Each September I am excited like most educators to get back to business doing everything I can to help students succeed. Don't get me wrong, the summer months are invaluable to me as I spend my time immersed in the flow of information that my social networks provide, developing action plans, analyzing data, and hiring staff. Many of the initiatives that I am about to pursue either came directly or indirectly from my Personal Learning Network (PLN). With this being said, there is just something magical and invigorating about having students in the building.
Many of the initiatives I am about to briefly discuss are not new to the field of education, but they are to NMHS. So what's on the horizon at my school? Here is a quick synopsis:
1. Professional Learning Communities (PLC's): The district will be moving to this research-based model as our main means of professional development. The more I learn about the power of PLC's the more excited I get! One great resource I discovered is All Things PLC. If you are not familiar with this site check it out. PLC's are fantastic for professional growth as they empower educators to work collaboratively on areas that they are interested in and are entirely focused on improving student achievement. My challenge is deciding what PLC I want to pursue!
2. Classroom Walkthoughs: This is something I have been researching since last winter and my PLN has provided me with numerous resources to get started. By regularly performing 3-5 minute walkthroughs I will now have more of a presence in classrooms. More importantly, I will now be able to further assist my teachers in their quest to become better educators. The data that I will collect and share with them will serve as a catalyst for their improvement in the areas of teaching and learning. In doing my research I discovered some common pitfalls with the classroom walkthrough process that I must avoid. These include not sharing the results with the teachers, using the data as part of their evaluation, and not allowing them to have input into the specific form to be used. I purchased iPads for each of my administrators to collect the walkthrough data and then we demoed multiple programs to see which was the best fit for us. My administrative team settled on a program by Teachscape to collect, analyze, and disseminate the information collected. What is great about their tool is that it is research-based, customizable to our needs, and has a free app for the iPad. There is also a web-based component available to the teachers that contains resource libraries and discussion forums that I plan to use not only with the classroom walkthrough data, but also our PLC's. A training session for all staff is planned on 9/20/10. For more information on classroom walkthroughs visit this site.
3. Tri-State Educational Technology Conference (TSETC): I have previously blogged about this event, but am compelled to mention it again. This is going to be a great opportunity for my staff to truly experience the power inherent in educational technology when combined with pedagogy. I am proud to be able to co-organize a FREE event with Schoology that has already attracted over 200 innovative, passionate educators and presenters from various parts of the country. I was informed yesterday that some exceptional educators from Germany and Canada will be presenting via Skype. The conference will be held on Saturday October 2, 2010. If you can make it, register now!
4. Expansion of Mobile Learning Devices: Since I played a prominent role in our current cell phone banning policy isn't it ironic that I am now the one trying to develop innovative ways to integrate them into instruction? I am in the early stages of research in this area so stay tuned. Initially I would like to see some pilot classes begin to use Poll Everywhere to increase student engagement. In another mobile device area I recently submitted a grant for a mobile iPad learning lab. My fingers are now crossed! If my school is awarded this grant I will be sure to blog about the innovative possibilities that this will bring to my students and staff.
There you have it, my new adventures for the 2010-2011 school year. If you can add any resources or tips under each of these initiatives please do so in the comments section.