Sunday, October 29, 2017

5 Top Reasons I Am an EdTech Ambassador.


Hi, my name is Lisa and I am an Edtech ambassador

Top 5 reasons, I am an edtech ambassador.

1. I LOVE the resource.
I use it. Often. That's why I was chosen. Whatever the edtech tool or resource, it is a part of my classroom toolbox. It works for me and my students. It's a tool that helps me, help my students. If it did not accomplish that task, I would not use it, and I definitely would not be an Ambassador.

2. I get to provide feedback that someone actually listens to. 
Think about it. Who wants feedback from a classroom teacher? Hardly anyone. The teachers in the classroom are rarely asked what they think, how they feel, how could we make this better? We are given the latest books written by authors who are not in the classroom, scripted curriculum, and orders about what next "new"thing we are to do with absolutely no consideration of our experience.

As an ambassador, teachers provide feedback, and get this...the edtech companies listen to us. We get to tell them what is working, what isn't working, and what we would like to see happen with their product. We get to Beta test new features and give them our opinion about how it would work in our classroom. They are asking the advice of the people who are in the classroom, taking our advice, and making the product we use better!

3. I get a little swag.
FREE. The word teachers all over the world love. Why? Because much is expected of us, little is given. I have NEVER, and I mean never, in the years I have been an ambassador for any company, felt compromised. See #1. I write blog posts about it, share on Twitter, talk about it in Voxer, but these are things I would do anyway. We get some swag, a tshirt or keychain, items to give out at presentations, and maybe upgrades on the resource we are using. I have never been given a trip to the Caribbean.

4. I share with others.
When  I came across an edtech resource that enhanced the way I taught the curriculum, I did not want to keep it to myself. I came out of my comfort zone and became an edtech presenter. At that point in time, there were no teacher ambassadors. I was a teacher who had the ability to make another person more comfortable with integrating edtech. The edtech companies realized how we could benefit from each other and took the steps to create Ambassadors.

By the same token, who do I want to hear ideas from? The edtech creator or the ambassador in the trenches? Kudos to the edtech companies for providing a platform for teachers to share their knowledge with others!

In a week, I will be presenting on an edtech resource I started using last year. This company doesn't have an ambassador program. If they get one, I will definitely take advantage of the opportunity to join. I am excited to share this resource with others because I am sure it is something they would love in  their classroom, as much as I love it in mine. And that's the point.


5. Networking/Building your PLN(Professional Learning Network)
Integrating tech in the classroom is not everyone's "thing." Sometimes it is difficult to find like-minded people in your physical space. Being an ambassador provides that link to like-minded people all over the country and the world. The connections are limitless. I know the feedback they have contributed has helped many of the resources I use evolve into what they are now.

I don't understand how teachers became villians for working with edtech companies as Ambassadors.

Here's the problem.

From the viewpoint of our naysayers, we are "endorsing" a brand. Actually, we are sharing something that works in our classroom, a resource that we use and like anyway.

Good teachers don't give up all other resources, and focus on the one(s) they are an Ambassador for.

It's funny that athletes recieve millions of dollars to endorse a brand, people in Hollywood get designer clothing and jewelery worth thousands, sometimes millions, to wear to celebrity events.

And teachers are horrible because they get a tshirt and a premium subscription to an edtech resource?

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Participating in Global Read Aloud 2017! Why I've Done This 8 Times!


For those who don't know, Global Read Aloud is when students and teachers all over the world, literally, read a book together for 6 weeks. It started small and has become huge, due to the hard work and original idea of Pernille Ripp. And of course, all the other teachers involved in putting this together.

I am going to make a confession.
I am not really in it for the connections. Gasp!
I'm sorry, but it's true.
Do I make connections? Yes.
Do I enjoy the connections I make? Yes.
Am I connecting this year? Yes.
But that's not what it's about for me.

It's about the BOOK.
Whether it's  "Out of My Mind", "Tuck Everlasting", "The One and Only Ivan", "Fish in a Tree","The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane", "Pax"or this year's "The Wild Robot", it's about the BOOK.

It's about what the book does for my kids, my classroom, for reading.

The books that have been chosen always seem to resonate with my students. They REALLY enjoy the story. I LOVE reading to them, AND it has the added bonus of hitting all those skills we have to teach, without becoming laborious.

The last four years these books have created readers in my classroom. If some of them didn't read independently at any other time, they read during Global Read Aloud. The great part is my students always have their own books, with the exception of "The One and Only Ivan", due to the generosity of the donors on DonorsChoose. Nothing beats the pleasure of a brand new book that is just yours.
"Yes, it's yours. Yes, you can keep it!"
It's funny because I tell the kids they can donate the books back to the class, and I only get 4 or 5 books back every year. I don't mind, I hope it's because they will take the time to enjoy it again and again, or share it with someone else.

Global Read Aloud (#GRA14)just keeps getting better and better! The authors that are chosen have begun to participate, even those who have never used social media before. How cool! More books have been added so that various grade levels can participate.

For those of you who choose to connect, take advantage of the groups and information set up on Wiki, Edmodo , Flipgrid, Facebook, Seesaw,etc... Don't be scared, start small. Join a group, or not. Follow the pacing guide, or not. Most of all, enjoy reading aloud to, and with your class. Enjoy a good story!

As long as there is Global Read Aloud, and I am teaching, I will participate. Hopefully, you will consider joining as well, if you haven't yet. It's about that BOOK!:)




Sunday, October 15, 2017

Teacher, Heal Thyself!



And if you can't heal thyself, at least take care of yourself.

Update: I just finished reading the article "Should Teachers Take Mental Health Days". Teaching has become even more stressful since the time this was posted. When we talk avout social-emotional issues, we need to make sure we are addressing what teachers go through as well. If you need a day, take it.

I pulled a muscle while I was lifting on one of the machines at the gym the other day. I knew when I pulled up, things were not going to be good. My sister said, "You know you're not as young as you used to be." She is correct.:)

And yet, even though I was in pain all night, I still went to work the next day. Limping. Stupid me. You know why I went to work, even though my hubby asked me not to?  My kids were taking the state test. I did not want a stranger in the room while my kids took the state test. So, there I was, bent over in pain, with my students telling me I need to go to the doctor. (Smart kids) I promised them that if I did not feel better, I would stay out.

Hubby and I went out to a birthday dinner that night, and when we left I had him drive me straight to the medical center. I was in that much pain. 2 Advils and 2 muscle relaxers later, I was texting the secretary asking her to get me a sub. I didn't go in.

We have to stop. Yeah, including myself. Teachers in my school come in sick, bent over, limping. It's what we do. We need to stop.

I went in this week, feeling somewhat better. But I felt I had to come in because I had a Mystery Skype scheduled. Couldn't let down my kids and the kids we were Skyping with, now could I?

I know how much we care about our students. But we also have to take care of ourselves. There will always be a body that they can throw in our rooms. Stay well teachers!




photo credit: deadstar 2.1 via photopin cc

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

The "Bad Kid" Label Sticks: Let's Remove It!


Sometimes, ok many times, she could be loud.
She rolled her eyes and twirled her neck. Often.
Her behavior was everyone else's fault, never hers.

But as the school year progressed, she changed.
She evolved.

Was she perfect? By, no means.
Did I require perfection from her?
No, why should I?

But I observed waaaaay less yelling, bullying, eye rolling and neck twirling.
Way less.

In my End-of-the-Year card! :)
I never yelled at her.
I  talked to her, not "at" her.
I listened to her.
I would allow her to lead.
Let her use her voice for good.
I resisted the power struggle.
Had to, because sometimes she would take me there.:)
And we grew together throughout the school year.

We grew to understand each other.
She knew I "didn't play", but I loved her anyway.
She knew to grab that Ipad, set the timer for 5 minutes, and go to the buddy classroom because I needed a timeout. :)
I learned there was a girl who needed to know she was more than a loud, bullying, eye-rolling, neck twirling child.
We built a relationship.

As the school year ended, I chose her to be the mayor at JA Biztown.
She was amazing!
Everything ran smoothly, she gave her speech to the "citizens."
I was so proud. What a leader!

But here's the thing with the "bad" kid.
Some educators don't want to let go of the label that has followed that student for years.

"I can't believe out of all the kids in your room, you chose her to be the mayor!"

Really?

I have this pesky habit of believing in the "bad" kid, just as I believe in all my kids.
I believe in giving kids a fresh start, and not believing the hype that follows them.
I believe educators should stop chasing down the previous teachers to get the "scoop" on a child and then continue to treat that child the same way they were the previous year.

Thre's no magic wand to change a child.
And sometimes, what is tried, fails.
This year, give the "bad" kid a chance to be viewed as good, or at least as worthy as everyone else.



Wednesday, July 12, 2017

#WhatSummerBreak vs. #SummerBreak- A Teacher's Hashtag!


Why do I often feel the need to convince "others" (Meaning people who are not teachers, do not work with teachers, or are not married or partners of teachers.),that my summer vacation is well-deserved and/or not really a break at all?

Which, by the way, is exactly what I am doing in this blog post! LOL

This post stemmed from my participation as a delegate at the NEA RA (National Education Association Representative Assembly). The delegate who proposed this hashtag felt that the #whatsummerbreak was needed because so many "others" felt that teachers just get the summer off to do absolutely nothing. (Not that there's anything wrong with that.) The delegate wanted teachers to post using the #whatsummerbreak to prove to "others" that teachers really don't enjoy their summer break the way other people think they do.

I guess this is a good time to mention that the RA lasted a week, I attended Friday through Wednesday. I worked 10 hour days, including Sunday and the 4th of July. (Ahem!)

Anytyway. The point is there are many, many, many, many, teachers working their way through their "summer break." Some of them are really working, as in, they have jobs. Jobs they MUST have in order to survive until school begins again, or this is their all-the-time 2nd job in order to survive.

Then we have the teachers who are doing, we'll call it "school stuff." Conferences, classes, summer school,(Wait, that's a job), and .or book studies.  Some of them are home, or in their classrooms, preparing for the new school year. Whether it's redesigning rooms, adjusting or creating new lesson plans, etc... I changed grades last year, so most of  my summer last year was spent getting ready for the new curriculum.

So yeah, for thousands of teachers around the country, the #whatsummerbreak does apply.(Watch this video)

But for those educators, or anyone else who deals with Other People's Children, do not, as I find myself doing much too often, feel the need to justify why you are off! EVER!

For 10 months you do what most people could not. You deal with parents, their children, other teachers, coaches, administrators. You write lesson plans, grade papers, attend PD, arrive early, leave late, give up countless hours of your time, coach, run after-school programs, and you never,ever, stop thinking about those kids, "your kids.".

And, before the "others" say it, yes, you willingly signed up for this job. But this job, this job can suck the life out of you.

SO, if for 2 months you want to sit on a beach, travel around the world, play with your kids, binge on a  Netflix, (substitute any streaming device here), show, talk to your significant other about something other than school, then do it! You deserve it, and don't you ever feel the need to justify it. #summerbreak

Please feel free to post to either hashtag #summerbreak or #whatsummerbreak and enjoy the rest of your summer!