July 9th, 2012 | Filed under: teacher productivity
When I decided to do this Workflow Thinking Project, I wasn’t sure where to start. I began with a mind dump of all the tools I use – on my mac, on the web, on my devices, work or personal, etc. Then I tried to organize them somehow. A while back I organized my iOS home screens into folders based on the action for which I use those tools. For example, social media things are grouped into “Connect.” Going on that same premise, I tried to create some umbrellas under which I would group some things.
This is what I came up with:
- Communicate & Connect
- Note, Create, Publish
- Think & Do
- Store, Save, Organize, Sync & Retrieve
- Smooth & Secure
After creating that list and trying to group some tools and apps under single umbrellas, I realized that some could appear in more than one based on my intention for using it at that moment.
For example, I use Twitter in a variety of ways. I use it to connect and communicate, to learn and consume information, to browse in some cases. I also publish my own ideas there. Twitter is a multipurpose tool. I found it curious that the apps that I have a hard time organizing under one umbrella are the ones I also use the most.
The question mark category is for a few apps that I’m not sure about. I don’t really have a category or action connected to them. Which begs the question: why is it on my device?
As a technology teacher part of my role is to teach students about how to determine if a tool is right for the job (not just how to use the tool). With so many tools out there available for the same job or action, we often wonder which tool it is we should teach or demonstrate. However, I believe what we should be teaching instead is how to vet and assess a tool to determine if it’s the one we should use at all. Move that decision away from you, as the teacher, and guide students in learning how to make that decision for themselves. Transfer ownership.
Another reflection that came out of this activity was which category had the most tools. Now, if a category has a ton of apps one must also ask why. Is that the action I perform most often? Is that the one I want to be performing most often? Is that action in line with my personal and professional goals? Have I even articulated those?
One of the first things our instructor Leigh talked about in reference to tech tools is making our intention and rationale clear. Why are we using THAT document sharing method versus another? Is it because everyone is using that tool or is it because the tool is best for the job?
I’m hoping that in iterating my workflow in this way will help me clarify some of the reasons why I use the tools I do and hopefully be better prepared to model that thinking and reasoning for my students.
Tags: actions, goal setting, gtd, reflection, Twitter, workflow, workflow project 1 Comment »
January 28th, 2011 | Filed under: Opinion, teaching
Not in The Netherlands it doesn’t. I’ve not had a great deal of exposure to Dutch work environments other than the few times I’ve visited the immigration office and the time I’ve spent with the curriculum team developing a new international school. Working from home isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. But even after a few visits to real workplaces, something is startling clear: Casual apparel is okay in The Netherlands, especially in the workplace.
In America, as most Americans can attest, your work attire is taken very seriously, particularly in offices. As a newspaper reporter I only dressed up when heading to a cushy office to interview someone and the rest of the time I rocked jeans and casual dresses. In a workplace where people (used to?) smoke and keep bottles of bourbon in their desks, this is an improvement. But when I became a teacher that all changed. I needed to “dress respectably to be respected,” as one principal told the staff during a meeting. Apparently dressing respectably meant skirt and pants suits like the administrators wore each day.
Last week I had the wonderful opportunity to begin training in the MYP curriculum. It was an all-day session that challenged me and my new colleagues to move away from our previous experiences as educators and think within this new curriculum focused on authentic, project-based learning and interdisciplinary collaboration. I’m still reflecting on the experience and writing about it, which I’ll share soon, but as invigorating as the experience was it was also a chance for me to chat casually with these teachers. Usually we’re cramming a lot into our meetings and have little time for chit-chat, but we had lunch together and tea breaks and I shared a lot about myself, the true outsider on the team, and learned more about them. Photo by semuthutan.
The most glaring difference I found while hanging out in the personeelskamer (teacher’s lounge) is that seeing people “dressed up” was a rarity. Now, these educators weren’t rolling into work in sweat pants, but here are just a few examples:
- Older gentleman in jeans, flannel shirt, suspenders, sneakers.
- Younger woman in cotton dress, tights, Ugg-type boots.
- Administrator in khakis, button-down shirt (no tie), and a houndstooth jacket.
- Younger man in khakis, loafers, and an untucked polo shirt.
It may seem that I’m being overly superficial, analyzing the wardrobe choices of the teachers I encountered, but it affected me so much that I knew there had to be a reason. I realized that this casualness toward dress code was indicative of something deeper in the culture of the school and the attitude toward the teachers. They are considered professionals and treated as such. It’s as if someone said “Yes, I know you’re a professional and I don’t need you to wear black pumps and suit pants to prove it.”
I met a young teacher who had the opportunity to do her student teaching internship in Pennsylvania as part of an exchange program. She said she was told she had to dress up and spent the first few weeks buying new clothes for the entire experience. She told me that in The Netherlands people dress down at work – wearing “work clothes” – and save their dressy attire for events and nights out. Makes sense to me. Teaching is hard work and I don’t know how many days I came home from my internship with my toes nearly arthritic from being crammed in fancy shoes for eight hours.
As a teacher in Virginia I’ve been frustrated with the discussions surrounding a potential ban on virtual communication between students and teachers. The state’s board of education is considering banning teachers from chatting with students on Facebook, Twitter, and through text messages. The reason? To protect the students. At first blush that sounds like a good idea. We all want to protect the students! But why would we want to protect them from their teachers? Yes, there have been the few cases of teachers and students sexting, but with nearly half a million teachers in the country that’s a small drop in the bucket. The education system paints with a wide brush and often does so to the detriment of innovation in our tired system. In this case, rather than deal with the inappropriate teacher-student relationships as they arise, the board is treating all teachers as potential predators than the professionals the majority of them are.
Yes, there are things online that I’d prefer students not run into – predators being the main one. But those dangers are everywhere, not just online. And to take away the one connection to responsible adults that kids may have in those spaces is truly irresponsible. Wouldn’t it be better for us to hold their hands crossing the road than to say “No, holding hands might lead to a sexual relationship, so we’ll just let the kid cross the six-lane highway. Alone.”
I’ve heard familiar gripes about teachers here – that it’s so easy and they get the summers off. Dream job! But overall the school culture itself seems to lead toward a mutual respect among colleagues and an understanding that no, whether one wears jeans or a suit doesn’t mean one is a better or worse teacher. Effectiveness isn’t tied to your tie. Leadership isn’t lost by leaving your collar unbottoned. Seems a little ridiculous when we think about it this way, don’t you think?
It’s small thing, but it means a lot. It has me wondering what other small differences might go a long way to change the entrenched culture of schools in America.
Tags: America, culture shock, dress codes, education system, Facebook, Holland, international school, MYP, Netherlands, online predators, online safety, professionalism, school culture, sexting, social media, student safety, Twitter, Virginia 10 Comments »
March 11th, 2009 | Filed under: personal, technology
So, I’ve been using del.icio.us for quite a while now to track my bookmarks. If you’re unfamiliar with social bookmarking, here’s a good explanation by Common Craft. But basically it’s a Web-based way to track you bookmarks and share them with others if you want (you have the option to keep them private as well).
Del.icio.us has worked really well for me so far. You can tag each bookmark, make notes and search within the bookmarks. Most of mine deal with crafts, vegan cooking and education stuff. You can check out my bookmarks here.
But…something better came along.
Diigo is just like del.icio.us, but with some awesome extras, my favorite being the ability to highlight parts of a Web page and make annotations within it. This solves my need for an online notebooking service. Google is doing away with its Notebook, which I loved, and I’ve been searching for a good one ever since. I’ve been testing Zotero, but haven’t enjoyed it as much. With Diigo I can highlight the parts of the page I like or plan on using in a paper, for example, and make notes of where I want to use it.
And there’s a social part of all this, of course. You can add friends on Diigo, see their bookmarks and see the annotations of every other Diigo user that has made their bookmarks public. So, for example, if I make a note on a page, you can check out the same page and tell Diigo to show you my notes. And you can make your own notes – or even respond to mine!
Another feature I like is the ability to mark a page or article as “read later.” Often, with del.icio.us, I would tag an article and plan to go back later, but I’d never get around to it. Out of sight, out of mind. With the Diigo toolbar, I’m reminded of the articles I need to check out. It’s a small thing, but I like it.
The biggest thing that sold me on Diigo was that I didn’t have to leave del.icio.us. I uploaded my del.icio.us bookmarks to Diigo and can request Diigo to post my bookmarks and tags to del.icio.us concurrently using the “save elsewhere” feature. Seriously!
There has been a lot of discussion on Twitter and forums about moving to Diigo and I decided to go for it. I’m loving it so far and I’m sure there are great features I haven’t used yet. This article really sold me on the reasons to switch.
Here I am on Diigo – let’s be friends!
Tags: bookmarking, delicious, diigo, Google Notebook, social bookmarking, technology, Twitter, zotero No Comments »
March 2nd, 2009 | Filed under: personal, technology
No sooner did I post about how much I want to utilize online networks, such as Twitter, to communicate with my future students did I make a huge, embarrassing mistake via tweet.
Imagine sending a personal e-mail, full of that dirty language you need to get in check before you start teaching, to everyone in your address book. I did that today, but with Twitter. It could have been a lot worse considering the friend to whom I was trying to send the text message, but still very embarrassing.
To explain, I have Twitter set up through my cell phone and can send text messages to it from wherever. I should have been more vigilant about checking my to: field when I responded to my friend’s message. Luckily I could delete the tweet from my page, but it doesn’t change the fact that I exposed (hopefully only) a few of my Twitter followers to my nasty sailor mouth! No offense to sailors with clean mouths out there.
I have to thank @msstewart for letting me know that if I plan to communicate via Twitter with my future students, I can’t send tweets out like that one. I would have never known had she not said anything. I definitely agree that swearing and sharing personal info with students is not a good idea, especially via Twitter, which is why I plan to have a separate Twitter account for students/parents if I decide to go through with it.
I hope everyone learns from my lesson here – even when a friend sends you a shocking text that gets you cursing, don’t respond via tweet. Check your to: field constantly!
And in an attempt to laugh about this, which I’m trying to do, check out the Twitter Hall of Shame. A few of these are NSFW – aren’t you glad I warned you this time?
Tags: msstewart, technology, Twitter 1 Comment »
February 27th, 2009 | Filed under: teaching, technology
I’ve always had plans of how I want to communicate with my students outside of class, should the need arise. I know I want to utilize blogging in some way, e-mail of course, instant messaging and Twitter. Maybe not all of them at the same time, but I’ve thought about being available via instant messaging for homework help and sending notices and reminders out to students and parents on Twitter.
But after reading about a Wisconsin school board’s decision to ban communications between teachers and students on social networking sites and instant messaging services, it looks like not all schools are ready or willing to take on such a “risk.”
This is a bummer, because I think the reward far outweighs the risks involved. In a middle school class today I heard students discussing chats they had the night before with classmates and comments they left on friends’ pages. The students are already there – I don’t see the problem in teachers meeting them where they are to remind of a test prep session after school or of a homework due date. If teachers know their own boundaries, and I believe most of them do, things will be safe.
Thanks to Dean Shareski for getting me riled up with his insightful post.
Tags: Dean Shareski, education, social networking, teaching, technology, Twitter 1 Comment »