For this latest post for the #CompelledTribe blog group, we are to write about how we are using technology in our roles. I am going to share how I am using the tool S’More as a unique PD alternative with staff and hopefully inspire thoughts and conversations across the campus as the year goes along!
As a new Assistant Principal, I have been learning a lot the past two weeks or so since school started. One of the things I have learned is that you really cannot have a schedule. I do have a “to do” list every day on my desk of things that I need to get to, but the job for me is really about just being available to handle what comes my way. And boy, does it come! One of my passions is sharing my love of learning and teaching. I wanted to be able to do this as an AP, while still handling all the other non-instructional duties that come with my job (buses, ipads, books, discipline…). I have a lot of administrators in my PLN on Twitter and I have studied carefully how they communicate with and lead their staff. They inspire me, and I knew that if and when I became an AP I wanted to make that same kind of investment and impact with teachers as they make with theirs (and with me!)
My principal is really awesome. She delivers professional development in unique and non-traditional ways, so I got really lucky there! One of our goals is to provide ongoing PD for the staff that is relevant and meaningful, without taking unnecessary time away from teachers. So I started thinking about this long before school started. How could I find a way to share my passions with the staff, offer an investment in their professional growth, and still not slack my other duties? How can I support my principal and our campus goals in my role as an Assistant Principal?
I first had to decide what it was I wanted to do.. To put it into a sentence, I wanted to do something worthwhile that would inspire teachers to wonder, learn, grow, communicate, and share with each other in brief and nontraditional ways that would not be an unnecessary burden on them. And I wanted to support my principal, the instructional leader in our building, in her goal of providing ongoing growth opportunities for teachers.
I then started thinking about where most of my own learning and inspiration comes from. Twitter, of course. My PLN is amazing and I learn so much from the other educators that I follow, the chats I go to, and the blogs I read that are shared with me from educators around the world. So it makes sense that this would be my source.
I then had to decide the platform I would use to share this learning and provide this pathway for teachers. Did I want to write a blog? Create a website? I tinkered around with several things. I decided that the blog was a no-go because it might take too long to read, and it would only be my voice. A one-way communication. I thought about a website, but nixed that when I thought about how the teachers would have to purposefully check that website every week. No, it needed to be something that is fast and delivered to them, but contains a lot of information presented in a variety of ways. A few trials and errors later, I settled on S’More.
The S’More is sent out via email every Friday. Throughout the week, I collect tweets, articles, blogs, videos, and other things that are shared with me through my PLN. Somewhere around mid week, a “big idea” either starts to develop from the material I have been collecting, or it is something that is more personal related to our campus. I start looking through my collection and seeing what ties in with the “big idea” for the week, and soon the S’More begins to take shape. I shared my idea with my principal after creating the first one, and she agreed that it would be a great addition to our campus plan of communication and professional development. So I received the “green light” and S’More From The AP was born!
I decided on the following format for my weekly S’More:
- Mini blog post (big idea)
- Worth Reading (blogs/articles related to idea)
- Worth Watching (videos that go along with the idea and articles)
- Tech Corner (A quick shout out to a favorite app, website, or platform that teachers may like)
- Tweet of the Week
- Scenes From Our Week (pictures of teachers I have taken throughout the week as they are teaching)
- Link to Staff Weekly Magazine (This is a paper.li that I publish every Thursday, and I include the link in the S’More. It contains articles contributed by members of my PLN and they may or may not be “big idea” related).
I do not include anything like upcoming dates, events, announcements, or anything of that nature because my principal communicates that information. This is more of just a professional learning investment, for those who want to partake! The final touches I usually do on Thursday nights, and I send it out at the end of the day on Friday. I have received very positive feedback on this from our staff! They are not required to read it, but I think many of them are. One teacher came into my office this week and said, “I just want to thank you for what you shared last week about taking time to enjoy the moment. I was feeling stressed, and that S’More kind of let me tell myself, it is okay to just stop and enjoy things”. I was very happy to hear that! That is my ultimate wish, that this would be something that makes an impact, that it might stir conversation or spark someone to try something new, or affirm to someone that they are in fact doing a fantastic job, or even one day decide that there is so much learning going on in the Twitter world that they might venture there themselves.
All in all, I am pleased with the shape my idea has taken. I am hoping as the year goes on that the teachers will begin to leave comments, or submit ideas to me for things to include such as the technology corner or even the big idea, or a quote or article they want to share. Maybe it will become a collaborative piece full of the teachers’ voices! That would be the shape I hope it will take, after a while.
Due to security reasons, WordPress will not allow embedding of a S’More here unless I am self-hosting (which I am not!) Here is a link to this week’s S’More: https://www.smore.com/93jab You can also get to it by clicking the picture above.
I have completed three S’Mores so far, and I really enjoy the time I spend on these. I think it is time well spent and I am excited about the possible directions it may take in the future. I also want to thank the many members of my PLN who have shared with me the unique ways they go about investing in their teachers’ growth. I have been able to take their ideas, reshape them, and create something that is true to my own passions and interests and is “me”, and I am forever grateful to my mentors for pushing me to take risks and make a difference!
Now, back to scanning those textbooks…