Set Clear Objectives

Establishing clear objectives is an integral part in developing a prioritized list of short- and long-term goals.

By definition, as nouns, objectives are goals that are aimed at or sought.

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Without having a clear understanding of what the end result should be of a project or intention, then setting priorities (things that are regarded as more important than another) is nearly impossible.

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As I have been attending more Teacher Leadership meetings, the role of facilitator has been often mentioned with regard to effective leadership. Ideally, leaders and facilitators have very clear visions of final products. Articulating those goals and visions is crucial to team members to best devise priorities.

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I’m reminded of Wiggins and McTighe’s Understanding by Design through which curriculum is developed backwards (that’s the simplistic way to describing it). In essence, once the long-term goal is understood and articulated, then overarching questions can be developed to guide the unit, with mention of relevant skills and key concepts needed to meet those questions. Designing appropriate, and often times scaffolded, benchmarks (e.g. formative assessments) facilitate the progress made to reaching the end goal (e.g. summative assessment).

Once objectives and priorities are set, trust that those delegated the responsibilities are reliable assets to the team in getting the job done, and getting it done well. Timelines and due dates of meeting short terms goals may not necessarily be set in stone – the work flow is an ebb and flow of fluid, authentic, and organic motions that adjust naturally. And that’s okay. Don’t fret. As long as the product is completed by the agreed-upon deadline, trust in your team.

The other clear necessity when leading is to not micromanage. Checking in is good, but micromanaging is not.

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We all work differently. We all have different ideas in how to approach tasks. Different approaches are not wrong. Yes, some approaches may be less efficient than others, but as long as the end goal is met, and the product is stellar, let it go (in the words of Elsa).

So what’s the point of all of this? To progress, have clear objectives. Done.

Effective Facilitator

Recently I’ve had the privilege of sitting in on Teacher Leadership cohort meetings – both for middle school and high school. Soon elementary schools. Even though the content area is focused on ELA, many of the points of discussion can be applied across contents and departments.

As part of the meetings, discussion about what how an effective facilitator behaves, the two groups reflected on recent meetings and drew upon their reflections to share positive point of good leadership.

I consolidated the points, and I think it makes sense. Here’s the to the progress of effective leadership!

EffectiveFacilitator

EffectiveFacilitator

Breathe Again

No. This isn’t about Toni Braxton’s song. But it’s true that I feel like I can breathe again.

Life sure has its funny ways of twists and turns, and these past few months have been nothing short of those funnies.

And as we know, when starting something new, your head spins, you’re pulled in 100s of directions, simultaneously, your priorities change, and you feel like you’re barely treading water. But through all that, there’s a level of exhilaration that keeps your inspired and motivated.

And yet, only after 5 weeks do I feel like my feet have started to touch the ground and that I am finally making sense of my new path.

So what is this new path that I’ve chosen? I may have left the classroom, but I have not left teaching. Developing and providing professional development for faculty, staff, and admins is my new classroom.

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In addition to providing professional development, I’m closely working with the ELA department in aligning curriculum and standards with purposeful and relevant technologies for instructional and learning purposes. The level of collaboration across departments is intense, in a positive way. It’s a clear reminder how critical clear communication is with clear visions and objectives.

The pace of the progress is slow, but the potential level of progress to be made is immense. Slow and steady wins the race.

Circle of Empowerment

Circle of Empowerment

It is deeply inspiring to see my passion in research become tangible and possible for practical implications in not only my classroom, but also the classrooms of my colleagues. Oftentimes we focus on empowering teachers, but we must remember that we should also empower students. We need to learn what the students need and from there we provide appropriate and relevant trainings for teachers, and administrators, to create a circle of empowerment.

One goal of mine is start empowering parents. Parents should be aware of what occurs in the classroom and knowledgeable about how they can assist outside of the classroom.

Be SAFE with BYOD

There’s loads of advice on how to implement a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) campus or workplace and even what to do once the policy is in place.

JP Prezzavento (@jpprezz) published a great piece on 3 B’s of Bring Your Own Device. You can find this and other great pieces of information on his Blog – J.P. Prezzavento – The Bits and Bytes of Education: My thoughts on teaching and technology.

After reading JP’s 3 Bs – Be Available, Be Free, Be Selective, I started to wonder how it would be best to remember the specific verb, and so I’m suggesting the following with an extension (as inspired by JP’s work):

Be SAFE

Selective – according to JP, master a handful of useful tools that simplify classroom procedures and make learning in a BYOD environment collaborative and authentic, such as Google Drive, Blogger, Padlet, and awwapp.com.  Leave out apps that are more flash than substance or complicate simple classroom procedures.

Available – According to JP, whichever tool a teacher decides to use should be available on all student devices, including web browsers.  This means that sometimes web applications like Padlet will be the way to go instead of iOS or Android apps

Free – According to JP, just like we don’t expect students to buy their own textbooks, we shouldn’t expect students to regularly purchase apps for our classes.

Engaged – According to me, the types of tools used should engage students and teachers to work either individually or collaboratively; there should be a level of excitement, motivation, and inspiration to use the chosen tool to produce something purposeful, meaningful, and sustainable for future learning or instruction.

JP – I know we’ve never met, but I thank you for your post to allow me to reflect how I can Be SAFE with BYOD.

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To have Expectations, or not?

According to dictionary.com, “expectation” is defined as:

Expectation

Similarly, “expect” is defined as:

Expect

In the “Kung Fool” episode of an Arthur show, Fern comes to the conclusion that we should “let go of your expectations and go with the flow.”

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To have expectations or not to have expectations, that is the question.


1. If there are expectations, there is a minimum to meet; yet, if that minimum is not met, then disappointment sets in because the minimum level of success is not met. Though we have to remember, also, that currently, if the minimum is met, that just may not be good enough. We are a society that is driven (or dare I say forced) to go beyond the minimum requirements and expectations, perhaps without recognition or compensation, which then connects the circle of why go beyond the minimum? Because there’s a risk of losing employment, not getting as good of marks? Let’s face it, while we may feel good about ourselves intrinsically when we perform over 100%, we still thrive on extrinsic motivators.

2. If there are no expectations, then we will be pleasantly surprised at people’s accomplishments and doings, and not disappointed. 

To have expectations, or not? How does this apply to your teaching, learning, and performance?

When your flair isn’t making the cut

Please tell me you remember Office Space (1999)?

How many of you meet the minimum, but the minimum does not meet the expectation?

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Stan, Chotchkie’s Manager: We need to talk about your flair.

Joanna: Really? I… I have fifteen pieces on. I, also…

Stan, Chotchkie’s Manager: Well, okay. Fifteen is the minimum, okay?

Joanna: Okay.

Stan, Chotchkie’s Manager: Now, you know it’s up to you whether or not you want to just do the bare minimum. Or… well, like Brian, for example, has thirty seven pieces of flair, okay. And a terrific smile.

Joanna: Okay. So you… you want me to wear more?

Stan, Chotchkie’s Manager: Look. Joanna.

Joanna: Yeah.

Stan, Chotchkie’s Manager: People can get a cheeseburger anywhere, okay? They come to Chotchkie’s for the atmosphere and the attitude. Okay? That’s what the flair’s about. It’s about fun.

Joanna: Yeah. Okay. So more then, yeah?

Stan, Chotchkie’s Manager: Look, we want you to express yourself, okay? Now if you feel that the bare minimum is enough, then okay. But some people choose to wear more and we encourage that, okay? You do want to express yourself, don’t you?

Joanna: Yeah, yeah.

Stan, Chotchkie’s Manager: Okay. Great. Great. That’s all I ask.

And how many of you are doing more because you’re expected to and not receiving more compensation?

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Bill Lumbergh: Hello Peter, whats happening? Ummm, I’m gonna need you to go ahead come in tomorrow. So if you could be here around 9 that would be great, mmmk… oh oh! and I almost forgot ahh, I’m also gonna need you to go ahead and come in on Sunday too, kay. We ahh lost some people this week and ah, we sorta need to play catch up.

If you exceed the expectations and go beyond what is required, do you stay silent about it or are you vocal about it? In my experience, it’s the less vocal that accomplish more than those who speak loudest. Yet why is it that the loudest receive the recognition? Is the noise meant to cover the lack of doing?

So how much flair is enough flair, and how do you show your flair so that you don’t feel like…Image