I'm here. I'm done with my capstone project. I'm done with my documentary and my capstone presentation. I'm ready for the next thing--to graduate!
It's been a rough 2020-2021 school year. COVID brought everything to a hault. I had to learn new curriculum, a new position, a new principal, and all this over Zoom. I spent my nights and weekends pouring over readings, research results, data, opinions, facts, technological advances, and all while teaching during a pandemic. I found that juggling my two positions at work along with a master's program, dying family members, my childhood neighborhood destroyed in the fires, being a mom, wife, daughter, sister, granddaughter, and pet owner was almost too much.
What did I give up to make sure I was able to continue on? I realized that blogging was what I gave up. It seemed like the one thing that I could do later that would ease my burden. So here I am, at the end of my journey, writing my last blog posts.
Although difficult at times, this program was well worth it. I feel empowered to try new things in my classroom. I feel better prepared for what lies ahead when technologies change. I have people from my cohort who I know struggled with the some of the same things I did, and I can rely on them for future support.
My advice to anyone beginning the program-- Do your best. If you have to crawl over the finish line, you are still moving forward. Ask questions. Do the work. Struggle, learn, grow. Make connections with people outside your comfort zone. And trust the process.
As a student in the Touro Innovative Learning program, I'd like to share their values.
Life-long learning has always been important to me. I am always looking for new ways to be creative, whether musical, artistic, or technological. I'm so happy that Touro has teamed up with NapaLearns to allow local teachers to continue their education. The Innovative Learning program is an excellent way to bring teachers into the 21st century. I am now more confident in keeping up with what my students are interested in, which helps me make my lessons more engaging.
framework to round out a students' knowledge base, thus preparing them for their future. It doesn't minimize the importance of one idea, but sees all three as equally important in the scope of a learner. Sadly, I find that many teachers across our country often do not spend enough time in the center of that diagram. And part of the solution, is being open to change.
For me, I thrive to know more. I want to read everything, watch everything, and share knowledge with others. I want my students to be "in the now" and "in the know" with new ways to learn and share information. I use all kinds of technology myself, why shouldn't they? Using apps like TikTok are fun and engaging, so I design lessons that incorporate Flip Grid as a way for my students to mimic TikTok to respond to content. I ask students what specifically they are into, so I can better gauge my audience and tailor their lessons to suit their needs.
When coaching, I also am thinking about how teachers can use the technology. I make sure that my professional development sessions have a lot of time for teachers to explore what I'm presenting. I want them to go back to their classrooms with at least one tool they can use the next day.
Wait wait wait! Our district has a mission statement?! I mean, it makes sense. A district SHOULD have one. It helps keep all the stakeholders and future stakeholders up to speed on what needs to be done.
But from what I see, this "About NVUSD" page is not a mission statement. It's a laundry list of goals. There is a "tagline" about transforming student lives, but not a mission statement.
Having worked at two different charter schools within this district during my career, I have helped to create a school's mission statement. It's not an easy task. Everyone's voice needs to be heard to narrow down the focus. And although the tagline seems narrow, it's really quite broad. And very brief. It's more of a commercial, really.
Our district has created new logos a few times over the past few years. I don't quite understand the rationale behind so many identity changes, when the mission statement is this muddled.
I'm also quite confused as to why there is a graphic with a bunch of words. Were these words uttered? Written? Why are they significant? What are they in regards to?
Clear as mud in a hurricane.
PD, or Professional Development, can cause educators to loudly sigh, roll their eyes, or even fall asleep. But does it have to be this way? Do educators have to feel that "PD" is synonymous with "wasting time"? Or is PD even neccessary?!
Maybe what PD presenters should be asking themselves are, "Is the PD I'm attending effective? Is the PD helping student achievment? Does this PD work within the educators' daily schedule? How often will the PD be revisited?"
As a magnet coach, I don't want the eductors I'm leading during a PD to roll their eyes, sigh, or fall asleep. I want the session to be relevant, respectful of the educators' time, and inspiring. I want my sessions to be experienced by the educator in a way that also demonstrates how students learn. I know I shut down during a PD where someone talks at me. And I want time to explore the new ideas, ask questions, and have meaningful discussions with my peers during the PD. I want people to be excited about the information I'm going to share with them. So it made sense that my research should be based on professional development and how it affects student agency.
What I didn't expect during my research, was how the pandemic would greatly affect professional development. I teach virtually from home. So I really had to up my Zoom game and make sure that what I presented had all the elements I mentioned before. I also learned that no matter how much I make my PD's accessible to all educators, there are still factors I may not have accounted for. Like...an educator's willingness to adopt a new way of teaching.
I'm not sure I will continue the research specifically. If I do, I would definately do things differently. I woud like to try doing the research when the pandemic is no longer an issue. I want to see if there is a correlation between our school's first trimester teaching in a pandemic, my first time being a magnet coach, the educators being in a less stressful teaching environment, and compare the data.
I watched the Superbowl. It was disappointing.
I checked out capstone projects. That was also a little disappointing.
I guess I was expecting to see something that really seemed to stand out. But many that I clicked on were unfinished, lackluster, and quite frankly, boring.
One that I like is "Yet!". It really grabbed my attention and yanked it right out of my eye sockets. The logo reminds me of a tv show I like--Superstore. The logo is very Cloud 9-esque. It's a friendly, bright, and happy logo, which goes well with its message, "You can do this!"
I could relate to the learning happening in the capstone as I, too, work in a Title I school. Many of my students do not feel confident in their abilities, which can wreak havoc on their SEL. Reminding them that we are all doing this together and that we wil make progess is so important. I really liked that the teacher decided to focus on growth instead of mastery.
The audience this capstone was speaking to is other teachers who want to begin using the power of yet in their own classrooms. The author has lesson plans at the ready and gives encouraging advice. However, the typographical errors were many. So many, in fact, that I would find myself feeling frustrated that this person went through so much trouble creating this amazing piece of work, only to have so many typos downplay the seriousness of their research.
For my own capstone, I think my audience will either be for instructional coaches or administration who have instructional coaches. As this is my first time (and probably only time due to budget cuts) being an instructional coach, I have found the learning curve steeper than I had anticipated. It could have been the online learning taking me out of the classroom and away from my coworkers, or the lack of training that makes me feel this way. Honestly, it's probably a bit of both. But I want admin and other coaches to know that there are a lot of hidden factors to consider when doing this job. And I would want future administrators to be able to help train or find trainings for people in my position.
Sarah Magallano teaches 5th grade. She also coaches teachers on integrating art & engineering into their lesson plans.