Opinion
Curriculum CTQ Collaboratory

Three Teachers: How We Share What #TeachingIs

By Jessica Keigan, Stephanie Pinkin & Marcia Powell — May 06, 2014 5 min read
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In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week (May 5-9), the Center for Teaching Quality is supporting #TeachingIs, a social media campaign created by two Florida teachers to elevate the public perception of teaching.

This week, thousands of teachers across the nation are sharing stories and images from their classroom and demonstrating what #TeachingIs to them—using Tweets, blog posts, photos, videos, and more.

In this article, three teachers describe how they share their classroom practices and teaching philosophies with students, parents, and beyond.

Sharing My Practice With Students

Jessica Keigan
English Language Arts teacher at Horizon High School in Thornton, Colo.

I’ve never been shy about sharing my teaching philosophies and ideas with students. I think it helps me be transparent about my expectations and where those expectations stem from.

With the adoption and implementation of the Common Core State Standards in my classes, I’ve had a much more concrete frame for these conversations. I communicate early and often that my chief goal as an educator is to help students think for themselves and become critical consumers of their world. Now, however, I am able to share specific benchmarks for how I can help them achieve those goals.

This year, I’ve been working with The Master Teacher Project, which has allowed me to work purposefully on Common-Core curriculum design. As I frame lessons for my students, I share what standards we are working on meeting, building the language of the standards into rubrics and assignment sheets.

In addition, I talk a lot about my writing and speaking opportunities. I share with students how nervous I get when I’m speaking in front of a crowd of people I don’t know. I specifically highlight how important it is for me to be well prepared, especially if I know my audience doesn’t agree with my perspective. I’ve also shared writing drafts of my articles and blog posts (with editorial comments) to show them the importance of revision and rewriting. I’ve even had them help me write posts for publication.

I’ve found that every time I’m open about my professional practices, both as a teacher and as a teacher leader/advocate, my students are empowered. It helps them see the potential we all have to shape the system we are a part of.

Sharing My Practice With Parents

Stephanie Pinkin
Literacy coach at Gravelly Hill Middle School in Efland, N.C.

Over the past couple of years, our school has put a variety of strategies into place to engage parents, increase their involvement, and showcase our teaching practices.

One event that we particularly enjoy sharing with parents and the greater community is American Education Week. During this week, our entire school transforms into an open house. Parents can shadow their children, share lunch, and experience an academic day in their middle schooler’s shoes.

Though parents are welcome to visit on any day of this week, we highlight a different grade level on different days of the week. This allows our teachers to plan specific lessons that highlight their craft and skills as educators. It also helps them plan to engage parents in instruction.

We make sure to promote this event well before the actual week of celebration. Our staff sends an invitation with details about the different events attached to students’ report cards. We also send out automated phone call reminders, and individual teachers add a reminder to their weekly e-mails to parents. As a result of these efforts, American Education Week has become a staple of parent involvement each year.

Through various efforts to bring parents into our school community and build relationships, we’ve realized that parents respond best when their child is enthusiastic about an event. Because of this, some of our most successful events are our student showcases. Our 6th grade hobby fair, the school-wide talent show, and grade-level breakfasts always see high turnout rates from parents. Since students are excited about attending these events, their parents are more likely to tag along.

As teachers, we take pride in these events, as they show off our students’ interests, abilities, and strengths. They’re also an amazing opportunity to share our practice and teaching strategies with parents. But most of all, we relish any opportunity to share the pride we have for students with their parents.

Sharing My Practice With the World

Marcia Powell
Physics, chemistry, technology, and science teacher at West Delaware Community Schools in Manchester, Iowa

One of my favorite parts of teaching is sharing my students’ successes. I use social media and online apps to share my students’ work, give the world a glimpse into my classroom, and connect with parents and other teachers. Here are a few ideas you can try:

Classroom organization: There are a number of ways to establish your online classroom presence and share information with students and parents. Facebook, Pinterest, and Tumblr are popular tools that allow you to post snippets and highlights on a regular basis. Or, you might prefer a private presence on a closed Google site, a Wiggio group, or one of the many Wikis out there. The most important thing is that your site meets the needs of your students and their parents. Since mobile is becoming the most popular platform out there, consider a site that has easy access via an app.

Different types of media: It’s nice to share media beyond the written word. Video is great, but pick short clips rather than 10-minute masterpieces. Photos work, too, but it’s essential to make sure that you’re in accordance with your school’s social media and student photo and video release policies. Take the opportunity to engage parents by posting pertinent quotes with great meaning (instead of term papers).

Hashtag it: In today’s world, if you like it, then you shoulda’ put a hashtag on it. Pick a short, unique identifier so parents can search from their phones. Then, tag your media and content with that hashtag. (When picking one, do a quick search online to see if it’s already in use).

Pick what works best: There are huge numbers of technology tools out there, so choose those that work best for you. Here are a few quick suggestions:

You can also visit go2web20.net for more inspiration, or check out Kathy Schrock’s Bloomin’ Apps, which helps you tailor different apps to support the levels of Bloom’s taxonomy.

The world is waiting to learn more about your students’ ideas, your classroom, and your teaching practices. Want to share what #TeachingIs to you? Click here to learn how you can participate.

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