A Journey Through Technology

Week 9 Reflection

This week we looked at the differences between teaching children and mentoring adults. Without any real mentoring experience, it would be easy to go into this project thinking it would be just like teaching my students, but after a few weeks of this project, I have seen that it is quite different from teaching my students. The readings and research for this week will definitely make me a better mentor because now I have a better understanding of what being a mentor actually means.

This week, I impacted the learning of others, and my learning was impacted by others, through the Twitter chat, reading and researching for the blog post, the comments on my blog post, and reading and commenting on Sara and Andrea’s blogs. Something in Sara’s post that really stood out to me was a quote that said that “the educational leader acknowledges that he or she is a learner as well”. I can honestly say that I have learned something from my mentee each week we have met throughout this project. I have been able to help her learn more about the technology, but I have also learned how to become a better mentor by working with her. I take her lead on what we need to spend time on, instead of going in with a pre-made list of objectives like I do with my students.

Andrea talked a bit about motivation for adults learners being necessary for them to learn and understand what they are learning. We want students to be motivated to learn in our classrooms, so why should adult learning be any different? I know that when a topic is important to me I am much more likely to take the time to learn and understand it.

This week really put things into a different perspective for me and I hope that I can use the information from this week to be a better mentor for this project, and also expand on my mentoring for other educators.

Mentoring Project Update

This week my mentee successfully created Google Classrooms for all of her biology class periods, and added her daily agenda PowerPoints so students can access them outside of class. She is getting better at distinguishing between her Google Classroom and Google Drive, and really likes being able to access her files from anywhere using her Google Drive. This week her plan is to download both the Google Classroom and Drive apps on her iPad and try using them at home, and also try doing an assignment in each class to get students 1: signed up for the class; and 2: try it out in class and see how it works.

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Week 9: How is mentoring adults different from teaching children?

This week we are looking at the differences between teaching children and mentoring adults. Until this semester I hadn’t had any experience as a mentor, but I am currently in my seventh year of teaching. Just in the few weeks that I have been serving as a mentor I have noticed quite a few differences. The main difference for me right now is the content. I normally teach chemistry to my students, but now I’m helping my colleague learn about technology and how to better use it in her classroom. But content is not the only difference between teaching and mentoring.

First, looking at the definitions shows a distinct difference between mentoring and teaching. “Mentoring is typically providing advice based on the mentor’s personal experience.” (Reed, 2014) This semester I am mentoring one of my colleagues in the use of technology in the classroom. I am using my persona experiences with technology to help her learn about and be able to use it more in her classroom. Another explanation of a mentor is “an experienced person who acts as an advisor to another individual.” (2015) I am using my experience to help my mentee gain more experience with technology.

As I look at these explanations of a mentor, I can see how teachers could act as mentors to our students. I definitely use my personal experience to teach my students and also to advise some of them. In an article titled Teaching vs. Mentoring, Paula Marantz Cohen explains the difference between teaching and mentoring: “A teacher has greater knowledge than a student; a mentor has greater perspective.” (2012) In my mentor role this year, I do not feel like I have more knowledge than my mentee, but I do have a different perspective with respect to technology than she does, which allows me to share my experience with her.

In reading the chapter for this week, I found the explanation of mentoring adults to be very similar to many of the theories surrounding teaching children. Adults should be mentored based on their needs or interests; the subject of the mentoring should be relevant to them, either through their work or their life; active participation and experiences in mentoring are key to success; mentors should work with the mentee to make sure they are involved in the process; and differentiation should be used to ensure best learning methods for the mentee. (Papa, 2011, p.100) Even though mentoring takes place under different circumstances that teaching children, it appears that the process should actually be very similar to the way we teach our students.

References

Difference Between Mentor and Teacher | Mentor vs Teacher. (2015). Differencebetween.com. Retrieved 24 March 2017, from http://www.differencebetween.com/difference-between-mentor-and-vs-teacher/

Cohen, P. (2012). The American Scholar: Teaching vs. Mentoring. Theamericanscholar.org. Retrieved 24 March 2017, from https://theamericanscholar.org/teaching-vs-mentoring/#

Papa, R. (2011). Technology Leadership for School Improvement. Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications, Inc. http://egandb.uas.alaska.edu:2051/login.aspx?direct=true&db=nlebk&AN=467141&site=ehost-live&ebv=EB&ppid=pp_91 on March 24, 2017

Reed, B. (2014). Coach, Teach, Mentor – What’s the difference? Retrieved 24 March 2017, from https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/20140528120908-1127427-coach-teach-mentor-what-s-the-difference

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Week 8 Reflection

This week we looked at our “moral purpose” for teaching, and what strategies we currently use to support that moral purpose. One of the main takeaways I have for this week is that I realized I’m not doing as much as I think I can to fulfill my “moral purpose”. This week I determined that my “moral purpose” for teaching is to help all students learn and to make a meaningful impact on their lives. As I thought about this during the week, I thought of the strategies I currently use, plus other things I could be doing to better help my students. I think after this week I want even more to focus on my “moral purpose” and make sure I’m doing the best I can for my students.

This week, I impacted the learning of others through Twitter, my blog post and resources, and through reading and commenting on Jim and Sara’s blogs. My learning was impacted through the Twitter post, the research for my blog post, the comments on my blog by Jim, Tristan, and Gerald, and by reading Jim and Sara’s blogs. Jim mentioned “cookie-cutter curriculum” in hist post this week and it made me think about times I’ve used textbooks and their associated curriculum in my classes. Very rarely do those activities do what’s best for students, and typically students hate doing them. Jim’s post made me think of something another teacher told me my second year of teaching, that good teaching is exhausting. When I plan fun and engaging lessons, it takes a lot more work and effort than simply using the pre-made textbook lessons. In order to fulfill my moral purpose, I need to be planning and using as many non-textbook lessons as I can, to do what is best for the students.

Sara’s main focus this week was on taking care of ourselves as leaders. She made me think about how important it is for me to make time for myself and not give everything I have to my students. It is easy sometimes to give every extra minute to students without taking a second to think what I might need. I have recently started working out again, and I know that it has made a big different in my energy levels and mood, which I think is helping me to do what is best for my students and fulfill my moral purpose. At the end of her post, Sara also mentioned the need to change her teaching philosophy, which I can honestly say I have done over my seven years of teaching. It might not always be a drastic change, but adapting to your students is very important to being able to do what is best for them.

My mentoring project is going well so far, though this next week is spring break, so I won’t be meeting with my mentee again until the week of the March 20th. I have helped her learn how to use her Google Drive to make things accessible to her students, and she has posted her first assingment in her Google Classroom for her Anatomy students. I look forward to what we will accomplish after spring break.

I can’t believe we are headed into week 9 next. I feel like this class has barely starting and we are already more than half done. I look forward to learning more about myself as a leader and the components of leadership that I need to focus on more in the coming weeks.

 

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Week 8: What strategies do you use that are related to your “moral purpose”? How do these contribute to your overall leadership?

This week we are focusing on “moral purpose”, the first of the five components of leadership that Fullan describes in his book, Leadership for Change (2001). “Moral purpose is about both ends and means. In education, an important end is to make a difference in the lives of students. But the means of getting to that end are also crucial.” (Fullan, 2001, p.13) If I think of my moral purpose for becoming a teacher, it is to help all students learn, regardless of ability, and make a meaningful impact in their lives. It’s a bonus if they can also learn some chemistry along the way!

In terms of strategies that I use that are related to my moral purpose, I would say that most of the things I do with my students are related to my moral purpose. A few years ago I was trained in our district’s initiative of Capturing Kid’s Hearts, which puts a focus on building relationships with students in the classroom. Since becoming a teacher, I have enjoyed learning about students and taking an active interest in them, which helps immensely with relational capacity, but Capturing Kid’s Hearts put a much larger emphasis on this, claiming that if we can capture their hearts, we can teach them anything. I still use a few of aspects of this program in my class on a regular basis, and I can tell that it has helped me to improve my effectiveness as a teacher.

One of the main aspects of my moral purpose is to help lower achieving students find success in my classroom. Russell Grigg shares his take on teaching with moral purpose, saying that education “…needs teachers with the conviction that they can do something to address the achievement gap.” (Grigg, 2016) He goes on to say that teachers need to do something about the gap beyond just knowing that it exists. He lists techniques that successful teachers use to narrow or close achievement gaps: believing that each child has potential, not tolerating excuses for underachievement, building on prior knowledge, making lessons engaging and relevant, modeling appropriate behavior, and providing effective and timely feedback. (Grigg, 2016) Of these techniques, I feel like I am working on becoming more adpet at all of these constantly. The one that am working on most right now is making my lessons engaging and relevant, and also providing useful feedback. If I can work on these and continue to get better at each one, not only will I help my students, but I think it will also help me to become an effective leader.

Another source I found this week described moral purpose in a way that really narrowed things down: moral purpose is essentially “doing the right things for our students.” (Moral Purpose, 2013) It isn’t about what’s best for us as educators, but instead about what is best for our students. If we can put them first in all things, we might just be able to achieve our moral purpose.

In order to be an effective leader, I need to be effective in the classroom. If I can show my colleagues that I am constantly striving to achieve my moral purpose, perhaps they will join me in my journey. It’s one thing to tell teachers they need to teacher with a moral purpose, but another entirely to lead by example and show them it can be done.

Mentoring Update:

This week I met with my mentee to work with her more on using her Google Classroom. She has been using her Google Drive on a more regular basis to save her daily agendas for her Anatomy class, and this week she added one of her Biology classes. this allows her to give students access to the PowerPoint that she updates daily, without any extra effort on her part. She also made her first assignment in her Anatomy class so students could submit their lab reports to her outside of class. She has moved out of her comfort zone quite a bit and is making an active effort to try new things throughout this process. She isn’t afraid to tell me if I explain too quickly or move too fast, and I feel like we are working very well together. Next week is spring break for us, so I won’t meet with her again until the week of March 20th.

References

Capturing Kids’ Hearts 1 | Flippen Group. (2017). Flippen Group. Retrieved 10 March 2017, from http://flippengroup.com/education/capturing-kids-hearts-1/

Fullan, M. (2001). Leading in a culture of change. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Inc.,U.S. Retrieved from http://egandb.uas.alaska.edu:2081/lib/uasoutheast/reader.action?ppg=17&docID=10842273&tm=1444680173430

Grigg, R. (2016). What Does It Mean To Teach With Moral Purpose?. Teachwire. Retrieved 10 March 2017, from http://www.teachwire.net/news/what-does-it-mean-to-teach-with-moral-purpose

Moral Purpose. (2013). Connected Principals. Retrieved 11 March 2017, from http://connectedprincipals.com/archives/7996

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Week 7 Reflection

This week was about the five components of effective leadership and why they are all necessary. My takeaway this week is that balance is crucial to being an effective leader, and this is something I need to work on. I am looking forward to looking at each of the five components in more depth in the coming weeks so I can start working on my balance as a leader.

Both my learning and my impact on the learning of others this week came from Twitter, which I hosted with Larissa, my blog and the resources I shared, and through reading and commenting on Natalie and Tristan’s blogs. Natalie, Gerald, Josie, and Andrea commented on my blog this week. Natalie shared a resource that talked about traditional leadership training focusing on the wrong part of the brain. I think this is a big similarity to educational practices right now because as a whole, we haven’t shifted to the brain-based research that shows the best ways for students to learn. If leaders aren’t trained in the proper ways, how can we expect them to train their followers in the proper ways?

Tristan mentioned that leaders need to learn from both those within and outside the organization while change is occurring. I think its important to see what you are leading through multiple perspectives to determine how effective you are.

These past few weeks have really gotten me thinking about leadership in general and I look forward to taking a more active leadership role for the teachers both in my building and in my district.

Mentoring Journal

This week was a productive week. On Tuesday afternoon, I met with my mentee and helped her create a PowerPoint presentation to be used as a daily agenda in one of her classes, and then showed her how to save it to her Google Drive and post it in her Google Classroom so it can act as a living document, so it is always updated where her students can access it. Our goal for this next week is to try creating an assignment in the Google Classroom so that her students can use the Google Classroom in class. While we aren’t moving at the pace I outlined in my proposal, we are moving at a perfect pace for my mentee. I am taking her lead on how much we can do in one day, and also making sure we are covering what she wants to accomplish.

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Week 7: Why are all five components of leadership necessary for success in leading through change?

This week’s topic is about leadership and the five components of leadership as explained by Michael Fullan in Leading in a Culture of Change (2001). These five components are: moral purpose, understanding change, relationship building, knowledge creation and sharing, and coherence making. (Fullan, 2001, p. 4) But why are all of these components necessary together? Looking at different leaders I have had as I’ve grown up, I would say that all of these components are necessary to ensure that a leader is fair, balanced, and effective. I have had experiences, and know others who have as well, with leaders that are very strong in some areas, for example organization and knowledge, but lack good communication skills and fairness towards those who follow them. I personally have hard time following someone who does not possess of combination of good leadership skills.

According to Concordia University in Portland, Oregon, the five traits of a good educational leader are: self-aware, excellent communication, resourceful, lead by example, and power of teaching and learning. (Five Important Traits of a Good Educational Leader, 2012) An article published with the American Institute of Research also states that “In order to be effective with their colleagues, lead teachers found it necessary to learn a variety of leadership skills while on the job. These skills included: building trust and developing rapport, diagnosing organizational conditions, dealing with processes, managing the work, building the skills and confidence in others.” (Boyd-Dimock & McGree, 1995)  Peter Economy (2014) shares a list of 10 Powerful Habits of Highly Effective Leaders, which includes confidence, communication, supportive, and being responsible. In each of these different explanations of leadership qualities, no one source only lists one component. Fullan states that the five components of leadership act as “checks and balances” as leader fulfill their duty. (Fullan, 2001, p.7)

I teach at an IB, or International Baccalaureate, school. The IB program has what they call the IB Learner Profile, which lists 10 traits that IB learners strive to demonstrate. (http://www.ibo.org/globalassets/publications/recognition/learnerprofile-en.pdf) While this list could also be used as a list of good lead attributes, I think that the Balance component is very applicable to the question this week. IB learners “understand the importance of intellectual, physical and emotional balance to achieve personal well-being for themselves and others.” (IB Learner Profile, 2010) This is something that could easily be applied to any leader, probably in any situation.

As educators, we should not be surprised that leadership requires a combination of qualities, when we are trying to help our students meet a variety of objectives while they are in our classroom. We don’t want our students to be good at only one thing in school, we want them to be balanced and gain a variety of skills and abilities. Therefore, I think that in order to be an effective leader, we should strive to be well balanced in all things that are required of us as leaders in our classrooms and beyond.

References

Boyd-Dimock, V., & McGree, K. M. (1995). Leading change from the classroom: Teachers as leaders. Retrieved March 3, 2017, from American Institute for Research, http://www.sedl.org/change/issues/issues44.html
Economy, P. (2014, October 17). 10 powerful habits of highly effective leaders. Retrieved March 3, 2017, from Inc., http://www.inc.com/peter-economy/10-powerful-habits-of-highly-effective-leaders.html
Five Important Traits of a Good Educational Leader. (2012, November 3). Retrieved March 3, 2017, from Concordia University, http://education.cu-portland.edu/blog/ed-leadership/five-traits-of-a-good-educational-leader/
Fullan, M. (2001). Leading in a culture of change. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Inc.,U.S. Retrieved from http://egandb.uas.alaska.edu:2081/lib/uasoutheast/reader.action?ppg=17&docID=10842273&tm=1444680173430
IB Learner Profile. (2010). Retrieved March 3, 2017, from http://www.ibo.org/globalassets/publications/recognition/learnerprofile-en.pdf
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