My Passions in Education

**This page is meant to share my passions for things in education as well as a reflection for myself. Content may be modified from time to time as I grow, learn, and change.**

Mentorship

 “Mentoring” is a process that always involves communication and is relationship based, but the precise definition is elusive. Some say that the mentor is more knowledgable and more experienced. Some definitions state the mentor guides the mentee as a wise and trusted counselor.

A passion of mine in education is mentorship. I believe that all teachers need a mentor and also need to be a mentor themselves. I believe this regardless of age, experience, or knowledge. The process of collaboration is so special and can take all parties involved to higher levels. Finding a mentor can be crucial for beginning teachers to survive and thrive their first three years of teaching.  A mentor does not have to be the person assigned to you and you do not have to limit yourself to one mentor. There are no “rules” when it comes to mentorship. In my opinion, a mentor can be your same age, younger, or older. A mentor can be a co-worker, boss, or someone not connected to you school. A mentor can be someone that you as well mentor in return.  Looking at the elusive definition of “mentorship” all the above involve a relationship and are built on effective communication.

So what is a mentor? How do you find a mentor? How do you become a mentor?

Well, the answer is simple. Collaborate!! Take every opportunity you can to build relationships with others. Relationships are key to everything. You have to be genuine and truly care about people as human beings and also about the success of others. If you have ulterior motives or if you are trying to compete with others then you are not collaborating.  Collaboration is about caring, sharing, and working TOGETHER!  The relationship must be built on trust! 

If you are collaborating then mentorship forms naturally. The process of sharing and working together is a natural process that brings unyielding results.  Always learn from others. The mentor does not have to be more experienced or knowledgeable, but  they must inspire you! Always teach others. To be a mentor, you just have to be willing to share (genuinely).

Yes, it truly is that simple. Keep “mentorship” as a passion because without others we truly can not reach our full potential. We can not inspire others to reach their full potential. Ultimately, the kids do not get the best that they should have because we are not working together to share our best. When you think of growing, are you thinking about the impact it will have on the students or are you thinking about how it impacts you? The latter, means it is time for reflection and to slow down. It isn’t about your growth for yourself, but your growth for your students.

Be a mentor, find a mentor… Collaborate!

 

Data

Data is just information. Information that is meant to drive conversation. Conversations between teachers and students, teachers and parents, teachers and administration, teachers and teachers, etc. The important part about data is the CONVERSATIONS! Behind every piece of data is the STUDENT!  When you think about data, first think about the student! Teaching is about the passion to educate students. Caring about the students must be the number one priority for any effective teacher. Otherwise, why do we teach?

Data did not use to be a passion of mine, but rather something that frightened me. My data story unfolded as I became an NCCAT Certified Data Literacy Coach.  As I took the time to become data literate myself, the natural passion for it formed. It was not forced. It is not something that I was assigned, that someone else inspired me to do, or that fell into my lap.  It wasn’t just one more thing to learn and get inspired about. It was something I spent time reflecting on. It was something I identified as an area I needed improvement. It was something I sought out individually. It was made through the process of analyzing and assessing the data notebook that was used in my first year of teaching. It was truly a long developed relationship. I always did data in my classroom, but my perception of data has changed. I love data now! Yes, I said it! 🙂

I did not express this data journey to others (besides my mentors) because I did not take the journey for any ulterior motive. I did so for my students! Through the journey I became passionate about sharing with others. But, not sharing to “change” others. You can not change anyone, but yourself, and you shouldn’t be trying to. You should only be reflecting and setting goals for yourself. I did not want to have a “superficial” education on data, but rather I wanted to have in-depth knowledge. I want to be able to truly educate others through the experience of data literacy and data analysis in my classroom, not just “know” data. Why would I teach others something they can learn from reading about themselves?

Good question….

First because I am passionate, second because I am credible. I did not just learn data at a conference and now feel prepared to bring this information back to spread to others. I took a 15 week course that was extensive on reflection and implementation in my actual classroom. I created assessments, critiqued assessments, collaborated with co-workers during the process, developed transparency between classroom walls about data, and reflected on data collection as it was happening. I have experience to offer others and insight into what data is like in the classroom. Am I an expert, no. Will I make mistakes, yes. Am I still learning, yes. With that, I can offer my transparency. Wouldn’t you rather be learning with someone, than from someone? I had a data notebook, I both failed and succeeded in data collection, I grew in data literacy, and I truly have a passion for sharing my story.

Not everyone must be passionate about the same things. We all have unique passions and because we share those with each other, we can all grow to reach our full potential.  I am not challenging you to have data as a passion, but rather to allow someone who has that passion to share with you so you can learn and grow. When I find something I am not passionate about, I go to the person/people that are passionate so I can learn and grow. Thank you Hollis (my Data Team leader/AP), Melissa (my instructor), and Paul & Jennifer for sharing their passion of data with me! I can remember an email I sent in February to my assistant principal that was titled “data-data save me!” It is funny how data that was once a parasite, is now a passion. A true testimony of how far you can grow with an open mind.

I love data and true passion shines through. This passion has grown over  6 months and is continuing to grow. I am attending the NCCAT Data Literacy Conference to collaborate with other trainers and learn from Paul Cancellieri, the Data Literacy Program Manager.  Data literacy and sharing data is now a continued passion where new pages to this story are being written all the time.

Will you share a passion story with me?

PBL

PROBLEM-BASED LEARNING

I LOVE IT! ABSOLUTELY! It is similar to challenge-based learning.

Why is problem-based learning a passion of mine? Because I implemented it in my classroom and my students LOVED IT.  Not only did they enjoy learning through this inquiry-based approach, but their learning was at higher levels. The students were learning the content through the experience. I ran into a student recently who said to me, “I thought the final exam was going to be hard, but I kept remembering all the activities we did and then I knew the answers.” I was so excited to hear that feedback. The students learned! PBL was not about the students remembering and recalling the facts, but applying and understanding all the material.

The students will grow and have fun during the process! Even if the subject you teach is not their favorite, you have a unique was to connect the content to their learning. PBL gives us that opportunity! It allows for meaningful, engaging, and relevant work. I could go on and on about Problem-Based Learning, but I am saving that because I will eventually have a PBL tab with my presentation materials available. In addition I hope to share PBL presentations I have given with others.

 A brief PBL overview and Resource link 

6 Characteristics to PBL

  1. Learning is student centered.
  2. Learning occurs in small student groups.
  3. Teachers are facilitators or guides.
  4. Problems form the original focus and stimulus for learning.
  5. Problems are a vehicle for the development of clinical problem solving skills.
  6. New information is acquired through self-directed learning.

Students learn:

  • To Solve real-life problems
  • Efficient problem solving skills
  • Independent learning
  • Self-monitoring
  • Team work
  • Critical thinking & Reasoning skills

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Here is a good resource to use when teaching you students steps and skills they need for PBL http://www.studygs.net/pbl.htm

(Bonus*) This is also a good source for study guides and strategies

 

Gamification 

 

This passion actually developed as a child. I was always a “gamer.” My husband still calls me a “gamer” because he sees me involved in games, which he does not quite understand since he does not share that passion with me.  However, my passion for games has evolved to a passion for gamification in education.

Why?

Game-based learning, quest-based learning, and gamification is FUN!  Although I think gamification and game-based learning are different things. The way I plan to incorporate both they will be over-lapping in my classroom. Are you seeing a theme with me yet..I love to have fun and I think learning should be fun! Gamification also is an easy way to incorporate PBL since the quests can be problem based. So since I have a passion for PBL, it seems like the right direction to incorporate gamification in my classroom.

So just because I have always loved games, why did I start thinking of gamification in education. Well, my kids really did well with review games, vocabulary games, and other game-based activities in class. They enjoyed this process of learning. Taking into account the process data I was learning I realized this instructional strategy could be effective if I am incorporated it on another level. Data plug*Use data to inform your instructional practices!* I have spent the last 6 months researching, reading, and learning about gamification. I have used my twitter PLN to connect with Michael Matera @mrmatera (my gamification guru) at ISTE. He is so willing to share and collaborate. Caring=Sharing! I asked all the questions that have been lingering about implementing this in my classroom this coming year. I am still in contact with him, because he is passionate and knowledgeable, and this year is going to be a transition for me where I need to use my resources for guidance and reflection. I am going to gamify my classroom! This means not just game-based learning, but having my classroom content as a storyline in a “game.” My students will be the players and in control of their own learning. I look forward to blogging about the process and implementation. Thank you for taking this journey with me and for being not judgmental as I am likely to have some major fails along the way. Failing=Learning!

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Gamification.. What is it?

Instead of having a class centered around textbook learning and lectures, the class is built around gamification. Gamification increases student engagement by requiring them to select quests and progress at their own pace through a series of educational activities. (True differentiation) Along the learning path, the participants can earn experience points, levels, and badges that can translate to a grade. The quests can also be separate from the grade. There can also just be one major story line that is the “game,” and the quests can be incorporated as side-quests. It really is open to teacher preference. Like anything else it is meant to be incorporate in the way that is best suited for your class. There is not a “right” way to do game-based learning/gamification.

Game-based learning/Gamification is an instructional design theory that leverages game mechanics and gamer-like learning communities to support student choice within the curriculum. What fun! Quests are standard-oriented (common core) and the participants search for something of value that regulates or guides him/her through the narrative of the game/course. It isn’t just about the grade anymore, but rather about the learning. 🙂 It is about growth!

Are you ready to get your game on? Let’s LEVEL UP! Check out The Chronicles of History Tab for more information.

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Twitter

Well, I am a HUGE advocate of twitter! I could go on and on about how POWERFUL twitter is! I will save you from that, because when I mean on and on…..I really would not stop talking or in this case, tweeting. Haha. I make myself laugh.  I have attached a presentation to the Twitter PLN tab that you can check out if you need more information about twitter.

Twitter is a social-networking or microblogging service that allows you to “tweet” in 140 characters.  Here is an awesome resource that explains twitter in detail. http://tweeternet.com

Since, I am keeping this as a brief post. I will just give you a little testimony. If you trust me, heed my advice. If you don’t know me, do it anyway- take a chance… JOIN TWITTER. THEN FOLLOW PEOPLE. THEN JOIN TWITTER CHATS. THEN UPGRADE TO TWEETDECK TO DO MULTIPLE CHATS. USE YOUR PLN AND SET UP LISTS FOR ORGANIZATION. THEN START TO MODERATE YOUR OWN TWITTER CHAT SO YOU CAN LEAD OTHERS. 

You don’t have to do it all at once, but twitter will change your professional career in amazing ways. Start now, JOIN!

PLUG*Join our district chat for amazing collaboration. #rsschat Bi-weekly, Tuesdays at 8:00!

TwitterpromoDiscovery Education.. Coming Soon *Please check out my DEN Blog @ ______Coming Soon_______________ for a blog on using DEN in the classroom to enhance students’ learning and growth.*  

DEN-STAR-application

 

 

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