Monthly Archives: June 2016

Twitter Chat Death? A reprise.

In Justin Schleider’s recent blog post, “Death of the Twitter Chat?” Justin suggests that the novelty of Twitter chats might be wearing thin. I suggested the very same a few month…

Source: Twitter Chat Death? A reprise.


Death of the Twitter Chat?

How long have you been on Twitter? The answer to that very may well dictate how often you chime in on Twitter chats. Kory Graham brought this to my attention a couple of weeks ago. I have noticed that I simply don’t participate in a lot of Twitter chats anymore. I have also noticed that many people who I used to interact with in various Twitter chats have gone silent. Why is that?

The first reason may be simply that the novelty of Twitter chats may wear off with time. If we combine this with the creation of a Twitter chat every 20 seconds it’s easy to see how people can get bored. All people like novelty. This is why we can’t present the same things to our students the same way every day.

Another reason people may fade from Twitter chats is that the content gets old quickly. How many different questions can you ask before you start repeating themes? I don’t want to answer for the 40th time why I should be connected to a group of connected educators. I jokingly told Kory that I would make up 5-10 canned responses to questions and be able to use them in about 90% of the chats. Some of these answers are: growth mindset, student voice, student choice, autonomy, create a PLN and so on. You get the idea. We see the same questions regurgitated over and over again.

Voxer has killed the Twitter chat for me. Voxer allows me to engage with people on a much deeper level than Twitter. How can I be challenged or challenge someone in 140 characters or less? Hey let’s talk about racism, politics, gun laws, pedagogy or any other hot button issue in tiny sound bites. It just doesn’t work well for me. I am a co-moderator of the #satchat Voxer group. This group posts a question a day. I enjoy that format much better than a jam packed hour of craziness on a Saturday morning.

I am not saying that every Twitter chat is brutally boring and repetitive. Just most of them. #totallyRossome and #Weirded still capture my attention. Just take a look at your Twitter journey. Do you still participate in chats?


Q1: Do you participate in Twitter chats? Why?

Q2: Has your participation of Twitter chats increased or decreased in the past 6 months? Why?

Q3: What makes a great Twitter chat?

Q4: What is the limitation or negatives of a Twitter chat?

Q5: What are your favorite Twitter chats?

Summative Evaluation

The end of year signals the rush of paperwork that teachers dread. In NJ the summative evaluation is a nerve racking process. If we receive a low summative evaluation we get put on improvement plans.  Two years in a row and tenure charges will be brought up against us. Here is a rundown of how to attain tenure and what it means to teachers in NJ:


This year I had two student growth objectives (SGOs) that needed to be documented and reviewed as well as a review of my current professional development plan (pdp). My meeting went well. I left feeling valued and with a clear direction for improvement the next year. I have learned how to navigate through a system that cares more about outcomes than process. Others may not be so fortunate.

The one thing that stands out to me is my old friend Maslow’s second level of needs. That level is safety and security. Once we are fed, breathing, slept, went to the bathroom and had sex we look for safety and security. This includes our jobs. Teacher summative evaluations can be an attack on a teacher’s perceived safety and security of their position. Some administrators fail to recognize this. That oversight is a huge reason why there is a disconnect between administration and teachers.

An example of this is that some administrators attempt to coach a teacher during a summative evaluation. This is a huge mistake. Teachers are not open to coaching at this point. You had all year and 2-3 formative evaluations to coach us. Use PLCs, walkthroughs, formative evaluation meetings, or any other litany of contact time to coach your teachers.

I have heard from other teachers that certain things were included in their evaluations that left them feeling unsupported. An unsupported teacher is not meeting Maslow’s second level of needs. When this happens it is very difficult for a teacher to grow. Fear starts to become a motivator. Passion starts to wane and teaching becomes a job instead of a calling.

That being said certain things need to be documented if administration decides they are going down a certain path. Some teachers are not willing to be coached so they need the written documentation in their summative evaluation to either kick start them or allow administration to start the process of putting them on an improvement plan.

Administrators need to be cognizant of why they are giving their staff feedback. What is the purpose of saying or doing something? Do they recognize that one paragraph or even one statement can be perceived as an attack on their safety and security? They need to understand that every piece of feedback or documentation is going to be looked at through the lens of safety and security. Failure to do that is a failure to understand their staff.

My final thoughts on this subject is how and when to give this feedback. Teachers need to be guided and corrected to be made better. This can occur using many different coaching methods as stated above. Teachers need to be open to being coached at the appropriate times. When summative evaluation time rolls around job safety and security comes before self-actualization.

Field Day

Tomorrow is Field Day. If you went to school in America, have elementary school kids, or work in an elementary school you understand how great this day is. Field Day is a day where students celebrate movement. It may be through games, physical challenges, or competitions. Some teachers set it up as a mini Olympics, others showcase games and events they have done in their class during the year, and others just set up games that will engage the students. It doesn’t matter how it’s set up. All that matters is that for one day students get to enjoy being a kid without the cognitive overload that sometimes is heaped upon them.

My field day is set up so that classes travel to together and engage in games and physical activities. There is a blue team and a gold team but we do not keep score. I am not against keeping score I just don’t see the need for it. I have run my field days previously with a score and found that when I compare the days keeping score added nothing the event. Why bother with keeping points, arguing who finished first, or putting added pressure on students who did not willing sign up for whatever challenge their class arrived at?

Field Day brings me great joy for two reasons. The biggest reason is that my 6th graders run the events. They are the oldest students at my school. They have earned the right and the responsibility to run, what many consider the greatest day of school. (myself being top on the list) I love to see them step up and help their younger peers succeed. They also get a small taste of what it is like to be a teacher. Their judgement calls are questioned, they have to give clear directions, and they have to manage groups of students. Many of them tell me at the end of the day my job is not as easy as I make it seem.

The second reason I love this day is that the entire community is invited. By entire I mean anyone and everyone can show up. People bring chairs and hang out. Grandparents get to see their grandchildren having a blast. Parents see their cherubs dirty and smiling. Board members see what a school looks like where everyone is involved and has a desire to see children succeed. This day is full of fun and minimal if any discipline issues.

Field Day is a day of cooperation, fun, physical activity, learning, teamwork, responsibility, respect, caring, trust, and so much more! How often do we allow our students to get active and focus on the things that kids love while still being able to learn?

Q1: What was your favorite day of school as a kid?

Q2: What did it feel like to wake up on that day?

Q3: What is your favorite day of school now? Why?

Q4: How do you create days that the students will love?

Q5: If you could create a staff day what would it look like?