I went on a job interview last month and, while I was super excited about the prospect, as soon as the interview began, I realized it wasn’t the job for me.
At first, I was super disappointed. I thought that, even in the rare case that I was offered the job, I’d have to accept it. Why should I turn down a perfectly good leadership position? Then I remembered: because it’s not the job for me.
It’s hard being patient when you want something so badly. But I’m here to tell you that you need to wait. Over my teaching career, I’ve taught in two different schools, with four different principals, two different grade levels, and four different teams. And while I absolutely love teaching and working with students, that’s not always enough. Not every school, not every grade level, and not every team is the right fit for you.
Even if you’re not in education and you came across this post by accident, you should remember that not every business is run the same way. Not every boss has a personality or philosophy that matches yours. Not every job is for you.
Please realize that this doesn’t mean that those people are bad or that they’re doing anything wrong. They’re not. People, by nature, are different. It’s a fact of life and, for the most part, diversity is a beautiful, beautiful thing.
But when beliefs and philosophies clash in the workplace, when two parties are working towards two different causes… it can be disastrous. Not only for the effectiveness of the organization but for the well-being of the people involved. In this case, it’s okay to “not for me” or “not right now.” You have to know yourself well in order to find the perfect job for you.
In this post, I’d like to share four ways to know from an interview if the job is not for you. Hopefully, this will help you from accepting a job where you’ll be miserable and find something that fits with your purpose or personal mission in life.
1. Be very clear about what you believe about education (or whatever field you’re interviewing in) and share that during the interview.
In education, what you believe about how students learn is vitally important to how you’re going to do your job. Your philosophy of education isn’t just something you’re supposed to think about during your undergraduate or graduate education program, but rather should permeate every part of how you interact with students and colleagues.
Even if your interviewer doesn’t come right out and ask, be prepared to find ways to share your philosophy. It’s probable that they’ll pose a question like, “Tell us a little about yourself and why you think you’re a good fit for this position.” The people who are interviewing you need to know what you believe, not just about education, but about the world in general so they don’t hire you for a job that’s in contrast to your belief system. This will save you a multitude of headaches down the road.
2. Pay attention to the body language of those who interview you.
You can gauge the personality of the people who are interviewing you by paying attention to their body language before, during, and after the interview. You can learn a lot about people by how they act. For example, if you walk into an interview and smile at someone with zero smiles back, that should be a red flag. Interviewers who are distracted by a phone or computer, fail to make eye contact during the interview, make you wait long periods of time without reason, or cut you off mid-sentence are also reasons to reconsider accepting a job. Also, pay attention to whether or not they seem disorganized or flustered. You can tell the first time you meet someone if they are kind, respectful, and responsible people. Think about who you’d like to work for and consider that before you accept any job.
|Photo by rawpixel.com on Unsplash|
3. Ask questions before, during, and after the interview.
Interviews can be very intimidating, especially if you’re a new teacher. When you arrive for an interview, be polite and engage the office staff in conversation. Ask them if they enjoy the school and the area. If you’re not Interviewing at a school, ask them if they enjoy the company. Be careful not ask about the interviewers or the position you’re interviewing for specifically. You don’t want to seem like you’re fishing for information, only engaging in small talk.
Just like paying attention to body language, you can get more information about the vision and mission of the school or company and the position you would be filling by asking questions. You will usually be given the opportunity to ask any additional questions you may have at the end of the interview. Take that opportunity to find out more about the school or company. Some questions you might ask are:
If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram, you’ve probably seen me post on the #BeSavageNotAverage hashtag or post a picture with that phrase on it. When I saw that phrase on Pinterest over a year ago, it immediately stuck out to me. It has driven a lot of my passion and projects over the last year and a half and I want to share with you exactly why I love it.
The phrase itself exudes power. Savage, by its Google definition, means fierce, violent, and uncontrolled in regards to an animal or force of nature. My mind first travels to the thought of a lion hunting down a gazelle. It’s fast, it’s strong, and it’s uninhibited. The word savage can sometimes have a negative connotation, but consider it in a positive light. The savage lion gets the job done quickly and efficiently.
In education, that means that a savage individual attacks the problem, issue, or project with such intensity and focus that it’s almost near impossible to stop them. Being savage in a classroom means that you are doing the right work and doing it with such passion that no one will question your intentions. You have a goal and you are going after it.
Consider the second part of the phrase, however. “Not average.” According to its Google definition, average means the typical or central value in a set of data. Within the context of education, that might mean what’s happening in most classrooms. It might be referring to what’s happening in a typical school. It’s not to say that average is bad, by any means.
But it’s not savage.
Personally, I love the message “Be Savage, Not Average” because I believe it gives you permission to fail. In order to escape average, you have to step outside the box. You have to live outside the norm. It’s not easy and it’s not always effective. But it’s necessary.
In order for change to happen in schools, we must dare to be savage. That might mean that you’re trying new teaching techniques, incorporating technology in ways that transform the classroom or designing schools that truly meet the unique needs of learners. Whatever it is that you’re doing, it’s different. It’s daring. It’s savage.
And the intention behind that – to be different and to change the status quo – that intention gives you permission to fail. It tells you, it’s ok that this might not work, as long as you tried.
Be savage, not average reminds me of another one of my favorite quotes, “Ask for forgiveness later, instead of permission now.”
Do it. Go for it. Make it happen.
Be Savage. Not Average.
In my latest blog post, I talked about what I learned from flipping my elementary classroom. This is an approach I took to teaching as part of an action research project and I learned a lot about best practices for implementing the flip.
My hope with this post is that you learn something you can take into your classroom tomorrow to help with a flipped classroom model.
A flipped classroom is an instructional approach that removes the whole class direct instruction to a video that students view at home before a more hands-on or in-depth lesson at school. The idea was started by Jonathan Bergmann and you can read more about a flipped classroom approach to instruction in his book Flip Your Classroom: Reach Every Student in Every Class Every Day (affiliate link).
There are alternative models of the flipped classroom approach. If your school is 1:1, for instance, but the devices stay at school, you can have students watch the videos as they enter the classroom. Or, close the class with the videos that correspond to the next day’s lessons.
In my case, I only have 6 classroom devices (four desktops and 2 Chromebooks), so I implemented an in-class flip with a station rotation model. You can read more about this model in this Edutopia blog by Jennifer Gonzalez. In essence, students rotate through stations and watch the flipped lesson videos at one of the stations. The other stations provide opportunities for students to work in small groups and pairs to dig deeper into content.
This in-class flip is the model I took in my third-grade classroom and it seemed to work out well for us. The first step in implementing a flipped classroom approach would be to decide which model you’re going to use.
It’s silly to think that you can flip your whole reading, math, science, or social studies lesson. Especially in elementary school, each content area is full of different components. Break it down and start with something small. You can build from there and flip more components if it’s going well.
Here are some ideas to help you frame your thinking about which components of your elementary classroom you want to flip. Remember, this is often direct instruction that is moved to video format.
There are two main approaches to take to this problem: find videos made by others or create your own videos. I, personally, chose to do both when implementing my flip. There are a ton of wonderful videos out there already made, why re-invent the wheel?
I also found, however, that there were some topics or strategies that were not already available. For those, I made my own. I actually really liked making my videos because I found that they were more engaging for my students (what elementary students don’t love seeing their teacher online?) and I was able to tailor my instruction for my students using specific texts and strategies we were using in class.
Below, I’ve listed some of the resources available for finding or creating your own videos.
Pre-made video repositories:
Programs to make your own videos:
If your school or district pays for a learning management platform like Schoology, Blackboard, or another similar platform, this might be a great way to get content to students.
This post is a reflection of the implementation of my flipped classroom. If you’re looking for how to implement your own flipped classroom approach, check my post So You Want to Flip Your Elementary Classroom, Now What?
I took on a giant project this year by flipping my classroom. The flipped classroom approach is something that I’ve seen floating around in the education community for a few years now, yet I’d never felt like I had sufficient resources to make it happen. This year, I jumped all in.
Probably prematurely, admittedly. But the learning is in the mess, right?
As part of my Ed.S. program at Bellarmine, I had to design and implement an action research project focused on increasing student achievement. I felt like this was my opportunity to take the risk that I had wanted to in my classroom, and I knew I would have the support of my administration, my Ed.S. mentor, and my colleagues. I am a huge proponent of educational technology and I’d recently acquired two Chromebooks thanks to a Donors Choose project bringing my count of classroom devices from four to six. With six devices, I felt like I was ready to change the world.
I even made a Google folder called, “How to Change the World This Year.” I can be a bit pretentious at times.
That being said, I spent a lot of time researching flipped classroom approaches, designing and creating videos, monitoring student progress, and reflecting on the process along the way. I did some things well and there are many things about the process I would change. I’d like to share some of my learning with you in hopes that it will help your flipped classroom transition smoother.
Let me start by saying that my approach to a flipped classroom was and is much different than the typical flipped classroom. In a typical flipped classroom, students would watch a video about the topic for the next day for homework and then come to school the next day with some prior knowledge and experience, ready to dive into more hands-on experiences. For my third grade students, many of whom don’t have internet access or devices at home, this wasn’t possible. I opted for an in-class flip using a station rotation model, where one station was the viewing of the video and interactive components. Other stations I used in my classroom at the time, were a modified version of teacher-led guided reading, independent reading, and partner practice. You can read more about a typical flipped classroom approach in Jon Bergmann’s book called Flip Your Classroom: Reach Every Student in Every Class Every Day (affiliate link) or at his blog here.
I would also encourage you to learn more about the alternatives to the typical flipped classroom models. There are some examples from Jennifer Gonzalez over on Edutopia.
1. It’s better to start small and build up.
In my original action research, I stated that I’d increase reading achievement of my students by flipping my classroom. If you’re an elementary teacher, you are immediately aware of the problem with that statement. What component of reading? Within my third grade classroom, I teach phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. In a typical lesson, I’d try to teach each of those components within a common theme or unit, using one or more texts and pulling as much out of it as I could.
So, when I first started my flipped classroom, I kind-of, almost, might have tried to do it all at the same time. I was overly ambitious. I learned right away that it was too much – for me to prepare and for my students to find beneficial – so I had to back down. I ended up flipping just the phonics portion of my lesson, then slowly adding vocabulary and comprehension. It was much smoother once students knew the routines and expectations.
2. Make sure routines and expectations are explicit.
Students have to know what they’re doing and why they’re doing it. In my school, the constant infusion of technology into my students’ instruction was new for many of them, which caused some confusion on how it was to be used. Because I was so excited to just get started, I glossed over routines and expectations which was a terrible idea. Always start with your routines and expectations.
Some ideas for routines to teach when flipping your classroom:
3. You still need to differentiate.
In my mind, a whole group lesson was the same for everyone and differentiation came in with the other stations. However, when my students struggled with the flip and I really began to reflect on my teaching, I realized that I did differentiate during whole group instruction, it just wasn’t as explicit. For instance, I might stand next to a student who was having trouble focusing or prompted responses when students struggled. There is a definite benefit to being face-to-face with students when teaching so that you can gauge their reactions and understanding. This is much harder to do through a screen.
You can still differentiate a whole class lesson through a flipped approach, it just takes more work. For example, add several videos for students to watch. If they understand (and show understanding through an online activity like a Google quiz) after watching the first one, they can stop and move on to something different. However, if they’re still struggling, they can watch more videos and have multiple tries to show their understanding. This helps personalize the experience of a flipped classroom for each student and allows them to take more ownership of their learning.
4. Assessment and accountability go hand in hand.
Assessment is just best practice. When I started my flipping my lessons, I originally had it set up so that students watched the videos, then came to a guided reading group, where I did the assessing. But I soon realized that students were not being held immediately accountable for the learning in the video, so they came to the table and had I to teach what they were supposed to already know! It defeated the entire purpose of the flipped classroom.
So, I started utilizing some wonderful tools to hold my students accountable and help with assessment. The G-Suite for Education (specifically docs, slides, and forms/quizzes) is a great way to do this. They are relatively easy to set-up and intuitive for students to use. You can read more about how I’ve used Google forms to assess my students on a previous blog post.
The flipped classroom model was a learning experience for myself and my students. If and when I do this in the future, I’ve got a much better idea of how to approach it so that things run smoother. Have you implemented a flipped classroom? Did you do the typical flip or a modified in-class version? I’d love to hear your successes and horror stories! Comment below and let me know!
Up until a few months ago, I hated listening to podcasts. I found it so hard to focus on what they were saying while I was distracted doing other things. However, I started listening to them on my commute to and from school and I can’t get enough! I don’t even like to listen to the radio now. If I’m driving or walking, I’ve got a podcast going.
Podcasts are wonderful tools for professional learning. Like most online media, they break down the barriers of time and space to allow for learning at your leisure. However, unlike most online media, they also remove the barrier of visual learning. You don’t need to watch a video with this online professional learning, as long as you’ve got speakers or a pair of headphones, you’re set. In fact, with most smartphones these days, podcast apps are built right in so all you have to do is stream and go.
Host: Angela Watson (Twitter: @Angela_Watson)
Category: Teacher Self-Care and General Education
On the Truth for Teachers podcast, Angela and her guests talk about general truth for educators. Angela is a teacher self-help guru and she often shares ideas about making your teacher week more productive and fulfilling. Angela is the queen at talking about the teacher guilt we all experience as teachers and gives suggestions to combat that guilt.
My favorite episode is 122: Your #1 job when you don’t feel motivated. In this episode, she discusses how the most important thing to do when you’re lacking motivation is to find motivation. Everything else on your to-do list can wait.
Host: Jennifer Gonzalez (Twitter: @cultofpedagogy)
Category: General Education
The Cult of Pedagogy podcast seems to have a strong following within my own PLN and for good reason. Jennifer talks about everything from instructional strategies to classroom management to professional development and everything in between. She offers a variety of podcasts at different lengths as well so you can find just perfect one for your drive, no matter how far.
My favorite episode is 92: Frickin’ Packets where she talks about the dangers of worksheets in the classroom. I’ll be completely honest and say that it took me almost a week before I listened to it when it came out because I was afraid I’d hear things I didn’t want to hear. 😓 We all use worksheets, whether we like to admit it or not. But this episode is fantastic and starts with the audio of a frustrated student in a classroom, an authentic voice expressing a very real problem. It’s definitely worth a listen!
Host: Jethro Jones (Twitter: @jethrojones)
Category: School Leadership
The Transformative Principal podcast is, of course, geared towards school leadership like principals and superintendents. Jethro Jones is a school principal in Fairbanks, Alaska and he interviews others about their leadership styles and invites his guests to shares ideas and tips for becoming a transformative school leader. Every episode is very conversational between Jethro and his guests.
There are so many wonderful episodes, but one of my favorites is The Principled Principal with Jeff Zoul and Anthony McConnell, where Jethro and his guests discuss setting up a school climate and culture conducive to collaboration and learning.
These are just a few of the podcasts I’ve been listening to non-stop for the last few weeks. Do you have a favorite? Drop a link or title in the comments below… I’d love to learn from you and to give it a listen!
I cannot believe we are already into 2018. It seems like just yesterday I was holding my brand new niece and saying goodbye to 2016. Now, she’s a year old and we’re halfway through January of 2018. 2017 brought so much change for me, both in and out of the classroom. I’m proud of who I’ve grown to be in the last year and excited to continue on that journey this year.
If there’s one that I embraced last year, it was the power of discomfort. I had to step outside of my comfort zone to find a place I felt like I belonged. It’s easy to experience burnout as a teacher and fall into a rut. Doing the same thing over and over is bound to take a toll on your passion and effectiveness in the classroom. How did I combat that this past year?
I let my teacher leader flag fly.
By no means did I wake up one day and say, “Hey, I want to be a teacher leader.” It didn’t quite work out like that. But I surrounded myself with like-minded teachers and educators who had a passion for students and a craving for innovation. I got involved in a grassroots teacher-led engagement group in my school district called JCPSForward and built my #TeacherTribe. For the first time in my career, I led district-wide professional learning on topics I was passionate about, including literacy, technology in the classroom, and using social media platforms such as Twitter and Instagram to expand your teacher tribe. For the first time in my career, I felt as if I had a voice in the current education landscape.
I went for it.
In 2017, I also made the decision to go back to school to get an Educational Specialist degree in School Administration and Leadership. This is something I have always known I might want to pursue one day in the future, but I decided to go ahead and take the plunge. I am thrilled that I did because I am loving every second of it, even though it can be extremely overwhelming. I am eager to learn how to harness my leadership skills to create a larger impact for more students than just those within my own classroom.
I expanded my business, my brand, and my teacher tribe.
With a little push from my real life teacher friend, Kelsey (www.kelseynhayes.com), I breathed new life into my blog and my TeachersPayTeachers store. This experience, in and of itself, brought new life back to my teaching career and my passion for the job I love. My business side hustle is so much a part of who I am as a teacher and as a person and I love pouring myself into it.
A large part of growing my blog and TeachersPayTeachers store began with engaging with the larger teacher community on Instagram. I have met so many fantastic teachers and TPT sellers through Instagram and I will forever be grateful for the passion and enthusiasm they share daily.
I enjoyed the little moments with my students.
Teaching can be stressful. There’s no doubt about that. But I can almost guarantee that 100% of teachers started the job because they love kids and they love being around kids. Even when they’re not listening to you and they’re really struggling to understand the content, you can always count on them to crack a funny joke or give you a hug when they can tell you’re not having the best of days. My students are the reason I do what I do and I can always count on them to remind me why I love my job.
I hope you continue to renew your passion for education on a daily basis. I’d love to hear about how you’re keeping your passion alive. Let me know in the comments below!
Earlier this week, I posted about my love for Google Apps for Education (GAFE, for short) and I shared how I utilize Google Sheets to collect and analyze data. You can go back and read all about that here, but today I’m going to talk to you about another of my favorites: Google Forms.
Whether you feel comfortable with Google Docs and Sheets or not, you can use Google Forms to create a super simple assessment that will export data into Google Sheets. Newsflash: It’s not that complicated.
I use Google Forms to create exit tickets, surveys, and short assessments for my students. They are very quick, easy to use, and, because they export directly into a spreadsheet, they give me lots of tangible data to analyze for next steps.
Here are just a few of the ways to use Google forms in the classroom:
1. Exit tickets – Sometimes I’ll ask students to share 1 or 2 things they learned during today’s lesson using a generic form like this one. Other times, the questions are more lesson-specific, like this exit slip for third grade math. You can even turn on the “quiz” feature and Google will grade them for you! (Hello, extra free time!)
2. Surveys – You can use Google Forms to administer informal reading inventories and pre-assessments to determine student interest or level of prior knowledge. For instance, last school year, my class participated in the #GratitudeExperiment and they had to fill out a pre- and post-survey. Totally did them on Google Forms to save time and money! You can check out the pre-survey here.
I just finished reading For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood… and the Rest of Y’all Too by Christopher Emdin. And… wow. While I have about 12 blog post ideas just from reading it, I knew that I wanted to start by doing a recap of the book itself. Mostly because the information inside of it is too good not to share and because I. Couldn’t. Put. It. Down. You know it’s good when you can’t stop reading or thinking about it.
When teaching doesn’t connect to students, it is perceived as not belonging to them.
You cannot teach someone you do not believe in.
I know that one of my favorite places on the Internet is the Quotes section on Pinterest. I’m constantly looking for inspirational words to help me get through the week. I do the same thing when I read by highlighting lines that speak to me and jotting down notes in the corner. Teaching is a hard job and, most of the time, these quotes motivate me to do my best in the classroom.
I just finished “Hacking Leadership” by Joe Sanfelippo and Tony Sinanis. Like the other books in the Hacking Education series, it’s a quick read and filled with poignant quotes that carry lots of meaning and application to teacher’s jobs. While this book is geared towards school leaders, it’s truly applicable to anyone who plays a leadership role in schools, such as teacher leaders, coaches, and administration.
Below is a list of my favorite quotes from the book, in no particular order.
Click here to buy the book on Amazon for yourself: Hacking Education