Category Archives: Interesting

Personalised Professional Development with Twitter

I have got to say that I love my job as a elementary school teacher in Iceland, work with wonderful people who do their best every day & I love going to work.
My idea of a good day off is laying in the sun, reading books, journals, blogs and/or watching a TEDtalk… and I believe I’m not the only one so I decided to write this article so those of us who are interested in education, new ways of doing things and want to learn something new can talk about what we are interested in, when we like, regardless of where we live, what day it is or even what time it is.

We need to change the way Educators do Professional Development!

I’m sorry to say but the teaching profession is often an isolated and lonely one even though we are surrounded by people the biggest part of our day. A teacher is usually the only adult in the classroom,  lunch is often with the students and our work area after class is in most cases in the classroom itself (because that is where our computer is). Our time outside of teaching is spent either preparing lessons, going to informational meetings in the school or writing reports. Our time to develop ourselves as professionals, discuss professional issues & exchange ideas is neglected or even ignored in many schools.

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Professional development nowadays is often about everybody watch the same documentary, visiting a school or getting a lecturer into the school to talk about issues that most often only affect a small part of the staff but everybody have to attend.
In short: Professional development is usually decided by administrators and not the staff, a top-down management or a top-down approach. It’s easier for administrators to give everybody (both students and staff) the same education. Because if everybody get to learn what they want, when they want costs time, money and an incredible amount of preparation.

“It’s easier to build strong children than to repair broken men” -Frederick Douglass

Why did I start to shape my own Professional Development around my needs?

In the school year of 2012-13 I was implementing an iPad 1:1 initiative in my 3rd grade classroom at Árskóli in Iceland. I had been studying iPads in the classroom since the iPad came out in 2010, read articles, watched videos, tried apps and was the first teacher to go to Apple in Iceland and pitch the idea of iPad 1:1 (that is each student has his own iPad) in education in early 2011. I even travelled to the US during my easter break in 2012 and visited the fantastic Burley Elementary School í Chicago,IL. and saw how they were using iPads for teaching and learning.
When our iPads arrived in August 2012 I had acquired some knowledge and the things I didn’t know I just tried (which means: tried, failed, googled & tried again until I succeeded).

Bekkjarmynd_iPad_3IHO copy

I had only a few people I could talk to, share experience and get feedback from that was beneficial. The discussion between the staff within a school are often fine but rarely did they deliver anything because, more often that not, other teachers didn’t understand what I was doing with iPads in the classroom, didn’t see the point and had no idea what I was talking about so I felt lonely and isolated.

How do we change teachers Professional Development?

There are no magic solutions out there. If people are not ready to learn something new, they won’t. It doesn’t matter if you send them to the same course year after year, e-mail articles to them to read, give them a whole day off to read the new Common Core… if they don’t want to learn, they won’t.
But this article is written for those of you that want to learn (and if you have read it to this point you are one of those).

This article is for those of you that do want to learn, grow, share your experiences with others and make connections. This article is for those that ask questions, that don’t know everything but want to, who want to become better and help others become that as well.
I was alone, almost, until I started using Twitter and a whole new world opened up for my professional development, transformed what I do as a teacher and I got in touch with professionals from all over the world who are dealing with the same problems as I am in my job.

I believe those who work within the educational field and haven’t discovered Twitter should do so now! (See instructions below).
What makes Twitter so great is that other people are not telling you what to read, watch, listen to or when you should do it. You decide, the professional development is personalised and comes from within. You might have the time and energy today to read an article but not tomorrow at the scheduled staff meeting where you re supposed to.

By putting mobile devices in the hands if the staff, a time to spare and support during the first steps people can share and discuss even though they don’t see each other that day or if they work in different parts of the town, country or the world. Even the computer in the classroom can be used to Tweet, if Twitter isn’t blocked at your school (which is a discussion I’m not even going to begin going into because that would be a whole new post). The only thing you need to use Twitter is access to the internet because the account is free (as well as the Twitter apps available from the App Store and Google Play store).

Many people have heard about Twitter in the past few years. A lot of people have signed up, tweeted once or twice and then given up because they don’t get the instant feedback they are used to on other social media sites and quit. (You don’t usually get feedback from your first tweet because you don’t have any followers when you sign up… you have to earn them by sharing good content and ideas).

Schools, states, municipalities, teacher unions and even the teachers themselves spend an enormous amount of money on Professional Development. Now with the introduction of Twitter people can more easily educate themselves, connect with other educators around the country and the world and read about the latest in educational reform as it happens.

“People who want to be better at what they do make time not excuses”.

(Read: Why do some teachers never have time for PD while others always make time)

You can tweet whenever you feel like, read articles, watch videos and really personalise your own professional development. But first let’s start with the basics….

What is Twitter?

Twitter_Logo_Volt

Twitter is a micro-blogging platform where people can share ideas, articles, websites, pictures, information or news in 140 characters or less. It’s a cheap and simple way to share and receive information from anywhere in the world.

Anybody can see you profile and read what you write (unless you, for some reason, you protect your tweets and choose to have them private). Users can follow other users without having to be accepted or followed back, so your account is personalised to you.
But you should start by setting up an account before we go any further:

  1. You start by going NOW to twitter.com and create an account. You create a Twitter username (or Twitter handle) and put in your name as well so other users can search for you by your Twitter handle (@) or your name. Write down your password as well… don’t forget it!
  2. You write something about you and import a photo of you… no one takes an egg seriously.
  3. twittereggYou then search for people to follow. Here is a list from Edudemic about people within education that you can follow: http://www.edudemic.com/2012/10/worldwide-education-twitter/
  4. You observe, read and see what interest you before posting and you’ll slowly understand what Twitter is all about.
  5. ….you experiment.
  6. You go back to this article and understand a little bit more what it’s about.
  7. Don’t be surprised if you don’t understand Twitter right away and don’t quite understand why you  are doing this… I promise you if you have read this post up until here then you have the interest and spark it takes to understand Twitter.
  8. The most important thing is don’t be afraid to make mistakes and take your time. It took me a few months to understand this.

Twitter_for beginners

Good to know: On Twitter there are a few words that users have to be familiar with to understand how the Twitter community works, what people are saying and why. Understanding the following words, phrases, abbreviations will make your Tweets better and more likely to reach the right target group/audience:

  • Tweet: 1 to 140 character message.
  • Retweet (RT): Re-posting another Tweet so that your followers will see them even thought they are not following the initial Tweeter.
  • Feed: All the newest tweets from the people you follow.
  • Handle: Your username on Twitter marked with a @ symbol (f.x. @ingvihrannar)
  • Mention (@): When someone mentions your name in a tweet by using @ before your username to acknowledge you or send you a message.
    • F.x: @TechNinjaTodd Really loved your picture from class. #edchat #edtech
  • Hashtag(#): Tweets often have Hashtags (#) and a word attached to it. By adding a relevant Hashtag (like #edchat or #education) to a tweet or a discussion you are essentially categorising your tweet to a certain discussion or topic. Other users can search for hashtags and see all the tweets that have that particular hashtag and read the discussion about that particular topic in real time.

Explaining a Tweet:

tweet

reply_retweet and favoriteHow can schools use Twitter?

  • Create a hashtag where the staff use when they tweet articles, news and thoughts that everybody can find easily. F.x. #HavenElementary
  • At a staff meeting there is a certain topic. The staff is split up into groups and each group has to compose at least one tweet about their results and sign it with the meetings hashtag and/or the schools hashtag f.x. #firesafetyathaven #havenelementary
  • Administrators can Tweet about what is going on at the school for parents and other members of the community to stay informed.
  • Each class could have its own Twitter account + hashtag and tweet what they are doing.
  • The teacher posts questions, homework and so on to students and gets questions & feedback from them.
  • Students tweet from field trips, report what is going on, ask questions and so on.
  • The class is divided up  into groups. Each group has one chapter in a book and they should tweet the main points to the rest of the class.
  • They could even start Parody accounts and tweet as different characters from a story. Each student representing one character in the book/story.

Now you should be able to get going on Twitter.

  • It’s alright if you don’t know everything… the most important part is trying, failing and trying again.
  • Start by observing, read articles, then read this article again and slowly start to tweet and retweet what you find.
  • If you don’t get a response to a question at school, or even if you do, share your thoughts with others and see if they have a different point of view.
  • Don’t only share things that work… but also the things that don’t work.
  • Expand your PLN (Personal/Professional Learning Network) by following those that interest you.
  • Recommend great Tweeters to other people by tweeting their Twitterhandle (@) on Fridays and putting the hashtag #FF (which stands for Follow Friday).
  • Don’t try to read everything… you will find what you are meant to find. You will miss 99,99% of the things going on on Twitter but you will still get more information than the people who spend their down time watching cat videos…
  • If you can’t figure out how something works… Google it and you can also send me a message on Twitter to @ingvihrannar (and I’ll Google it).

The future is now, grab it.

Happy Tweeting.

Ingvi Hrannar Ómarsson

http://twitter.com/ingvihrannar

Other useful stuff:

hashtags

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How to help students develop literacy habits that lead to a lifetime of independent literacy

When I visited Big Hollow Elementary School, Ingleside, IL. USA and met with Amie Lynn she told me about a literacy method called the Daily 5.

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I was so intrigued with the way she described the Daily 5 so after my visit I bought the book on the Daily 5 and finished it within a week.

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In short, the Daily Five is a series of literacy tasks (reading to self, reading with someone, writing, word work, and listening to reading) which students complete daily while the teacher meets with small groups or confers with individuals.

When I returned to my 2nd grade classroom in Árskóli I started  implementing the Daily 5 into our literacy work.

We started implementing each part slowly and it took about a month or two for each part. We started with reading to self and when everybody had the ability to read to themselves for about 30 minutes we were ready to move onto the next part which was reading with someone. When everybody had that down for around 30 minutes we could implement the next part and so on. This process for us took almost the whole of 2nd grade, since our school day only runs from 8.10-12.40 we only did the daily 5 once every day so it was more of a Weekly 5 for us. On top of that we were also running another approach called Beginning literacy which all of the 1-3 grade classes at my school participated in so the Daily 5 was on top of that, mostly instead of workbooks and endless amount of “busywork”.

Here is a short video I created that covers, in short, the basics the Daily 5:

When we started the 3rd grade (I loop with my students) we started the Daily 5 and put it into our every day literacy unit along with Beginning literacy. I created a magnetic board for my students to keep track of what part of the Daily 5 they had finished that week.

Daily 5 Magnet boardWe had the Daily 5, and I translated it to Icelandic and created our own Magnet Board, projects, posters and so on and I can’t say it enough but WE LOVE THE DAILY 5.

I could write so much more on the Daily 5 but instead I decided to create videos on each part of the Daily 5 because:

“A picture says more than a 1000 words but a video says more than a 1000 pictures”.

Enjoy:

Ingvi Hrannar 

How a study on ‘why elderly people should be socially active’ inspired a class to take action

I read a report long ago (which I can’t find now, but here‘s another one) about how elderly people who played cards, were outgoing, took part in social activities and had something to look forward to lived longer than those who didn’t.

WOW, great news and being a teacher with young students who are learning to read I saw a great opportunity here.

I went down to our local senior centre here in Sauðárkrókur, Iceland and spoke with the head nurse their and told her about the report and asked if I could bring my class once a week to read, play cards and play boccia with the senior citizens. Needless to say she was thrilled about the idea. So I sent an e-mail to the parents and told them that every Tuesday between 11.20 – 12.20 we would be at the senior centre and parents were invited to join us.

So every Tuesday morning, kids would pick 2-3 books each to read to the senior citizens and the school bus took us to the senior centre where normally the parents that could make it came and helped us out.

I can’t tell you how happy my kids, their parents, the nurses and the senior citizens were with our collaboration project. What was also unbelievable was that my kid sensed the calmness in the air at the senior centre and acted accordingly. They were so polite and considerate that the nurses were amazed.

I could write more about the impact it had on reading, how parents got more involved, how happy this made the senior citizens and so on…. but I’m gonna let this video speak for itself.

I really hope this inspires you to visit your senior centre and make a difference in your community.

If you have any questions, contact me 

How to make students and parents proud every year

I have done a lot of fun projects including an iPad 1:1 initiative, started Yoga with my kids, translated and implemented the Daily 5 into my teaching, Made a class blog, every student of mine has a blog, gone to the senior center to have the kids read for the senior citizens and so much more but what I am most proud of is probably a great tradition at my school, Árskóli in Sauðárkrókur Iceland where all students perform a play on the big stage in town every year from 1-10th grade (elementary school in Iceland).

What I have also done is record, edit and add subtitles to the play and send it to the parents for them to keep.

Here is our newest play which I just finished editing and sending to the parents, during one of the cloudy days in Iceland this summer.

When the Robbers came to Cardamom Town (in Icelandic).. but you see the point:

How to turn your classroom space into a creative place

Since I was introduces to the idea of Multiple intelligences in the Classroom and Gardners theory on Multiple Intelligences I was fascinated. And I think it’s absolutely true, should apply to how we individualize instructions and give student choices on how they want to learn and give them the tools they need in order to succeed.

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Quality resources and tools for teaching and learning are also important to have . Because we know the more choices teachers have the more creative lesson plans we can make and we can give students more choice on how to work on their projects.

Collaboration is a very important aspect of a successful classroom because that is what people do outside the classroom. People who can create, collaborate & work in teams are sought after employees by businesses in the modern world.

I have always tried to include collaboration, creativity & teamwork in my classroom and tried to incorporate that into my lesson plans as much as I can. Since we started our iPad 1:1 project in my classroom me & my kids have gotten more opportunities to collaborate and create than before.

sit in groups vs. work as groups

But I feel we could do more. I’m the kind of person that needs to move to think, I get ideas and need to write them down instantly in order to remember them because otherwise the next idea will take over in my head. I need to experiment, build, move, touch, experience, see, draw, visualize, interact, share, collaborate, reflect and connect in order to function.

When I was introduced to mind mapping I instantly realized this was for me. Mind mapping is a great tool we should show our students, especially those who think visually. Visual thinking, also called picture thinking or right brained learning, is the phenomenon of thinking through visual processing. Visual thinking uses the part of the brain that is emotional and creative, to organize information in an intuitive and simultaneous way.
If you want to learn more about the importance of right brain thinking I highly recommend Daniel Pink’s book A Whole New Mind.

With more and more schools putting mobile devices in the hands of students and teachers the opportunities for outstanding, innovative learning multiply. But it’t not enough to have these devices (actually just having them means nothing)… it’s all about how we use them.

When I work with my students using the iPad I always try to engage them, to keep them writing, drawing and do things by hand. I use my whiteboard a lot to write down notes, plan and stay organized. Last year I had a small whiteboard in my classroom that my students were supposed to write down things for me to do. For example the board could read: Charge iPad #5, Import audiobook from iPad # 18, Fix e-mail account on iPad #11, Buy colored pencils for class and so on…

I just love to give my students the opportunity to get up from their desks, write reminders, handwritten notes, be artistic, draw out ideas, collaborate, write, draw, sketch, mind map, edit their work and work hands-on with things.
I spent the whole of last school year grappling with all of this new technology we were using in my classroom, thought of new ways to use it, how could I reduce the cost of paper and have students collaborate, create and share. I had students write on our iPad lockers, on the windows and then they took pictures of their work and posted on their blog.

Drawing on the window Drawing on the iPad lockers

This was fantastic and I saw how much my student enjoyed this and how well it fitted with our work with the iPad…

Then I saw this and was instantly in awe:

IdeaPaint @ school

WOW… This is made for education! I see endless possibilities of how we can use IdeaPaint. Not only for students but for the staff as well.

This is a tool that easily turnes spaces into creative places and makes collaboration, creative thinking and teamwork easier.

In the fall we are getting new furniture to my school and I told my principal we should paint the old ones with IdeaPaint. We’re looking into that option now.. and I’m sure the new desks will be painted within a few years.

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WHERE TO USE IDEAPAINT IN YOUR SCHOOL

  1. On your chalkboards – IdeaPaint lets you improve what you already have by transforming old blackboards into high performing dry erase surfaces that increase collaborative square footage, while eliminating the health risk of dust.
  2. On desks and tables – Any surface in your classroom is fair game, especially those that get a lot of 1-on-1 attention. Turn desks and tables into interactive surfaces that let students work through their ideas without wasting paper.
  3. On lockers – Newly painted lockers at the Kiel School in New Jersey have been a huge hit because they let students take ownership of their personal space and act as a message board for friends and teachers.
  4. In hallways – The hallway sees more foot traffic than anywhere, which makes them the ideal place to communicate with IdeaPaint. At the iSchool in NYC, painting the hallways increased students interactions and made an instant impression on visitors to the school.
  5. On doors – IdeaPaint turns anything into a message board. A coat of CLEAR can turn a door into a place to post schedules, assignments, while maintaing existing aesthetics!
  6. In offices – IdeaPaint has many applications outside of the classroom too. Use it to create a seamless think space where teachers and administrators can collaborate, or create a handful of smaller spaces that help maximize the area in your offices.
  7. Anywhere else! The truth is, IdeaPaint can be used on any smooth surface. Every time we see it in schools, there’s a new application – in cafeterias, to create story boards, even on the floor!

When students get a chance to draw and create on such a big surface, such as their tables, desks, walls, lockers, doors, chalkboards or even the floor, it gives them way more creative freedom.

Publicity photograph by Venmark International

IdeaPaint looks ideal in a classroom with mobile devices. For example I use Evernote very much almost every day with reminders, notes, articles, web-clipping and so on and was even more impressed with both Evernote and IeaPaint when I saw this:

I really believe IdeaPaint could be a game changer for all of our students and teachers. Being given the opportunity to write, draw & share – anywhere gives all types of learners new ways of putting their skills into practice. Whether they’re writing, quantifying, drawing, visualizing, mapping, writing lyrics or a poem, sharing, collaborating, interacting, reflecting or exploring I believe everybody in a classroom could use IdeaPaint…. I certainly will paint the walls with IdeaPaint in my next classroom.

Now let’s change the way teachers teach and students learn… one wall at a time.

Ingvi Hrannar Ómarsson

Inforgraphic from: www.design55online.co.uk

Other stuff:

Photos:



Set the tone right in your classroom

I have been fascinated with color, art & design since I can remember. I’ve read Feng Shui: Harmonizing your inner & outer space a few times and re-painted my apartment in Reykjavik several times because I know that colors influence the way I think, feel, and behave—often without my conscious awareness.

Colors affect the way we feel. For example:

  • Yellow is associated with happiness and motivation. Soft, subtle yellows promote concentration while brighter shades can stimulate the memory and increases metabolism.
  • Orange has a distinctly social nature, inspiring interpersonal communication and putting people at ease.
  • Pink creates a calming atmosphere.
  • Green has been shown to increase reading speed and memory. Green has a soothing effect on the body and mind, reducing anxiety, promoting concentration & is associated with calm, growth and compassion.
  • Blue calms the mind and body, lowering blood pressure, heart rate and respiration and decreasing feelings of anxiety and aggression.

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I have tried to bring colors into my classroom to create an environment for my students that fits best what we are doing. I wasn’t allowed to paint my classroom so I had to figure out other ways to create a cozy atmosphere. For example I bought these lamps and turned them on whenever I wanted a real calm feel to my classroom. I tried incenses, relaxing music, posters on the wall, flowers, candles and so on.

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But I was never fully satisfied with the results. These lamps, with regular incandescent light bulbs, weren’t enough to bring the room to life. I could easily bring a calm setting to the classroom by turning the lamps on, putting on relaxing music and even candles and thought that was all I could do since I’m not allowed to paint my classroom (I’ve switched classrooms every year as well…)

But then I saw this ad:

I was amazed and instantly thought:

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“This is what I want for my classroom”.

And I still do. But most people laughed at my idea because:

A: It’s $199 for Three Hue light bulbs, One Hue bridge + an extra bulb is $59…. which sounds like a lot of money.
B: They think I just want this to incorporate more technology in my classroom

They are both right. $200 is a lot of money for light bulbs and I do want to incorporate more technology into my classroom (where we already have a 1:1 iPad program).
But changing the light bulb 14 times instead of once is a hassle, having to paint my classroom every few years is draining and I can’t change the colors to fit what we are doing unless I re-paint.

Hue is supposed to last around 15000 hours, it should be on for 10  hours a day for 200 days of school… that means you shouldn’t have to change this light bulb for 7,5 years…. that’s $200 / 7,5 years …. which adds up to about $25 a year for this. I know most teachers don’t have $200 laying around to buy 3 light bulbs but I know some districts give teachers $ to buy things they need for their classroom every year. I suggest you spend this years budget (if you get one) on this. I believe HUE would bring a great atmosphere to the classroom and you could set the tone to fit what the class is doing.

I went and did the math to see how much it would be 7,5 years down the road. Is it cheaper in the long run to replace 25 of my old incandescent light bulbs with Philips HUE LED bulbs?

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I know classrooms don’t all use regular old lightbulbs like these:

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But again we might have a lamp here and there in the classroom that has them which we could replace with these:

Philips-hue-bulb

I don’t know why they say it’s a lighting system for your home… In my mind it’s mainly a lighting system for a classroom and schools. I see a lot more use in these within my classroom then my home. First of all, we are in our classroom for about 8-10 hours a day. And there are about 20 people in there at once. Your living room usually holds 1-4 people for 3 hours a day and the lights would usually be the same setting… (relaxing night setting I guess). In a classroom you have to do different things, and set the tone right.

For reading, communication and social projects you’d put on a green tone, for lightness & creativity you’d put a yellow/orange tone on. For a calm, kind and relaxing atmosphere you’d turn the color to blue, for meditation and imagination you’d bring purple lighting in and so on.

The Colors of the Classroom

Pale yellow/almond
• Best colors for not irritating anyone
• Good general color for school hallways

Light pink/rose
• Very soothing
• Suitable for a room where the activity is high

Green
• Creativity…is inspired by the color green
• Green is a great color for an art room
• An excellent choice for a creative writing center

Blue
• The color of academics
• Best color for a science or math room
• Light blue is a good overall classroom color because it’s calming

Orange, yellow and red
• Bright yellow excites the brain and body
• The color orange seems to agitate

Source: Color and Learning: How does Color Affect
Our Thinking and Feeling? by Barbara Pytel.

What is good is if you would move classrooms or schools you’d just bring the light bulbs with you. I for one am going to buy this next fall to try it for myself. Hope you do it to.

Happy HUE-ing

Ingvi Hrannar

Other stuff:

Coloring your home

Thanks to:

http://healthyliving.msn.com/health-wellness/find-your-zen/9-ways-color-affects-your-mood#1
http://nursery.about.com/od/Color-Palettes/a/Color-Psychology.htm
http://eartheasy.com/live_led_bulbs_comparison.html

Photos from:

http://www.fengshuidana.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/ColorWheelText_NEW_400pxl.jpg
http://www.abavala.com/wp-content/uploads/Philips-hue-bulb.jpg
http://www.chineselight.com/uploads/130107/1_114009_1.jpg
http://ktismatics.files.wordpress.com/2010/06/tji_brightidea.jpg

What does my 2nd grade in Iceland do differently?

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In March last year I was preparing for a trip to Burley Elementary School in Chicago IL.

I was going to Burley to learn from them and see their amazing work with iPads as part of my Professional Development and to prepare for our iPad pilot project that started in the fall of 2012.

Before I left I decided to show them a glimpse of what we were doing at the time in my classroom at Árskóli in Sauðárkrókur, Iceland. I recorded this short video on what we did in the month of March (nothing out of the ordinary for my kids, but might inspire you). I shared this with the teachers at Burley a month later and now wanted to share it with you.

Hope you enjoy it.

Why do some teachers never have time for PD while others always make time?

Why do some teachers say they don’t have time for Professional development?

How many of us have heard someone say something like this to or about a teacher:

“Teachers have it easy, only working from 8 to 4, weekends off + the whole summer”.

uuuuu…NO, “Teachers do a ton of work outside of school hours, and also grapple with emotional and intellectual challenges worthy of the world’s top minds. We have some nice perks that other jobs lack, but we’re also the ones grading 140 essays, weekend after weekend. We love having a change of pace during the summer, but most of us spend July and August doing professional development and taking extra jobs to make ends meet. Very few careers are “easy,” and teaching is certainly not one of them!” Lillie Marshall

The teaching profession is a very busy job, I know. I’ve been there. According to the Daily Mail the average working week in the UK is 37 hours, but teachers clock up an average of 48.3 hours as they take coursework home with them. We are actually #2 out of the most hard working professions, 1,3 hours per week behind production managers and directors of mining and energy firms.

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(I got a feeling that 50% of teachers work 40 hours and the other 50% work 56 hours…but that’s a different story)
Despite those long hours teachers still feel like they can’t do everything the want.
How often for example have you heard a co-worker say:

  • “I don’t have time for professional development.”
  • “If I could work one additional month, I may have time to learn the new standards.”
  • “Our grade level doesn’t have time to meet as a Professional Learning Team.”
  • “I don’t have time to join a professional organization.”
  • “We could get our students ready for middle school if we had more time.”
  • “I don’t have time for vertical alignment.  I can barely align the curriculum at our grade level.”
  • “We don’t have time to contribute to a Google Doc created to enhance communication across schools.”
  • “I don’t have time to take an online PD developed to make me a better teacher.”
  • “If I had more time for unit planning, I would incorporate more project-based learning.”
  • “If I had time to learn how to use technology, I would have more technology integration in my units.”

I can’t stand it when teachers say: “I don’t have the time to….” What I want to say when I hear that is something like:

“Oh, you mean your learning stopped after graduation?  You know a lot has happened since 1991…”

But I usually end up saying something like: “You mean you don’t make the time.”

We all have 24 hours in a day… (although I think Gerorge Couros (@gcouros), Steven W. Anderson (@web20classroom) & Shelly S. Terrell (@ShellTerrell) have much more than that in their day…) The thing is most people don’t make the time.

How did I make time?

It is not enough to be busy. So are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about?
-Henry David Thoreau

I know most teachers work more than 8 hours a day, well I actually believe the teaching profession is divided into 2 groups:

  1. The people who work 8 hours, take their full lunch, coffee break and don’t do anything extra.
  2. The people who work way to much, grab lunch while reading an article or watching a TEDtalk and drink their coffee at home at 10 p.m. to stay up, learn and do more.

I was in the 2nd group… Until recently, when I realized that sometimes I was so tired during class that It would have been better to get some sleep because (despite my believe) my work after 11.59 p.m. isn’t actually that good. Rest is important, it’s important to take a break and breathe.

So I’m now in a group between those two… I’ll call it “Group 1½”.
I now go to work 6.30 a.m. (You can’t believe how much work you can get done when no-one else is at school, but don’t tell them or else your school will be full of teachers at 6.30…) and work until about 4.30 p.m. (30 minutes after normal people leave).
I decided to prioritize and made a list. Since I wanted to cut down on my work-hours I had to throw away the things that got in the way of actual meaningful work and only put on the list things I had to do.

The list looked like this:

  • Build my PLN on Twitter.
  • Make time every day for Professional Development. Maybe just one article or video
  • Start an PD program for other staff members in your classroom for just 30 minutes a week. See my idea of Professional Thursdays
  • Start a class blog. Read about my class blog here… and see the blog here
  • Start my own blog and write about things I care about. It isn’t all great but at least I’m thinking and sharing.
  • Call the parents of each student at least once a semester just to check up on them and compliment their child (our school year is 3 semesters).
  • Don’t take on too many projects at once.  Say NO to my principle and administrators once in a while. Take on a few projects and do them all a 110% rather than adding projects to my workload and doing them poorly.
  • Take action, do what is needed and don’t wait for administrators to do it all the time. It is my school as well.
  • Go to sleep no later than 11 p.m.

But of course I had to add things that I could’t stop doing (if I wanted to keep my job) so I added them to my list:

  • Teaching the Common Core Standards
  • Administering and Analyzing standardized Assessments the school enforced.
  • Planning Units
  • Attending Faculty Meetings
  • Report Cards
  • Parent-Teacher Conferences
  • Providing Students With Quality Feedback
  • Modifying Instruction to Meet the Needs of Each Learner
  • Implementing Local Initiatives

(source: EDGE)

These are the things that I absolutely must do, and I got rid of the other stuff.
+I used technology (my iPhone & iPad) to use my time better, learn and stay organized,( f.x. Evernote, Twitter, Reminders, Mail straight from my iPad or iPhone, Dropbox etc.) 

What can you do?

I suggest you make your own list of things you can’t stop doing + add the things I suggest and your own. Throw away all the things you can and want to get rid off.

If you’re not sure what you can stop doing here is a list (from Clouducation) of things you CAN stop doing because they get in the way of meaningful learning:

STOP:

  • Complaining about all of the initiatives that have come and gone.
  • Assigning homework and grading it.What exactly are you grading? Chances are, you are grading the parent’s ability or willingness to help the student do the homework.
  • Pretending that education technology will eventually go away.
  • Waiting for administration to do something.
  • Complaining about parents.
  • Doing someone else’s workload all the time.
  • Underestimating the power of what we teachers do.

There are always things that get in the way (that we put in the way). Some people think that what they are doing is just fine and they don’t need any PD because what they are doing just works, and has worked for the past 15-20 years… Well if it’s so great, tell them to SHARE WITH US!

The people that say they don’t have the time usually don’t want to have the time. This article was not written for those people… but again they would never have read this.
I suggest you share this with at least one colleague that you believe wants to make the time for PD and hopefully you can do it yourself as well.

Good luck,

Ingvi Hrannar
http://www.twitter.com/ingvihrannar

Other helpful stuff:

TEDtalk: Why work doesn’t happen at work by Jason Fried

The importance of sleep on our performance

I recently read a summary of the book “The way we’re working isn’t working” by Tony Schwartz. What I found interesting was how strongly the author pointed out the importance of sleep on our performance in anything we do.

We have about a 50-55 hour workweek, waking up right before work (without breakfast) working from 8-5 and coming home to a busy world with our phones and TV constantly turned on, making dinner, watching TV, browsing the web, and going to sleep way too late. We don’t work like computers – at high speed. for long periods of time, running multiple programs at once. People even brag about their lack of sleep and say they don’t need that much cause they are so busy… we’ll my experience is that those people aren’t very productive or creative.

This lack of respect for our bodies has only served to undermine the quality, creativity and thoughtfulness of our work.

The importance of sleep first caught my attention when I watched Arianna Huffington’s TedTalk a few years back. In this short talk, Arianna Huffington shares a small idea that can awaken much bigger ones: the power of a good night’s sleep. Instead of bragging about our sleep deficits, she urges us to shut our eyes and see the big picture: We can sleep our way to increased productivity and happiness — and smarter decision-making.

When we look at Anders Ericsson’s incredibly interesting study, from way back in 1993, designed to explore the practice pattern among violinists. Ericsson looked at 30 young violinists at the music academy of Berlin and put them into 3 groups.
1.The great violinists (those destined to become soloists)
2. The good violinists (those destined to become orchestra members)
3. The mercifully named “third group” (those destined to become music teachers)

What Ericsson found out was that the top 2 groups averaged about 24 hours of practice each week while the third group averaged around 9 hours… multiply the difference by 52 weeks and around 25 years and you can see why there is a difference.

But the AMAZING thing is that it doesn’t end here like some people might have thought.

The top 2 groups almost always practiced for at least 3,5 hours a day but split that up into no more than 90 minute sessions with breaks between sessions. Additionally they slept for 8,6 hours on average a day and took almost 3 hours a week to nap! While the third group slept for 7,8 hours a day.

This is something that we should take into account in our schools and classrooms today. I think we should have break periods in our day to help us relax and be more creative and produce more quality work. This is one of the reasons I incorporate Yoga for Kids in my 2nd grade classroom. Sleep is very important and as studies show, more important than we thought before.

“It’s not about the amount of work we finish but the quality of work we enjoy.” – Ingvi Hrannar Ómarsson

Good night 😉