Teacher Leadership Academy

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I’m really excited about a new initiative for our county! We are working to develop teacher leaders to help make positive change in our district and focus on improving student learning. To help accomplish this goal, a team created The Teacher Leadership Academy (TLA). The TLA will be a year-long course with over 100 teachers participating from all grade levels, K-12. It will be a blended learning experience – combining online components with face-to-face meetings throughout the school year.

Since our numbers are so large, teachers are grouped into smaller teams based on grade level. Another great part of having larger numbers than expected is that I was asked to co-facilitate two teams. I’m pumped to be joining in this learning journey!

The Academy started with a kick-off during the last week of school. The energy in the room was indescribable. Even though teachers are typically exhausted at the end of the year, the buzz in the room was there. I left feeling energized and renewed.

Over the summer we are all reading “Awakening the Sleeping Giant: Helping Teachers Develop as Leaders” and interacting on our county LMS (called SCORE) for introductions and discussions.

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There is a definite movement towards developing the capacity for teacher leadership to help improve teaching and learning for our students. I get excited thinking about all of the possible positive impacts from the TLA.

Here’s to a fantastic year of learning and cultivating teacher leaders!

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These are a few of my favorite things

As mentioned in my previous post, there were some things I missed in my transition out of the classroom. But I’ve also loved many aspects of being an Instructional Technology Resource Teacher. Here are some of my favorite parts of being an ITRT this past year:

  • Helping teachers integrate technology. The essence of the job was one of the best parts! ūüôā I love helping teachers use technology in their classrooms and working with their students as well.
  • Awesome ITRT Team. I am lucky to be part of such a great team! Working with these educators has been a blessing and I’ve learned so much from them.
  • Variety. My daily schedule was always different. I could be working with 1st grade in the morning and 5th grade in the afternoon. I also got to work with a ton of different teachers on a lot of different lessons/units/technology tools. The variety was a really refreshing change of pace.
  • Learning new tools. I had a lot of new tools that I needed to learn from switching counties.
  • Expanding myself as a teacher leader. Continued work on my leadership skills in working with teachers and providing professional development.
  • Online course development. I had the opportunity to work on a team that developed an online course for Teaching Gifted Learners. I’m also currently involved in a blended learning experience called The Teacher Leadership Academy. These opportunities have allowed me to apply some of the knowledge I gained from my graduate coursework in a real context.

One word to sum up my year as an ITRT: growth. I think I grew quite a bit in my knowledge, skills and leadership. It’s been a great challenge that I enjoy! I look forward to continued growth and focusing on being the best ITRT I can be to help improve student learning.

I’ve Been Missing You…

I’ve been asked quite a few times by various people, “So, do you like the new job as an ITRT?” ¬†Overall, I think it’s been a great fit for me and had a fantastic year! ¬†Not to be a Negative Nancy, but here are a few things that I’ve missed this past year:

  • My own set of kids. ¬†Wow, I knew I’d miss the kids, but this was tough! ¬†Not having my own community of learners to call my own was probably one of the hardest parts of the year.
  • A grade level team. ¬†I miss having a close connection with the teachers on my grade level. ¬†It’s difficult to be a “lone wolf” and not have a team at your building.
  • My old school.¬† ¬† Before becoming an ITRT, I worked at an awesome school with fabulous folks (admin, teachers, students). ¬†It was hard to leave that environment that was home to me for many years. ¬†(But, luckily I was placed at another great school with the new job.)
  • Recess.¬† OK, not that major, but I missed being able to get outside for part of my day. ¬†I always enjoyed the fresh air and watching the kids play.

On the whole, the positives of the job have outweighed the things I missed and I’m happy with the change. ¬†It’s been a refreshing change of pace and a good challenge to stretch me!

Edcamp Cville 2012

Last week I attended the fabulous EdCamp Cville¬†with my good friend and colleague KC. ¬†It was a day full of great sessions, conversations and connections. ¬†Here’s the rundown of the sessions I attended.

I started off the day with¬†Flipping Your Classroom: Simple Options for Presenting Content¬†lead by Diane Harding. ¬†We picked this session to learn a bit more about flipping the classroom – which seems like one of the latest ¬†buzzwords in education. ¬†Part of the conversation focused on what tools could be used when flipping your classroom. ¬†The last part of the session turned to questions such as: “Why would you want to flip your classroom? ¬†What do you gain? ¬†What do you lose? ¬†How do you restructure your classroom? ¬†How do you handle students without internet access?” ¬†I enjoyed the last part because I am still leery of jumping on the flipped classroom bandwagon without evaluating whether it is good for student learning. ¬†Still more to ruminate on with this session.

I decided to go to the 1:1 iPads in the Elementary Classroom because there’s a possibility we may be getting a cart of iPads at my school in the future and I know I have a lot to learn. ¬†Peggy Riso, a 1st grade teacher in Albemarle, received a grant for a classroom set of iPads. ¬†She shared about her journey of implementing the iPads with her primary students. ¬†I loved that she focused on having students create content with the iPad instead of just being consumers of content and playing games. ¬†If 1st graders can create awesome content, then older students can definitely do that as well! ¬†Peggy has a blog called iPadding Along. ¬†I hope she’ll continue to reflect and post on her experiences with her students. ¬†You can check out my notes on apps & tips from the session here.

After lunch, I attended the Girls in STEM session with Kim Wilkens. ¬†This session intrigued me because I actually started out in the Engineering School at UVA with plans to major in Computer Science, but changed my career path. ¬†I’m also part of the STEM¬†initiative¬†on the ITRT team. ¬†STEM is a big area of interest for me. ¬†Kim had a great presentation that went through some interesting statistics and problems facing girls in STEM. ¬†We brainstormed how we could change the world and get more girls involved in STEM. ¬†Check out her wiki to see her Prezi and the Wallwishers we created.

The last session of the day was Publishing Online with Kids with Paula White.  Paula shared her two favorite sites for publishing online with kids (wikispaces & kidblog).  She went over management, safety and tips for using the sites with our students.  Her students are very active online and enjoy writing for an audience!  Lots of fantastic ideas shared!

I had such a wonderful day of learning at my 2nd EdCamp Cville.  I definitely left with my brain full of ideas!  Thanks to the organizers for another great event!

 

Mentor Program

I started a new job this year as an Instructional Technology Resource Teacher in a new county. There were 6 rookies to the ITRT team of 23. This was a rather large number of newbies, so the ITRTs created a mentor program to help us “green horns” acclimate to the new roles we would be taking on.

The mentor program kicked-off in the summer before our official contracts began. We had a full-day of getting to know each other, learning how the ITRT team functions, and expectations for us in our new coaching roles.

We had weekly meetings with our mentors. We would alternate schools where we met to observe a lesson, learn a piece of software, talk about upcoming PD sessions, how to build relationships, etc. The weekly meetings helped me out tremendously because I had a lot to learn moving counties and positions.

About once a month we had a meeting with all of the rookies and their mentors to check-in on our progress and go over any questions. It was nice to get together with the other newbies because they were experiencing many of the same things.

The mentor relationship helped me be more successful than I could have ever been on my own without his guidance. My mentor was able to show me the ropes of how things work in the county and also on the ITRT team. I was able to share the ups and downs of the rookie year and he was there to listen and give advice. He was a coach for me – working on refining my skills, sharing knowledge, and encouraging me along the way.

Coach is Happy