Thursday, July 9, 2015

Should Teachers Get Flight Reviews?

In over a decade in the classroom, I never received an evaluation that helped me improve as a teacher. Some years an administrator would observe my class for a few minutes and then fill out a form saying I am doing a good job and have me sign it. One year I opted for peer review which required I make a personal learning plan. I wrote a plan and worked on my goals, but there was no support for the learning or achieving my goals for the year. Another time an administrator wrote in my evaluation that I made an error in the calculations in a biology lab which later turned out to be an error in the textbook. He followed this all the way to the publisher and had the error fixed. While I appreciated the attention to detail by the administrator, this was not particularly helpful to my practice.

This is the case in many school districts today. Teacher evaluation, many times, is not meaningful and does not help teachers grow and progress in their own learning.

By Dmitrij.shpilchevskij  [CC BY-SA 3.0]
via Wikimedia Commons
My husband is a private pilot and Certified Flight Instructor (CFI), one night we were talking about pilot education and the bi-annual flight review process. A flight review involves a flight instructor observing a pilot's skill set while flying a plane as well their knowledge of flight procedures and aeronautical knowledge.

Airline pilots have additional flight reviews 6, 9 or 12 months depending on the company's requirements, this is called re-current training and is designed to keep them up on safety and other procedures.

The great part about flight reviews is that a pilot does not just fail and stop being a pilot. If there are any shortcomings or missing knowledge, the flight instructor works with the pilot to help them learn the needed information or skills. If a pilot does not pass their flight review, they cannot fly solo until they do. A flight instructor is assigned to help them until they improve and pass.

Maybe as educators we can learn something from the flight review process.

What if teachers had 'flight reviews'? 

We could call them Instructional Practice Reviews (IPRs). Or, we could broaden this to include technology, pedagogy and content knowledge and call them TPACK reviews. IPRs could include an oral assessment as well as classroom observation.

By Tcodl 16 [CC-BY SA 3.0]
via  wikimedia commons
Schools, districts and counties could identify specific teacher standards, technology, pedagogy and content knowledge that is a focus and target IPRs on those competencies and skills.

If a teacher was struggling or not performing at a certain level they could be assigned a coach or mentor to monitor their recurrent training. This training might consist of co-teaching, modeling, coursework, conferences, peer observation or other learning. A follow up IPR 3 or 6 months later could determine if they were making significant progress and able to 'fly solo' again.

If the goal is to provide a guaranteed curriculum and best first teaching for all students, then we need a system in place that helps teachers continually grow and improve. We know that ongoing, job embedded, personalized professional learning is key. With the achievement gap that now exists and the technology gap that is beginning to become evident among our students, we need to develop a teacher evaluation system that truly supports educators and helps them improve.

This is my first post on this topic. I will continue to think and research about ways we can improve teacher professional learning and evaluation. What do you think? I would love other input and ideas.

Monday, June 29, 2015

3 Great Things About The SHIFT Symposium 2015

Recently, I spent two days learning at the SHIFT Symposium in Humboldt County. This was a high energy and fun symposium focused on helping all of us keep up with the shifting sands of education. In this third year of the symposium, started by +Colby Smart, his team continues to put on a 'CUE' level event that provides our northern California educators with high quality professional learning within driving distance.

In the beautiful, new Sequoia conference center, Humboldt County Office of Education hosted 200 educators for two packed days of connecting and learning that featured over 40 sessions and awesome Keynotes. Here 3 great things about the SHIFT Symposium 2015.

1.  Wifi
I presented four different sessions over the two days and the wifi worked perfectly in all of them. Each of my sessions required participants to go online and create, contribute and connect, so wifi was critical. It worked great, the whole time, something that larger conferences often struggle with even today. With our basic needs being met, we were able to get the most out of the conference.

2.  App Gallery
The #Eduawesome Stacy Young put together and App Gallery for the Symposium that provided quick links and QR codes to all apps being used during the two days. Participants could pre-download apps for sessions they wanted to attend or access them later for sessions they couldn't get to during the event. Check it out: SHIFT 2015 APPS Gallery

3.  Connecting
Starting with keynote presenter +Sabba Quidwai, being a connected educator was a focus. She reminded us that the role of the teacher has SHIFTed from 'answerer' to 'facilitator of inquiry'. The old ways of teaching are no longer relevant or helpful to our students.

Twitter was the social media platform of choice and we connected before, during and after the symposium using the hashtag #humshift. As I was presenting most of the time, the hashtag allowed me to learn and connect with the other sessions and presenters. I discovered a new member of my PLN @MrKindergarten who is doing awesome things with a 3D printer and kindergartners.

Thank you to all of the amazing educators I learned with at SHIFT 2015, see you next year!

Friday, June 5, 2015

4 Reasons To Use Google Classroom Next Year

Learn how to use Google Classroom as a tool to improve student learning. Join me, +Joshua Harris and +Dawn Kasperson for a 30 min discussion about why you should use Google Classroom next year.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Teaching in the Digital Age - Online class starts August 3rd

Teaching in the Digital Age

Ready for an infusion of skills to help you teach today's digital learners?

Teaching in the Digital Age is an eight week, online professional development course starting August 3rd, 2015.

Topics of study in this course include pedagogy, digital literacy, data literacy, content creation and curation, communication, collaboration and learning environments.

Teaching in the Digital Age is a 50-60 hour course of study. Participants are expected to spend an average of 7 hours per week on the following activities:

  • Reading course materials and exploring examples
  • Completing projects and assignments
  • Sharing and reflecting with other class participants in discussion forums
digital age quote.jpg

Be a part of the 2nd cohort of this engaging and informative class, register today.

This course if offered by the Del Norte County Office of Education

August 3 - September 26, 2015
$100 course registration fee

3 extended education units offered through Humboldt State University at $50 per unit

Rae Fearing, M. S.               

Click here to learn more and register for this course

Thursday, May 7, 2015

How to add more fonts to Google Docs

Here is a quick Google tip on how to add more fonts to Google Docs. Google has many cool fonts that can add some pizzazz to your docs, watch this short tutorial and get your docs font-ilicious.