Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Dr. Will Show - Personalized Learning with Jessica Raleigh

Jessica is a Personalized Professional Learning Program Manager who has taught in a variety of urban and suburban settings at STEM, highly gifted and talented, and arts-integrated schools. Her classrooms have ranged from limited to no technology up to 1:1 and BYOD GAFE environments utilizing a number of different platforms and devices. She currently facilitates professional development at the school, district, and state levels and is passionate about creating and encouraging experiences that meet the needs of all learners through the use of virtual and face to face opportunities. Jessica is an advocate for reflective practices, personalized learning, and student-centered approaches that empower learners of all ages with the tools they need to succeed and take ownership of their journey.

An avid teacher at heart, Jessica loves helping others find their Passionate PLN & get connected to the people and resources that will support their learning. Helping to organize the #BFC530 Twitter chat is one of her favorite ways to do just that!

How you can connect with Jessica:

Twitter: @TyrnaD

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Capturing the Extraordinary Capella University Experience

Guest blog post by Nathalie P. Jones, PhD, MSW - Assistant Professor Social Work Department Tarleton State University

While reflecting on my journey at Capella University one word comes to mind, “Extraordinary.” This word comes to mind because the experiences were beyond usual and or comfortable for me. During my doctoral journey I learned many lessons about myself. For instance, I am extremely passionate about education, resilient, and unwilling to give up. One of the many lessons learned at Capella University consisted of self-aware awareness.

Some may wonder how self-awareness contributes to personal and professional development. As a profession in the field of Human Services, it is imperative to be self-aware. On a day to day basis, human service workers are expected to serve vulnerable populations. Therefore, being in tune with oneself, assists with providing effective services and prompting positive change.

My experiences at Capella University consisted of establishing healthy relationships with faculty and classmates. Initially, the relationships were established through the online courserooms. However, relationships were nurtured during the yearly colloqium requirements. During track 1, I learned the importance of networking and connecting to goal-oriented individuals. The connections established during track 1 are the individuals that are on speed dial in my cell phone currently..  

The courseroom introduced human service learners to meticulous approach to advocacy, networking and research skills. My specialization is in social and community services whereas all courses assisted with professional development. There were times during the doctoral journey that I was affected by exhaustion and loneliness. Those feelings were short lived because I had the opportunity to reach out to classmates located in various regions of the world, who provided amazing support.

Currently, I am working in higher education as an Assistant Professor at Tarleton State University in the Social Work Department. This position provides me the opportunity to educate, empowerment and to encourage future social workers. Through the social and community electives, I gained skills that provided awareness on social inequalities and community resources. I credit myself to serving as a mentor to learners, largely because of the amazing mentors that were gained while attending Capella University. Not only did I learn additional professional skills that prepared me to serve as a faculty advisor and research mentor.  But, personally I have gained forever friends that I can call on upon to keep me accountable in any area of my life.  The Capella University experience was extraordinary as I became self-aware, established healthy relationships, and obtained professional skills that have afforded me the opportunity to be labeled as an Engaged Scholar for the College of Liberal and Fine Arts.

About the Author: Dr. Nathalie P. Jones is an Assistant Professor in the Social Work Department at Tarleton State University. She facilitates courses such as Human Behavior, Policy, Research of Social Work methods, Practice I & II, Service Learning & Cultural Diversity. Dr. Jones’s research interest include: Healthy Aging, Scholarship of Teaching & Learning with Social Media & Mentoring & Professional Development of women. Dr. Jones has worked in the field of human and social services for over fifteen years. Her professional experiences have included: Advocating for seniors, providing grief and bereavement counseling, investigations, reunifying families, life skills for adolescents, mentoring, and substance abuse counseling for both adults and adolescents. 

Dr. Jones is a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc, the founder of Working Women United, Inc which provides empowerment services to women and girls. Also, she is the founder of Passion for Life which provides a platform to discuss the importance of healthy relationships.  She is also a member of the Tarrant County Disporportionality & Disparities committee. 

She is the campus advisor of the Sigma Omicron Chapter of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority. The advisor of the Student Social Work Association (SSWA-SW) of Tarleton State University​. She is an advisory board member of BOLD, organization of undergraduate young ladies and a coordinator of the Diverse Faculty group at Tarleton State University. Finally, Dr. Jones serves on the commencement committee, is the Practice Chair for the social work program and selected as an Engaged Scholar for the College of Liberal and Fine Arts at Tarleton State University.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Friday, December 19, 2014

What Do You Want?: An Invitation to Consider Professional Coaching

Guest Post by Sherri Spelic

One of the conundrums of being a coach and describing my work is that the process and its benefits which are entirely clear to me can seem mysterious and potentially dubious to newcomers. The statement “I am a leadership coach” may land on many people rather oddly. “Leadership coach? What does that mean?” Confusion, skepticism, or doubt may arise along with genuine curiosity and interest – all options are possible. Putting myself in my inquirer’s shoes, I can begin to imagine where the confusion may have its sources. Professional coaching has many areas of specialization (i.e., leadership, executive, financial) and here I will use the term “professional coaching” to encompass all of those.
In professional coaching, client and coach form a partnership of choice and are considered peers with differentiated areas of expertise. The client is the expert on his life and experiences and the coach offers process expertise in assisting the client in “forwarding his agenda.”  At its core, the coach-client relationship revolves around a single question: What does the client want? While many other questions may arise in the process of responding to that central question, it is critical to the integrity of the relationship and an ethical understanding of professional coaching that this question forms the basis of the client’s agenda at all stages of the process.
As a partner in this endeavor, the client brings his or her desires and goals to the process and must also demonstrate a reasonable degree of intentionality– a willingness to engage in the necessary inquiry, learning, experimentation and action to move forward with ideas and plans. The client must both want forward movement and take the steps to enact it.  The coach creates a safe, non-judgmental space for the client to express and examine her desires by listening deeply – to what is said, as well as to what is not said. Consistently taking a learner’s stance, the coach expresses interest and curiosity while also providing direct feedback to the client in the form of observations. As an observer, listener, supporter and challenger, the coach offers each client a palpable attentional presence that is distinct from other day-to-day encounters with friends, colleagues and family. The coach’s capacity to be fully and deeply present for the client creates the canvas upon which the client can paint her desired future.
If this is still sounding kind of “out there” for you, consider this scenario: You have a great idea for a start-up company. As you begin researching the market and seeking potential partners, you also decide to start working with a professional coach. You and the coach meet every two weeks and in your 60 minute sessions you focus on topics relevant to getting your idea off the ground. When you leave these sessions, you always feel buoyed and eager to start on the next assignment. Over the 4 months (8 sessions) that you work with your coach, you make substantial strides in your business plan. You anticipate a successful launch within 90 days of the end of your coaching relationship.  A friend asks you what you got out of coaching. Here is your response:
“Here’s what I learned: I actually do have good ideas and I also need to have more patience with myself and other people if I want the ideas to fly. Surprisingly we talked quite a bit about my previous work in a non-profit organization and how my learning there could be relevant here. I didn’t really see that before. It’s funny, it often felt like we were just talking but the way she asked me these questions that really got me to think deeply or to look at something I wasn’t even thinking about – that kind of changed the way I was working with my start-up partners and the atmosphere in the team changed for the better. I listened to others’ ideas without butting in with my own, for instance. I didn’t really know I was doing that before. I also realized where I was getting stuck on “being the boss” so that I forgot the fun I had in sharing my ideas in the first place. Remembering what’s fun about my ideas has helped me be a better team player, I think.  So, yeah, I learned a lot and I’m much clearer about where I need to go next. Coaching was totally worth it.”
If you’re wondering how coaching might fit in your situation, consider it a unique professional relationship designed to put you in the path of success. Take advantage of coaching to build on the skills and capabilities you already possess; to integrate the knowledge and experience you have cultivated in order to create something new. Or use the process to clarify and synthesize your priorities for yet another adventure. Seek out coaching when you’re ready to step up your game or change it entirely. When you’d consider redrawing the map rather than following the path someone else has set for you, that’s when coaching may well be the vital call you need to make.
About the Author: Sherri Spelic is a leadership coach and owner of Sherri Spelic Coaching based in Vienna, Austria. Two decades of teaching elementary physical education and coaching track have strengthened her conviction that mind-body connections form the foundation for all successful learning. Check out her blog: http://edifiedlistener.wordpress.com and follow her on Twitter: @edifiedlistener, or send her email sherspelic@gmail.com

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

EdCamp: What to Expect

Guest Post by Amy Bowker
You've probably heard about an EdCamp running where you live. Maybe you've seen a poster, seen a tweet about it or someone tried to convince you to go.
EdCamps are the new rage in education. It's a day of learning, sharing, and an 'unconference' where you are in the driver’s seat of your learning.
I always try to convince others to take a chance and come to an EdCamp, but I always find it so hard to articulate what an EdCamp is since everything is decided that day. After running 3 EdCamps, and attending them all, I can honestly say they are the best professional development I’ve ever been to.
What to Expect:
Sign-up Beforehand:
Before an EdCamp will begin, there will be an online sign up so the organizers can figure out how many people are attending. In my personal experience, we have always used Google Forms for EdCamp Ottawa, but I've also heard of Eventbrite being used.
Table and Name Badges:
When you arrive at an EdCamp, it is all about connections and sharing. There will be a sign in table where you tell the organizers your name and you get a name tag. It's important to put your name on this name tag as well as your twitter handle if you have one. That way, other attendees can follow you and your learning.
Create Your Own Schedule:
The best and strangest part about EdCamp is the 'create your own schedule.' EdCamps are meant to be based on what you, the attendee, wants to share or learn about. This means that you will come to an EdCamp and there will be a blank schedule.
This is our EdCamp Ottawa schedule from our last EdCamp in 2014. It starts out blank, and then attendees begin to fill up the board with topics that they want to share or learn about. There is absolutely no obligation to share or create a session if you don't want to.
As time goes on, the board begins to fill up and you will see that the session board is a hangout spot since it will change throughout the day.
At the end of the day, the board will probably look something along the below picture.
The Welcome
At the beginning of EdCamp, there is always an organizer/planner who will talk you through how the day will unfold.
This my first time running an EdCamp on my own, so I delivered the welcome.
Screen Shot 2014-11-30 at 6.38.28 PM
The welcome should include an introduction to the event planners, schedule of the day, lunch or food options, the EdCamp rules, and what the smackdown is about. This is great to know because if you have any further questions, you know who to ask.
Sessions are chosen by you, the attendee. Sessions are usually around an hour and you should have multiple rooms and topics to choose from. You choose which session you are interested in and go check it out. The EdCamp rules state the 'rule of feet,' which is that, if a session no longer interests you, you can leave. I know this may feel a bit strange, but you are using your own time to learn, so make sure it is useful to you.
Personally, I like to choose my top 2 sessions for a specific time period and then go check out one of them. If it isn't interesting to me anymore, I can quickly leave and go check out the next one. Sessions always move quickly, so you want to find one that you are interested in as quickly as you can.
An EdCamp Smackdown is where all attendees share the best ideas that they have learned throughout the day. It is a fast paced, mind blowing, whirlwind of awesome!
EdCamp is the best professional development I have ever been to. I would highly recommend that you have a Twitter account before you go to an EdCamp. Every EdCamp has a hashtag associated with it ie: Edcamp Ottawa's is  #edcampottawa. This helps you follow along with others’ learning, lets you share ideas, and make connections that will continue even after the day is through.
What To Bring
  1. A positive attitude and a desire to learn.
  2. Technology - smartphone, tablet, or computer.
  3. Chargers for your technology.
  4. Bring a friend and/or a colleague.
About the Author: Amy Bowker is a teacher in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. She has been a part of planning three EdCamps in Ottawa. She has also helped plan Playdate Ottawa, a day to play with, and learn about, educational apps. Amy is a co-founder of ONedchat, a monthly chat that happens on the 1st Wednesday of every month using the hashtag #ONedchat. Amy is a Google Educator and has hopes of becoming a Google Trainer in the future.
Read more about Amy's learning and teaching on her blog, ClassroomCollective.com and follow her on twitter @ClassCollect.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Create a Global Classroom for Social Change

Guest post by: Rusul Alrubail


Events occur on a daily basis locally and globally, and they affect us all. As teachers, after our initial reactions, we tend to always think about how to discuss these ambient events with our students.

Should I ask them if they heard about it?
Should I introduce the news to them in the form of an article to read?
Should they discuss the issue in groups?
Should they write a personal reflection about their thoughts?
Maybe a debate works best for this occurrence?

These questions and many more float through our heads to try to make sense of translating an impactful occurrence to our students. Our goal as teachers should always be to create a safe environment for students to learn, critique, and most importantly to ask questions. Creating a global classroom for students can help with advancing these thoughts and ideas and move them towards a positive social change.

Creating a global classroom is when a teacher fosters a learning atmosphere that raises awareness about global issues, events and communities. All teachers can introduce global learning to their students, varying from all levels and all subjects. Creating a global classroom can be an important step for teachers to invest in their students’ interest, motivation and drive for social change.


There are countless benefits to creating a global classroom that inspires social change in our students. Here are just a few of them:
  • Allows students to see a world outside their own.
  • Opens up different avenues, pathways and possibilities for students to connect with other kids and their communities and learn more about those communities.
  • Build bridges and fills gaps between countries and continents through student voice.
  • Learn about cultures, customs and traditions of global communities.
  • Builds kindness and empathy in students.
  • Triggers motivation and inspires students to make a difference and create a social impact in and outside of their communities.
  • Gives students an opportunity to research, question, debate and think critically about global issues.
  • Students will gain knowledge and understanding of social activism and its impact on social justice and equality globally.

Where to Start?

Remember that a global classroom can be any class, any subject, any level. Why? because students are able to show kindness and empathy when they start school. It’s important to start at a young age to build these necessary emotions and allow them to see things from different perspectives.

  1. Have a discussion with students about global learning: With all ages, communicate to them, as you would with all your lessons, “why” you’re doing this activity. Communication sets the tone for the rest of the activity, the motivation of the students and impacts their learning.
  2. Incorporate activities that fit well with the classroom learning outcomes. Whether you’re teaching English, social studies, or history incorporating lessons that create a global classroom can be a great multidisciplinary learning objective.
  3. Put those plans into actions: These activities don’t have to be for your eyes only, you can share your students’ work with your community or globally. Bonus points if the activity leads to having a positive social impact globally.

Here’s my favourite quote by Lily Tomlin:

Classroom resources & activities (K12):

Unicef’s resources are great not only because they align with the mission, but also because they’re divided by elementary and secondary. Also, the information, resources, activities and lesson plans are very detailed and thorough. Any teacher can easily adopt their ideas in her classroom.

Edutopia: Global Education Resource Roundup: http://www.edutopia.org/article/global-education-resources

This Edutopia page provides a list of resources, websites, blogs and discussions regarding creating a global classroom. This resource is great if you’re looking to see other educator’s perspectives on creating a global classroom.

Canadian Civil Liberties Association: Teaching Critical Thinking for Social Justice: http://ccla.org/education-2/resources/lessonplans/

This is an non-profit organization that promotes human rights and civil liberties. What’s really interesting is that they offer lesson plans for teachers to incorporate social justice in their classroom. The lessons are divided by age group, outlines the objectives, materials and the actual lesson in its entirty: http://ccla.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/CCLET_Seeking-Refuge-Lesson-Plan.pdf
Most teachers, 66% to be exact, don’t really know of this open educational resources. They are a wealth for teachers of all levels and subjects. Here you can find lesson plans, handouts, ideas, slides, videos, tools for your classroom. I searched Global classroom and there’s over 190 links of great resources for teachers to use to create and inspire students to make a difference in their classroom.

Our Impact on Education:  We as educators have the privilege of empowering students on a daily basis to believe in the power of an individual and the impact one can have on someone else’s life and wellbeing. Students need to know that they can make a difference, through their words and their actions. Teaching our students that they are important and their voice counts can move beyond our classroom walls, beyond our communities and can reach out to global communities, to another child. And that is a difference worth fighting for in education.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

The Scoop on Google Teacher Academy (GEG Mississippi Event)

I talk to Google Certified Teachers, Chris Aviles and Naomi Harm, to learn more about the Google Teacher Academy application, their experiences, and duties and responsibilities after GTA. They also give their recommendations for those who are considering applying to Google Teacher Academy.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Interview with Yoga Instructor Melissa Tung

Photo permission granted by Melissa Tung

Dr. Will: What does yoga mean to you? What originally drew you to yoga?

Melissa: Yoga is balance. It can be finding balance to your crazy stressed out life, balance to the sedentary work positions we’re in all day, or balance for the vigorous gym/sport activities we do.

I started yoga in 2004 as a way to get physical exercise into my life. Before that I didn't do any kind of exercise and was really intimidated by sports and the gym. Yoga offered a really supportive environment, a group energy but a self practice.

Dr. Will: On your site you say that you "coach your journey and invite you to discover more of yourself". Would you say that yoga is a "spiritual or empowering experience? If so, how?

Melissa: Yoga is definitely empowering as it’s study of Self. When you learn more about your body, your habits, your mental state, you gain the ability to change and shape it. Yoga is NOT a religion and not necessarily spiritual. It certainly can be deep and powerful experience when the mind and body start to connect.

Photo permission granted by Melissa Tung

Dr. Will: Please describe a few of the different yoga practices, their benefits, and whether they are ideal for a particular individual or body type?

Melissa: Yoga can range from strength and core focus like a Power class, to fluid and breathe centered in Vinyasa/Flow, slow and intense like Yin or relaxed and calming in Restorative. So often people will try a class, not know what kind they did, and assume all yoga classes are the same. Even within a type, classes will again largely vary based on the instructor by how and what they lead.

In terms of what type for who, it comes down to goals/needs. The best thing to do is talk to an advisor at the studio and tell them what you’re looking for, as well as what you respond to (do you want to be pushed or soothed?). How active you are outside of yoga can influence this choice as well.

Photo permission granted by Melissa Tung

Dr. Will: Which practices do you teach? Which is your favorite and why?

Melissa: I teach many styles and often hybrids of styles depending on my audience and what’s needed. I trained in Ashtanga Vinyasa so it’s dear to me. I enjoy creating flows and sequences that progress to demonstrate pose relationships, body mechanics or just fun ways to move. I also teach Hot Yoga, Hatha, and occasionally Yin.

Dr. Will: What can your students expect from you? What are your sessions like?
Melissa: A powerful, flowing class with plenty of alignment cues and a relaxed fun atmosphere. I try to express a passionate energy that encourages students to open themselves to push their limits. My goal is for people to leave the class having been challenged and hopefully having learned or tried something new.

Photo permission granted by Melissa Tung

Dr. Will: Speaking of expectations, when considering to practice yoga, which qualities should someone look for in a yoga teacher?

Melissa: Look for someone you connect with. You enjoy their classes, their music preferences, their voice/style etc. Hopefully it’s someone you find approachable and knowledgeable too. Try different teachers (like you would yoga styles) to know first hand what you want. Our assumptions are not always correct

Dr. Will: As a yoga teacher, how are you using social media to reach out to people?

Melissa: I have a website as a central hub for my social media and most importantly, my contact and schedule. I’m on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Vimeo and most recently Instagram.

Instagram has been great for connecting with others from around the world and motivated me to do more in order to post often. My students will get a sneak peek of what I might teach in class and it offers them a gallery of stuff they can request to try in class.

I’ve had strangers see a photo and do their version of a pose then tag me which is great. All the time there are monthly Instagram yoga challenges or games where you tag people to participate, those are fun and help create community.

On my feed @melissatungyoga, I do instructional posts so people can learn or get information. It’s all my voice so you get an idea of how I cue… I’d love to meet social media friends in class one day!

backbends 1 from Melissa Tung on Vimeo.

About Melissa: Melissa Tung teaches yoga in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Join her public classes at YYoga, YogaBe and Equinox. In the summer she teaches in the park and on the lake (paddleboard yoga!) Connect with her at www.melissatung.com