Undertaking your Career Planning

If you are in the middle of choosing a career or are contemplating a career change, you may be overwhelmed by all the advice out there. The tips below might answer some of your career planning questions.

Career Satisfaction

The notion of career satisfaction is different for each individual. What a particular person might find interesting about a career will be different for another. This is why it is important to consider your own interests, personality, aptitudes and values when finding your perfect career choice.

Financial Consideration

It is a common belief that as long as a job enables to earn enough money, it might be the most suitable one. However, this is often far from the truth. Satisfaction in a career is about how the person feels at the end about the job. A job that allows you to put your talents and skills at their best use is satisfying.

Career Change

Before opting for a career change, it is important to ask yourself is whether it is your current job that is making you unhappy. It might not be the job in itself that is not suitable for you, but your workplace and employer. Sometimes company policies and employer attitudes might contribute to job dissatisfaction. Another workplace in the same industry and with the same job description might be an appropriate choice.

Risks

There are several risks associated to a career change. Job outlooks change frequently. With time they can become better or get worst. In order to analyze the risks involved, it is better to carry out some investigative work.

20 Seconds of Insane Courage

“Sometimes all you need is 20 seconds of insane courage just literally 20 seconds of just embarrassing bravery and I promise you something great will come of it.”

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It’s interesting trying to break down your life into 20 second moments. I watched my son walk for the first time. Listened to my daughter sing a song in front of the whole family. I remember asking my wife to marry me, or even the moment I asked her father for his blessing. Some of these moments are forced    on us but others are purely our own creation.

We’ve recently witnessed how short bursts of courage can change the life of one individual or the lives of many. And everyone I’ve met in my life truly respects courage. It is not easy to display courage, but when we see it…we respect it, and are drawn to it.

In the movie “We Bought a Zoo” Matt Damon’s character needed courage to talk to his future wife for the first time, and to bring his family together after her death. The lesson I took from this is that many times before the 20 seconds or courage come the 20 seconds of curiosity. The idea that sparks the act.

Imagining what your life would look like after the act of courage is what inspires us to move forward. Even if it’s only for a moment, these are 20 seconds of insane curiosity that lead to so much more. Maybe you’ve had this experience and understand what I’m talking about. If not, allow me to explain:

There are moments of decision in our lives where it is easy to make a popular choice. Some of these are trivial (ie what do you want to eat when out with a group of friends) but others are important. Maybe it is choosing a college. Are you choosing the college because of what everyone else says or what you want? Maybe it is choosing a career path, or significant other, or how you spend your free time. In all of these choices there is what your friends are doing, what your family expects you to do, and what society believes is the right thing to do. Then, deep down inside, there is what YOU want to do. Most of the time, it may be difficult to uncover. It may feel unnatural to unleash your true passions.

Passion and Curiosity

Amber Rae talks about finding and accepting her true passion in her article “8 Signs You’ve Found Your Life’s Work”:

Though I’ve known for many years that my purpose is to unlock human potential, it took me some time to fully embrace my intuition, to figure out how to actualize this vision, and to build the courage to lean into my fears.

For me, courage and curiosity go hand-in-hand. They are both covered by our fears. If being courageous was the popular and easy choice then we would all do it, but it’s not. We respect courage because it is hard to do. The same goes for being curious and having ideas and passions that aren’t always the popular choice.

Courage charms us, because it indicates that a man loves an idea better than all things in the world, that he is thinking neither of his bed, nor his dinner, nor his money, but will venture all to put in act the invisible thought of his mind.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

The truth is we all have the ability to be courageous, but for me I lived most of my teen years and college life closed to the possibility. I needed to open myself back up to curiosity in order to see new possibilities. That’s when I decided to become a teacher. My friends were in business, accounting, and other degree programs that led to careers with money…which was the path I had planned on traveling. Until I realized it wouldn’t make me happy, and wouldn’t be fulfilling. Education was it for me. When I finally made that choice the world opened up.

Here are some other moments of curiosity I’ve had since then:

– wondering what it would be like to marry my high school sweetheart

– going for more job interviews after I had already been offered a teaching job

– publishing an ebook with no real reason other than I wanted to do it

– enrolling my students in our first flat classroom project

– spending time looking for a master’s program in global and international education

– learning html, css, and the basics of webdesign

– searching through adoption options with my wife that led to an amazing journey with our son Tucker

– getting a coaching job I had no business applying for

– emailing a programmer about dribble that led to a failed startup (Colllabo) but also this blog

– going after my current job as a k-12 tech staff developer running a 1:1 initiative

Stay Out Of the Waiting Place

The list could go on. If I had never allowed myself to be curious then I would never had these amazing experiences and opportunities. One can go through life waiting for opportunities to come their way…but chances are slim unless you go out and grab them yourself. Now I try to live my life looking for opportunities and giving myself time to be curious. I no longer live in what Dr.Seuss calls the waiting place…

You can get so confused
that you’ll start in to race
down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace
and grind on for miles across weirdish wild space,
headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.
The Waiting Place…

…for people just waiting.
Waiting for a train to go
or a bus to come, or a plane to go
or the mail to come, or the rain to go
or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow
or waiting around for a Yes or a No
or waiting for their hair to grow.
Everyone is just waiting.

Waiting for the fish to bite
or waiting for wind to fly a kite
or waiting around for Friday night
or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake
or a pot to boil, or a Better Break
or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants
or a wig with curls, or Another Chance.
Everyone is just waiting.

NO!
That’s not for you!

Somehow you’ll escape
all that waiting and staying.
You’ll find the bright places
where Boom Bands are playing.

With banner flip-flapping,
once more you’ll ride high!
Ready for anything under the sky.
Ready because you’re that kind of a guy!

-Dr. Suess “Oh, The Places You’ll Go!”

Last year I wanted to give my students the freedom to be curious. We started the 20% project where they got to work on whatever they wanted for one day a week in my 11th grade English class. What surprised me was how difficult a time many of my students had coming up with something to do… They were so ingrained with receiving and completing tasks that it never occurred to them what they would do with their own time.

Our job as educators can be boiled down to one statement: Help kids achieve and succeed in life. A big part of that is allowing students to find out what they want to be successful at, and what goals they have for themselves. The best way to teach this is to model it ourselves to students, friends, parents, and anyone we meet. Don’t let the youth of the world stay in that waiting place. Don’t let yourself stay in that waiting place. Be curious. Be courageous.

The Future of Education? Cool…and Scary.

Lately I’ve been obsessing over the future of education. That has included a lot of research and time spent analyzing trends in technology, especially those that will impact the education sector. There are some great publications and sites that have helped my research, but the ones focused on education are relatively few. It’s ironic that education promotes individuals and groups to create technological advances, but lags behind in adopting those new technologies. Thus far this is what I’ve found:

The Future of Education is going to be cool for students, teachers, administrators, and parents.
The Future of Education is going to be scary for students, teachers, administrators, and parents.

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Not sure what I mean? The classic technology paradox here is easier to understand with a few analogies. Take for instance smart phones. Smart phones give many students access to information and the web. A large number of these students may not own a computer, and therefore the smart phones put information directly at their fingertips. This is great. However, smart phones can also connect these students to hundreds of other ways to avoid learning while in the classroom. Many teachers and schools are afraid to allow smart phones in class because of the negative possibilities. Smart phones define this paradox in education where technology can solve one issue, but create an entirely new issue.

One of the growing technological trends in education is what I call, “On Demand Education”. It’s the ability for students to learn at anytime, from anywhere. This, again, is great. Future students may be able to set their own “learning” schedule, to get work done when they want (think late-night Math). But if I remember correctly, I was a fairly successful procrastinator in high school. How many students will have the will-power and scheduling abilities to do this “On Demand” education successfully? Does it give another out and/or excuse for those students who have better things to do in their mind?

Breaking Bad

Bad accountants need to be fired. Such a simple phrase; so easy to say.  Why is it then, if you simply substitute “teachers” for “accountants,” you are made to be a heretic in many public education circles?  If an accountant messes with someone’s money, we have no problem suggesting he move onto another venture in life, but if a teacher negatively affects the education of youth, we can’t bring ourselves to utter the words?  For, it is true what they say about teachers, they change lives.  The magnitude and direction of this change depends on the attitude and capabilities of the individual at the front of the room.   With the end of this school year upon us, every school faces a decision of whether or not to honestly evaluate these individuals, and ultimately affect the lives of children.

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With polarized debates in rare form for campaign 2012, the intensity of education discussions has grown.  If you call for the firing of teachers, you are anti-union and hate public education.  If you are in the teachers’ union, you must support all teachers and proclaim that charter schools are a disgrace to America’s well-being.  As usual, people try to separate others into various categories within the debate while many citizens simply align themselves to these categories because they think it matches up with another set of personal beliefs (political, religious, etc). Too often we speak our own mind, reinforcing our own beliefs, but never stop to listen long enough to hear a reasonable idea anyone else may offer.

LIke many big ticket issues, the truth to the firing of teachers lies somewhere in the middle.  Is there a heavy relationship component to education? Yes.  Do test scores show a complete picture of a teacher’s influence? No.  Are all teachers the greatest? No.  Are all teachers lazy and love summers off? No. Should bad teachers get a chance to improve before being let go? Depends on how bad their classroom is. The fact of the matter through all of these questions is that we need to produce the best educational system possible for our children.  If skilled administrators (another issue for another day) are not evaluating the level of instruction in our classrooms on a consistent basis, and are not able to dismiss a teacher after chances to improve, how can we ever provide the next generation with the education necessary to carry us through the 21st Century?  The answer is, we can’t.  Therefore, it should never be considered anti-public educator to say so.  Rather, it should be considered pro-public education.  Teachers (public, private, charter, moon school, whatever) who sincerely work hard to consistently provide the highest level of instruction for their students should be praised and recognized as much as anyone in our society. Those that are not, or just don’t seem to have “it? Plain and simple, bad teachers need to be fired.

5 Legitimate Ways to Make Money Online as a Teacher

As educators we have an important job: teaching the world’s youth. While the teaching profession consistently ranks as one of the top five “noble” job fields, it is also hard for many teachers to make a living without working a part-time job on the side. Many educators work in other fields during summers off, but it is sometimes tough to switch gears and move away from education for part-time work. This post is for those teachers, like myself, who are looking for some extra income and would like it to come via education. This is not to debate how much teachers should be paid, only to be realistic in the fact that many of us need extra money (who doesn’t these days!).

We’ve studied hard, worked hard, and spent countless hours trying to get better at a very difficult profession. Now, it’s time to have that work ethic pay off outside of the classroom. None of these ways to make money online are “get rich” opportunities, instead they are real world business opportunities for those in education. Also, this post is meant to be an overview of some different (and proven) ways to make money online. Look for a more in-depth publication on how to go about doing that in each of the five areas in the near future.

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1.Write an eBook

I wrote an eBook in 2009 called “The 2.0 Teacher”. By now, it is way outdated! I wanted to create a resources guide for educators looking to use new Web 2.0 products in the classroom. While I made a lot of mistakes with this first eBook, I also learned many hard lessons, and made some money along the way. I published it on the Kindle/Amazon store and also paid some money in royalties to Six Voices for creating a tap-stack” of my eBook to sell in the App Store.

Since then I’ve seen royalties come in, but nothing to break the bank! I’m planning on updating this book in the near future and also I’m currently writing another eBook for educators.

Why should you write an eBook? It’s simple: You are an educator with a specific skill set and experience level…share your knowledge with us. Your market is all those educators out there looking to improve their teaching, and there are many of us looking to do just that.

These books range in prices but most fall in between 99 cents and $10. Some writers like Seth Godin might recommend you publish your first eBook free to engage your “tribe”. In essence you should build up your reputation and your following before charging money, but the choice is yours.

If you are thinking about publishing a non-fiction educational eBook here are some sites that can get your started:

  • Academic publishing: The essential checklist for ebook authors
  • How to Publish an eBook
  • How to Publish on Kindle Platform

2. Create an App

Creating an App used to be reserved for only programmers and developers, however, today people can learn how to make a successful app without the years of training needed beforehand. It might seem like a daunting task, and it is sure to take some time…but if you have a good idea for an educational app, there is no doubt it can be done.

Check out the list of some top educational apps reviewed by actual teachers on TeachersWithApps.com.

Now, with Amazon apps and Android apps, the market is wide-open for products developed by real educators. Edudemic came out with a great article in 2010 on how to “Make an Educational App” (a guide for teachers). Other teaches are making the apps themselves for students and to get paid in the app store.

If you are thinking about making an app check out this article on App Building Tools for Teachers:  http://appsineducation.blogspot.com/2011/10/app-building-tools-for-teachers-and.html

3. Sell Your Content on TeachersPayTeachers.com

Teachers Pay Teachers has been around for almost seven years, and boy has it grown! Paul Edelman the founder says, “Teachers work hard and deserve extra compensation for all those hours spent lesson planning.Newer teachers and those looking for ideas can save time and leap ahead in competency by learning from veterans.We strongly believe that the ensuing exchange lifts all boats and leads to the better sharing of best practices.In the end everyone wins, especially our students.”

The site is simple and straightforward. When you sign-up you have the option to download free and paid resources, as well as upload free and paid resources. You set the price.

You can browse resources by Grade Level, Subject, Type (Lesson Plans, Printables, Exams etc), and Price. Techcrunch recently wrote an article about Teachers Pay Teachers when the first teacher from the site reached $1 Million in sales! Many of the top teachers on the site have hit five figures or more in sales. TPT takes a 40% cut of profit on basic memberships, but only 15% on Premium memberships (which start at $60 a year). If you are going to sell a good amount of material, it might make sense to join as a premium member.

Finally, be sure to read the site’s TOS and Copyright Policy.

4. Create A Course on Udemy.com

Udemy’s “goal is to disrupt and democratize the world of education by enabling anyone to teach and learn online. Just as blogging democratized the publishing industry, Udemy seeks to dramatically change education by empowering millions of experts to teach & share what they know.” They’ve successfully raised over $4 million dollars in funding since 2010 (when they were founded). I’ve personally taken a number of Udemy courses and they ranged from amazing to so-so. As an instructor the set-up is a bit more challenging than TPT (above) but the product has many more possibilities.

When you sign-up on Udemy you can browse courses by various content or keywords. You’ll notice that many of the “popular” courses are free, but hits like “Microsoft Excel 2010 Beginner/Intermediate Course” has almost 12,000 students and sells for $99 (you can do the math!). That particular course is filled with 17 Chapters and 129 Lectures, most of which are video screencasts demonstrating different features and functions in Excel.

Education is definitely not the top category on Udemy, but it is growing. Courses like “Apps for Librarians” and “Google Earth for Educators” have seen real success, and educators are making money. Furthermore, the education category is not the only area where you could possibly create a course. Based on your subject knowledge, you could create a course in many of Udemy’s categories including: Arts, Business, Fitness, Humanities, Language, Math and Science, Social Sciences, Sports etc.

If you are looking into making a Udemy course, sign up and take this free course to help you understand the tools and features: http://www.udemy.com/official-udemy-instructor-course/

5. Tutor or Teach Online

I’ve been an SAT tutor for five years now, and it is a fantastic way to make extra money. Most of my tutoring has been face-to-face, but there has been a recent trend where tutors are working online with students via video collaboration and other LMS/CMS tools.

Similarly, online teaching has taken-off and there are part-time K-12 jobs, and university jobs popping up. Unlike Udemy, these courses are usually pre-built and require interaction with students. Grading and other expectations are required of the teacher. Time Magazine wrote a great article on teacher Jane Good, who works for an online teaching organization, showing how her work-life is different in many ways than traditional teachers. It is worth the read.

We keep coming back to the same premise: people will pay for your expertise, and your experience in teaching. It is a tough field and not everyone can instruct. If you have the chops to make it in the classroom, it is worth checking out online opportunities.

Online Teaching Opportunities

  • Online Teaching Jobs and Other Home-Based Education Jobs
  • K12 Careers
  • K-12 Telecommuting & Part-Time Jobs

Tutoring Opportunities

  •  Online Tutoring Jobs at Tutor.com
  • Tutor Vista
  • Tutor Job Listings at Indeed

Bonus: If you have a big idea, it could be a Startup!

Maybe you are thinking “bigger” than these five ways to make money. Maybe you want to truly disrupt the educational field and market. If so, you might be headed down the Startup Road. Some educators are working part-time or leaving their jobs to work on companies and organizations ready to change education. Check out Imagine K-12 and subscribe to Edsurge.com to get a better feel of what this type of experience might look like.

Global Education By Design

Start with your “to be” list before you have your “to do” list.

This concept comes from Classroom Habitudes by Angela Maiers. What do I want students to be on this project? Here are some common “to be’s” as I work on projects like the Flat Classroom project, A week in the life Elementary project, or the Eracism Debate project:

-Students will be collaborators and inventors
-Students will be curious: about each other and their topic.
-Students will be professional students: understanding privacy and appropriate behavior that is inclusive of those who speak English as a second language.
-Students will be bridge builders and cultural analysts as they compare and come together.
-Students will be adaptive, proactive, and self aware.

These are just a few of the “to be’s” that have been on my list but the biggest “to be” is I want my classroom to be “flat.” This term comes from Thomas Friedman’s book The World is Flat and means that I want my students to connect to each other, the rest of the school, the community, their country, and their world in meaningful ways that remove the walls of my classroom. The world is their classroom and my classroom is contributing to learning in the world.

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Global education requires customization.

Ask yourself as you design the project, am I facilitating an environment where these things can happen. Remember that you are a “teacherpreneur”. You are a teacher who customizes the learning experience to your local standards and requirements while working to cooperate with other teachers when possible.

Remember that troubleshooting IS higher order thinking and that WHEN struggles and miscommunications happen that you are to use the teachable moment. Problems are the artist’s palette upon which globally savvy teachers paint the masterpiece of meaningful learning, expect them.

Construct Communication Conduits.

In Chapter 2 of EnFlattening Classrooms, gaging Minds, Julie Lindsay and I talk about the requirement for effective synchronous and asynchronous communications methods. Just connecting on Skype isn’t enough if you’re global. You need appointment secretaries like Timebridge. You need email connectors like Google Groups. You need collaborative writing platforms like wikis or collaborative word processors. You need video sharing sites like YouTube or Ning. You might need a Facebook page or a Twitter hashtag. Create a communication map but be ready to adapt when people in your community establish their own conduits to connect. Just as river dams must have outlets, you aren’t controlling what is happening, you are channeling communications to empower a learning objective.

Start Strong.

We have the “handshake phase” in our projects where students are getting to know each other with the objective of creating strong, immediate connections. Just as you decide in the first few moments whether you will like someone or not, but your learners will decide in the FIRST or SECOND interaction whether your community is worth the effort of engagement. Make connections, encourage communication, have students share in ways that show who they are and connect as fellow human beings.

Build and foster community around content objectives.

Some of the best books I’ve read on managing global communities include Enchantment by Guy Kawasaki and Tribes by Seth Godin, because that is what we are doing, we are working to enchant tribes of learners. We are community builders around our topic. In the business world invisibility is un-employability. In online blended communities, invisibility is inaccessibility. If people don’t see you commenting and sharing and communicating, they think you’re not there. You must leave digital footprints so people know you’re treading among them and part of the community. This is a not a community where you are lord and master, but one where everyone is a just a surf – quite literally. You’re all together learning and moving forward but you will be recognized for what you contribute, not for who you are and being an excellent, curious learner starts with you.

Also keep the main objective front and center. An inability to focus is often the achilles heel of the Net Generation. Conversations can and will happen around a variety of topics, but it is your job to steer them towards the key topic for your objectives. You are still the teacher and you still have goals, milestones, and objectives to reach. Just as a sailor steers his sailboat towards the shore, you cannot control the wind, but you can control the general direction. Sometimes the wind of conversation blows you in a direction that you did not intend, but it can still meet your objectives. Be willing to correct your course and adjust your sails to speed up learning and energize the community. One of the most exciting, invigorating things for learning is when students see and notice their teacher adapting the learning environment to what is happening. Do it and let them see that you ARE noticing the community and responding with your actions. This is when you begin to enchant your learning tribe, and as one who has the privilege of working this way, this type of teaching is as addicting as sailing.

Establish and reinforce the Habits.

In my upcoming book Collaborative Writing in the Cloud from Eye on Education, I share some of the best research I’ve found on collaborative work which was written by Justin Reich at Edtechresearcher. For example, in the book I quote how he shares that an effective discussion is one that has at least four turns in the conversation. Anecdotally, I’ve found in the Flat Classroom projects that when I see students actively discussing a wiki page on the discussion tab, then the writing tends to be more collaborative.

In my blog post Wiki Wiki Teaching: The Art of Using Wiki Pages to Teach, I share how students should start and end class, but the habits I teach students (and hold them accountable for) encourage collaboration. Theresa Allen, the leader for the DigiteenTM project (full disclosure: this is a Flat Classroom® Project)  has students respond to at least three other blog posts during the “handshake” phase of the project and as they check off their response, they receive a work ethic grade from the teacher to foster this interaction. The process of commenting is not what helps connections happen, but rather the process of meaningful commenting. Familiarize yourself with the habits, for as the habits of the community goes, so goes the community.

Celebrate and Retrospect

At the end of the race, you can hear the cheers. You can see the finish line and the clock. So what do you do? You SPEED UP. You’re about to finish something meaningful. You’ll get a t-shirt, or maybe even a medal. You’ll have family congratulate you. If you’re smart, you’ll write in your runner’s journal what you did well and what you should do differently next time. You will share on Facebook with your friends what happened. Racing is a rush because it has a finish.

Projects and interactions must have a clear finish. When you let projects and events fizzle out you let the sizzle go out. You miss the opportunity to celebrate and cement learning. In Flat Classroom, we have student summits where students present their topics, share what they learned, and about the learning process. Every time we do this, a teacher or student says “I didn’t get it until we all talked and now, I get what we were doing. I want to go back and do it again.” Then, next time they collaborate, they get it. Because every collaborative experience and global experience is different, you don’t see the big picture until everyone gets together. Like a patchwork quilt, each patch is unique, but when they are sewn together, they become a work of art.

Global Collaboration is vital to the modern classroom

It isn’t about what you’re keeping out but what you’re bringing into your classroom. We aren’t making copies in our classrooms, we’re making originals. We desperately need rigor with engagement and are teaching the most hyper-connected generation in history. But schools are comprised of bricks AND clicks. We need online and offline spaces to learn. From my own experience, once you go flat, you never go back!

Do our classrooms inspire and cultivate intellectual curiosity in children?

Our 13th post in our December series on “Intellectual Curiosity” comes via Robyn Hrivnatz. Robyn has taught both junior high and elementary Science and English Language Arts as well as worked in an Instructional Technology role in Katy ISD and Lamar CISD. She is a Microsoft Innovative Educator Master Trainer, Discovery Educator Network Star Educator, certified SMART Trainer and an active member of ISTE, TCEA, NSTA, Classroom 2.0, and several educational technology Special Interest Groups. In the summer of 2011, she also had an opportunity of a lifetime to be one of two educators in the U.S. to be a part of the first Partners in Learning Global Institute.

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When I was a child, I used to watch shows like MacGyver. I would often take found objects around the house that were essentially garbage, and use items like tape, glue, nails, paint, and of course glitter and build things from the “junk” because I wanted to be an inventor/designer of something new. I also used to own a home chemistry kit and often found myself trying to simulate science experiments at home from household items. I know what you are thinking, and no, I wasn’t that kid trying to make a bomb. I just was curious by nature to discover how things worked and what would happen if things were altered. Just like MacGyver, I was always looking for ordinary items around the house that I could use to create something new. I was fortunate enough to grow up in a home with a set of supportive parents who were always willing to let me build that dining room fort, assist me in my household chemistry experiments, and provide the “junk” and tools to build something out in my dad’s workshop.

So when I think about intellectual curiosity, I immediately think of Cane’s arcade.

With only cardboard boxes, a great imagination, and the loving support of his father, this child’s curiosity has sparked the interest of not only of his community but the world.

So, my question is, how do our classrooms support this creative intellectual curiosity? Does your classroom have supplies readily available for students to create, explore, and construct? Are you the educator who when a learner asks how to do something or if they can do something you give them the encouragement to problem solve and tackle the question on hand?

I think the main key is having supplies readily available to experiment with. It’s much easier learning things hands on. I think we see these types of classrooms more frequently in the elementary setting, but these exploratory skills need to embraced in all classrooms. We need to support the creative inquisitive nature of learners and foster a classroom in which learners can feel free to collaboratively work to construct knowledge, which often begins with an empty cardboard box or popsicle stick.

How to Rock the Boat (and create real change in your school)

New year’s signifies another rotation around the sun. All too often, we begin the year with a burning ball of fire in our chests, hoping to change our habits for the better. However, the cold air (at least for us in the northeast) and short days seem to cool the fire and, quickly, we fall back into similar routines. Why not change this? Why not let 2014 be a bit different? This year, I implore all educators to pick their goal at their school and stick to it. A child’s life may just depend on it.

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At every school there are issues that adults discuss and talk (aka complain) about on a daily basis. Everyone has a solution that would obviously work much better than anything anyone has tried before. However, very few times, do people act on their ideas. Our children need more educators willing to take risks, willing to fight for justice, willing to step outside the box to engage them and get them to realize the power knowledge can hold; willing to put children first in their mission to influence the world for generations to come.

I know everyone is stressed. I know everyone is overworked. I know there are limitations to what changes can be made in some cases. However, when you look at history and you look at those individuals who have made a truly lasting impact in the lives of many, they were always facing the same obstacles we are today. Often times, the hurdles were much greater than those that we face today. However, these individuals didn’t simply identify the obstacles; they found a way through them. It is this determination and perseverance that we often look to build in our students and we critique when it is not present. What better way to educate than to lead by example? I implore each and every educator reading this blog to do the following:

1. Select an Issue (large or small) that you care passionately about within your school community.

2. Identify key stakeholders and what their concerns or motives are within the issue.

3. Find a small group of stakeholders (administrators, teachers, parents, students) who hold the same interest.

4. Identify the key change(s) you would like to see and envision what “could be.”

5. As a team, evaluate the possible hurdles or obstacles you may come up against and a possible course of action if you do face these challenges.

6. Decide on an achievable goal for the year, a tangible course of action, and a concrete place to start.

7. Face adversity

8. Accept that no plan gets implemented 100% the way it was planned. Get back up, huddle up with your stakeholders, and decide on what needs to be tweaked to reach your goal.

9. Repeat steps 7 & 8 as needed.

10. Don’t accept anything but success.

We have all heard the phrase, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” Rome certainly wasn’t perfect, nothing will be. But, ain’t it time we start building?

Why don’t we share best practices?

Bill Selak is an elementary music teacher and an adjunct faculty member at Azusa Pacific University and University of La Verne.

For the first time in the history of teaching higher ed, another instructor is teaching the same material as I am. At our last faculty meeting, I shared most of my resources via Google Drive. To my surprise, someone actually looked at them, loved some ideas, and said, “Hey, Bill. Do you mind if I use a couple of these assignments?” When I replied with an edustoked “Yes!”, he was shocked. He felt guilty for taking. Why is that? We tell our students to share, to work together, and to be nice to each other. As teachers, we tend to not share. Collaboration seems to be the exception.

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Here was my teaching schedule during my first few years:
7:30 am Walk to my classroom. Close door. Prep.
8:20 am Greet students. Close door. Teach.
10:15 am Walk to the lounge. Drink coffee. Listen to teachers talk/complain.
10:30 am Greet students. Close door. Teach.
12:00 pm Walk to the lounge. Eat food. Listen to teachers talk/complain.
12:40 pm Greet students. Close door. Teach.
2:15 pm Walk students outside. Wait for them to leave.
2:30 pm Walk to my classroom. Close door. Prep.

I’m guessing this sounds familiar. I don’t know why, but the expectation is that teachers work in isolation. There is no collaboration built in to the school day. There is no sharing. And staff meetings are rarely a place where true collaboration takes place. Typically, a principal talks and you silently listen.

Well, some of us do: on Twitter, Google+, and at conferences. Even at local conferences, I tend to see just two or three teachers from my K-12 district, and rarely (if ever) see anyone from higher ed. Those that do share, tend to share a lot! Since you’re reading this, you’re probably one of those people. We are the few that share ideas through social media, and that collaborate at ed tech events.

I think the physical layout of schools is not conducive to teacher collaboration. In K-12, our desks are in our rooms. In higher ed, I rarely even see another instructor. When you step back and look at this, it is completely ridiculous. There are so many eduawesome teachers that simply don’t share. I think they are willing to, but they just don’t. And that needs to change.

We need to share our best practices. We need to share our ideas. We need to share our lessons. The solution to this, however, is not an easy one. To get things started, we need to become social media evangelists. The basic tenet of social media is to be social. Places like Twitter make is easy to share our ideas, lessons, and resources. Our schools need to make collaboration a priority. Administrators need to give us time in the work day to collaborate. We need to spend time connecting with other, and sharing with each other.

The Importance of #EduBro…No, seriously it is important!

If you’re an educator who uses social media or visits blogs about education, then chances are you heard about it. Hashtags were trending, the blogosphere was abuzz, Memes were all over (and mustached) at ISTE 2012.  The dawn of the Edubro had arrived and we all bore witness.

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Provenzano and Tim Gwynn started the #EduBro as a way to bring people together at ISTE 2011. They continued the hashtag and it gained popularity culminating with the two inviting Sir Ken Robinson, an international advisor on all things education and general superstar, to join them at an event the two were planning for ISTE 2012. It started off as a bit of a joke, but the two were shocked when Robinson responded via twitter to their invite. He declined, but EduBro was getting some serious attention.

Contrary to what Provenzano said in a recent post on his blog, “The Nerdy Teacher”, the EduBros are a VERY big deal. Provenzano points out the fact that the two were able to get #EduBro to trend worldwide, and their influence was felt by thousands as positive outcomes, but he fails to recognize some other rather large implications of the idea of EduBro.

According to The National Center for Education’s Profile of Teachers in the U.S. 2011 the teaching profession is predominately comprised of female educators. The study showed a decrease in male teachers to just 16% in 2011 from 18% in 2005.

The EduBro notion is important to education because it shows young male teachers that there are valued and influential men in this profession. For years we have heard about the importance of male role models in the lives of American students. Perhaps many more young men might consider becoming a teacher if they knew ahead of time that they could experience similar end results with hard work and dedication

The study also showed an increase in teachers younger than 30 years old (more than 1 in 5).  The fact that there is a new generation, both male and female, of teachers in schools today is important to note from an EduBro standpoint because these new younger teachers need mentors. They need the kind of mentors who are tech savvy.  They need the kind of mentors who are outgoing. They need the kind of mentors who are leaders. They need the kind of mentors like the EduBros

In the recent weeks the EduBro hashtag has all but disappeared from the twitterverse. I think it’s important to revitalize it, to make it as present as any of the other educational hashtags. At first glance it can easily be dismissed, waved off because of its comedic tones, but who ever said that education has to be serious all of the time? Some of the best lessons begin with a laugh.