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.

 

 

Lifelong Learning – The Wrong Question!

 

Are you a lifelong learner?  That is the wrong question to ask yourself.  What?!?  Blasphemy!

Instead, the question to ask yourself is “What are you doing with your learning?”

You see, if you are learning and not doing anything with it, then you’re just a filing cabinet.

You see, if you are learning and not doing anything with it, then you're just a filing cabinet. Click To Tweet

A true lifelong learner is applying what they’re learning, making changes to their behavior, adjusting their lives to become better!

Don’t be a filing cabinet!  The world has plenty of those!

What are you doing with your learning?

 

Peace,
Todd

It’s Your Time! So What?

 

Your time is precious!  What do you do with it?

You might think that is a silly question.  However, if you aren’t purposeful, if you don’t schedule your time, it will just disappear…like magic!

...if you aren't purposeful, if you don't schedule your time, it will just disappear...like magic! Click To Tweet

In Time Management Magic, Lee Cockerell writes, “… no one has more than 24 hours in a day…and no one has less that that either.”

Did you get that?  All the great men and women of history and those who are changing the world today, have the same amount of time as you! You can’t make an excuse that you don’t have enough time.  You’re just not managing it right!

It’s time to do something about it!

Peace,
Todd

 

After All These Years We Still Need – 4 Keys to Staying on Mission!

4 Keys to Staying on Mission

After all of these years, it still boils down to communicating and staying on mission!

Before I entered the education field, I spent quite a bit of time in ministry (I’m still a bi-vocational minister). Ministers attend conferences and training just like educators do.  I remember attending a lot of conferences and workshops on the topic of creating a compelling mission and vision statement for myself and my church.

This topic was so drilled in my head that I just assumed everyone realized they needed a shared mission statement to drive what they do and a vision for where they were headed.  I found that this isn’t true!  This isn’t true in education, in most businesses or organizations and even still in ministry.  We might have a mission statement.  It might be nice and compact and easy to remember.  We might have it displayed in a cool graphic form.  But we don’t truly own it.  It is one of those things that we are supposed to do!

The Big Need

If you don’t know what your purpose is or what you’re supposed to be “doing,” then what are you actually accomplishing?  You’re shooting in the dark!  You’re hoping and praying.

Now, hoping and praying isn’t a bad thing. Don’t forget I’m a bi-vocational minister.  The point is that you don’t have to!   When you have a job to do, responsibilities to handle and you are trying to be a person or organization that is making a difference in the world, you can operate from your mission!  You don’t want to leave all your efforts up to happenstance.

No!  If you are part of an organization, there needs to be a driving and compelling mission for you to stay focused on! The employees and the people your organization serves are counting on it!

Who’s Responsible?

You are responsible!  If you’re part of an organization, you are responsible for promoting and pursuing the mission of the organization.  You are not completely responsible, but you are responsible!  Let me say that again…you are responsible for the mission of your organization! Is that clear?

With this said, let me share…

If you’re part of an organization, you are responsible for promoting and pursuing the #mission of the organization. Click To Tweet

4 Keys to Staying on Mission!

The Mission Needs to Be Communicated from the Top!

Although everyone is responsible for the mission, if it is not taken seriously from the top, it won’t filter down the organization, it won’t become the “main thing!”  The “boss” needs to be the keeper of the mission, communicating it in everything he/she does.  This is not an option!  The boss needs to stay on point!

The Mission Needs to Be Easy to Remember!

I have seen some mission statements that are half a page long!  I became bored about halfway through it! The mission needs to be easy to remember so that everyone in the organization can recite it and apply it!

The Mission Needs to Be General/Specific!

The mission of the organization needs to be specific enough so that everyone knows what the purpose and direction of the organization is, but it also needs to be generic enough that each department, regardless of its size, can apply it to whatever their specific role is!

The Mission Needs to Be Evaluated!

The mission doesn’t usually change.  But from time to time, the organization needs to reflect on their mission and if they are being successful.  If they are not, they need to figure out why.  If they are successful, is there something that can be tweaked in the mission to make the organization even better?

Action Steps:

Can you recite your mission statement?  If not, go find it, print it out and set it up in a prominent place where you will see it on a daily basis.

Start using the word mission in what you’re doing to build a culture that embraces the stated mission.  For example, “This project really aligns with the mission of our organization.”

Ask your direct supervisor about the mission of the company and how often it comes up in their meetings.

Can you recite your mission statement? If not, go find it, print it out and set it up in a prominent place where you will see it on a daily basis. Click To Tweet

 

Peace,
Todd

Personal Growth is Not An Accident

“Personal growth is not an accident!”

Recently I wrote an article entitled, The Educator’s Imperative: Three Ways to Stay Fresh and Invest in Yourself!  In that post, I mentioned that I use podcasts as an intentional part of my personal growth and learning.

Recently, I listened to a podcast that I wanted to pass along to you.  John Maxwell, the leadership guru, was recently on the EntreLeadership Podcast to talk about personal growth.  You can visit the podcast page by CLICKING HERE

There are many gems in this podcast like, “Who do you know that I should know?”

Who do you know that I should know? #leadership #growth #PLN #education Click To Tweet

Podcasts are free and many pack a ton of insight for us to help us grow into the leader we want to become.

Peace,
Todd

The Educator’s Imperative: Three Ways to Stay Fresh and Invest in Yourself!

Educators know the importance of continuing their learning.  We attend staff development training, conferences and even follow other educators on Twitter in efforts to stay fresh and relevant in this changing world.  I mean, we are educators after all!  We value education.  And we value learning.  We want to be the best for the students and teachers that we influence and teach with.

But in all of our efforts, are we truly learning new ideas or are we just rehashing the same ideas and strategies in a different language, rockstars, pirates, etc…  Am I pushing it here?

I know this might be kicking over a sacred cow for some of you, but we also really need to stop ONLY reading ASCD books too!  I’m not saying they are bad and to completely stop.  But they shouldn’t be the only ideas that we are placing inside of us.  It’s like the choir preaching to the choir!

I know this might be kicking over a sacred cow for some of you, we need to stop ONLY reading ASCD books too! Click To Tweet

What we need are fresh ideas!  We need the ability to take something outside of education and apply it to our educational setting.  I mean…we are educators.  We should be able to compare and contrast ideas that are out there and apply them to our specific situation.

We’re all very busy.  We have lives.  So what are some ways that we can do this…put in some fresh ideas, different points of view and perspectives into our lives without taking a sabbatical every week?

Three Ways to Put New Ideas Inside of You

Podcasts – The podcast industry has exploded!  It is so easy for anyone to have a podcast now.  That’s good and bad. This means that any Joe Blow is going to produce content…and it will be bad…like listening to the teacher from Farris Bueller’s Day Off, “Bueller?, Bueller?, Bueller?”  You’ll want to rip the ear plugs out from your ears.  But, this also means that others who have great ideas, who didn’t have the means to produce podcasts in the past, can now do so!  And many of them have great ideas!

When do you have the time to listen to podcasts? Do you workout?  Or do you commute to work?  Do you do meaningless work (yard work, clean the house, etc…) that doesn’t require thinking and will allow you to listen for 30 minutes?

When do you have the time to listen to podcasts? Do you workout? Or do you commute to work? Click To Tweet

It’s so easy to listen to podcasts nowadays.  In the past, you would have to sync up an iPod or mp3 player.  It could take time!  But now, it’s as simple as clicking the APP on your phone!   The most widely used platform is Itunes.  But, if you use an Android device, there are tons of APPS that make it easy.  I use Pocket Casts.  It costs $3.99 from the Google Play Store, but it is worth it!  It will pick up wherever you leave off, even if you close the APP.  There are also free APPS – CLICK HERE.

Audible – Don’t have time to sit and read a good book to put some great ideas in your head?  Listen to it instead!  Amazon’s Audible is a powerful APP that allows you to purchase audio books, download them to your phone and listen to them on the go.  One of the features that I absolutely love about the APP is that it will pick up wherever you leave off, like Pocket Casts mentioned above.  You don’t have to go search for the chapter or last second you listened.

One of the Audible books that I’m listening to right now is Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World by General Stanley McChrystal.  I actually learned about the book while listening to a leadership podcast.  It is a great book!  If I could get every superintendent and school administrator to sit down and listen to a book, it would be this one!  It strategically lays out how important it is, in our current day and time, to start thinking differently. The military has to adapt or people die!  I wish we had the same attitude in education!

If I could get every superintendent and school administrator to sit down and listen to a book, it would be this one! Click To Tweet

Twitter – Yes, Twitter.  We are all on Twitter! We do Twitter Chats, follow the most influential educators, hashtag #PLN and share out great content that we find.  But what I’m suggesting is that you follow others, not in the field of education, that will challenge and stretch your thinking.  Here’s a search to get you going – CLICK HERE!

Closing Thought

A few years back, there was a time that I felt like I was just giving out so much at work (my campus) that I describe it as feeling “thin.”  I was being stretched.  Because I know enough about leadership development, I knew it was because I was putting so much out and not replacing it with anything new.  That’s never healthy!

I started listening to podcasts, reading blogs and spent a little bit more time on Twitter clicking on great articles.  The effect is that I started to feel energized.  The reason?  I started to put new ideas inside of me.  These fresh ideas caused me to see my current situation in new ways.  I understood how I could use these ideas in my current situation to better the work that I was doing and help the people I was influencing.  Investing in myself paid off.

Take some time to invest in yourself! With the strategies above, it will be easy!

 

Peace,
Todd