Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Blogging is Stupid

Blogging is stupid. That is what I thought up to about 2 months ago. I barely have time to update my Planbook  (a great online way to track what standards you teach) so, how do I have time to sit and write about what I do in my classroom, much less take time away from curriculum to have students blog in class? After one night of beer drinking and wing eating with  +George Couros (which is the best way to reflect upon teaching) I was determined to give this whole "blogging" thing a try. The next week I had students creating blogs and videos about how to comment on blogs appropriately. I am not going to lie, this whole time I was thinking that George was wrong and there was no way that this was going to work.

Well this blog is proof that I have to eat my words. Creating classroom blogs has been one of the best things that I could have done. It has created a level of transparency in my classroom, that I did not believe possible. Don't believe me? Here is what a couple of my parents said:
Blogging has allowed parents who work hard to support their students, to still be involved in the classroom. The response has been overwhelming positive. If you ever need a self-confidence booster, start having your students blog. I have gotten so much positive feedback from parents. However, we all know that teaching is not about us! It is about our kids.

What about the students?

Well, the students have gone above and beyond with their blogs. When they saw the first parents post on their blogs, they were hooked! Students who hated to write were fighting over who got to write the blog post for their group! All of a sudden I am taking myself out of the equation. Students and parents are communicating with each other directly. Here are some examples of how our blogs turned out:
Buffalo Bloggers
Science Squad
Spartan Blog Squad

Yes, middle school students are no longer saying that they did nothing in school! The blogs have provided a platform for parents to have topics to discuss at the dinner table (or while going through drive through to pick up dinner) with their scientists. That is powerful! Blogging has transformed my classroom into a true learning community. Parents included!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Don't Send Students to the Office

I don't send students to the office. This statement can have a couple of implications in the teaching world:

  1. Wow.. you must have crappy classroom management (I don't!)
  2. This must be the easiest class ever (It's not!)
  3. Your administrators must suck and not do anything (Which they do not!)
 Discipline is part of the student relationship building.  I have always handled classroom discipline myself. But I couldn't explain why until I heard @gcouros talk about it at a the #TIE16 conference in South Dakota. When I send a student to the office, I lose an opportunity to build a better relationship with my students. Students mess up. My job is to help them work through those moments and come out the other-side better for it. Why would I involve the principal in my relationship building with my students? It would be like involving my mother-in-law every-time my husband leaves the toilet seat up. That is a part of marriage. Discipline is a part of teaching. If I don't think the behavior problem is worth my time to correct, then why is it worth anyone else's time? 

Discipline also provides a great opportunity to collaborate with parents. Every-time I call home about a concern, it provides an opportunity for me to grow as a teacher. I ask them what I can do to better help their student learn. The answers won't just help their child, but expands my toolbox so I can help other students in the future. Don't let an opportunity to improve yourself slip through your fingers by letting your administration handle your discipline! 

This post is inspired by this article from Edutopia:
The Dances of Student Discipline