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Saturday, January 02, 2016

Read and Chat to Move your Practice Forward

Twitter chats like #edchat, #edchatma, and #satchat have moved my practice forward. Also reading books by well known, successful, and inspirational educators has served my practice well too. From the comfort of my home I can learn a lot through these channels.

I use a specific process with both of these venues.

Chats
I typically join a chat to share ideas and learn of new resources. Every Tuesday night from 7pm-8pm, I co-moderate #edchat which is the grandparent of all education chats. Thanks to +Tom Whitby and +Shelly Sanchez Terrell my first venture into chatting online was via #edchat and I found that this Tuesday night chat increased my confidence, knowledge, and ideas as an educator. Before #edchat I was quite lonely with regard to wanting to push forward in education, but once I joined that chat, I realized that there were many, many educators all over the world that were asking similar questions to me. Through #edchat I began to develop a versatile, dynamic Professional Learning Network (PLN) from all over the world. Since that time I've engaged in a large number of chats including #satchat - a Saturday morning educator/administrator chat, #edchatma--a chat hosted for educators from Massachusetts (and elsewhere), #satchatwc--the west coast version of #satchat, #engchat--a weekly chat for English teachers, and many more. @cybraryman, +Jerry Blumengarten, has put together a list of all the chats available each week. I recommend that you try one.

Books
Typically my online share and reading leads me to read books by educators who have inspired me with their work and ideas.

For example a couple of weeks ago, +David Hochheiser  and @RowRikW led an #edchatma chat about +George Couros book, The Innovator's Mindset. I enjoyed the chat and wondered more about the book. I've been reading Couros' ideas for a long time now, and I wondered how all of his ideas come together in one book. Therefore I ordered the book today and look forward to the read.

Recently I did the same with regard to +Chris Lehmann and Zac Chase's book, Building School 2.0. After reading Lehmann's words via the Internet and listening to him speak at Educon many times and the Massachusetts' MassCue Conference, I was drawn to read about his work, philosophy, and efforts in one book.

I also plan to read Boaler's book, Mathematical Mindsets. The book comes well recommended by the Math Curriculum Director in the system I work for and via multiple tweets and posts online. Ideally I'd love to find a few teachers at my school to read this book with me so that we could come together now and then to discuss the ideas included.

I've been wanting to read Culberhouse's book, Scaling Creativity and Innovation in education, but I've been waiting for time when I can deeply think about his sophisticated, wonderful ideas. Also a colleague just encouraged me to read The Joy of X which I just ordered, and an education leader, @Chris Emdin , who I've followed has just published another book that intrigues me as I want to do all that I can to forward the learning for all my students including my students from groups historically underrepresented and underserved.

Professional Learning Process
In order to embed the good ideas and experiences of these worthy educators into my own practice, I use the following process.

First, I identify my overarching teaching needs and goals. This year that includes the shared teaching model my team is employing at fifth grade as well as teaching math well to approximately 70 fifth graders.

Then, I read the books with that lens culling ideas, questions, and challenges as I read. I typically write all over the book as I read and/or take notes on the side on the computer.

After that I write a post like these reflections I wrote about Building School 2.0: Post One and Post Two, Post Three. I will return to those reflections as I move my practice forward in the next few months. In a sense, the posts will serve as a map for my practice, a map led by seasoned, innovative, and committed educators.

What efforts, experts, and resources lead your practice forward? How do you collaborate with colleagues with regard to these resources? How do you commit to embedding the ideas and experiences you read about into your own efforts so that you are evolving your practice and impact on the students you teach? I'd like to know more about how your efforts are similar to mine, and what other ideas you have to offer me so that I make the most of this professional learning time. Thank you.