Category Archives: Leadership

Be The Nudge

A student hands in a paper a week late, and the next few moments could define the rest of their life. The teacher turns to the student and says

Senario 1

“I knew you could do it! I’m proud of you for getting this done. I’ll get it back to you as soon as I can and we’ll look at revisions to make it even better. As you know, the next paper is due at the end of next week; how are you doing on that one? Let’s work together this week to make sure you can get that one done on time.”

Senario 2

“This was due a week ago, I can’t accept it now,” and turns back to their computer.

Senario 3

*rolls eyes* “You have quite the nerve to turn this in this late; I’ll accept this one, but no more. Why can’t you ever get anything in on time?”

Which of these situations is most likely to help the student move forward? In which case do you think they are most likely to turn in future papers on time?

I’m currently working with some students in a math course designed to help them be ready for the next course despite prior failings. I had a conversation with a student and his family yesterday where I was able to convince them that 1) I cared that they succeeded in the course, 2) that I want them to actually learn the material to be ready for the future, to ensure that more opportunities are opened for them as they progress in education and life, and 3) that I would support them in their progress. That student went on to complete two formative and two summative assessments within a few hours after that conversation, after completing only one during the rest of distance learning. They emailed me 10-15 times and watched a number of clarifying videos I sent.

This was a student who needed to be shown support.

Students not completing work is frustrating, and having stacks of makeup work can be seriously overwhelming; I have seen no evidence, however, that zero-tolerance late work policies actually help students improve. Instead of doing better next time they simply lose hope.

One of the primary functions of our job is to inspire hope.

It is my hope that this hard time of pandemic shows us all that the support we are willing to extend because of calamity should be extended each and every day; that we should be supporting students, not shaming them; that we as educators can be the nudge that pushes them forward rather than the scoff that holds them back.

How else can we be the nudge rather than the scoff?

Differentiating Professional Development

Today I came across the following tweet by Kate;

I was initially torn. On one hand, I’ve been in the audience for this, and it’s frustrating. On the other, for the last couple of years I’ve been the one in front, and that’s not easy either. I’ve given some lip service to trying to differentiate this type of required professional development but haven’t followed through. Additionally, the team I work with and I have a general goal of wanting to get away from a model where teachers depend on us for technology training and instead focus on improving  pedagogical approaches, so I want to help teachers to be able to learn the specific tech skills they need, when they need it, without a need for sit-n-git PD.

So I posed a question;

There were two ideas that came out of the discussion that I am going to particularly focus on because I think they could work for me.

I like this idea because the list could even be split into ‘need to know,’ intermediate, and advanced sections so that folks who already have the basic competencies can expand their skills with that particular tool, and it could set a baseline for what we expect all teachers to know and be able to do (kinda like we do for students…) with that tool. I like that it very granularly differentiates for teachers. That said, I really like the possible collaborative nature of the second idea;

I like that here teachers could work together to learn whatever competency is expected. I think this is what I would try first, as I’m pretty big into collaborative learning and want to model that with teachers as well.

In either situation, I would like if this were the norm;

As the PD leader, I should be doing two things; provide learning experiences for my participants, and providing opportunities for them to share what they have learned with each other. (Side note: this is no different that what good teaching in a classroom looks like). One reason I particularly like these methods of differentiating PD is that it makes it more difficult for students teachers to get sidetracked, as they can move on to learn things they don’t already know. (I’m the worst student; I try to multitask with twitter, mail, and more twitter, and I end up missing a lot. For that reason as well as this study I have been trying more often to close my laptop and take notes by hand. I’m confident that being allowed to move ahead and explore, with accountability, would keep me more focused.)

Do you have other ideas for differentiating PD? Thoughts about these methods? Let me know in the comments!