When it comes to discussing childhood trauma in the classroom, there are a lot of things that you need to know. You need to know that ACE stands for "adverse childhood experiences". You need to know that nationally, 1 in 10 children have experienced three or more ACE's in their life so far. You need to know that are different types of trauma, from living in poverty to dealing with the death of a caregiver. You need to know that experiencing trauma can actually alter the way a child thinks and reacts to situations in the future.
This month I am leading a book discussion about the book The Trauma Sensitive Classroom. The idea for this class came about because I know of current situations where this training is needed. To be honest, I really feel that this training or something like it is vital for ALL teachers of any age. I feel so strongly, in fact, that if you sign up for my current newsletter you will find links to training opportunities that can be done for FREE.
They say "Knowledge is power." In this situation, we could all stand to be more powerful when it comes to helping children in need.
The National Institute for Early Education Research came out with a report recently that showed the quality of preschool education in forty of the largest cities in the US. Out of forty cities, only six met the benchmark for teacher training and professional development. My first thought was that the benchmark might be set too high, and that was the reason for the failure to meet it. The NIEER has set the benchmark for preschool teachers at having to get only fifteen hours of professional development a year. That is less than two hours a month! How do we fix this sorry state of affairs? We start by participating in conversations about education. We encourage teachers to find training that they feel is relevant for them. We share our learning online!! We work together to create a community of learners! Begin here! Every month I share out training opportunities and educational podcasts with my newsletter. Is there more that you would like to see me do? How can I help make sure that every preschool teacher not only meets the benchmark for training and professional development, but exceeds it.
These days a lot of people are tossing around the words "multiculturalism" and "culturally responsive teaching". They sound a lot alike so some people use them interchangeably. Sadly, those words do not mean the same thing. Multiculturalism means representation of various cultures is found in your classroom and your school. Maybe you read aloud from the amazing book Amal Unbound to your class and listen to music with the lyrics in Chinese. These are great first steps in making sure that all children are welcome. This is not the same thing as culturally responsive teaching. CRT is more about the ways to teach individual children. Multiculturalism is about creating cultural harmony and culturally responsive teaching is more about differentiated learning.
This is a very basic summary. If you would like to know more, sign up for my newsletter! In the March issue you will find links to two new podcasts that I highly recommend, and both have to do with learning more about this topic!
We are so excited to announce that Harrison Educational Training has a lot of great things planned for the coming year! The first monthly classes are planned, and they are going to really popular. Of course the best way to keep up with any changes is to subscribe to our new monthly newsletter! It will give suggestions on podcasts to listen to, professional books to try, and other training opportunities. Start 2019 off right by keeping the learning going all year long!
I believe that there is a HUGE difference between professional learning and professional development. Professional development is something that a teacher does to put a check in a box, either for re-certification or because they were told that they had to. It can take the form of a webinar or in-person lecture. It can last 30 minutes or 5 hours. Usually there are handouts. The biggest thing is that it is someone just telling the teacher information and very rarely is any of it ever remembered when the teacher returns to the classroom. That is okay, though, because administration never follows through to make sure that what the teacher learned is being carried back to the classroom.
Now professional learning is a new thing entirely. Professional learning can still take place online or in-person. Professional learning is interactive and usually centered around topics that the teachers have chosen to learn more about. Professional learning classes leave the teachers excited and eager to try new things in their classrooms. Professional learning encourages teachers to share what they have learned with others and to keep growing. Professional learning is fun.
I find it amazing that this day and age of required differentiated learning for students, that so many schools don't do the same thing for teachers. I am lucky enough to follow a lot of amazing educators online who have taken it upon themselves to make sure that they are doing more professional learning than development. That gives me hope. I want to do more.
My dream is to get a job as a professional trainer. I would love to give schools and teachers a training "buffet". Teachers would be required to complete one or two training activities a month, but they could choose to attend the after-school book club or the all day Saturday training that ends with an Escape Room form of review. I would include aspects of teambuilding into every class so that teachers would leave feeling like they had people to ask if they didn't understand concepts. Every class would also start with a five minute book sharing so that teachers could learn about so many of the wonderful books that can be shared with students. Training classes with me would end with ways that the teachers can share their learning and keep growing.
If you know of a school looking for a teacher trainer, share my name! I cannot wait to show the schools the difference between professional development and professional learning!
I am doing some online professional development as you do on a Saturday night as a teacher. I wanted to make some notes about the best ways for me to use the new tech tools that I am learning about and I thought I would just "think out loud" here. What better way to leave a digital footprint to showcase my learning?
The first tool that I really like is called a Flippity. It converts Google spreadsheets into different kinds of games. In a quick five minutes I was able to create a hangman game for my kindergarten class to review their sight words on the smartboard. My 8 year old son played with it for a few minutes and loved it!
When I heard about Kahoot, I instantly thought about using it my teacher training that I am presenting at VAECE in a couple of weeks. I think it could be a really fun way to get a survey of how the people in the class feel about the topic before we start and after! It might also be a fun way for me to present myself instead of doing the typical power point introduction.
I am learning a bit about Quizziz. I wonder if that is something I could use with my kindergarten children at home? Assign something for them to do at home and then get feedback? My only concern is that parents might "help out" too much at home.
The final tool I learned about is the Google photoscan. It is an app that you can download to scan your old paper photos. I think that this app will be super useful for my dad. I don't know about how I would use it in the classroom. However, the commercial for this tool is now my favorite! Check that out here.
Now to get "techy with it"!
Each year I work hard to try and bring the best parts of the outside world into my classroom. There have been two really great ways that I have been able to do that. First by setting up a webconference with NASA and by Skyping with an enlisted soldier.
NASA has an amazing website, but very few teachers that I have spoken with know about its awesome Digital Learning Network. The DLN not only has a ton of lesson plans and videos for teachers to use, it also gives teachers the ability to set up a specific time to chat with a NASA scientist on a list of different topics. Last year our scientist was even able to connect our classroom to a training facility where the kids were able to watch astronauts practice getting out of a shuttle upside down in the water! It was amazing!
Another fantastic example of bringing the outside world in involves setting up a Skype session with an enlisted soldier. I will say that this really works best when you are speaking with a soldier that someone knows. In the past we have spoken with a friend of mine who is stationed in Alaska. It gave us a chance to talk about Alaska as well as the role my friend has in the military. Skyping with him also really gave us a chance to talk about the fact that the military does a lot more than just fighting. The children were really interested when the soldier explained the different parts of the uniform that he was wearing. Skyping with and enlisted soldier really helped young children to understand the idea of patriotism. It was fantastic.
I heard something tonight that really struck a chord with me. During an online session of the Learning Revolution Conference Bernard Bull talked about the idea of introducing children to professional learning networks.
I love learning. I have created my own personal learning network made up of educational podcasts, newsletters, teachers I follow on twitter, and more. I am very proud of my PLN. I have found that when I am down or discouraged as a teacher, seeing other great things that teachers do gets me excited again. I try to think of ways that their great ideas can fit into my classroom.
The more I think about it, of course helping children to create a network of their own related to a topic they love makes terrific sense! Now I need to figure out how to do that. What steps should I teach first? How do I gather all of the necessary information in one place? I remember that when I taught the idea of a PLN to adult teachers, I told them to just pick one place and start there. My son loves volcanoes, so we can start his PLN by just creating a YouTube playlist of some informative volcano videos. He'll have to weed through the mess to find which ones he really wants to keep. Which ones will he really want to go back to again and again?
Now I've said it! Time to test it!
Games that make learning fun are an important part of any classroom. I have taken that idea to the extreme, by supersizing the game board! I laid out a simple pattern on a large tarp using duct tape. Instead of using dice, we are moving around the board according to directions on a large beach ball. The kids love it! By enlarging the board, I am encouraging the children to move more. This will help them better remember the information. The other great thing about this game is that it can be used with anything! Here we are using the board to review the Seven Habits of Happy Kids, but in the past I have used it to review books we’ve read or math facts. This is definitely an example of a little work going a long way! I do want to add that one thing that is important to remember is that playing on a big board is just like playing a game on a regular board. You would never play candy land with 20 people, so don't try to do that here. I have found that if you have the children play in teams, the additional of challenge of making everyone fit on one square adds to the fun of the game.
This was a great lesson that got the boys really involved. I began by talking to the group about pointillism. I asked what the children thought the word might mean. I went on to talk about Georges Seurat and showing the children a picture of his painting "A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte". Next I asked the children to create a picture using lego blocks as the dots. I explained that the children would do well to plan out their picture and then look for the blocks in the colors that they needed. The lesson went really well and the children really enjoyed it. The boys in the group really got into it. The photo I have added is one boy's version of the Mona Lisa using the legos. I thought it was very creative and a hit! In the classroom you could use this idea to teach a lot of different standards. What would a pointillist version of the frog life cycle look like in legos? The parts of a flower?
Today I began teaching the coding lessons from the "Hour of Code". I was really nervous. I am teaching these lessons at a summer camp. My biggest fear was that I was going to be so excited about this and the children were so not going to love it. I started with binary code. I braced my self for the inevitable, "Why do we have to do this? This is summer camp, not school!" I taught six different groups this lesson, from kindergarteners to middle schoolers. They loved it! I had children begging to take the code keys home so they could practice some more! Today we moved onto the actual programming and the maze games. Kids didn't want to leave my class! I would say that computer programming is a hit. If you haven't looked into the "Hour of Code", then you should. It can be found here. Bookmark the page!
I bet that when you saw that title, you had a picture of chaos in your head. Paper airplanes flying and desks upturned, all the while the teacher is nowhere to be seen. Actually, you couldn't be further from the truth. I feel that my goal as a classroom teacher should be to help children become lifelong learners. I want to help children learn how to learn. I want them to understand that if there is a topic out there that they want to know more about, they can take charge and find out about it. In the ideal classroom, there is no chaos, but collaboration. The teacher is there, but in the back of the class answering individual questions.
Mine is a lofty goal, but I do have some ideas for how I want to get there. I want to start by giving the children a sort of checklist for all of the SOL's that they have to know in advance. We'll put those checklists in a folder and then as we progress throughout the year, the children will be responsible for chosing what artifacts they are going to place in their folders that prove mastery of each skill. I also want the children to help me set our agenda for each day and I want to give them some input into how they wish to learn each skill. Do they want to learn about story elements through reader's theaters or by creating a stop motion movie?
Wow. Now that I have said all of that it is time that I go out and iron out the details. I am excited to see what I will learn about the children and myself this year! Until next time, go forth and grow! (Yeah. That's my catchphrase now. I like it.)
Judith Leyster was a successful artist in the Netherlads in the seventeenth century. It is thought that she painted a self-portrait of herself to advertise her abilities as an artist. In the painting she is dressed in a fancy dress and collar to show that she is successful. She painted herself smiling and looking straight at you to show that she was “happy and ready to work for you”. The lively violin player on her easel was her way of showing off another painting type.
Now encourage the children to draw a picture of themselves. What do they want people to know about them from looking at the picture? Ask the children to “begin with the end in mind” and choose five words that would describe themselves. Now ask them to show those five words in their picture of themselves in some way.
Image from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judith_Leyster.
"Self Portrait" by Judith Leyster
Painted in 1630 and hanging in the National Gallery of Art in the USA.
It seems like everyone has a blog these days. There is a lot of information out there and the only way that I can even begin to encourage you to spend your time reading my blog is by making it all about something useful. As a teacher, the most useful thing that I can think of is ideas for lesson plans. I will post my ideas here. I hope that you can comment and leave some of your ideas for me!