Tag Archives: professional learning network

PLNs Please

Reflection is a part of teaching. As summer begins every year, I find myself rethinking, reworking, and reorganizing for my students. In response to Margaret Regan’s Edutopia posting Six Steps to Master Teaching: Becoming a Reflective Practitioner, I am dedicating the next several blog entries to these six steps.

Professional Learning Communities have been all the rage in the last few years. These PLCs can be defined by one’s common planning time/conference period, the entire core subject department, the grade level of the department and/or team teaching, but they do not have to be limited to these groups.

Regan suggests in her blog posting on Master Teaching that “teachers need time with their colleagues outside the classroom, . . .” and many teachers and administrators would agree, for how can one mentor another if they do not spend time together outside of the classroom? Too often we hear the quick response, “There’s not enough time!” Here is the clincher; we must make time to mentor new teachers. Moreover, we as veteran teachers  must make time to rejuvenate our teaching practices. It is important to stay relevant and have the ability to connect to our audience.

Collectively, all teachers need to asses their instruction to create better teaching. This is where teaching becomes a craft. Any great craftsman hones his craft, which makes him a better craftsman in his specific field. As teachers we have many options in professional development; however, what is better than analyzing and developing our own craft of teaching? Reflection, discussion and analysis can be great avenues in improving our teaching skills and assessment strategies. Collaborating with our peers and colleagues can allow for success all around – for new teachers, veteran teachers and students!

It is an ideal situation to be able to use our conference period(s) and/or common planning time(s) to meet with our colleagues in a physical PLC. What do you do about developing your PLC, if the ideal situation is not realistic on your campus? For example, what does a teacher do in this instance if her planning time is not the same as her mentor teacher’s planning time (imagine the endless possibilities of variables in public schools that create challenging schedules to accommodate our students, much less our teachers!)?

Professional Learning Networks not only can be far larger than one’s department, but also can be more accessible, more informed and resourceful and very positive. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest are just a few networks which allow teachers access to the entire world. I enjoy connecting with other teachers and administrators from other subjects, grades, districts, states and countries around the world via Twitter. There are numerous positive elements of using social media networks for professional learning and networking.

How do you create more effective instruction and assessment in your classroom? In your department?

Mentors and veteran teachers, what suggestions would you share with new teachers about perfecting his/her instruction and/or assessment?

Do you use an effective format for your PLC on your campus? Tell us how it works for you.

If you use Twitter (or any other social media network for your PLC) and you are willing to connect and network with other teachers, please feel free to comment and share your contact information and other resources.

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Filed under Best Practices, Master Teaching, Reflection

Tired Head or Beat?

Reflection is a part of teaching. As the new calendar year begins, I find myself rethinking, reworking, and reorganizing for my students. In response to Margaret Regan’s Edutopia posting Six Steps to Master Teaching: Becoming a Reflective Practitioner, I am dedicating the next several blog entries to these six steps.

Step#3 – Pool both Patience and Perseverance

A family friend who is a few years older than I am, graduated high school, then college and started her teaching career. I was so excited for her! She was completing the dream I wanted for myself. I envisioned the way my friend would decorate her classroom, align her desks, design her policies and procedures, and define her classroom rules and expectations.

To my surprise she quit after her first year of teaching. I could not understand how anyone could quit something that was engrained in her as a calling.

We played golf every morning in New Mexico.

The statistics are outstanding! Ten percent of teachers quit after their first year. Many articles have been written on why this might occur – salary, student behavior, work load, etc. When it comes down to keeping our teachers, we must share with them that it is acceptable to take time for themselves. Teachers need to use their weekends to re-energize/revitalize themselves. We cannot let each other get stuck in the ruts of the job.

When my husband and I leave for the day (He teaches at the junior high, and we commute.), one of use asks, “Are you tired head or beat?” which means, “Are you mentally exhausted, or are you physically exhausted?” Usually, on Fridays I am both!

I am and will always be a teacher. It is not my job but my calling in life. Because it is my calling, it is my duty to make sure I am at 100% when I go back on Monday morning. Neither I nor my students can afford to lose any instructional time. It is imperative I find ways to recharge mentally and physically.

This weekend I treated myself to a manicure/pedicure with my mother. That is two hours of serene pampering for me from me!  But there are many other things we can do for ourselves.

Other activities that bring a revitalizing energy to my inner teacher are: playing golf, sparring, boxing, writing, reading, browsing the book store, shopping, watching movies, and/or meeting friends for dinner.

Other ways I recharge mentally: participate in a Professional Learning Network  like #edchat #engchat on Twitter (there are many others!); read inspirational books, blogs, articles; listen to music; take a class (scrapbooking, photography, Zumba, jewelry-making, etc).

For the first 12 years of my teaching career, I taught summer school. The last two years I declined teaching summer school because I now need the summers to find my inner peace and re-energize the teacher in me. Instead of summer school, I have kept my nephew Will and my godson JD. Being able to spend time with them (and at the pool, soaking in vitamin D), has given me a new appreciation for “me time.”

How do you re-energize/revitalize your inner teacher?

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Filed under Master Teaching, Reflection