EDWORDS: Latest Blog Posts

  • Professional development done better

    Here’s a confession, I’ve been responsible for some pretty horrible professional development (PD).  When I think about the faculty meetings I ran when I was a new principal, I am embarrassed.  Often, my faculty meetings were the Don Gately Show.  I like to think it's a pretty good show (my wife’s not complaining).   I tried to sprinkle in the occasional joke or amusing anecdote, but my approach was deeply flawed.  Teachers had little choice in participating; they we ...

    by Donald Gately
    Tuesday, 27 September 2016
  • river rafting

    Know Your "No Compromise"

    My first white-water rafting adventure was a first for many of us on the raft. In an effort to bond and build team with the church youth group, a number of adults and college-age students chaperoned a trip of high school students to brave the cold waters of the Cheat River in West Virginia. The very first weekends in March promise the best waters melting from the mountain tops, which also create an unpredictable path and experience for us. At one certain point, the guide cautioned us of an up ...

    by Neil Gupta | @drneilgupta
    Monday, 26 September 2016
  • Trying to Encourage a Preschooler's Writing Skills? Stop Doing What You've Been Doing!

    Two weeks ago, I visited one of my student teachers in a room of young three’s. I noticed one of the activities on a table was tracing their printed names on strips of paper with pencils. During most of my hour there, I also noticed that only two of the thirteen children chose this activity, despite one of the teachers manning the table and repeatedly asking who wanted to join in this “fun activity.” The two children who did come over showed considerable awkwardness getting control over the u ...

    by Debra Pierce | easycda
    Friday, 23 September 2016
  • Jumping in leaves

    Making the Case for Outdoor Play

    Last year I was doing site visits, having been hired to observe PreK to second-grade classrooms and offer suggestions for more active learning. On two different occasions I walked into a room just as the class was scheduled to go outside to recess. But the teachers didn’t feel like going outside – so the kids wandered aimlessly about the classroom throughout the 20-minute period allotted to recess. The teachers apparently considered this “indoor recess” acceptable, but I did not – for many, m ...

    by Rae Pica | @raepica1
    Thursday, 22 September 2016
  • Nordstrom-Charlatans.jpg

    The Nordstrom Charlatans

      Honey, I know exactly what they are going do. They will start off by telling you how beautiful you are. Next, they will apply all sorts of creams, potions and lotions on your face and convince you that you must buy them. Eventually we will walk away spending over a hundred dollars on stuff that you really didn't need.   Truth be told, this is merely the image I had in my mind of what happens when women, or in this case, my ten year old daughter asks for advice from the folks ...

    by Jon Harper / @Jonharper70bd
    Saturday, 17 September 2016
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Posted by on in Professional Development

Does your doctor use leeches? Does your dentist use doorknobs and string? Of course not. If we want medical professionals using contemporary practices, shouldn't we expect the same from other professions, especially teachers? The best way to stay current is to be a connected educator. Being a connected educator means using social media to improve your practice and help other teachers improve theirs. Here's how to do it.

First and Foremost - Twitter

Twitter is the main event for connected educators. It's where we live. It can be overwhelming. Start small and start learning from others. Create your account. When choosing a handle, your name is best. If you can't get that, pick something simple and avoid numbers - they're out of style in Twitter handles. Use a picture of your face and write a bio that includes what you do. Profiles with Twitter eggs for pictures and no bios are not taken seriously. Start off by following a few education Tweeters to start learning.

EdWords bloggers who tweet include Ross Cooper, Oskar Cymerman, Neil Gupta, Jon Harper, Rae Pica, Debra Pierce, Sean A Thom, Julia G Thompson, and Rita Wirtz.

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Posted by on in Social Emotional Learning


I recently started reading the book Playful Parenting by Dr. Lawrence J. Cohen, a psychologist from Massachusetts. In his book, the author talks about teaching rather than punishing our kids. He claims, and I must admit that it makes a lot of sense to me, that we can best achieve that through "Playful Parenting."

Playful parenting is a practice through which parents can help handle strong emotions kids and they themselves experience. It emphasizes "joining children in their world, focusing on connection and confidence, giggling and roughhousing, and reversing roles and following your child's lead." And, perhaps most importantly, it can help you learn to reconsider your paradigms involving discipline and punishment.

Why not adopt such philosophy in our classrooms?

Join Students and Connect with Them

Find it in your heart to give yourself permission to make frequent excursions into your student’s world. You’ve been there before. Those brain neurons are still there, hidden underneath the “I’m an adult now” ones. Time to recall them to action. You’ll be glad you did.

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Posted by on in Social Emotional Learning

My commute home from work is always rough. On a good day, it takes about an hour. On a bad day, it can take considerably longer. Unfortunately for me, today was a bad day. It seemed like every time I looked there was a car cutting me off, an individual barely driving the speed limit in the passing lane, a slowdown of traffic for no reason, or a driver fiddling with their cell phone when attention should have been on the road. Like any normal person, I experienced some frustration, yelled a few things, and forgot about it a few seconds later.

Before I returned home, I had to make a stop at my local PetSmart. See, we have two dogs, an 85 pound Rottweiler-Labrador mix and a 65 pound red nose Pit bull. Big dogs mean big appetites, which means I find myself at this store once every few weeks. When you are a frequent flyer as we are, you see a lot of the same people working and it's natural to recognize each other. Today was no different and the young woman who rang me up was someone who I have seen often. Our interactions are typically very similar, but today she said something that stopped me in my tracks.

Before she started scanning my items, she began to ask me for my phone number for their PetPerks program. As she was asking this, I greeted her and asked her how she was doing today. As we were talking at the same time, she stopped and looked up at me. She saw me smiling at her, she smiled back and asked me, "Are you always happy?" I looked at her for a second, caught completely off-guard, and responded with a simple yes. I explained that life is too short to not be happy and that even when things stink, we can make them better with how we approach and view the situation. She agreed with me and we chatted a little more about the topic while I paid for my items.

Luckily for her, she didn't see me less than an hour before sitting in traffic dealing with people who I repeatedly questioned aloud if they knew how to drive, were trying to kill someone, or if they wanted driving lessons. I'm human, I get frustrated in traffic like most people. There are plenty of things in this world that annoy and irritate me. If you knew me a few years ago, you would be surprised at how I would have handled those situations. I can guarantee you that nobody would ask me if I were always happy. I probably would have carried that irritation from the drive throughout my commute and into the store with me. So what changed?

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Posted by on in Leadership

I love football season!  Although I grow in my excitement for college football every year, there's nothing like feeling the energy at a high school on a Friday in the fall!

As a first year building administrator years ago, I was especially excited to interact with the football players in the hallways on a Football Friday!  There's nothing more classy than football players dressed up in button-down shirts and ties walking the hallways showing their pride for their school and team!

During one of the class changes, I was standing with other administrators and teachers talking about the upcoming game in the hallway.  As a group of well-dressed football players walked towards us, I saw one of our offensive guards, Steve, in the group.  I had Steve in math class the year before when I was a teacher.  While he struggled academically, his desire and determination to learn was matched equally to his stellar performance on the field.  As the group of players approached us, many of them were laughing and thanking the students and teachers wishing them good luck for tonight's game.  But, Steve was focused and carried a stone-cold look in his eyes similar to face I saw inside a helmet under the lights.

As he got closer to us, I remembered that I had just seen him in science class just yesterday while visiting classrooms.  I remembered it vividly because they were studying for a big test - which happened to be this very period.

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Posted by on in Early Childhood

circle time

“Heather, I think this is the first time that I’ve encountered a center that doesn’t request children to ‘sit’ when in group. I understand the philosophy, but children also need to learn that by sitting while in a large group, others are given a better ability to see what is going on. I’ll have to ponder on this one a bit.”

This is feedback I received after singing the praises of a PreK teacher (4 and 5 year olds) who allowed children who were not engaged in group time to leave the group and work on their own. This is not the first time I have heard the argument that if children are allowed to choose not to participate in group time in their child care setting or preschool, they will never be able to sit when an elementary school teacher expects it of them.

I wonder how this person would have responded if I had said that I appreciated that infants who are not yet ready to walk are allowed to sit, crawl, creep and cruise instead. 

Of course, that seems perfectly rational. But couldn’t an argument be made that we want children to be able to walk when they go to kindergarten? Aren’t we cheating them by not forcing that walking?

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