Wednesday, November 30, 2016

What if I Walked in My Staff Room 

and the Principal Put My Name on Red?

by Janet Adams M.A. 

I was excited to start my second assignment as a fourth-grade teacher at a new school site in 1989. The move was somewhat overwhelming in that I just completed two years as a middle school English/Reading/Art teacher in a small K-8 grade elementary school and now I had to start all over in a new grade level.  Hear me out.  Why would you care about a 1989 teacher move?  Keep reading.   I was thrilled that when I unpacked my plethora of banker boxes, I found my classroom behavior chart. That was going to be my first bulletin board.   Do you recognize this chart?  

Student names were posted and fresh green, yellow, red construction cards were cut out and distributed.  Teachers visiting my room with warm welcomes stopped at the chart and asked, "what is this?"  I explained over and over how my innocent looking chart worked as a simple manipulative way to address students' behavior.  During the day, the color code cards would publicly shame an offender if they had to "pull a card" and the other students showing a positive green card above their name would be ever so careful during their day and self-regulate their behavior so as to not be embarrassed.  "Wow, can we copy and make one for our room?"  Behavior charts soon sprang up in my colleagues' rooms.  I was pleased. I had helped change the culture of our school.  The chart was remade fresh for five more years as my new fourth graders entered and left.  This was the system they learned in Kindergarten and this was the system that kept them in line.  

What if my principal had put me on a system and I walked in my teachers' lounge and saw my name on red?  How would I feel?  Safe?  Would I want to leave that job?  It would not be a good situation.  

What are the Unintended Consequences?  

If you browse your Pinterest account for "classroom management systems" today,  this chart and many other varieties will be ready to 'Save' to your boards.  Today, social and emotional learning has become the new norm for behavior management in classrooms.  Social and emotional learning (SEL) provides a new foundation for safe and positive learning and enhances students' ability to succeed in school, careers, and life.  The last four years in my quest for learning about SEL, I  have stopped and have had an 180-degree heart change.  I thought that I had to be the hero in the classroom and maintain discipline but all that time my students were the heroes and deserved to know the skills that would empower them for their lifetime.  

The Past Has Caught Up With Me

My granddaughter is a brand new kindergartner this fall and attends an all-Spanish immersion classroom.  "What are you learning?" I asked with great enthusiasm.  "I pulled my cards to yellow two times this week", she shared sadly.  I sat there quietly then tried to explain to her that those 'yellow cards' were not what was important.  "Be yourself, enjoy your new experiences with friends and language."  

A few days later an IT tech was in our home installing a new flat screen TV.  I asked him about how he learned his trade.  "I hated school and I was marked as a trouble maker, " he boldly shared. "My card was always on red year after year.  I later attended a private trade school and realized I was not dumb, and graduated with a 3.9."   

I apologized to him.  

I Can Start from Now and Make a Brand New Ending

1.  I attended a week-long conference on restorative principles that captured my heart.   I learned about a sustainable classroom management system called "Discipline That Restores".  A teacher responds and offers life-giving strategies to create respect, cooperation, and responsibility in the classroom.

2.  I read articles and blogs from teachers who are learning and willing to share about social and emotional learning.  

3.  I listen to podcasts that interview teachers about amazing and emotionally safe classroom management systems.  

4.  TED Talks
  • Brene` Brown: Listening to Shame   Shame is an unspoken epidemic, the secret behind many forms of broken behavior. BrenĂ© Brown, whose earlier talk on vulnerability became a viral hit, explores what can happen when people confront their shame head-on. Her own humor, humanity, and vulnerability shine through every word.

To all my students who are now adults, please know that I am sorry.  If you are a teacher,  toss out your chart and enjoy the quest for new relationships.  

Janet Adams M.A.
Online Course:  Pinterest for Teachers

Saturday, September 24, 2016

9 Essential Digital Skills for the 21st Century Teacher

"Become a Better Version of You with Proverbs That Can Easily be Put Into Practice"
Janet Adams M.A. 

Proverbs 3:1-3
"My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you prosperity.  Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.  Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man."  

My 8-year old granddaughter glanced at me across her kitchen table,  "Hey, do you know that I have 9 character traits?  Want to know what they are?"  

"Sure."  I held up nine of my fingers and she carefully named them and explained to me each one with her life examples.   Little did I know, that this was September 22 and her school celebrated "Character Day".  What an awesome teacher she has to take the time to pinpoint character traits in each one of her 3rd-grade students. Taryn, was thrilled to share each one with me.    Thank you, Ms. Franz.  

That very same day my email inbox led me to an article,  "9 Essential Digital Skills for the 21st Century Teacher."  These were not character traits, but technology skills.   I tapped the article and leaned into that space with anticipation.  I held up my fingers again and as I read the skills,  I was short a few skills.   This article is so good I have to share.  The skills are easy to put into practice today.   

EdTech Team. "9 Essential Digital Skills for the 21st Century Teacher." ~ Educational Technology and Mobile Learning. N.p., 9 Sept. 2016. Web. 24 Sept. 2016.

"In a digitally focused world, education is getting more and more digitized pushing us, teachers and educators, to re-conceptualize what it really means to be a teacher in the 21st century. Whether you are a technological determinist or instrumentalist, technology has become an essential force shaping much of our teaching and pedagogical practices. It has also placed a number of demands and exigencies on us and to meet these exigencies we need to develop a set of key digital skills. In the chart below, we cited 9 digital skills that we believe are fundamentally important for any teacher.  The EdTech Team

Digital SkillsTools
1. Record and edit audio clips
Sound Cloud
2. Create annotated, interactive and engaging video content
YouTube Video Editor
3. Create visually engaging content
Google Draw
4. Use social networking websites to create PLNs, connect , discover new content, and grow professionally
Google Plus
5. Use blogs and wikis to create participatory spaces for students
6. Use social bookmarking websites curate and share resources with your class
7. Create engaging presentations
Google Slides
Haiku Deck
Zoho Presentation
8. Create digital portfolios
Google Sites
9. Create non-traditional quizzes

Friday, September 9, 2016

To Teach the Inexperienced the Ropes: Podcasts

Winning photo by Dave Dinette Giant Forest, Ca

ClassroomWise will begin each post with a proverb or a wise quote.

Proverbs 1 is a good start.  (the entire chapter)

From BibleGateway:
These are the wise sayings of Solomon, David’s son, Israel’s king— Written down so we’ll know how to live well and right, to understand what life means and where it’s going; A manual for living, for learning what’s right and just and fair; To teach the inexperienced the ropes and give our young people a grasp on reality. There’s something here also for seasoned men and women, still, a thing or two for the experienced to learn— Fresh wisdom to probe and penetrate, the rhymes and reasons of wise men and women. ...

To Teach the Inexperienced the Ropes

Janet Adams M.A. 

During the start of 2016,  I thought I would begin a journey in finding a mentor or mentors who have already been there and done that.  Someone who is unbiased and willing to share the brutal facts because they are not my boss or not my close family.  They would have a whole different network of contacts and connections that I don't.  Most importantly, it would be the best free service I could ever get.

I began to discover podcasts. People from all walks of life, interests, and ideas who are willing to share.  The variety of content is astounding and the selection continues to grow. The talent base is amazing and the connected car is here. An estimated 57 million Americans, or 21% of the U.S. population, listen to podcasts regularly. (Chris Giliberti, Chief of Staff, Gimlet Media)

This American Life hosted by Ira Glass was my first introduction to listening to a well-produced podcast. I was on a long road trip from California to New Orleans, LA and my Air Force-pilot-son hooked up his iPhone and dialed into the program. The hours and miles flew by and from that trip experience, I became a podcast listener.

However, my search this year was different. I wanted to find people that could add value to my life. People that have already crashed, burned and figured out how to do it better. Many podcasts invite guests to share their stories sprinkled with questions and advice. I am usually driving or cooking and not able to take notes while listening. No problem because the podcast will include "show notes" that can be viewed later on in iTunes.

3 Easy Steps

1.  Just like magazines, you subscribe to Podcasts.  The individual shows can be downloaded and you can also "like" one that you want to listen too again.  Each podcast also has a "share" button so I sometimes text or email a colleague to take a listen or to myself to save to the file on my computer.

2.  If you already have iTunes on your computer, searching for podcasts and subscribing will be easy.  If not, download iTunes.  On my iPhone, I use the app, "Podcast".  All smartphones will have multiple options.   The platforms usually sync with each other.  Here is Apples quick instruction guide.

3.  Downloading the latest episodes and syncing your phone can take a few minutes.  I usually do not do this and will hook my phone up to my car's Bluetooth and I am good to go and on the road.  A friend shared with me if you want to listen to the guest speaker faster, there will be a small symbol that shows a"1X".  Click on that icon and it should rotate through different playback speeds.  Please, not while you are driving.

So far this year, my podcast favorite hosts and their guests have been my coaches, my connectors, my cheerleaders and my challengers. I know that we have not met face to face, but that is OK.  My subscribed shows are an amazing way to grow me in new perspectives on education, life, faith, and leadership. With a little exploration, you’ll soon have a library of subscriptions of your favorites that go wherever you go.  There’s something here also for seasoned men and women, still, a thing or two for the experienced to learn— Fresh wisdom to probe and penetrate, the rhymes and reasons of wise men and women. ...

Janet Adams M.A.

My Mentors

On Leadership:  

On Faith:  

Tips for Teachers  Apple in Education

Education Leadership Summit  Apple in Education

Faculty Speaker Series  Apple in Education

Teaching with iPad  Apple in Education

School Profiles  Apple in Education

TED Radio Hour

On Great Stuff: 

StartupCamp (Marketing)