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.

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?

Due Dates vs. Late Policies

My Question: Do you (school, department, district, etc.) have late policies? Why have deadlines if late policies exist? Are students penalized for late work?

Meeting benchmarks paves a path for scaffolding skills, knowledge, and abilities, mastery. Formative assessments lead up to summative assessments. Prerequisites help build foundational grounding for things yet to come. Various types of learning methodologies incorporate these concepts: self-regulated, project-based, problem-based, inquiry-based, etc.

Within all of this lies meeting due dates/deadlines. Can’t logically move forward to step D without meeting step C. Teachers need adequate time to review and assess to ensure a student is ready to move forward. Extenuating circumstances asides, meeting deadlines is a life skill, no?

Why set deadlines if late policies exist?

Blended Learning. Why Not Blended Design?

Blended learning (Morris, 2010), or hybrid courses (Garnham & Kaleta, 2002; Garrison & Kanuka, 2004) , are most commonly referred to as flipped classrooms to practitioners (aka teachers and admins). This type of instructional design attempts to effectively combine both traditional (lecture-based) and online education. As Young (2002) reports, most educational environments are turning toward a blended learning model to offer more efficient learning opportunities especially in situations similar to longer class periods as experienced in a university/college setting. That said, while flipped classrooms are a recent instructional technology trend mostly in higher education settings, there is growing prominence in high school and middle school (Tucker, 2012). Flipped classrooms are meant to effectively combine traditional and online education by utilizing both in and out-of-class time. Despite positively reported implications of the flipped classroom instructional strategy, there is a deep shortage of literature and data that demonstrate advantages for student learning outcomes. And that’s because, until recently, educational researchers and theorists stayed on one side of the tracks and practitioners on the other side. An attempt to align the two divisions is clearly reflected in this year’s theme for the Annual American Education Research Association (AERA) conference – “The Power of Education Research for Innovation in Practice and Policy.” In essence, how can research aid practice. Yet how often is research truly applicable and relevant, and how often is it actually implemented into classrooms?

Knowing that flipping classrooms is an instructional strategy on the rise, why not blend instructional design with theory to examine benefits, or shortfalls? I’ll tell you why.

Research Integration = there are teachers who:

  1. Do not know how to read the research/data
  2. May know how to read the data, but not sure how to make sense of it
  3. May know how to make sense of the data, but not how to integrate into the classroom
  4. May know how to integrate into the classroom, but not effectively with positive outcomes

And this, my friends, leads me to argue that schools need to have a resource, in-house or consulted, to help facilitate data- and research-based information that makes sense for practice purposes.

And with this in mind, my friends, led me to design a study to support practice with theory. Blended Design.

The purpose of my study was to investigate flipped classroom instruction versus a traditional classroom, specifically an instructional video versus traditional textbook presentation on accuracy and mental effort at three levels of mathematical complexity. College-level nursing students who require mathematical mastery were used as a pilot test group in anticipation that this experience could be translated for larger data sets of variable age groups. These results indicated that accuracy increased and mental effort decreased with flipped instruction. Using Sweller’s cognitive load theory and Mayer’s cognitive theory of multimedia learning as theoretical frameworks, this study provides insight into designing effective instruction for learning environments that could benefit from a flipped classroom framework.

For more on the results and limitations, please feel free to read my paper…after I return from this year’s AERA. I’ll post it then.