Teachin’ Ain’t Easy

This thing we do. It ain’t easy.

I am unapologetic about making that statement too.

I believe that education is what sets you free with every fiber of my being. The effective educator pours every thing that have into their students every day they are in the schoolhouse. I know this, because I see it every day in the classrooms of my teachers.

“Those who can’t do, teach.” Remember that.

It is actually quite the opposite. I meet potential candidates every year that are going to light up the world by dropping knowledge on wave after wave of students in their classroom. Those candidates often think that the profession is so easy… “I have a passion for “X” subject,” they say. Then you ask about the craft and they know nothing of the sort. I often know how these conversations end.

#Fail

You know, I was recently at a meeting with a high level District official who made a statement that was profound. He stated, “there are no more career teachers.” I was like – huh? At first, I though my hearing had gone – then I was overcome by anger. I took offense to that comment… great offense. I am a career educator. I am married to a career educator. Many members of my family, many of my friends are all career educators.

But, I thought, is he right?

Look, teaching’ ain’t easy. But, the answer is no. There are so many amazing career educators out there. My Twitter feed if full of passionate educators that live and breathe this craft that we call teaching. We, the career educators, constantly work at the art and the science of educating the masses. Many of us have devoted our lives to this. Many step into classrooms filled with students that are off grade level, have social/emotional issues, come from broken homes, and on and on and on.

These students need us. They need career educators. They need us to be there so they can go on to graduate and set themselves free of the chains that bound them. Education, and more importantly the career educator, has set them free.

We need career educators. I encourage you to talk to young people, talk to those students in your classrooms each day, talk to those potential career educators. We are the disciples for this profession and we need to encourage those that can do – to teach.

Reach out today and have that conversation. I would love to hear your thoughts on the topic… be sure to include me in on the conversation on Twitter @mikemeechin, #careereducator.

Mike Meechin, M.Ed.
@mikemeechin

For more information about having Mike speak at your school or district, click the “Book Mike” link under Work With Me.

Guest Post: Unschooling

Jerry Obney is a high school Science teacher and a former colleague of mine. He does tremendous work in the classroom and connects with his students in ways that so align with my vision for teaching and learning. If you like his piece, please check Jerry out at his blog, or on the Twitter @jerryobney.


I fear the industrialized model of school has drained the creativity and innovation from our children.  When our children are young they have creativity, innate curiosity and the desire to learn.  It is not my belief that these qualities disappear throughout life but they become muted, softened and concealed by years of schooling.  The common practice of a reading passage, distribution of worksheets and a find and copy technique gets passed on from day to day in the doldrums of the classroom.  I see science teachers distributing a step by step procedure to a lab, while history teachers stand in front of a whiteboard passing off information of events that students have difficulty relating to.  I have spent a good portion of my career unschooling myself and I spend a good portion of my school year unschooling my students, getting past the idea of concrete timelines, letter grades and step by step directions.  It takes growing pains and frustration on the part of the students and the teacher.  “What do I do?”  “Where are the instructions?”  “Where do I find the answer?”  “Can I Google it?”  As a teacher of students I seek to tap into the childhood curiosity that exists in every student.  As William Butler Yeats once said, “education is not filling a bucket, but lighting a fire.”

How do we light a fire?

Make the lesson relevant, create a community atmosphere that is safe and respectful, allow for self-discovery to take place, reinforce the discoveries with feedback, and allow the students to provide you with feedback. This type of lesson requires the instructor to do some unschooling of their own.  This idea inevitably leads to questions like, “how do I assess progress?”  “How do I assign a grade?”  “What if a student refuses to participate?”  When I hear these questions in my mind I try to stop myself and evaluate the core of my own questioning.  Am I falling into the industrialized trap?  Do I fear what my colleagues or administration may think if I do things differently?  If I believe in preparing students for real problems and real problem solving skills then why am I wavering when faced with these questions?  I felt discomfort at first, just as the students did, but these moments of discomfort lead to the most authentic types of growth.

What does the research say?

While the research does not specifically identify inquiry and problem-based learning as the most effective, it does suggest that it is a strategy that helps to close the achievement gap.   Nothing can produce better results than a positive relationship with students that takes care of Maslow’s Hierarchy, fosters a feeling of community and taps into the student’s natural curiosity.  According to John Hattie’s research there are two pieces that are imperative to make this style most effective.  Providing timely feedback and building positive relationships with each student will provide more positive learning outcomes.  The feedback piece for this style is very flexible and can be approached in a number of ways.  While students are working in their groups I spend every moment sitting with, discussing and listening to students as they exchange ideas and brainstorm ways to solve the problem.  The second piece, building positive relationships will build as you have these interactions in class, but must be backed with an authentic love for each of the students that are in your classroom.  Without love as the backdrop, the classroom cannot function to its fullest potential.

#FETC 2015 Session Video Available

In January 2015 I had the pleasure of speaking and attending FETC 2015 in Orlando, Florida. The nice people at FETC were even so thoughtful to record my session, 60 Instructional Strategies in 60 Minutes. This is one of my favorite sessions to present; it is fast-paced and changes every time I give it.

You can check it out here: bit.ly/meechinfetc2015

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Enjoy!

Mike Meechin, M.Ed.
@mikemeechin

For more information about having Mike speak at your school or district, click the “Book Mike” link under services.

Why You Mad Bro?

I speak often with educators about the incorporation of technology into their classrooms and curriculum. During these convos I often share tools as well. What always leaves me perplexed is when I share out a great technology and the response I get is; “Why are we teaching them the easy way out?”

My response: Why you mad bro?

As I get ready to tackle FETC 2015 this week – I am excited about the conversations and connections with tech-savvy and not-so-tech-savvy educators. I am also reminded about those that are not as accepting of the tools that are used by the digital natives that populate our schoolhouses around the nation.

So, I challenge you to open your mind. We cannot be mad that our students have access to technologies that are effective (and way cooler) at bringing information to their fingertips. Encourage our students to use these tools to engage in the work they do for you in your classroom.

I am reminded of a Seth Godin quote; “Open book – look it up. All the time.” Our students have access to information in ways that we did not. Now it is time to shift the way we teach to challenge students in ways that we were not.

If you are out at FETC 2015 – and I hope that you will be – stop by and say hello. I have two sessions and I will be sharing many great tools that you can put into practice the very next day.

Jan 23, 2015

Sixty In Sixty: 60 Instructional Technologies in 60 Minutes
10:00A | S310GH

Technology for Schoolwide Impact
01:00P | S310EF

Why you mad bro?

Hope to see you in Orlando.

Mike Meechin, M.Ed.
@mikemeechin

What We’re Doing With Remind101

I have the privilege of working with some amazing educators in my schoolhouse, and I wanted to share what we’re doing with Remind101.

Remind101 is a technology that allows educators to provide one way communication to students, parents, etc… via text message simply and efficiently.

My teachers began using Remind101 last school year in sporadic fashion. So, this year we focused on bringing Remind 101 school wide and ensuring that our teachers were taking advantage of this powerful communication tool. But, that wasn’t enough for us…

We felt that there were other areas that we could use Remind101 to communicate in several ways with our students and parents. We would like to outline a few ways that we are making Remind101 work for us @poincianahigh.

Remind101 Stakeholders via School Website

We have posted our Remind101 subscription code on our school’s website that allows stakeholders to subscribe to our feed. We publish important school information, announcements, and shout-outs on our Remind101. The feedback we have received has been great. Stakeholders really enjoy receiving the information via text message and we love the ability to be able to schedule reminders ahead of time.

State Assessment Review

EOC ReviewAs a school, we were looking to engage our students outside of the classroom to encourage them prep for state assessments. We also wanted them to use technology… enter Remind101. My Science Coach developed signs that outlined how students could Remind101 Biology End of Course Assessment practice right to their mobile device.

We posted signage throughout the school that outlined the quick how-to. After that my Science Coach would Remind101 practice questions to our students enrolled in the group. Students would have to come and explain the answer to us during lunch. Students ate it up – they were coming down and having higher level discussions about Biology during their lunch. The response was impactful for our students – we like that.

Attendance Intervention

Remind101 Wake UpLike most at-risk schools, we have attendance issues. We decided after reading about and idea on the Remind101 blog to use this technology as an intervention to address our attendance issues.

What we did was use data to identify our most at-risk attendance issues. We met with these students and enrolled them in our Remind101 wake-up program. We send out three reminders each morning, beginning at 5:45A, waking our attendance issues and hopefully encouraging them to get to school.

Our reminders are witty comments or inspirational quotes meant to motivate our students to get to school that day. We follow up our first Remind101 with two additional wake-ups each morning. We like the data that we are seeing in return. In our first semester using Remind101 for this purpose, we got an increase in attendance for 83% of students in our pilot cohort – we like that.

These are just some of the ways that we are using Remind101 @poincianahigh. I hope that this helps you to use this powerful technology in your school, with your students.

Mike Meechin, M.Ed.
@mikemeechin