#DBC50Summer 32/50: The Four O’Clock Faculty

As a requirement for licensure in my district, beginning teachers must complete multiple professional development workshops. These include sessions on Thinking Maps, CRISS strategies, Kagan Cooperative Learning, Technology, and Foundations of Reading. My first teaching job was in a 5th grade math classroom. When I found out I had to sit through 10 hours of Foundations of Reading training, I was not happy. This instruction was not pertinent to my job! (I wasn’t exactly of the same growth mindset that I now have, either.)

How many times have you endured trainings that you knew you’d never use the information? How many times have you been required to be in workshops, whether it related to your content or not? It’s frustrating, right? Book 32 in the Dave Burgess Consulting, Inc line up addresses professional development and how to go ROGUE! Rich Czyz brings us The Four O’Clock Faculty!

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Because of my experience with “Foundations of Reading” and several other poorly designed workshops, I could relate to Rich in the introduction of his book! I’d be willing to bet that most educators have been in a similar situation. Maybe you’ve lucked up and haven’t had to go to irrelevant professional development; maybe all of your PD has been a bed of roses. I’d also be willing to call your bluff if that’s what you’re telling people. Here are three things I despise about the “standard” professional development.

  • Required: Anytime I get an e-mail about a “required” workshop, I cringe. When a workshop is required, it tells me that it’s going to be full of blanket statements. It will be generic and likely not applicable to me. Typically in these workshops, my intelligence is insulted at least once, and I start back-channeling others in the room with hilarious gifs to see who will crack first. (True story…even to this day)
  • Irrelevant: PD being irrelevant and required typically go hand-in-hand. If someone else has deemed that I have to be there, chances are I’m not getting anything out of it. It’s likely about a topic/concept/strategy that I won’t use or one I already know about through other venues. When faced with these workshops, I make eye contact with someone across the room that I know, open the group text or Twitter, and let the back-channeling begin.
  • Boring: There is nothing worse than being excited about the topic of PD, choosing to attend that session, and then being bored to death by the presenter. This can happen for many reasons. In my experience, it’s usually because the presenter reads the slides, is monotone, or worse… both! I have personally sat in sessions at conferences, so thrilled to learn from someone I enjoying connecting with on Twitter and read their blogs, only to be bored to tears and highly disappointed. When I walk into a session space and see a speaker standing at a stationary microphone or a podium, I usually leave for this very reason. (Hey, at least there’s no need to back-channel if I choose to leave!) Side note: if you’re going to read it to me, just email it! I can read it myself.

When Rich asks in the book, “What is the most rewarding professional development experience you’ve ever had?” I immediately knew my answer! My most rewarding PD experience I’ve done by myself has easily been this #DBC50Summer journey! The relationships I’ve formed with so many people on Twitter, including the authors, and the huge amount of knowledge gained from the books are definitely game-changers for me! Knowing that I will be implementing at least one thing from each book has me so excited for the new year. My most rewarding PD I’ve done that was provided by someone else has been EPIC Academy, which is a self-paced, online, gamified approach to professional development created by my friend, mentor, and Director of Digital Learning and Media Lucas Gillispie. I’ve referenced EPIC in several blog posts, and you can find out more information about why it’s so awesome here. Short version: it’s optional, relevant, and interactive. The opposite of everything I dislike in professional development!

One of my favorite parts of Rich’s book is that it give completely practical ways to go ROGUE with your own professional development. He states that ROGUE, for the purposes of his book, is Relevant Organized Group of Underground Educators. One of my favorite quotes from The Four O’Clock Faculty is:

No one else is going to take responsibility to meet our needs. We must do what we can on our own to address our own demands and wishes.

There is so much truth to this statement! It’s one of the reasons I got hooked on Twitter years ago. All of the sudden, I had people who had similar interests and were passionate about teaching students, and they were learning with me, encouraging me, and supporting me in my efforts to take risks in the best interest of students. Those are my people. It was through Twitter that I discovered my first edcamp many years ago. I’ve attended many edcamps and blogged about several of them! (Search for edcamp on my blog and you’ll see them there.) Lucas (referenced above) and I organized the first edcamp in our region in 2016, EdCampRFD. It went much like Rich’s first edcamp, and we’re building momentum to have another one in the future. See the press release in our local newspaper here.

I also approached this book as a provider of professional development. I create and deliver PD to my staff, media coordinators, and educators across North Carolina. Knowing my professional development pet peeves helps me develop PD that is optional, relevant, and (hopefully) not boring. I am sharing a survey with my teachers which asks what digital tools they want to know more about. I will be offering 8 digital learning workshops this year and teachers are required to attend the first one and the last one (because we start together and end together). Of the remaining six workshops, they are encouraged to choose three that meets their needs and attend those. Workshops I facilitate are also interactive and include follow-up, if desired. As a digital learning/instructional coach, I am able to provide follow up to my teachers through support in their classrooms. This is so valuable because we have the opportunity to co-teach and learn from one another.

My implementation plan allows me to offer teachers more choice and PD on-demand. I plan to definitely use Rich’s “Tip Jars” idea! From the survey results, I will choose two desired topics two weeks before the PD date and place those topics on mason jars in the media center. Each teacher will be given a marble and can place their marble in the jar of the topic they’d prefer to learn about at the next digital learning PD session. One week before the PD session, I will send out an e-mail with the preferred topic and invite anyone who is interested in learning about that topic to attend! The topic that wasn’t chosen will remain on the Tip Jar and another topic will “compete” against it for the next PD date. In my Social LEADia blog post, I shared that my implementation plan was to create a YouTube channel. Thanks to The Four O’Clock Faculty, I will be putting 5-minute PD segments on that channel and sharing with teachers twice a month. Each video will either highlight a Google App or Extension or a troubleshooting on student chromebook video. These can be viewed by teachers on-demand and as many times as needed. I will also share a Google App or Extension with students (sometimes it will be the same video that I sent to teachers)! Bonus points if I can find students who are willing to come to faculty meetings and share about the apps/extensions, then create a follow up video about the app/ extensions FOR the teachers! (WINNING!)

The Four O’Clock Faculty is full of ways to own your own professional learning. Everything from edcamp to Twitter to blogging and more is included, so there’s really no excuse for not going out there and getting what you need to continue to grow professionally! If you aren’t learning, your kids are suffering because of it! Your first step to professional growth could even be to purchase this book! Now. Then get yourself on Twitter and check out the #4OCF (that’s an “oh” not a “zero”, ha!) to connect with other passionate educators and chat about ROGUE PD. If you’re REALLY wanting to go down a rabbit hole, check out the #4ocfPLN – those educators are on fire! Still can’t get enough? Check out the website here and get additional resources for the book here. You can hear more on podcasts with The Principal Center and Across the Hall! You can watch Rich chat with #LeadUpTeach and then view him talking with #K12ArtChat! There’s so much goodness here, so check it out!

As always, the flipgrid is a place for global collaboration on all DBC books! Andrea Paulakovich and I are copilots on this grid and would love to have you share your thoughts! This amazing space was the brainchild of Andrea and I’m just thrilled she asked me to jump onboard with her! You should 100% check out Andrea’s blog post on The Four O’Clock Faculty – this lady & her posts are incredible!

Book 33 is one that has really taken off this summer. I have seen multiple book studies surrounding this book (even had to bail from a Voxer book study on it myself because I was starting #DBC50Summer). I started this book at the beginning of the summer and chose to stop so I could focus on reading the DBC books in order, knowing I’d eventually get back to this one. I’m so excited to see this book through because it hurt to put it down the first time! So look for the post on Culturize by Jimmy Casas coming soon. It’s currently (as of 8-18-18) the #1 Best Seller in Experimental Education Methods on Amazon! Also – yes this is the same Jimmy Casas from Start.Right.Now so you know we’re talking quality, thought-provoking stuff coming up! (But then again, haven’t they all been?!)

#DBC50Summer 26/50: Shift This

You know the saying “It’s all downhill from here”? I just spent the last little bit in an internet time warp looking up what that meant. It’s one of those rabbit holes. There is discussion online (apparently, a LOT of discussion online) about whether this is said in positive or negative connotation. I’ll spare you the details, but I choose to see it as a cyclist who has made it over the highest hill in a race, meaning things will get easier from here on. That’s what I thought would happen when I reached halfway in #DBC50Summer. I’d reached the top of the #DBC50Summer hill and could see the “end” (waaaaayy off in the distance). It’ll be easier now that I’m halfway, right?

Things. Are. Definitely. Not. Easier.

I am continuing to be stretched and challenged as an educator to truly know my educational beliefs as I read these books published by Dave & Shelley Burgess! I’m having to be more thoughtful about creating an implementation plan for these books that is realistic and attainable, while still making big waves. (Because, you know, Pirate ships do that – Pirate Pun, check!)

Book 26 was an empowering book! I’m currently ready to run through the halls yelling to the top of my lungs that I’m making changes and I want everyone on board. I’m ready to use my word from Lead Like A Pirate and be relentless in not accepting the status quo from teachers or students that I have the pleasure of serving. Shift This by Joy Kirr was so incredible that I have actually read it TWICE since last night. With that said, just go ahead and get your copy now! Seriously, it’s that good.

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Here’s a little tidbit about me. I don’t like confrontation, in any form. I very much dislike arguments. I am a people pleaser (Yes, me too, Joy!) If someone confronts me face-to-face, I typically just bow out of the conversation with the quickest escape route I can find. If I do manage to find the guts to stand my ground, it usually ends with me stumbling over my words and tears. Mine. It’s embarrassing to be honest. If the confrontation is digital, I avoid that person like the plague until it blows over (or an appropriate amount of time has passed).

This book equips me with so many options for coaching teachers, and dealing with the dismissal and pushback that will likely happen (which in my eyes feels like confrontation – remember I take everything personally even though I shouldn’t). Finding a teacher’s comfort level in making changes in their classroom is so important. Allowing teachers to be in charge of their own changes makes change seem less intimidating. That leads to a higher success rate through sustaining said change. Thanks to Joy, I now have 4 scaffolded levels of change for topics that are very near and dear to my heart. These topics include:

  • Classroom Environment
  • Classwork
  • Homework
  • Grading
  • Social Media
  • Student-Directed Learning

Each of these includes small changes that feel “safe” while making a ginormous (yes, I’m choosing to use that word) impact on student empowerment and lifelong learning. I could easily see where I was in regards to the sliding scale of shifts on each topic and could find a shift I can make in the new year to make an even greater impact. I love that Joy repeatedly states that this was not an overnight large-scale change! She mentions frequently that the changes she has implemented in her classroom are from YEARS of small changes. I also respect that Joy speaks about the next step she is going to make as well! It shows that she’s not done growing and changing, and I appreciate that so much!

This book is like taking a snapshot into Joy’s classroom, seeing it from Point E to Point L, with the understanding that the story was already in play (Point A to Point D) and it continues to evolve now (Point M to Point “Retirement”). I’m sure even at this point, Joy is making small shifts for the her school year and that’s incredibly powerful to me!

I have got to meet this lady. We share so many educational philosophies and through my first reading of the book, I spent the majority of the time standing on her soap box with her, agreeing with every passionate sentence she wrote (sometimes even agreeing out loud). I would love to sit and discuss these beliefs about student empowerment, grading, homework, etc with Joy! There would be a lot of nodding. That’s for sure!

The second time I read the book, I read it through the eyes of an instructional coach. I could literally place every teacher I work with on the sliding scales included with each topic and can see what small change could be made in the coming school year. I want the teachers to be comfortable with the changes because, as Joy says, “Whatever you do has to work for you. If you are not comfortable with something, the students won’t get out of it what you hope for them.” Through discussion and reflection (both with students and within themselves), these changes can be tweaked to meet the needs of their classrooms.

Here are some quotes that I absolutely loved from the book!

 

 

 

One of the things I love most about the DBC, Inc books is that the resources shared within the book, and readily available after reading the book, are abundant. Joy’s book is no different. She includes links to all kinds of goodness via tinyurl.com in her book! I’m looking forward to diving into these links even more, as I know they will provide “a-ha” moments beyond what I read (which is already impressive).

As I mentioned, I can seriously make an implementation goal for every single section within the book. For example, in regards to grading… I have the luxury of not assigning grades to students as I am the media coordinator but I do provide feedback. Joy makes me want to shift this to have students select the work they’d like to turn in for feedback. That small shift gives students choice and allows me to see their best work. I appreciate that!

The implementation goal I choose to complete is related to social media. As I read the section of the book about social media shifts: lurking, then sharing I couldn’t help but laugh out loud. Joy and I have very similar stories about our first experiences on social media. (I, too, came home from a conference and spent hours checking out the hashtag when I got home, Joy!) I have reached a point in social media where I’ve been thinking what’s next? as I already share my own content and blog and get new resources and have an amazingly supportive Professional Learning Network (PLN). Joy gives me the next step though, and it is so obvious for it to be the next step (couldn’t see the forest for the trees kind of obvious)… hand it over to the students. Give them the opportunity to blog and tweet out their own content! The best part about this… my principal and I just had a similar discussion this week in which we’ve decided to generate a social media team of students who will get the ball rolling with student-led blogging and social media. We’ll get to see the school from the eyes of our students, and we’re both so excited about what this will look like at the end of the year! The initial social media team will work out the kinks, set the parameters (with some guidance from the principal and I on policy and student safety) and teach other students how to write a blog and share on social media. This group of students will also fulfill one of the implementations from Your School Rocks, which was to create a school hashtag (we had one, but I didn’t put two and two together, so I’m sure the students hadn’t either… now the new one will be clearly stated and shared). We are allowing the students to use their voice by sharing their hashtag ideas for our school, then vote on their favorite to select one! It’s going to be awesome!

I am excited with and empowered by this book! You should visit Joy’s website which has incredible information, including the resources for the book, blogs about shift stories where teachers have shared their stories about their own small shifts leading to big changes, and podcasts with Joy including The Wired Educator. The community on Twitter uses the hashtag #ShiftThis (Be careful with that one, ha! Joy has a funny story about that!) and the chat will resume on August 21, 2018 at 8:00 pm EST! We will meet (almost) every Tuesday night after that. I have the privilege of moderating the chat on December 4, 2018 about Shifting Mindsets! True to Joy Kirr fashion, she is shifting how she moderates Twitter chats, so click here for more information about that small shift! I’m expecting it to lead to massive impacts!

As always, the flipgrid is wide open for global collaboration! Share a story about a small shift you’ve made and how it impacted your classroom. If you should need a password, use DBCSummer to access the grid. A massive thank you to Andrea Paulakovich, a superstar educator from Kansas, for sharing the genius idea to open a global collaboration space for every DBC book!

Book 27 is Unmapped Potential by Julie Hasson and Missy Lennard, the Purposeful Principals! I just purchased this book at the beginning of July, so I’m thrilled to read it for the first time! Look for the blog soon!

 

Ending the Blogging Hiatus

So I’m here to say I’m officially ending the blogging hiatus today!  I’ve been inspired during the Blogging session at #EdCampWake & I’m looking forward to sharing the awesome that I see and my students are doing.  Have you ever been in a funk?  It’s easy, as an educator to lose sight of your “why” in the craziness of evaluations, testing, conferences, (insert acronym here), education jargon, blah, blah, blah….

It was brought to my attention today that I’m not just neglecting to blog, but I’m neglecting to take time to reflect on my practices.  At first I was a bit offended, but then I felt more convicted.

No excuses, but here’s an explanation.  In July 2016, I was given an incredible opportunity to pilot a new position in my school system.  It formally marries the Instructional Technology Facilitator position and Library Media Coordinator position.  I am the Lead Digital Learning and Media Innovation Facilitator for my STEM magnet middle school.  I have always been at the elementary level, so being at the middle school and adapting to the differences in culture has been an adventure.  I knew no one at the school (which is saying something in my rural district), and although I’m pretty outgoing, I was terrified of rejection.  I still am in many ways.  I serve as both the digital coach and as media coordinator for my school.  It’s my district’s way of purposefully moving our media centers to the future.  And I love it!  I appreciate how purposeful it is – changing the culture and climate of the media center.

So, today – March 18, 2017 – I am committing to writing a blog a month.  Some will be reflective, some full of awesome resources, and some will be just sharing my hopes for the future for accountability…

Thank you to all the folks in the Blogging session (specifically Tom Mullaney) at #edcampwake.  Stay tuned.  Here we go again.