Our students have returned from Winter Break! I missed their smiling faces and am glad they fill the halls with the joyful noise that we call learning. I have visited all the classrooms and can tell you, these students hit the ground running when they walked in the door! Students were writing about their break, reading in collaborative groups, showing their math skills and acting as though they never took a break. Conduct in the hallways was respectful; lunch and recess were orderly yet allowed for time to catch up with friends. I have to say, I am glad your children are back in school and am excited about the learning environment they are a part of. Welcome Back!
As the beginning weeks of school take place, all over the school I saw collaborative work taking place in many of the classrooms. Students work toward making Essential Agreements for classroom expectations, get to know one another and are getting down to the business of learning. The theme this year is Heritage H.E.R.O.es (Helping Everyone Respect Others). You will here us saying “I Learn: What Is Your Superpower?” Parents, if you are reading this I want you to know that I am AMAZED by the depth of learning I observe every day. Students are learning how to collaborate, communicate, use critical thinking skills and show great creativity in problem-solving in the classroom. Set up a time a come see just how much education has changed in the 21st Century school! We excitedly invite you. This is going to be a great year of learning for all of us.
Through assistance from our school, I recently attended ISTE 2014 Conference in Atlanta, GA, I learned about present technologies for classrooms as well as a glimpsed into what is coming down the line. ISTE is the International Society for Technology in Education. It was so near I felt it important to go to really grow in the area of integrating the tools our students need to be productive citizens in the coming years. I also sat at the feet of many of the leaders who I look up toward as examples of the type of leader I want to be. I met several of my professional learning network (PLN) friends I communicate with on Twitter, like @8Amber8 (Amber Teamann), @gcouros (George Couros), @cybraryman1 (Jerry Blumengarten) & @web20classroom (Steven Anderson). I also made quite a few more connections with like-minded educators. I saw through this conference that there are some applications that are underutilized at school like email, Edmodo, Remind, Google Hangout, Skype & Twitter, while others haven’t even been explored at our school, like 3D Printing, Nearpod, Thinglink, Padlet, and Voxer. Don’t get me wrong: Technology doesn’t replace great teaching, it enhances and in some cases, super-charges great teaching.
The conference was overwhelming, and at times, a daunting task. There were over 18,000 attendees, & over 1,700 vendors. There were more technologies being used by attendees and vendors than you can imagine. Steven Anderson gave me some good advice after asking me to give a shout out to our 4th Grade teacher, Mrs. Carrie Lee. He said, “Don’t attend sessions you know you can find on YouTube or that you agree with. Attend the sessions that stretch you and hang out in the different hangouts like Blogger’s Café to grow your PLN.” This was some of the best advice I received on how to be less overwhelmed. One of the best take-aways from the conference came from George Couros’ presentation on the 10 Myths of Technology. He said, “The biggest shift for educators using technology is not a skill set; it’s a mindset.” It reminds me that we do not need to be masters of all technologies. We need to be open to the technologies that support how we more rigorously, effectively and efficiently teach our students.
I had great conversations with Twitter friends about digital citizenship, how to engage teachers and students in more creativity, collaboration, communication and critical thinking in the classroom, & flipping professional development. There are too many people to mention. some notable new friends are @ curriculumblog (Steven Weber), @PetticrewC (Cathryn Petticrew), @mbfxc (Marialice BFX Curran), @JoAnnJacobs68 (JoAnn Jacobs) , & @padlet (Nitesh Goel). As I strive to be the best leader I can be, I am happy to have these connections to help me grow. Isn’t it wonderful to always find ways to challenge yourself to be better! I am so thankful to have an administration that sees the benefit of different forms of professional development, friends who will not allow me to remain static in my knowledge and colleagues/teachers/students/parents who want to continually be more prepared for the future before us. Enjoy the rest of summer! School will start before we know it.
As we end the year at Heritage Elementary, it is a great time to reflect on the year. The theme of this blog has been construction all year. The truth is: For the life-long learner, we are ALWAYS under construction. As we enter the summer months, I hope each of you take time to pause, reflect and continually grow in knowledge and wisdom.
When one does a search on job skills, skill sets, or looks at what curriculum is embedding for students to learn, a frequent requirement is the ability to reflect on what you do. It is something we all do in our mind but rarely put down on paper. Why? Reflection on past performance can help us and others not repeat the same mistake, improve upon good performance, decide on next steps, and dream about the future.
Reflecting is not easy work. It requires us to be vulnerable enough to put our thoughts on paper—even if no one else will see our reflections in writing. In class, we call this journaling. Even harder is writing a reflection and publishing it on your blog (like I am now!). Tonight a teacher sent me a video of her students singing the National Anthem so I could post it on YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TvDI4wlUAbs). It was easier for me to do that than to reflect on my own struggles with being open to the world of education!
True reflection is always under construction. We may be able to reflect and share early on or it may take a while for us to be comfortable doing so. Just like learning math facts or the mechanics of writing, with practice we get better. As I reflect, this wasn’t nearly as hard as I thought it would be. To growth and strength for the future!
I am glad to update my blog with something to both spur me on to be better and allow those I look up to or value as professional peers to toot their own horn! Shelly Bauer, a special education resource teacher at my school challenged me to do this post. As a professional, she epitomizes what is good and right in education. She teaches to her students strengths and will not allow them to fall behind academically or technologically. In many ways, her students are more tech savvy than their peers…really! Check out her blog: Miss Bauer’s Blog. She mentioned that I inspired here in a small way to teach the way she does so I feel compelled to answer her challenge. Here we go:
HERE ARE THE RULES OF THE CHALLENGE:
- Acknowledge the nominating blogger. Share 11 random facts about yourself.
- Answer the 11 questions the nominating blogger has created for you.
- List 11 bloggers. They should be bloggers you believe deserve a little recognition and a little blogging love! (I chose 7 people who inspire me)
- Post 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate to answer and let all the bloggers know they’ve been nominated. (You cannot nominate the blogger who nominated you).
- This is a challenge but you do not have accept.
Random Facts about Mr. Champlin:
- I enjoy the solitude of walking in the woods where there is no pressure to talk to anyone, which is totally opposite of how I work.
- I am not nomophobic, though I do rely heavily on my phone for work.
- Science fiction and fantasy books and movies are my favorite mindless activities even though they make one really think a lot.
- I plan to sky dive later this year.
- As a child I enjoyed playing competitive football, basketball, soccer, baseball, swim team; enjoyed snorkel/scuba diving and water skiing; learned to snow ski, cross-country ski and multiple martial art forms (7 to be exact).
- I acted in most every production at school and thought this is what everyone does.
- I believe technology is as important to school today as pencils, paper, books and the core subject areas.
- I enjoy yard work, cooking (especially on the grill), reading and listening to music.
- I believe when a person does what they love, regarding family, work and play, their actions are never drudgery. In fact, those things are a passion and done with equal vigor.
- My family came to the new world in 1610. I have relatives on the east and west coasts of this country and many of the states in between. My family fought on both sides of the Revolutionary War and the Civil War. In every generation going back to the 1600’s, someone in my family has served in one of the branches of our military.
- I want to still be backpacking at the age of 100.
My answers to Miss Bauer’s questions:
- When you were young, what did you want to be when you grew up? When I was young, I wanted to be a marine biologist and oceanographer like Jacques Cousteau.
- If you could take your class/teachers through time to visit an important person in history, who would you meet and why? If I could take teachers back in time to meet a historical figure I would introduce them to George Washington. He was not only the father of our nation, he was a person of great character, passion, resourcefulness, ingenuity and vision…just what we need from everyone today.
- Is there one book you are reading or have read recently that you learned much from the content? I recently read Pathways to the Common Core in which Lucy Calkins was one of the editors. I found the book to invigorating. Not only did the authors explain how Common Core State Standards tie all core areas together so students can see how they work together, the book also gives helpful guidelines on how to effectively do it.
- What is one technology tool that you love and think others should use? I think tablets are already a dinosaur like laptops at this point. I think smart devices like smartphones and hybrids of them are realistically what we should be using and instructing students to use. Most families from every demographic have them and we will become more and more dependent on these smart technologies (think Glass by Google & Smart watches by Samsung).
- Tell me about a moment in your educational career that you will never forget. I remember one of three principals who encouraged me to go into administration. I was happy as a school counselor and this principal encouraged me to think about becoming a principal. The more we talked, the more I realized that I could maximize the impact I had on students most through effective administration. Each step I have taken has impacted students’ lives. That principal helped me see the bigger picture of impact through administration. That principal helped me see that I can influence more lives by going down a lonelier but more rewarding path.
- What does a connected educator mean to you? To me, a connected educator shows students how Facebook, Twitter, Google +, Instagram and many other technology tools help them in English, Math, Science and Social Studies. The teacher cannot teach this unless they are using these instruments for their own learning. A connected educator is not just socially connected but connected with purpose. They are involved in professional learning communities online and are the same lifelong learners they want to model for students to become the same. Technology doesn’t take a connected educator away from family, friends and students. A connected educator has richer relationships as a result of their “connectedness”.
- What motivates you to be an educator? I am motivated by the fact that every child I touch through education will make the world richer, more meaningful and worth living not only for me but future generations.
- What is your favorite education quote? The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.--William Arthur Ward, American author
- How were you inspired to enter the education field? When I realized that the people who had the most influence on me were educators, I wanted to touch lives in the same way.
- What is your greatest professional accomplishment? Presenting an all-day workshop at the 2009 American School Counselors Association on School and District Response to Crisis.
- What are you looking forward to this year? I am looking forward to growing as an educator, leader and person in the same way I challenge the teachers and students around me. I truly look forward to each day in the school building.
Te questions I have for those I am inviting to the challenge are:
- What book or magazine are you reading?
- What inspires you?
- Who was the educator that has most impacted your life?
- What motivates you to do what you do?
- What is the best advice you received concerning education technology?
- Where do you hope to be professionally in 6-10 years?
- What is your happiest childhood memory of school?
- What is your happiest memory as a professional educator?
- What advice do you have for peers who are overwhelmed with the current educational environment?
- What is the best book you read to help you professionally?
- What superlative would you give yourself and why?
My PLN Invitations go to:
Brad Moore educationialese.blogspot.com
Latoya Dixon latoyadixon5.blogspot.com
Stephanie Williams stephaniewilliams.blog.greenville.k12.sc.us/
Kelly Smith misssmiths1stgrade.blogspot.com/
Patty Barker talesfroma4thand5thgradeteacher.blogspot.com/
Gresham Brown room241.blog.greenville.k12.sc.us/
Kenny McKee kennycmckee.com/
I am involved in an institute for aspiring leaders in my district. We recently read a book titled, “The Servant” by James C. Hunter. We had a small group discussion and presented our findings to the larger group of participants. Our group presented our findings using Prezi and a Wordle. I will try to add the Wordle later. The book discussed the traits seen in a leader who is a true servant to those he or she leads. I was struck by several ideas in the book and I hope to aspire to these ideals. The servant leader builds relationships on the foundation of trust. Once the leader has built these relationships, the focus of the leader is to ensure the needs of those who he serves are provided; not necessarily their wants, but definitely their needs. Another concept discussed is that love is not how we feel but how we behave. It is intentional in nature. How I treat a person shows love more than how I feel about that person. An example of this is when my child does something that disappoints or angers me. While I may feel anger or sadness, my behavior needs to be intentionally driven to help her make better choices in the future. If my intentions and focus are worthy of other people following, my employees will follow. Servant Leadership is a skill that can be developed with discipline and vision.
Many of the ideals I read about in this book I want to believe I possess. Sadly, I only have to reflect back to behavior last week to know that I fall short of the mark I aspire. Does that make me a bad leader? On the contrary, I think my recognition of growth areas is a good sign. After a particularly difficult week previously, I was short with an employee concerning safety. The issue was valid; my curt response was what I know I could have done better. Will the desired result be achieved? Probably, but not out of a motivation for doing the right thing for the right reason. On another day on a different week I am sure I would have responded more sensitively and compassionately. That is my goal. How will I accomplish this? By loving those I lead enough to ensure they have their needs met and by providing a clear vision of what I expect all of us to accomplish for the sake of our students.
While the story in the book is a work of fiction, the concepts of the book are timeless and translate to business, education and even the military. If you haven’t read the book yet, it is a good read. Just be prepared to have many thoughts on what you think leadership is to be challenged. It is a great companion to the book, “Good to Great” by Jim Collins. I am growing daily and invite you on this journey.
No truer words are there than the title of this post. The title includes those at the elementary level, where the foundation of future learning takes place. At the secondary level, students build on the foundation of elementary school by continuing to apply real-world application to what is learned. In the post-secondary world, whether by college or trade, all these skills are put to daily application. Which leads me to the purpose of my babbling: Even after post-secondary learning, life-long learning takes place through furthering one’s education. Teachers regularly attend conferences and workshops to hone their skills so they can prepare your children for the world they are very soon going to become a contributing participant. In fact, your child already is a contributor. Below are three pictures. I will explain what they mean next.
What is in a title? In the case of edcamp South Carolina, professional development at a whole new level. Called by many the “unconference”, it is a gathering of student teachers, teachers, administrators, college professors, and people concerned about the future of education. The reason it is called an unconference is that there is now set program offering until the day of the conference, where it is decided by the participants. In short, we learn about the topics that are most important to us.
In this conference, old friendships are further cemented, news friendships are made, & learning for the attendees takes place. We then bring the knowledge back and share it with our colleagues and use it to teach our students with new enthusiasm! (Fellow learners from Twitter : @cbeyerle @Edu_Thompson @TrippsGOL @GChamplinAP (Me) & @Lynchteaches taking the picture.)
OK, why the name tag you are asking? First it has three titles: My name, an individual who wants to learn how to be a better teacher, administrator and learner; the title of the conference, a place where people go to learn; a date, a fixed point in time (a Saturday to be specific) when people gather to learn how to better teach our students; I have not mentioned one of the most important pieces of information until now purposely, THE CONFERENCE IS FREE. It did not cost the school, district or me or anyone else to attend! The little subtitle at the bottom says, “Innovation Happens Here”. What an understatement! I learned a lot at this conference. I attended one workshop on engaging parents in school, another on making professional development meaningful and parts of two others on using Edmodo, using Weebly and other blog sites, and how to address issues when students have no technology devices at home. There were no speakers for these workshops. They were opened by one person but we ALL were the teachers, learners, experts and novices. We all contributed and collaborated in our own unique wayLastly, the name tag is simple, clean and functional on the front. The back is sticky…I mean crazy sticky, like the corners never curled and stuck the entire conference sticky. That about sums up edcamp South Carolina. A simple functional conference that provided practical information that can be used on the next day of school. The type of information that sticks, REALLY sticks. As an after though (not really!), Eric Sheninger @NMHS_Principal , a nationally known Twitter person, principal & visible personality on TV and magazines recently was the keynote speaker via Skype!
How does this apply to school in general and Heritage Elementary specifically? First, we are all learners and always under construction. Second, we will always strive to help your children learn the best they can with the best tools we can find. Third, what I witness daily at school is master smiths constructing lessons to build strong foundations in your children. This week was no different than last week. Ms. Hester and I have the privilege of witnessing the best constructive growth in student learning each day in classes all over the building. We are a small-town school giving your children a world-class education.
As I did walkthroughs this week, I was amazed by the learning taking place in each classroom. Every class was engaging, yet each class was so different. Ms. A’s class was engaged in movement to help students learn A, B, C’s. Ms. B’s class was using TumbleBooks as part of their reading on the Promethean Board. Ms. C’s class was writing descriptive sentences of their summer. These are just examples of early grade classes engaging in learning! Our IB value word for the week was enthusiasm. Boy, did I see it in these classrooms.
Our children take their cues from us when they learn, whether at home or in school. When they see us excited and enthusiastic about learning, they get excited! The converse is also true. If children do not see us either as excited about learning or seeing no benefit from school, they adopt that view as well. Fortunately, I can speak for the teachers. Their excitement showed from 8 AM until 3 PM. If the parking lot is any indicator, many teachers were still enthusiastic about what they want to teach your children at 5:30 in the afternoon. Many teachers’ cars were still at school at that time.
The teachers are constructing lessons to help you child learn daily how the information they learn applies to the world around them. This takes a lot of work! Parents can reinforce this lesson by talking out loud when they shop for groceries, get gasoline or go to the concession stand at the ball game. By talking about the cost of groceries, about how your parents did this when you were a child let your children see the connection of history, finance and science associated with everyday decisions. We are a hometown school giving our children a world-class education. It is not the teacher’s responsibility to do the teaching alone. Neither is it the parent’s responsibility alone. It is all of us working together to help our children become world-class citizens. Thank you for allowing us to do a small part of constructing the future leaders of tomorrow at Heritage Elementary in Travelers Rest, SC.
Expect to see pictures of the learning taking place on Instagram ( gchamplinap), Twitter (@GChamplinAP) and this blog during the school year. Thank you for entrusting your most precious possession to our world-class staff. Together, we will prepare our children for the 21st Century and beyond.
We ended our 2012-13 year under construction. We begin 2013-2014 school year under a different type of construction. It is construction that will never end for your child as the landscape of education is ever-changing. We recognize the elementary years of school as foundational to a lifelong love for learning. Our teachers and staff attended training during the summer to prepare themselves and your children for a constructive and engaging year of learning. The food service staff attended training to prepare rich, tasty and healthy food for your child in the Heritage Culinary Café. The custodial staff attended summer training to better serve the needs of everyone on campus, both inside and outside the school. Several teachers and our principal attended IB training over the summer to increase academic rigor and help your child become a world-class learner and citizen.
As our theme implies, we are under construction to be the best learners possible. Just as roadways are constantly under construction to provide safe passage along the way, so too is your child’s education always in progress. The more we grow and learn together, the better our world will be as we continue constructing our future. Parents, students and teachers: Lets Get Building!