Category Archives: professionalism

Teachers are Paid too much, right??

So as we speak, the Governor has called a special session to require legislators in Oklahoma to fix the budget that is more messed up due to the Cigarette tax debacle.  https://www.sanditepride.com/local-news/170922-legislature

So one of the items on their agenda is a teacher pay raise.. and I definitely agree .. that it is long overdue. As we have fallen quickly to last in the nation for teacher pay, and far below our region, we needed to act on this years ago..

However, one of the arguments is that teachers are paid too much.  they only work 8 to 3 and they have the summers off..

Seriously?  Then they must not know teachers…

So let me show you what I see right now in my @OUeducation College of Education. There are about 50 teachers in our building today who have already spent 5 days in summer and many who have

driven 3 hours or more to learn about teaching coding using the Code.org curriculum. They will meet one weekend every quarter for the rest of the year to continue their learning.  They are not being reimbursed, but they are are here because they care about the future of Oklahoma and want to learn more to be better teachers.

This is not the exception to the rule, this is what teachers do, they do professional development, often on their own dime to make themselves better teachers and advance our state forward. 

Our lunch conversation was not idle chitchat, it was how can we move our state forward and keep us from falling behind.  These educators are concerned and working hard to do whatever they can do to make it a reality at least in their own classroom or school.

So let me say, if that is the conversation that teachers are having when they give up their weekend to learn more to advance our state,  I better be hearing the same kind of conversations by our  Oklahoma legislators. What decisions do we need to make now to advance our state and keep us from falling behind further??!!

Legislators, if you are unsure what are some things we can do, then go to a local school and ask a teacher. They work every day to ensure Oklahoma’s future – no matter their politics. And they deserve to be paid appropriately since they are future of Oklahoma.  

Twitter and the Power of Connectedness

Today I had a great coffee and breakfast with someone who should be a total stranger to me in Georgetown in Washington DC.

Today I got to meet Tammi Gaw in person, a person who I regularly interact with on Twitter but I have never met before.

Such is the power of social media – that beyond dodging the person you hated from high school, you can meet really new amazing people.

So she was trying to trace it back to how she followed me on Twitter and it was fascinating.   She heard that OU, (her undergrad alma mater – but she has a masters in sports medicine and a law degree) – had opened a campus in Italy and she was looking into it. I had a group of students there in 2016 and was tweeting up a storm so she started following me.   I noticed that she had progressive ideas and liked what she posted.

In fall of 2016, when I started to fall in love with the idea of the Wayfinding Academy – she responded that she knew about it from the World Domination Summit (WDS).    We exchanged some ideas about education and she supported my Cap and Gown challenge to raise money for Wayfinding.

So at our 2 hour breakfast with some amazing avocado toast – I found what I had surmised by her twitter profile to be very true.  Tammi is super crazy intelligent and really making it happen with diverse interests and backgrounds.   She is a feminist and a realist and really cares about the state our country and the future of both sports and higher education.

Tammi is not someone I would have met from anywhere but Twitter and having people like her in my professional learning network is super important for my professional development and to make sure what  I am teaching at the university is relevant and timely.   Not to mention, I would totally put Tammi in that kind of networked friend who would tell you like it is.. which we all need in our personal and professional networks.

So here is my challenge to you today… are you on twitter? Is there a person that you follow that you like what they say? You like what they post? You feel like their tweets have influenced your thinking and helped you grow?  Reach out them to them and let them know today.   Send them a DM and let them know, their presence on your feed makes a difference and makes you think.

In this crazy time in the US, it is important to both surround ourselves with people that are intelligent and that cause us to think.  It is important to respect and raise up other people with hustle, it is only through community – both virtual and face to face that we will continue to advance and innovate.

Reach out today maybe you will be lucky enough to meet over Avocado toast and have a nice morning somewhere in the world.

 

 

Paying the Price – What is the role of Professors in College Costs

I was a bad Book club member ..(I should have looked at my schedule more..) but I wanted to share some ideas about the Book Paying the Price by Sara Goldrick Rab (I also saw her speak on campus).

Higher Education has me really worried.. I feel as though much of the angst that is upheaving our politics and communities is because we are making college the difference between the Have’s and the Have Not’s.

When I went to college – I remember it was a big deal that they raised our tuition to $52 a credit hour at Northwest Missouri State University – (from like 45 the year before) Here it is today.. (we did not have the fees like we do today)

If you look at this link http://www.collegesimply.com/colleges/missouri/northwest-missouri-state-university/price/ (which has face validity)

So in 1992 – it was 1,680 and now it is  6,770 (tuition and fees)

In all honesty, in 1992, my father (who made too much for me to qualify for financial aid) gave me a 20K promise for college – told me that if I had money left – It was mine.. I made it on that money, while being an RA and working as a custodian, tutor, house sitter, upward bound math and science assistant and earning scholarships until my student teaching semester (when I got pneumonia and it all fell apart)  I took out a loan from him for my final semester and paid it back.

I am not telling this story to say that I was privileged (but I know that I was) but to put in real perspective. Now the estimate for Northwest Missouri State University is basically 16K a year (on the books – actually cost is likely higher -see the book) .  I could have easily blown my whole funding a year now and it was generous support (I mean parents don’t have to pay for college and that was a quite a nice car in 1992)

So what does this mean for our students – college is out of reach for many of our students – the cost is prohibitive and their aid does not reach their need.

From the same Website:  Average cost is 15, 651 with age average of 7,769 – DOES NOT Compute.

Sara Goldrick Rab’s book goes into more individual stories but here are my first thoughts (for now)

  1. Student aid does not make it affordable for students to attend college – especially if they have need.
  2. Middle class students – especially those whose parents claim them but don’t support are totally skewered.
  3. There are hungry students on our campus (every campus) – and if we have rate of 22% free lunch in Oklahoma – once they graduate high school – where do all those kids go.. (hint: some go to college)
  4. A lot of retention – is focused on first year students – but I do think that we should focus on later year students more (they run out of money and beginning scholarships) and also graduate students – it is no longer the fun poor I remember.. (okay there is really no fun poor) 
  5. Financial stresses are one of the biggest stresses on students and keep them from finishing. If they quit before finishing they have the debt but no degree and are even more at a disadvantage.

So from these – here are my takeaways and action steps for professors.. 

  1. As professors we need to read books like this one, and others and we need to be aware of the financial issues facing our students.  We need to talk to them and we have a responsibility to understand what college costs for them.
  2.  Advocate for students – As OU is facing another budget cut after a 16% State cut last year, it’s  tough – lots of things getting cut -but honestly we are advocates for our students and we need to better understand their experience.   And we need to help them find resources (like the new OU foodbank)
    1. As advocates here are some things we can do:
      • listen – hear them – take real time to listen to their stories and their struggles.
      • Connect with resources – there are services through the provost office and the retention team to help students be successful.
      • Encourage students to apply for scholarships and assist our development people in raising money for scholarships.  Write letters of recommendation with a smile! 🙂
      • Consider students when writing grants and applying for funding. Could we create more student jobs both Grad and Undergrad – The Office of Undergraduate research and CRPDE could offer some ideas.
      • Think about our course materials in light of the bigger picture.  Can we use cheaper or Open Educational Resources to reduce student costs (most students don’t buy the expensive books anyway)  The OU Libraries will help.  http://guides.ou.edu/oer
      • Participate in your campus conversations about fees and try to use fees to greater benefit of the students if they exist.  (I have changed a class from Blended to weekend to reduce fees for students – each online class has a $40 per credit hour fee, and $20 for blended). If you are offering in these formats – ask yourself the questions – why?  Key skills? Online learning experience? Student needs? or my Convenience?

Those are my initial thoughts.. (I have more) but I challenge other faculty to advocate for our students.

Consider reading Paying the Price by Sara Goldrick Rab or College Unbound by Jeff Selingo they are good places to start.

I was reminded this week about first generation students.. (those students whose parents did not go to college). They often ask questions – but not the right ones.  I remember dinner conversation from my Dad about his stories about college – so I was at a distinct advantage to know what to ask.   As professors, we can help this situation by being informed and involved, helping our students to ask the right questions, and advocating for them when we can.  

 

 

Blending Leadership – My reaction

So I always try to read something to get me thinking over spring break..  (I was not good about blogging last year but I read Most Likely To Succeed by Tony Wagner and College Unbound by Selingo – books I suggest to everyone)

So this spring break I read Blending Leadership by Reshan Richards and Stephen J. Valentine.

First, I should say that I know Reshan through Apple Distinguished Educators – we have worked on a few projects at the same time but don’t know each other very well.  He is well known for his company Explain Everything but I will say by reading this book, I have definitely developed a great respect for him, his blended perspective (industry, K-12 and higher education). 

He was talking about this book in Summer 2017 at ADE Institute and I bought it online but never read it but picked it up as my spring break book. I am really glad I did. 

The overall premise of the book.. is that modern leadership requires us to think about leading in both the face to face and virtual world and that acts of servant leadership exist in online too.   I took notes as  I read the book, so it may seem kind of stream of consciousness but let me share some big ideas.

Truly Blended Scholarship

What struck me first about this book was truly the blended leadership and blended information seeking that is both spoken about in the book and practiced in it. In a higher education position being active on Twitter and interacting with blogs is not rewarded valued and questioned from any of the reasons that are discussed in the book (no peer review, no editing). 

However this is how I learned much of what I do, and my Professional Learning Community is in Blogs and Twitter So I was really excited when I saw that kind of reading combined with the reading that I do and the people that I know including Anne Ottenbreit Leftwich, Peggy Ertmer and wCharles Graham, people that I know professionally or went to grad school with.  These are well respected educational technologists and the authors of this book did a great job of weaving peer reviewed research articles with writings from business, and even blog posts. (I personally loved that they talked about the Agile Manifesto as I got my SCRUM certification this summer)   This book is very appropriate for someone who’s a professor in Education who is also engaging in the PLN that teachers are.  In fact I am going to encourage some of our educational readers to read this book to think about their role in both face to face and online spaces as leaders. This book is great and perhaps necessary read as we rethink scholarship and its value in academia.. This book provides a good example that someone can be engaging in reading peer reviewed scholarship but can also be informed by blogs. Which I personally feel are growing in importance as I have had “albatross” articles that have taken years to publish while their findings leak relevancy as each month passes by.

Practice what you Preach –

There was a lot in this book about the behaviors and habits of effective leaders in the digital age.   Some of the better ones included:

Be open in your communication and share your personal networks when it matches shared interest.. (Ie.. Don’t tweet a bunch of stuff on High School calculus to your network if it is all kindergarten teachers – but totally cool to talk about human development as it affects all ages.. (My example)

Be open with your tech use and share your experiences and be a participant leader working collaboratively with your team. (ie.. practice what you teach)

Consider taking care of digital spaces as servant leadership – ie.. if you would not let trash sit in a hallway, why would you let a Google Doc become unwieldy with comments and strikethroughs.

On being a flexible leader and tech user

Don’t get caught up on the tools for one purpose – remain flexible and know that the tool you love today could be gone tomorrow.    Use the tools, but we willing to pivot if something better comes along or it not longer meets your needs.

I totally love how they deal with SAMR – it drives me nutty that people use it as a ranking for teachers, when it was not intended to be that way..  I always think about it as varied stimulus. We all had teachers who used worksheets all the time, and never let you create something, and another teacher who was all into creation, that you never got through content.   There is a balance, where scaffolded learning helps learners learn both facts but also apply them and create with them.

Overall Takeaways

A blended leader is open and flexible and pays attention to the people they work with and allow them opportunities to grow and lead. They maintain online spaces to free people up to be creative and productive.

They also unplug when needed – being online is a choice and people are still key to the process.

Blended leaders choose the use of technology when it serves them well and are intentional to promote their organizations and their organization’s mission.  I really loved how they talked about companies that we love for their clear communication of their mission and how they asked – why aren’t schools doing more of that?  There are some really good ideas how every teacher or faculty member can participate in this mission.(which is a growing shadow work required of faculty in these rough budget times)

(on a related note: I LOVED reading this as a purchase from the IBooks Store.. I was able to highlight and transfer my highlights to Notes easily which made writing this blog post easy (even when I was on a plane or without network connectivity)  I only wish my highlighted sections could be more easily shown as complete – but I love that it will align them to printed page numbers.

Also I read this book in about 5 hours – in two sittings – a quick read and very useful.

Check out this book on the iBooks Store: https://itun.es/us/D6epdb.l

 

 

 

 

 

Being Politically Active on Twitter

So this last few weeks, I have very politically active on Twitter.  and well, I am actually not going to apologize.

I think there are some serious things going down and we should use networks, especially as professors,  to educate and inform.

I really hope our legislators listen to their constituents because much damage is being done.  I elect an official to represent my community and our ideas not those of the party or personally held.  And even if I did not elect them – I respect their office and know that they were elected to represent ME.  As a citizen, who believes in democracy, I will participate. It is my responsibility to democracy..

I hope we can engage in a dialogue but if you don’t agree with my perspective and are not open to dialoguing, I completely understand and encourage you to unfollow.

I own my tweets and take full responsibility for anything I say, even as if I were yelling it from a bull horn.

Assessment to Create Innovators or even Innovative Professors?

Again, I am responding to my student responses on Creating Innovators: (its kind of stream of consciousness but reading these books always gets me trying to make connections)

The first thing that strikes me about this book is that some of the politics that are going on with schools and even in the country are a question of innovation.   Is our education system about tests? or is our education system about creating opportunities for students to be innovative and finding new ways to assess them?   Should our assessments be about growth or benchmarks?  Should one assessment lead into the next project?

In the end, I found a lot of my individual comments to student responses being about assessment – because in the end that is the issue. If we allow students to define their own problems, what is the assessment? How can we show that they learned?  How do we avoid falling into that trap where everyone gets the “college of ed” clap because they met the minimum requirements. How do we drive students to go beyond where they are comfortable?
I would say that we need to look at assessment in new ways.  Is there such a thing as a participatory assessment? Yes, there are books written on them, but in practice there are not good guidelines.   They are very prevalent in business.  We ask people all the time to assess themselves, often in business before a raise or an annual evaluation, we ask people to do a self -assessment.   However, this activity has to be really scaffolded.

Looking at Assessment through my own Assessment as a Professor

Let me share an illustrative from my life as a professor.   We are currently doing faculty reviews, and I can talk about my own self assessment – instead of it being a truthful reflective goal setting experience, I will admit that mine is a whiny, justification, excuse riddled piece of work.. (My evals were not as a high as I would like because I was teaching too many classes.. etc.. )  However, in our own faculty reviews, we are not rewarded for honest reflection, and our responses are not reviewed from year to year.   And they should be. The assessment is structured to be an one time measure, and they don’t lead to any feedback on future projects and are not part of a holistic review.  Part of the reason, is  the prompt is backward facing and it is not guiding me to set new goals, celebrate successes and failures and talk about how I will become better in the coming year(s).  It is also focused on the professor as an individual not a community member and does not require 21st century staples to be highlighted such as collaboration, mentorship, empathy, celebrating failure.

So our current prompt is:

In light of the information provided in this annual report, please assess your contributions in the three areas of professorial responsibility. Include any factors or information Committee A should consider as it reviews your work in research, service, and teaching.

It is just screaming out for me to make a whiny justification – the prompt is incorrectly scaffolded.. 

What is we had a prompt like this instead: (3 parts for the 3 parts of my job – scholarship, teaching and service)

Given your last year as reported in this document,  where do you see your career going in the next year or 5 years?  Where are finishing projects and where are you laying groundwork for future work… (ie.. what are excited to be learning about and want to spend more on next year).  Where do you plan to spend your scholarly time in the next year? 

As a teacher,  how are you committed to students in formal and informal ways and where would you like to see to our students be in 1 year or 5 years. What are you doing or plan to do to help make that dream a reality? 

As a citizen, how are you contributing to our community?  How are you supporting others, their interests, and working to create a working and learning environment that will continue to grow, flourish and support its learners and fellow faculty and staff? 

Then I will be revolutionary – besides those awful evals with the bubble sheets – when do we ask students to evaluate us?  What if we triangulated (Yeah, I know using my own professional tools to assess myself) and shared my personal statement about my commitment to students with some…  … wait for it…   STUDENTS ..  Check to see if what I think I am doing, is perceived that way, and find out if students feel supported and mentored.. (Yep Participatory assessment)..

Now those of you that have ever touched a faculty review, then thinks.. are you kidding?  Do you know long those things take? Maybe the question is not do crappy reviews yearly, but meaningful, deep reviews every 3 years.  Faculty could be on a cycle (like post tenure reviews) where they do it every few years and prompts like this scaffold goal setting, reflection on their goals and the mission of the institution, and job satisfaction.

So hopefully from this example, you can see how scaffolding makes all the difference – so in the end good assessment comes back to the prompts and how we get students (or faculty) to think about the work they did.

Why scaffolded reflective assessment matters

I realize I got a little off my topic talking about faculty reviews, but honestly, don’t we want our faculty to grow as much as we want our students to. People engaged in meaningful work, are great colleagues, and raise the organization to new levels.

Now think about this – how could we frame questions for students to get them to be forward looking, self reflective, and use the assessment on one project to set their goals for the next one – what would that look like?  And how could we get community feedback on projects and make it participatory assessment?

My post show that good assessment is as important for the teachers/faculty as it is for the students – and in the end innovators are not inventors – instead they are people who are using creativity and critical thinking to engage in their environment every day.   This kind of thinking drives them forward and makes them better.