Monday, August 9, 2010

Magic Words

My family recently visited The Magic House Children's Museum in St. Louis. One area in the museum is a pretend grocery store. While my daughter was “shopping”, I saw two young girls acting as a shopper and a checkout clerk. The shopper finished by saying; “Thank you for the excellent service. I am going to tell all my friends about this great store.”

We all know that word of mouth is very important for promoting our schools. However, do the families at your school know how powerful their words can be? You can do the best you can to make sure your students have a successful learning experience, but it is also our job to encourage families to spread the good word about our schools. Make it easy on them by starting a school Facebook or Twitter account. Social media is a great way to help parents spread the good word about your school. Write about the parents’ role in school promotion in your weekly newsletters. Tell them at the back to school open house that they can play a role in positive promotion. Make sure your families know how important they are in promoting your school.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Power of "We"

As you prepare for another school year, remember the power of “we”. Now is a good time to implement a new vision for your school, or to implement a change that can increase student learning. The buy-in and ownership of any new program in a school will be much higher if the word “we” is used instead of the word “I”. For example, this phrase:
“We will be the school of choice in our area by providing…”
would be much more effective in promoting a vision than this phrase:
“I want our school to be the school of choice in our area by providing…”
The word “we” is more likely to imply that we are a team trying to achieve a goal. Successful teams all share a common goal, and each member understands their role to help the team achieve the goal. Team members (teachers, students, staff, etc.) will be more likely to help your organization or school reach it’s goals when they feel that they are a part of the vision. Using the word “we” instead of the word “I” can help make your vision their vision also.

Stop Searching

When I think about what makes twitter so unique, I think about a quote in the video "Social Media Revolution 2." If you have not seen the video, you can watch it below.

Here is quote that I think explains one of the values of twitter:
"We no longer search for the news, the news finds us... We will no longer search for products and services, they will find us via social media"

Educators no longer have to search completely on their own for tools, resources, and information for their classroom. Twitter is a constant stream of valuable resources, links, tools, conversations, collaboration, and encouragement that find their way onto a teacher's desktop. It is amazing how great resources will "find you" through twitter. It has been just over a year since I joined twitter and I have learned so much about how technology can be used as a very effective tool of instruction. (If you do not know how twitter works, watch this VIDEO)

I have heard many teachers say they do not have time for Twitter, however, Twitter is completely user controlled. Sometimes I feel weighted down by my email. I have to check my email and reply when necessary. It's not that way with twitter. You can follow who you want, send out tweets when you want, and read tweets when you want. People on twitter will place links in their tweets in order to share great tools that can be used in the classroom. Some of the amazing tools that I have learned about strictly because of twitter include voicethread, prezi, backchanneling, wikis, mind mapping, flickr, Skype, and diigo.

Most importantly, I have made many great connections with other educators all over the world. It's really all about the people. My PLN, or Personal Learning Network, is a group of educators on twitter who motivate, collaborate, encourage, and share with one another. I have about 900 people following me on twitter and I follow over 500 people myself. Just about every person in my PLN I probably would have had zero contact with if it were not for twitter. It really is a way to surround yourself with more quality, dedicated, and passionate colleagues.

Resources for teachers who are new to twitter
28 educators that you must follow

Tom Whitby explains the power of the PLN

Eric Sheninger Discusses the Emergence of Twitter in Education

Steve Anderson (@web20classroom) on Twitter

This post was originally written for an assignment in my "Integrating Technology into the Curriculum" class at Concordia University, Nebraska.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Administrate Like It's 1989

I often wonder what it was like to be an educator over 20 years ago when you did not have email. Email is often a great way to communicate when you have a quick question or you have to communicate some quick information. However, how many times have you written back and forth with someone when a quick phone call or a walk down the hallway would have saved time? On the surface, it seems like email and other forms of digital communication save us time, but sometimes a quick phone call or a short walk is more efficient then multiple email replies. If you need to reply to an email or communicate with a colleague, a short conversation may be more effective than an email. Give it a try sometime. When you get an email that needs a response, and the sender is outside your building, pick up the phone and give them a call. If the sender is in your building, take a few steps outside your office and visit them in the classroom. It might end up saving you just a little bit of time.