Using Twitter to Connect with Parents

This year there is a big push in my district for an increase in teacher parent communication, and also for sharing with parents what their children are learning in school. Teachers achieve this through the more traditional ways - including newsletters, calls, and emails, but have also branched out into providing digital newsletters accessible in Google Drive and with Twitter. 

Since I am a technology teacher, I work in the library teaching media lessons and work to incorporate technology and 21st century skills into lessons. This year the librarian and I decided to try something new: we began with the idea of a classroom reporter. We thought we would have one student be designated as the reporter for each class  and they would blog about what they learned that day. I volunteered to create the blog, then somehow after New Teacher Academy and the first days of Teacher PD...I just never created the blog. On the second day of PD as we walked down the hall, the librarian had a great idea: Let's use Twitter instead. The library already had a Twitter account from the year before and this way students could easily take a picture or draw a picture on an iPad, write or dictate a caption, then tweet it out! 

We sent a letter home to parents explaining the Twitter Reporter Project and asked parents to follow us. We started the year with 12 followers and we now have 97! It is an amazing way to keep parents up to date and connected to what we are teaching and what their children are learning in the library. My favorite post was when a parent replied about how much she loved  her daughter's tweet and the book she had picked out! Another first grade parent mentioned at Open House that she sits with her daughter at the end of the day and they read all the tweets together - practicing the daughters reading skills and reinforcing her learning for the day! It has truly been a marvelous tool for connecting with parents - especially since as a specials teacher there is not that more frequent contact that occurs in a regular classroom.

I highly recommend creating a Twitter for your own classroom whether you are a classroom teacher, a specials teacher, or some other role in the school. You can set the account to Private thus controlling who sees the posts and can easily share examples of student work to parents. You can both have students tweet and tweet yourself. One great resource I found that was especially helpful in setting this up was  Mrs. Wideen's blog.

Happy Tweeting!


Five for Friday with Positive Polly!

So in my last post, I felt like I was a little negative. I turned my lovely Farley Currently post which only comes once a month into a long list of items that were stressing me out. So! For this Five for Friday post (my first in a while! yea!) , I am going to choose five things in my life that  am grateful for and turn to Positive Polly instead of Negative Nancy. Cue Josh Groban's "Thankful".

Marathon training. I am at the end of week 11 (only 38 more days till race day!) and am running my marathon at the end of week 16. I am very excited and very grateful I have been been able to follow my training plan as closely as I have (and I have yet to get seriously get injured) despite starting a new job. I know that's not me alone getting these runs done injure free after working all day!  Thank you!

My wonderful job. I work in a wonderful school with awesome, collaborative colleagues in a fabulous district. Seriously I do. Sometimes I get caught up in the nitty gritty and I forget all the awesome things that make my job so much easier and so much better that I sadly take them for granted. Today I met with my mentor and we had a awesome, supportive conversation about classroom management. I also spent time this morning collaboratively planning with the librarian and the ideas were rolling - it felt awesome! I also got to touch base with  my teacher evaluation evaluator today and it helped me feel grounded. Thank you!

 My lovely family. They are supportive and kind and loving and always give me a place where I can forget about all my small worries and just be. Being with them, I relax and laugh. Thank you!

Surprise Treats! This morning the principal came over the intercom and announced that she had put snacks in the office kitchen - she knew we were tired from the Open House and we deserved a treat. When she said "coffee and treats" I assumed pastries and donuts. When I headed over I was happily surprised to find banana's, granola bars, and (okay, these are candy) Hershey's Kisses. I was happily surprised to find the healthy treats! It says something about the school's values and culture that as a treat they provide healthy snacks for us - that way we don't have to spend all of our energy resisting sweets and instead are given energy through healthy snacks! Thank you!

My own education. I recently read an article that was a tribute to my junior year English teacher. He had retired after 45+ years of teaching and the words in the article just struck me - I was so lucky to go to the high school I did where there was such a close, caring community that taught their students with loving rigor.Here are some of my favorite quotes from the article: 
"'Where does it come from? I don't know. It takes 17 muscles to smile and 140 to frown and I'm just kind of a lazy guy,' he said."
'"Three things I believe in. My family, my faith and St. Bernard,' Lamoureux said. 'Those are the three things that make up my life. St. Bernard is my life, my heart and my soul. Years from now they'll be saying 'Art who?' St. Bernard, I hope, goes on forever. It's got a message. It's got a reason for being.' 
"He bleeds red and gray. That's something those of us who have been there more than 30 years really understand. We have a passion and a love for the school that I don't know if others outside it truly understand."
Thank you!

Happy Thankful Friday!


Currently September!

Woo Boy Here I Am! I have survived (and enjoyed!) the first week of school (more about which I’ll share later. This is more of a ranting rambling post) ….but I feel like for every one thing I do five more things appear. I feel like I am making no headway at all!
Things I feel overwhelmed by:
1) TEAM….gahh. Nuff said. Luckily I have an awesome mentor. Remember in fourth grade how there was that one teacher who everyone wished they had? You do, right? That cool teacher? Well, imagine she now teaches second grade, got married and is still just as cool. That’s my mentor. How awesome is that? I literally remember her in fourth grade. She had the classroom next to my teachers and my best friend was in her class. It’s amazing how life comes full circle.
2) Teacher Eval & Bloomboard. Ack.
3) Decorating my classroom. Okay this one is reallllly bugging me. I love to decorate and I think I’m a fairly creative person. Except I am totally STUCK! I have a computer lab to decorate but to be honest it’s not life or death to decorate it. It already has some posters up and the computers take up most of the space. Except I feel the compulsion to decorate and don’t know how to begin. Bwa. I also think for the ideas I do have I just don’t have time to do them!
4) Reading for Professional Development. I bought two Stephanie Harvey books and a colleague lent me a book on Total Participation Techniques and this weekend I think I read, maybe, a chapter of each. So nerve wracking and stressful for some reason!
5) Providing PD/Training for others: My school became a Google District this year and I am learning alongside everyone else about how it works. But as the technology teacher I am seen as a source of expertise. Which is interesting!  Taking it day by day!
6) My schedule. I work part-time which (let’s be honest) is kind of awesome but I also feel like I’m trying to squeeze a full time day into a part time schedule and I always feel at the end of the day that there are so many things I wanted to/needed to/intended to get done that day but haven’t gotten around to. VERY frustrating.
7) I work with half the students in the school since I am a specials teacher. Which means I have to remember all their names, needs, and strengths. Working on this! But that’s why I need those silver ring thingamagigs…you know like a binder ring except not attached to a binder. I made flashcards for all my students with their picture on one side and space to write info on the back. My plan now is to hole punch the corner of the cards and have each class on a ring I can flip through at the beginning of each day/class to refresh my mind about the students  and plan for the day.

Things I love:
1) Working with half the students in the school. Although I never imagined I would be a specials teacher, I actually love having a variety of students to get to know and I feel like ultimately it will make me a better classroom teacher because I am learning to manage a variety of classroom dynamics and personalities multiple times a day.
2) Teaching is great! No seriously, this is one area that I know a lot of my fellow new teachers probably feel overwhelmed by but I love it! I love teaching the little munchkins, I love teaching the content, and I love my teaching schedule. I feel like so many of the different items I have learned through out the years (from classroom management to instructional strategies) are coming together and I am using now. 
Which is really, really good. Because ultimately, this item outweighs all the rest in the above list. I will learn all the students names, I will read my PD books, I will get on top of learning the technology as it is unveiled so I can be a source of knowledge to others, I will complete and rock my TEAM Modules, I will do awesome (or at least proficient) on my teacher evals. I know all these things. I will get my computer lab decorated, I will figure out to maximize my time. But I get caught up in all these details that take time to sort out, when in the end, loving teaching and loving my students are the most important things. If these two were in the list above, then I’d be worried!

And SO SORRY FARLEY for this Currently turning into a ramble about things that have been floating around in my brain all weekend.

SOOO back to Currently:
I would love love love to visit Ireland: County Cork, County Kerry, Dublin. I also would love to visit California and Hawaii for the beaches and so I could learn to surf. Although I guess if I haven’t learned to surf yet where I live (not too far from surfable waves)  I guess it’s silly to travel to do it. But hey! Self doubt! What are you doing here! This is my Currently post! {Ahem} Anyways, so yes, Ireland, Cali and Hawaii.

So now with the summer crickets chirping outside my window, I shall go to sleep so I can get up early tomorrow and get ‘er done! (as in my to do list). 


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