Keep Calm, Almost Done Teachers
So I am closing out my Spring Break like most school administrators, teachers, and students. For me, as a Technology Director, Spring Break can be used as a time to catch up with work that you couldn't do when teachers and students are in school or a time to just relax. For me, the time was used for a little of both; I got to relax with my children (or lack thereof), and a little catch-up work. As I am working on cleaning my Google Drive Folders (thanks for the tip Alice Keeler), adding information to my PLC Google Classrooms and creating my upcoming Google Certified Educator Classroom for a select group of teachers, I take a look at my website, www.eujonanderson.com. As I begin to update my website, adding the training sessions from this past year's FETC and other digital tools, I look at my blog. The last post I submitted was back early in 2018. The blog post was interesting because I wanted to give teachers something to think about as they came back from the Christmas Holiday Break. Here is that particular article: Message to Educators: Finish Strong. So after Spring Break, I guess it's a pretty good time to submit my first blog post for the 2019 school year, and it is a reminder to "Finish Strong". In the last blog post, my objective was to give teachers some ideas of what they can do to finish up the school year. We all know that during this time, burnout is real. This is especially true to teachers who do not feel like they had the support for the school year, whether it was from leadership, their colleagues, parents, and even the students. As best as I can, I would like to say, to keep going educators, and finish the fight. If you are wondering why I am saying this now, it's because of how far you have come, especially through whatever obstacles and challenges that came this year. The end of the school year will be here before you know it. But, if I can do my best to motivate you to remain interactive, innovative, and creative in the classroom (wouldn't be a Technology Director if I didn't), here are some more tips and ideas along with those from last year's article. Take a Break or Fix your Social Media Now, I'm not a big fan of removing myself away from social media. I believe that some of the information I post on social media benefits others, whether that's teachers, administrators, or even common folk. Also, I pretty much run our school systems' social media accounts so that's my other excuse to stay plugged in. But I will say to those who need a break from all of the negativity seen in social media, especially from group pages where it seems as if every post is negative to get away. However, there are alternatives. They are to block, unfollow, and snooze. Basically, get the social media negative feeds out of your life. These options work wonders as you begin cleaning your social media. I did a social media training a while back and explained that it is true, social media, even websites, at times can use an algorithm to track what your interests are and what you follow and watch on social media. So I explained to use this to benefit you. Begin blocking the negative videos, messages, and images from social media, and watch how the trends change for you. Those who follow these guidelines usually notice a change in what messages are fed to them (I've done this, and now all I receive are educational, edtech, and business-related social feeds. The only negatives are from the clothing, watches, and shoe stores because I continue to add these items in shopping carts but never purchase). Educator Socials Book studies, #coffeeEdu, and just simply having social gatherings with your fellow educators are essential. Use these moments to connect with your colleagues or other teachers in different school systems to connect and collaborate on different topics. Now, you do need to stay on task, for instance, if you are joining a book study or an edcamp-like setting, but I've yet to see a setting such as this where teachers couldn't open up and have an honest discussion about what's going on in their schools or classrooms. The challenge is to make certain that whatever is intended for that event to be the main focus and do not turn it into a venting session. Even though venting sessions are needed as well, I still believe the goal should be to come up with a solution or brainstorm any changes that could take place. I recommend that you set something up now. Yes, get a group of teachers, set an evening where most could attend and create this time. You would be surprised, but maybe there are teachers who are trying to set these up, they just need a push as well. Depending on the culture of your school and leadership, I recommend sending the brainstorm and thoughts to your administrators as long as the group feels confident in sharing. This doesn't mean the administrators will react on it, but similar to venting, I say after you get it off your chest, at the very least you have notified them in a professional manner. Try One Digital Tool for Innovation, and Stick to it From my last blog, I mentioned working with positive teachers to finish strong and to collaborate with them. This is still true at this moment. So the challenge I give you is to come up with an innovative lesson, either something you will do as a group of educators or just in your classroom, and stick to it. Failure or not, continue to work on it to finish out the year. I only say this because I have seen teachers who at times do not give a lesson a chance once they feel it crashed the first time. On the other side, I've seen teachers who have so many innovative and creative tricks in their bag that it overwhelms the students. As technology director who also assists with professional learning, I believe in working with a few digital tools until they are mastered before a teacher should move on. For instance, tools that I solely believe in that allows collaboration and offers a more student approach would be Google Suite for Education, Flipgrid, and Seesaw (Seesaw mainly used for primary). I have teachers focusing primarily on these tools because I know there are thousands of ways they can be used and if you are on Twitter, ideas are steadily growing (check out #GoogleClassroom, #FlipgridFever, and @Seesaw). Yet, there are still teachers who haven't tried them for whatever reason. So I would say if you can get access to any of these tools, whether through your district or if you have to sign up for free (all of these have free accounts) to try at least one, and come up with several ways on integrating it in your classroom for the remainder of the school year.