Tuesday, November 19, 2013

No Power? No Problem

I want to brag about a teacher.  In Ohio, like many other states, teachers are being evaluated under a more structured process.  We have all heard of high-stakes testing, so I would classify this as high-stakes evaluating.  I am also a new principal in the building, so the teachers are a bit stressed and even veteran teachers are nervous.

I had my Pre-Conference meeting with the teacher this morning where she explained to me all of the great things I was going to see and all of the technology that she incorporates into her lesson to engage the students.  I was as excited as she was nervous.

Ten minutes before I was to observe her lesson, the power went out in our town.  The early word I was getting was that it would not be a quick fix and would likely be out for most of the day.  Now I am aware of the stress our teachers are under for their evaluation.  I was not going to be heartless and say "this is unfortunate, but too bad."  I told her I had no problem pushing her evaluation back a day.

Here was her dilemma (and a problem with the process):  she could not just wait until tomorrow to teach the lesson.  Technically she could, but that means today would have been a "blow-off day" for her kids.  If I were to evaluate her tomorrow on a different lesson, she would have to submit a new lesson plan (typically 5-8 pages single spaced) and we would have to have another Pre-Conference meeting, because the one we had this morning would no longer apply to the new lesson.

Her decision:  come and evaluate me.  She did not care that the power was out and a majority of what she planned would no longer work. She was confident enough in her skills and did not want the kids' learning to suffer by delaying a day.  I am also guessing she did not want to jump through all the hoops a new lesson would require.  And you know what?  I do not blame her.

You know how this story ends.  She taught an awesome lesson.  I knew she would and I believe she knew she would as well.  Too often our teachers get vilified in the media. I am sure this story will only reach a few people, but it is worth telling.  She went old-school and taught without any technology, and there was no problem.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Why I Tweet

Today, I was fortunate enough to attend the Ohio School Boards Association Capital Conference, and it reaffirmed why I am on Twitter.  I have attended this conference the previous two years.  Last year, I ran into a former principal, who is now a superintendent, and he introduced me to another superintendent.  That was the extent of that connection.

Today's experience was quite different.  I have been an active Twitter participant for a year now, have learned more than I could have ever imagined, and have made many connections along the way.  This afternoon, I met many of those connections in person. Three superintendents, a director of educational services, two curriculum directors, a college professor,  several school board members, and too many principals to count.  That was just after lunch.  

The difference? I got so much more out of today's event because of the connections I have made.  A year ago, if I had a curriculum question, I was left to searching for the answer myself.  Today, I could contact any one of a number of people I now "know" on Twitter and probably have an answer or some insight within an hour. Chances are, if someone is on Twitter, they will respond to you if you ask a question.  It is access to some of the best minds in education.

Why do I Tweet?  Why wouldn't I?