Boy! I cannot believe that it is that time of the school year when we are winding down. Could it really be that another year has come and gone? It literally seems that we were just seeing the finishing touches of paint being applied, we were waiting on the classroom furniture to arrive, we were checking to make sure that all of the lights worked and that running water was accessible in the cafeteria. I remember sharing on social media sites that @KellyMillES was going to be the place where educators could provide the type of educational experiences for students that they always wanted to provide. I readily admitted to my staff that I was making promises they would have to keep. 🙂 (I am thankful they have done just that!)

As I reflect on this first year @KellyMillES, I often share that these things should not happen to a first-year school. My actual quote is, ‘It Ain’t Normal.’

Yes, I do know the correct grammatical format for the sentence, but I also wanted to emphasize a point with my staff. Too often we accept the ‘way we have always done it is good enough’ pathway to education. We rationalize that it was ‘good enough for us’ so ‘why shouldn’t it be good enough for today’s learner.’ Well, the short answer is that today’s learners are not like us. They truly learn differently and in order to reach them, we must teach differently.

I have been honored to work with such a dedicated group of educators who have embraced this ‘teach differently’ mentality and are making the atypical…typical. We have received local, state, national, and global recognition. This is humbling, but it is mostly exciting because it has allowed us to connect with other phenomenal educators and learn with and from them as they also strive to do what is best for today’s learners. We have held sessions on Skype, Google + Hangout, presented at conferences, won national competitions (Siemens Change the World), had numerous site visits because of effective technology integration (Breaking Barriers) and from the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education (GPEE) Bus Tour, had a graffiti artist work in our Media Center, had invaluable support from our community, etc. The list literally goes on and on. Bragging? No. Proud? Definitely, but mostly because these serve as tangible evidence that we as educators DO have the ability to create learning experiences for children that do not have to be merely the expected. We CAN teach differently and meet the rigorous expectations of life in the 21st Century. We CAN effectively integrate technology so that it becomes a natural and expected component of the educational experience.

The secret to all of this?? Simply DOING differently, taking risks, collaborating with other educators around the world, being open to a different perspective, doing what educators naturally and passionately want to do…do what is best for their students.

I am grateful to be part of a district, community and school (Kelly Mill Elementary) that strive to do this daily. Just like you in yours…

Ron

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The above tweet was one that I recently read while on Twitter. I have to admit that it has stuck in my head ever since. It has added another reason why, as an educator, I believe Twitter and other social media tools (Facebook, Google +, and many other sites) can facilitate lasting and meaningful improvement in education. This facilitation is because of the connections to thousands and thousands of other educators who are passionate about striving for excellence in themselves and for the students they teach and the adults with whom they work.

Another post from @gcouros, entitled Summer Blogging Challenge, gives the following illustration.

In this example, the author shares his advice to new teachers everywhere. This advice can be given to more educators because of the facilitation through social media tools.

Connecting with others on Twitter is a powerful way to continue to learn and grow as a professional. I was personally reminded of this when two of my Twitter connections, @shiraleibowitz and @S_Blankenship, agreed to have a live conversation with my staff during our retreat.

‘So?’ you ask. Well, it is only possible because of these connections on Twitter as we are all in three different states!

So, more advice to other educators, get out there and engage with others through social media tools in ways which facilitate improvement in education and you as a learner and educator. Enjoy and Grow!


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Wow! This sign literally stopped me in my tracks the other day when I entered the gym. I shared with Michelle that I ‘had’ to take a picture of it, and that I would definitely be blogging about this one. My mind immediately went in a million directions when I read it. It was one of the most profound things I had seen lately.

I also thought about the post from Tom Whitby (@tomwhitby), Hypocrisy in the Profession of Education, and the harsh truth that he shared. He so respectfully puts it this way…

As educators, we strive to create life-long learners in our students. Many schools make mention of life-long learning in their mission statements. But why, I ask, does it only apply to students? As teachers, should we not be scholars? Should we not continue to learn in order to maintain relevance as a teacher? Do we not have a responsibility, or more, an obligation, to offer our students the most up-to-date education, adhering to the most up-to-date methodology based on the most up-to-date pedagogy? Should we not base our lessons on the most up-to-date information and employ the most up-to-date methods of acquiring, analyzing, understanding, creating, and communicating this information? Educators did not secure a diploma or a teaching license with all of this etched and updating in their brains. This stuff evolves almost daily. Most educators are not evolving at the same rate. Staying relevant is not a passive endeavor. It takes work, time, and effort.

As educators we must be learners first. If we are to be better educators, we must first be better learners.

After reading this, I realized that I totally agree and thought, ‘What have I taken the time to actually learn lately? What has challenged me and changed me?’ I immediately made a conscious choice to learn something entirely new. Yes, I am currently in doctoral classes and am learning, but the geek in me actually likes that kind of stuff, but I wonder if it challenges to me as a learner. Is it something that totally changes me as the sign states?

As Tom states, ‘this stuff evolves almost daily.’ So, Tom (and sign at the gym) I accept your challenge! I will learn something that is challenging to me, so that I can be changed. I will keep you updated.

Ron