Category Archives: Community Building

Comedians and Life Lesson’s

Life lessons and aha moments come at unexpected times. Yesterday, as I ate lunch, I watched the first episode in Jerry Seinfeld’s newest project called Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. I loved the Seinfeld show and continue to try and see Jerry Seinfeld in action.

Click image for source.
Click image for source.

The gist of this new show is that Jerry selects a car based on his “guest”, picks them up, they travel around catching up, and eventually stop for coffee. In this episode, he was catching up with his Seinfeld show friend, Michael Richards. As I listened, they began talking about the success of the show and their craft. At that point in the conversation Michael started to cut himself down saying he studied too hard and should have been more relaxed about preparing. He implied that others had fun and he didn’t because he felt that preparing took so much practice. Immediately, Jerry stopped him and said, “I don’t accept the judging of process.” He continued by stating, “we are all trying to get to the same island.” He then finished with, “what matters is when the red light comes on” … “our job is to make sure they enjoy it”. Jerry and Michael go on to talk about how it’s about working selflessly not selfishly and the importance in remembering that.

That is teaching in a nutshell…selfless not selfish. Our goal, as teachers, is to leave kids in a better place than when we get them. Each teacher has to prepare in the way that makes him or her feel ready to “perform”, to put on the best show possible. As I have reflected back on what I heard them say, I have wondered…in what ways might we support our-self and others in doing just that? And more importantly, how can we build each other up and not tear each other down with judgment as we all work to achieve that same goal? How can we be a positive influence and not a negative influence?

What I choose to take from this conversation is this: we each have to do what we feel we have to do to prepare, we must respect that in ourselves and others, and we must presume positive intentions of others, because we all have the same audience and the same goal. That audience, those kids, deserve our very best. Parents, communities, and the world are depending on us. We are all here for the same reason doing what we can. As Maya Angelou said, “When we know better we do better.” We are all doing best we know how.

So as many of you, my friends, go back to begin a new year with students, my hope is that you take care of yourself, you take care of each other, and give the kids the best experience possible. Make sure they enjoy the journey you get to share with them.

*Coincidentally, I heard about Comedians in Cars Having Coffee on NPR as I drove home from some class visits last spring, and yes, it took me this long to get back to it. I will be watching the rest of the episodes. Who knows what else I might learn.

Brooke Higgins, occasional blogger, is an eIS for the eMINTS National Center working with eMINTS teachers. All of her posts, including this one, can be found at The Higgins Helps blog.

Sharing and Collaborating with SMART Notebook 11

How can educators access their SMART Notebook Gallery favorites from any computer and share them with their colleagues?

As I begin preparing for a lesson, it always seems like I am on a different computer. This can pose a problem, when you have resources you rely on. I am a cloud-computing addict. Several of my favorites are Google Drive (http://drive.google.com), Evernote (http://www.evernote.com) and Dropbox (http://www.dropbox.com). Dropbox has really opened my world up to being able to access what I want when I want it and from any device. While reading the Classroom21.net blog, I came across a post that inspired me. The title of this post is “Collaborate Using SMART Notebook and Cloud Storage”. Since I am a huge advocate for cloud storage and collaboration tools for personal and classroom use, I was hooked and wanted to know how this could be so. I followed the steps outlined in the post playerpicnic.com and I was up and going. I instantly had a link between my SMART Notebook Gallery favorites and my Dropbox.

This connectivity between my Dropbox and SMART Notebook 11’s Gallery is referred to as “Team Content”.  I now have a folder in my Dropbox that I can store my favorite gallery items in and share with collegues.  Educators could use this feature to eliminate the need to explore all that SMART Notebook gallery has to offer alone.  Simply share or invite colleagues to join your Dropbox folder and start sharing gallery resources.

To take advantage of this great cloud computing/collaboration tool and to get the step-by-step instructions, visit Classroom21.net’s blog post: http://www.chariotgroup.com/blog/index.php/2012/06/27/smart-notebook-and-cloud-storage/#.UGSTzRhqohw

How might you and your fellow staff members utilize this resource?

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This post was provided by Amy Blades, an instructional specialist for the eMINTS National Center.

 

Starting the Year with Community

As many of you begin to prepare for the first days of school, you may be pondering ideas for creating a strong sense of community in your classroom. Educator Chris Biffle shares one holistic approach at his website WholeBrainTeaching.com. He shares ideas for grabbing the students’ attention and directly engaging them throughout the entire instructional process. His methods assist educators on creating a fun engaging classroom, where even challenging students thrive. This brain based approach puts the fun back into the classroom for both the teacher and the students. To view the basics of this approach view this YouTube video: The BIG 6 of Power teacher are:

  1. Class Yes
  2. The Five Rules
  3. The Scoreboard Game
  4. Hands and Eyes
  5. Teach-OK
  6. The Switch

If I had to choose just a “few” to introduce on the first day, I think it would have to be “Class Yes” and “The Five Rules”. I think these basic classroom management tools will have your classroom booming with student engagement and strengthen the sense of community from day one. “Class Yes” is an approach used to focus the classes’ attention. The teacher says “class” and the students say “yes”. This works because it gives the students something to do immediately and prepares them for the teacher. Part of this method’s effectiveness is it has the students mirror the tone the teacher uses. For example the teacher could drag out the word and add a funny voice “clllllasssssss”, which the students would respond mirroring the teacher “yeeeeessssss”. On the first days of school, it is common to start with sharing the classroom rules. In the video you saw a demonstration for “The Five Rules”. Each rule uses visual, auditory and kinesthetic movement to help students reach a deeper understanding of how the rules relate to the expectations of the teacher and the success of the classroom as a community. Here is a brief explanation of “The Five Rules”:

  • Follow Directions Quickly (wiggling hand moving forward)
  • Raise Your Hand for permission to speak. (Raise hand, make a talking mouth hand)
  • Raise your hand for permission to leave your seat. (Raise hand, make walking motion with two fingers)
  • Make smart choices (point to brain)
  • Keep your teacher happy! (frame your face, wag head back and forth smiling)

This is just one way to begin building classroom community…. How might you foster and sustain a sense of classroom community during the first days of school? Amy Blades is an instructional specialist for the eMINTS National Center.