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Getting Feedback

Jennifer Gonzalez:

It’s possible that you think you’ve been asking for feedback, but you have been doing it in a way that isn’t producing results. Maybe you occasionally mention something general to your staff like, “Hey, if anyone ever has suggestions or feedback for me, just let me know.” Or in your start-of-the-year speech to the faculty, you mention that you have an open-door policy — teachers should feel free to talk to you any time they’re having a problem.

Asking for feedback is hard, but very vital. When people have concerns, it is so important that they are able to talk about it. I've asked teachers to give me feedback in the format that we use for my actual evaluation and teacher's evaluation. There is some power in anonymity, but that also leaves room for potshots. A very healthy system is needed for that anonymous system to work. There need to be high levels of trust going both ways.

I agree with Jennifer, in that you really need to go out of your way to get feedback, regardless of what you say at any given point. You really need to go out and give people a chance and method for giving feedback.

I Like this Idea

George Couros:

One of the schools that I worked with in the past year decided to make their old computer lab into a “Starbucks” room that had different levels of seating and was much more of a welcoming learning environment than what the computer lab had been in years prior.  Not only did they go with mobile technology that could be at the point of instruction, they also created an environment that teachers in the school wanted to recreate in their own classrooms.  If you experience something better, you are more likely to implement something better.  This is what that school wanted to create in the “Starbucks” room.

Build Each Other Up

Eric Sheninger:

To that end I offer this simple bit of advice -Actions speak louder than words and in the long run are more respected. Instead of putting other people down let your work do the talking.  There is no greater influential force than that of modeling.  As they say, talk is cheap.  There is nothing cheaper than taking shots from behind a computer screen at other educators whose success has come as a result of hard work.

Maybe I am ignorant, but thankfully, I don't see this negative stuff happening. It saddens me that it does happen. We are better than that.

Long Live Lectures

George Couros:

Anything done too much, will lose it’s impact.  This could be true of any type of learning.  Variety is powerful, but what works for you, doesn’t mean it works for someone else and we have to remember that sitting and hearing a great story, can make a huge impact on learning.  A great lecture is like an art form, and making a personal connection to content, helps others do the same for themselves.

Pretty powerful stuff. If lectures are so bad, why are we so ensnared with TED talks. Good teaching is about engaging your kids. If you do that through a lecture, go for it. If you do that through maker spaces, go for it. If you do that through X, go for it.

The End of Grading Periods

Mike Kelly:

In many schools, including the one in which I work, teachers have adopted great practices such as ongoing formative assessment, re-teaching, re-testing and allowing students to re-do assignments. However, even with the implementation of these successful grading and instructional practices, the old "learning clock" still counts down to the end of the marking period. It's like trying to beat the sand timer in a board game. All learning must be complete before all the sand gets to the bottom on the hour glass, or it's too late. So, why?

I sure love the idea of not having marking periods. I'm excited to see where this goes.

Don't Ruin Social Media by "Edufying" it

George Couros:

…although I am extremely interested in the medium, I am trying to stop trying to “edufy” every social media site I see.  The appeal for social media in many cases was to have fun and sometimes I think that it is easy for myself to lose that initial idea and appeal that drew me to things like Facebook in the first place.

I can certainly get on board with the not edufying every social media site. Vine is about watching funny short videos for me. I don't want that to be about education stuff.

Can You Imagine Spending 26 Years in Prison?

This podcast episode may be one of my favorites ever. I interviewed Michael Santos, a man who spent 26(!) years in prison!

I am fascinated by his story. He was a successful author while in prison, and now spends his time teaching others how to change their lives so they can be successful, too. It is just fascinating. We educators can learn a lot about how to help prevent his situation in the future.

Click the title of this post to listen to his story.