those that are not really adding value to your PLN or Personal Learning Network.

Interact with Others

It might be a little intimidating at first, but the more you interact on Twitter, the better your experience and growth will be.  When you interact, people will Tweet, and respond to you.  You can have conversations and share ideas with people ALL OVER THE WORLD!  It is not unusual to make great Twitter friends with others and finally meet them at an educational conference later in the year.

In Conclusion

You’re not going to break your computer or phone or the internet by interacting or not interacting on Twitter.  But if you don’t interact and utilize Twitter for professional growth, you are missing out on a great opportunity.

You're not going to break your computer or phone or the internet by interacting or not interacting on Twitter. But if you don't interact and utilize Twitter for professional growth, you are missing out on a great opportunity. Click To Tweet

The things you can learn, the resources you can find, the people that you will interact with, will all help you become a better educator!

 

Peace,
Todd

Making a Quick and High Quality Graphic the Easy Way!

Have you ever wanted to make a great looking graphic but weren’t comfortable using some of those graphic programs with all the brushes and layers and STUFF?  Below you can find a how to tutorial on using Pablo by Buffer. 

Pablo lets you combine license free graphics with predetermined sizes to make a great looking graphic for your social media channels, websites or whatever.  Check out the video below for a walk-through.

 

-Todd

Influence = Money – The Ugly World of Speaker Fees

I’m shell-shocked!

Have you ever followed someone so closely that you feel like you really know them?  I mean, you allowed them to speak into your life, you invested in their materials, you bought it all hook, line, and sinker.  Only to later realize that the person you looked up to isn’t that person after all?

I recently contacted the John Maxwell group to look into bringing John to a local teacher conference.  I had a substantial amount of money to work with.  However, I was shocked to learn that what I could offer wasn’t even one-third of what it took to get John to show up for a one to a two-hour session!  How much would it cost?  $75,000 big ones!

In the world of public educators, only very few make over $75,000 a year.  How could a school district justify paying someone that for 1-2 hours?  They couldn’t!  There are only certain organizations and big businesses that can do that!

Now, I’m not against someone getting paid what they are worth.  I’m not against someone making money.  I think the thing that bothers me the most here is that I know that John came from the world of ministry (which I’m very familiar with) and I know his message of “influence.”

What better way for someone to “give back” and influence hundreds of teachers and potentially thousands of students than to pour into the lives of educators?  Surely The Maxwell Group could find one day where John could come and do that?  Surely someone in John’s position would take a day out of his busy schedule, take less money, all for the benefit of education.

Somewhere he forgot where he came from.  Somewhere he forgot the days when he was preaching to a handful of congregants and would have willingly done that for very little pay.

Maybe it isn’t John.  Maybe it is his organization.  Maybe he doesn’t even know how much they charge to get him to a venue to share his leadership insights.  If that is the case, then that is sad and ultimately John’s leadership fault.  Because “everything rises and falls on leadership.”

I’ve been sitting on this for a while.  Like I said before, I’m shocked.  I have many John Maxwell books, attended many of his conferences, and even still have the CD’s from his monthly subscription.  But I can’t lose the bad taste in my mouth that someone would pass up the opportunity to pour into the lives of educators because of an exorbitant money fee.

I consider myself a lifelong learner.  I learned in this exchange that Leadership is Money, nothing more, nothing less.

I also learned that the world of speaker fees is outrageous!  Again, I’m not against someone getting paid well for what they know, teach and do.  But come on! 

Many reading this will pass this off that I’m bitter.  You’re wrong.  I’m truly shocked.  But think what you will. Someone that I held in high esteem proved to me that money is more important than the message.  That when you make it, you forget the little people.  And that influence is for the elite.

I’ll honestly never look at Key Note Speakers the same.  I’ll always be asking myself, “Would they even care enough to be here if they weren’t paid?”  

Peace,
Todd

 

Increasing Student Engagement and Quality of Work Through Blogging

 

Every educator wants their students to be engaged in the content that their learning and then produce quality work.  One big problem with this is that eventually, by 2nd or 3rd grade, students realize that the work they produce is only for the teacher’s eyes.  Students will only care so much about the work they produce when it is going in the trashcan at the end of the day!

But what if their work was being seen by many…potentially the whole internet?  What if they were able to discuss their work, have it critiqued and then make it better?  Would they care then?

Quote adapted from Michael Hernandez.

Two things to consider before taking one step further:

1. Every student, everywhere, needs to be taught Digital Citizenship.  A new resource for this is Google for Education’s, “Be Internet Awesome” free curriculum and game.

2. Trust.  Admin. need to trust their teachers and teachers need to trust their students.

In the article, Why should students Blog, educator Blair Smith realized a significant difference when student blogs were accessible to their peers in other parts of the world.

 

 

Edublogs

The best resource for teachers and students for blogging is Edublogs.  It is free to teachers.  Other features include:

  • Click for my Example Edublog Site

    Student & Class Management

  • Write Posts & Create Pages
  • Customize Look
  • 250+ Premium Themes
  • Full Privacy Options
  • Files & Media
  • Ad Free & Student Safe
  • Mobile Friendly
  • 24/7 Support
  • powered by WordPress

Step by Step Tutorials:

 

Article: HOW TO BRING YOUR CLASS BLOG TO LIFE

Article: HOW BLOGGING WITH KIDS CAN BOOST COMPUTING, LITERACY AND COMMUNICATION SKILLS

 

PenPal Schools

Another option for classroom teachers, if they don’t want to create a blog just yet, is to partner with a website/organization called PenPal Schools.  Watch the video to see how it works.

 

 

The free service is limited in projects that you can sign-up for.