Monday, December 14, 2020

Google Admin -- Buildings & Resources

In Google Admin you can add Buildings & Resources, so that teachers can book rooms and materials. The journey starts in the Admin Console where you add the Resource and then people in your domain have access to the Resource in Google Calendar. This video shows how to set of the Resource and how to book one in Calendar. Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Find Out Who Owns a Google Site

Students often accidentally turning the editing link for their Google Sites. When this happens, the teacher becomes the owner of the site. Then when the student goes back to edit, they suddenly aren't the owner and usually don't know why. How do you solve the problem? Easy! You can find the information about the owner of a Google Site right on the site itself. There is a small i in the left corner of a Google Site. The i is of course for information. When you click it, it will bring up a small

bar and one link is to Admin. The admin panel will show you the owner of the site was well as the last time it was edited. And now you know where to find out who owns a Google Site. Trust me, if you are using Google Sites with middle school students -- you will need to know this trick!

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Remember Folks -- There is a Pandemic Happening


I came across this tweet from @meghan_lawson that really got me thinking about our work as educators. All too often administrators pile huge burdens of work upon teachers because in the end they know our love of the students will prevail. We will take the extra duty, another class, coach another team, etc, because we don't want kids to miss out on opportunities. Which is why as administrators, we need to do the ethical thing and not put more work on the plate without taking something off. It is OK to end an initiative or push it until later; especially now with this pandemic happening.  It isn't a mark of failure or something to be ashamed of. It is humane. We also need to model it for teachers; we need to show them that we say no to things as well. That we take care of ourselves and encourage them to take care of themselves.

Thursday, October 15, 2020

More Meet Updates


Google continues to improve Meet with features that are helpful to teachers during remote learning. This round provides the host with more control over chat and screen sharing, the ability to add a Jamboard to to the Meet, and polling. The features are being rolled out over the next few weeks, so you may not have access yet. I don't have the polling feature as of yet, but I was able to watch another teacher use it in her video, which I have embedded on this post.

Enjoy the new features!

Thursday, September 17, 2020

New Meet Security Settings

Google Meetings has added new security settings. You can now turn on/off the ability for students to share their screen and the ability to use chat. 

Friday, August 28, 2020

New My Meetings Button in Gmail


A new feature has been added to Gmail! Now you can check and manage your Meetings from your Gmail account. I have right-side chat enabled, so mine appears on the right-top corner of my screen. If you don't have right-side chat enabled, it will be on the left-hand side of your screen beneath your labels. This makes managing your Meetings even easier. Nice!

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Director of Professional Development

I'm pretty excited to start school year 2020-21, even in the face of Covid-19 and the realities it brings. I'm excited because I have started a new position at Cheongna Dalton School as the Director of Professional Development. The school asked me to move from EdTech to PD to support the entire school community with their continual growth as educators and professionals. As much as I love EdTech, this was an opportunity that was too great to pass up. I have created a Google Site specifically for professional development at CDS. Part of my role is to facilitate the WASC accreditation process as well, which is happening this school year. My first task is to get accreditation work rolling and then to help with teachers create their Professional Growth Goals for the year.

Monday, June 1, 2020

Google Forms: Import Questions

Forms now has an import questions function so you can import questions from a previous Form. This will be a huge time savings if you are re-using questions from an older Form, which happens quite often in my experience. You can find the option on the regular toolbar on the left side of your Form, second icon on the list. Once you hit the button, you will open the box to select the Form you want to import questions from to your new Form. Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

New Stuff in Google Sites

I opened up Google Sites and found some new features that are very good improvements. The first one is templates! Yes, now you can pick a template to get your Site started and they have ones that are for education. Great improvement, Google. Thank you! The other really cool new feature is the ability to make an announcement banner. Look for this feature in the Settings menu. Great new features that move Google Sites to becoming much more user friendly.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

New Features in Gmail -- Confidential and Signature

You now have a Confidential mode in your Gmail account. On your toolbar it appears as a small padlock. It allows you to set and expiration date for an email and you can require a passcode to unlock it. Pretty cool! There is also a way to control your signature with the email interface. The pen on the toolbar allows you to turn your signature on or off for an email. But there is more! In the upper right-hand side of your email, you also have buttons to create or join a Meet within your email account. And finally, when you are in an email, there is a button to create a task directly from the email. Super cool new features. Thanks Google!

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

20 Conversations for 2020 Challenge -- Conversation #9 Setting the Right Conditions for Productive Dialogues

Conversation #9 How might we set the right conditions for productive dialogues?

There are some really good ideas for making the right conditions for productive dialogue at the emergent strategy group agreements post. The concept of setting the right conditions is to make sure that everyone is heard and respected in a discussion. One of the big ones on the list that is super important in my mind is confidentiality. I never want to share someone else's story, but I can take away valuable lessons from a conversation without violating the other person's confidentiality. People need to feel safe and confidentiality helps them feel that way. Another big one on the list for me is being open to learning. You don't have to agree with someone in order to learn something from them. Some of the best lessons I've learned in my life came from people I don't see eye-to-eye with, but by being open to learning -- the conversation was still productive and I understood the other person's perspective better, which led to easier communication with that person later. Assuming best intentions is another very helpful approach. It is easy to get upset or offended, but even when that happens, you can still assume that the person isn't trying to be insulting intentionally (although if someone is being insulting intentionally that is a different matter). Often times people don't realize that they are being offensive or insensitive and if you can approach them without being upset, you can often teach them something. It isn't easy, but it can be done. I watched Get Out with my mother and had some very good dialogue about the messages in the movie. The movie wasn't comfortable for her to watch, but me being open to not getting offended by her thoughts allowed me to point out some very important cultural norms that need changing.

Monday, March 16, 2020

20 Conversations for 2020 Challenge -- Conversation #8 Retiring "Born this way" Argument

Conversation #8 -- Do we need to retire the "born this way" argument?

I'm a few conversations behind due to the stress and pressure of getting online learning up and running at my school. It feels like things have gotten into a groove and the days are less about putting out fires now, so now it is time to get back into doing this work. I should disclaimer this post with a serious note about my own gender and sexuality -- I'm a straight man. I don't want anyone to think that I speak for anyone but myself on this topic and I know that I have serious blind spots with regard to the topic of LGBTQ rights. So the question posed this time is "Do we need to retire the "born this way argument?" I can totally understand the reasons for why people would want to move pass this argument, but for many people sexuality is more fluid and can change over time. One of my friends from college was dating one of my high school friends, she considered herself straight. Years later her partner was a woman. People change; they evolve; they grow. My fear is that although the number of people who are accepting and tolerant of LGBTQ is growing, there are still many who are not. Retiring the born this way argument, could give those people as easier path for being intolerant. If you believe that someone is born that way, it makes it more difficult to be against them, because they can't help themselves -- that is just who they are. I think the same logic can apply to people changing -- this is simply who this person is now -- but many people will have problems accepting that concept. Ugh. I really don't feel that LGBTQ people should have to justify their sexuality, even when that sexuality may have changed over time, but we all know it will be a hard fight. I enjoyed the article by Cassie Sheets where she explains why the born this way argument is a false concept. Her points are all valid and I 100% agree. I suppose the old "haters gonna hate" is a simple fact of life. As a society, we need to start understanding that people don't fit one type or mold and we need to be open to people changing. I mean, people change political parties, careers, religions, why would we think that sexuality wouldn't also change? Allow people to be who they want to be. Period.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

20 Conversations for 2020 Challenge -- Conversation #6 Defining Allyship

Questions to ponder:

  • Do you think critically about the assumptions you make consciously and unconsciously? Are you willing to think about where those assumptions came from? Are you willing to question how your friendships, media diet, and habits may continue to shape your assumptions?
I try. I really do try. But I'm going to be honest, it isn't easy work. In one of my other posts, I explained my background and it makes my work difficult, because I have huge blindspots. But with that said, it surely is easier for me to do this work than it is for my friends, students, and parents who come from diverse backgrounds to live their lives. Yes, the discomfort I feel wrestling with these uncomfortable topics and ideas is FAR, FAR, FAR easier than it is for them to simply live day-to-day. And because of that fact, I am willing to question everything about my assumptions and how I came to those assumptions. I'm willing to question my friendships, the media I consume, and the habits I have developed over time. It is not the easy thing to do, but it is the human thing to do.

  • Do you know how to de-center your emotions?
Realistically I think this has become more difficult in the current political climate, but again -- I try. I try to simply listen when a person is telling me about their feelings and how they are struggling with a certain situation. I'm working on not doing the "well welcome to (blank)" approach to being supportive. 
  • Are you willing to make this a life-long commitment?
Yes, I'm willing to make a life-long commitment, but like anyone -- I will have days when I'm much better at it than other days.
  • Will you consider how intersectional your thinking is?
Yes, I will and as a display of this I would like to share a story about a girl named Crystal. When I was doing my student teaching at St. Ignatius School in St. Ignatius, Montana, I met a young woman named Crystal. Crystal was a struggling Native American girl of 14 in 8th grade. Her attendance wasn't great and her performance in class wasn't really impressive either, but she came to school at least four times a week and did do work. She hadn't given up; she was still making an effort. And then one day, Crystal was just gone. No one seemed too surprised by it. Crystal had moved around to different schools on the reservation before. As a young teacher, I was disappointed by Crystal no longer coming to school. Although she wasn't a fantastic student, she was a nice person and she had friends.

One day I was scheduled to mirror the principal; I was curious about how his day was compared to a classroom teacher. At one point in the afternoon, a family came to school with a new student who would be starting school on Monday. This boy needed a locker, so the principal went to clean out Crystal's locker. Inside the locker were her school books, her notebooks, a hoodie, and sadly an empty beer bottle. At that point I finally asked the question that had been on my mind, "What happened to Crystal?" The principal told me that Crystal's grandmother said she ran away. And that was it. Period. End of story. 

And for 23 years, I've been wondering what happened to Crystal; at least once or twice a year she crosses my mind. She ran away, but did she? What exactly did her grandmother say? Did Crystal leave a note? Did she call? Was the grandmother encouraged to inform the police? Were the police ever informed? Why didn't I ask these questions? Why didn't I push the matter? In the last few years, the caucasian community has finally become aware that Native American women and girls have been disappearing at alarming rates, but that has only been discovered because Natives have been posting all the disappearances on social media. What about before social media? How many Native American women and girls have gone missing before the rise of social media? Was Crystal one of them?

I was a young, male, caucasian educator doing my student teaching at a school on the reservation, it wasn't my place to rock the boat. It wasn't my place to ask the questions that someone should have been asking. Questions that anyone could have been asking, but nobody did. That "nobody" includes me. I hope that Crystal is alive and well; I hope that she is living happily somewhere surrounded by loving family and friends. I hope. 

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

20 Conversations for 2020 Challenge -- Conversation #5 Gender Neutral Pronouns

Conversation #5 Gender Neutral Pronouns

I have to admit to a huge blind spot on this issue that I have gotten better about but still find myself struggling with. It isn't the concept I have a problem with, it's the practice of it. I totally get why we should use more gender neutral pronouns, but I have habits that have been formed by 48 years of life that don't easily change overnight. Not using that as an excuse, just stating a simple fact about my life. I've moved a long way toward improvement, because I used to address the entire class as "guys". Ugh! I know, I know, I know... But when I was studying Spanish, it really made me think about that blind spot; because in Spanish, if there is one male person present in a room full of many non-male people, the gender of the pronoun used automatically switches to male... That really got me thinking. So I worked hard to say "guys and gals"; still not great, but much better. Lately I have been
working on being sensitive to gender neutral pronouns in my professional and personal life. I'm getting better at asking people upfront what gender pronouns they would like to have used about them. I was listening to Just Between Us (one of my favorite podcasts) and Gaby Dunn's partner was a guest on the show. Mal Blum is a non-binary musician who uses they, them, their as their personal pronouns. It was really interesting to hear how the hosts were making sure to use the correct pronouns with Mal throughout the show. The simple guide that Tricia shared in this challenge conversation is a excellent and simple tool for reminding yourself to use more gender neutral language with your students, colleagues, and parents. Currently I'm the Director of EdTech at my school, but next year my role will change to be the Director of Professional Learning. In that role, I plan to introduce the idea of gender neutral language to the faculty and I already know there will be some people who really push back on it, but the majority of our faculty will completely understand it and be on board; some members are already aware and sensitive to gender neutral language, so a core group of allies exists to build from at school.

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

20 Conversations for 2020 Challenge -- Conversation #4 Privilege

Conversation #4: Can you define privilege? Can you explain heterosexual privilege?

Provoke a Dialogue about Straight Privilege

The coin analogy video definitely watch it.

I'm not going to make any friends with this post, I can tell already. But I have recently been reading The Seven Necessary Sins for Women and Girls with the #edurobookgroup and I'm not sure if making friends is a goal for me anymore. A quick shout out to Tricia Friedman (@FriedEnglish101) for organizing and facilitating the book group. Thank you!

So in short, yes and yes... But I want to start by defining what underprivileged is to me. The video of the coin analogy does a good job of explaining the concept of privileged and underprivileged, but it does really drive into the damage the is done. In ancient China, there was a form of execution called Death by a Thousand Cuts. In and of itself, each cut wasn't deadly because the cuts were shallow; each cut caused pain, but not death; however, the totality of the thousand cuts caused death. A slow, lingering, painful death. Being underprivileged is like being executed by the Death by a Thousand Cuts.

I was lucky to be born a white, heterosexual male in the US. I am the definition of privilege; however, with that said, I am also from a rural community in a state that I have often referred to as part of the Third World of America. The Third World of America, as I define it, is comprised of the large rural areas in many western states. They communities have few economic opportunities and are mostly comprised of working class people. The term Third World as gone out of vogue in the current political climate for understandable reasons. The term stigmatizes Developing Nations and carries a load of stereotypes, which is exactly the reason why I insist on using it.

I grew up around blue collar ranching, farming, and logging families. Bigfork, the town I'm from originally, is a small community on the north end of Flathead Lake; the south end of the lake is in the Salish & Kootenia Reservation. Because the people I grew up around were hardworking people, who struggle to survive in an economy that is well below the national average, conversations about privilege are frowned upon. Speaking of privilege stinks of elitist jargon to many from my state. When my friends back home think of privilege, they think only of wealth, not of race, ethnicity, or sexual orientation. In their day-to-day lives, they really don't see it. And to be honest, I really didn't either growing up. I knew that many of Native friends struggled even harder than most of the white people around me, but there were "reasons" for those struggles. And the few openly gay people who did exist in my town were "tolerated." It really wasn't until I moved to Korea that I started to understand privilege and how it really plays out in regular daily life. If you have never lived in a community where you are a visible minority, I highly recommend it, because it will teach you things. Uncomfortable things; painful things; true things.

So let's move on to heterosexual privilege, because whether you want to believe it or not -- it is a thing. Please check out the slideshow and read each slide carefully and really stop and think about each one. As a traveler, the slide about not having to be afraid if my life style will be accepted when I travel was the one that really gets to me. I cannot imagine (I have not had to imagine) feeling worried if my sexuality was going to be a problem when I travel. Let that really sink in for a minute. That is the Death by a Thousand Cuts you are feeling, my friend.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

20 Conversations for 2020 Challenge -- Conversation #3 Allyship

Be a Better Ally Podcast
Conversation #3: How are you bringing people together to talk about allyship and see it as a critical component of your community?

Although I think my school community has came a long way in terms of building allyship, I believe there is still a lot of work to be done. We do have teachers and students who identify as members of the LGBTQ community, but I'm don't feel like we are at the level that Vica Steel talked about in her interview on the Be a Better Ally Podcast, "A welcoming school doesn't wait for the transgender person to say 'Hey we need lessons on gender identity.' A welcoming school is already doing those lessons." That feels like a level that we are still striving to obtain to me. There is forward progress and I want to celebrate that, but I don't want the community to feel like, "Hey, we have done enough now." We have worked a lot on being good friends and empathy in the First Program and Middle School House programs as well as understanding why bullying is wrong. The High School House program has worked on tolerance and empathy, but specifically teaching lessons that are about gender identity, isn't being done. There is a line that teachers and administrators feel they shouldn't cross with our students and parents. Korea is a very conservative society, but most of our families have lived aboard; and yet, the feeling continues to be, "let's not teach that directly." It makes me wonder if we aren't doing the lessons because of our sympathy to our families traditional views, or are we not having those lessons because it is easier for us to not do them for ourselves. I feel like this is an area where we should continue to grow. We are heading into an accreditation cycle with WASC, so possibly it is time to ask these questions within our community as part of our self-study. I'm the person is charge of facilitating the accreditation process, so I have the ability to move the ball toward the goal posts.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Coaching Resolutions Challenge #2 -- the Coaching Cycle

Coaching Resolution Challenge #2 was to do a coaching cycle; I sort of been there and done that quite a bit, so I opted to adjust my coaching cycle with the adoption of the Coaching Journal Template from Eduro Learning. It is a great tool for managing and reflecting on how your coaching is going with multiple educators. I highly recommend it.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

20 Conversations for 2020 Conversation #2 -- Bullying

Conversation #2: In what ways are we assuming students know how to handle bullying, and in what ways are those assumptions dangerous?

One assumption we definitely make is that handling a bullying problem is easy for a kid, it isn't.  In fact, it isn't easy for adults. Growing up I was on both ends of the bullying situation and it is not easy to handle. I remember not wanting to go to school, because I knew that the whole day would be filled with torment. Being a witness to bullying isn't easy either, especially if you have been bullied yourself. You feel bad for the person being bullied, but relieved that it isn't you. There are feelings of guilt and shame because you know you should help the person being bullied, but you don't want draw attention to yourself and become the direct victim again. To this day I still feel guilt for not helping one of my friends when he was being bullied in fourth grade. I'm 48 years old and this is still harming me. Thinking that dealing with bullying is easy is a horrible assumption and believing that bullying doesn't cause long-term trauma is another terrible assumption.

And what is the danger in making these assumptions? Kids get hurt -- that is the danger. The insidious pain of damage that can't necessarily be seen, but most definitely is felt. Lingering shame and guilt. Horrible self loathing. I can still remember thinking that being dead would be much better than going to school each day and dealing with the bullying. And when I wasn't the direct target, I was happy for me, but sad for the other people being tortured. I had empathy for their suffering, but not enough to stand up against the bullies and take the risk of being the target again. The guilt caused by being a bystander is something I still feel. The danger is real; the damage is real.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

20 Conversations in 2020 from Be a Better Ally: Conversation #1 Personal Biases

Conversation #1: When do we let our own personal biases or our own experiences with heterosexism hold us back from engaging in conversations about LGBTQ+ issues?

I have worked in private, international schools for the vast majority of my career. It is a system, where at the end of the day, there is a customer. I've never been told outright -- "Don't talk about that because it makes the parents who pay us uncomfortable," but there have been plenty of times where it was clear to me that was the subtle message. So when does heterosexism get in the way of me engaging in deeper conversations about LGBTQ+ issues? I have to sadly admit that -- it is always.

I wish it wasn't true, but it is true and to deny it would be a lie. I often worry in the back of my mind, will I get fired for this? Private schools don't have unions and our contracts usually have clauses that make it pretty easy to dismiss us for any reason the school sees fit. And even if you aren't dismissed in the middle of the year, the school doesn't have to offer another contract. They don't need to supply a reason why. That power isn't often abused, but "often" isn't never. I feel like I've been very lucky and worked in schools where the Board and/or administrations were trying to make things better for everyone.

I've worked with teachers who were openly gay and they were supported (sometimes due to pressure from other teachers and community members). I've had students who were openly gay and they were supported (although to say they were completely accepted by everyone or that it was an easy life for them would be untrue). I don't always stay silent; I have had moments where I defended someone or discussed why being LGBTQ+ shouldn't be judged... But have I done it often enough? Have I really pushed back whenever I saw injustice? I feel sad to admit that I have avoided discussions because I knew it would be a safer option for my career, but I have done it. I'm a product of social pressure, but that doesn't justify my silence.

So what now? Where do I go from here? How can I be a better ally? Resolutions are often so hollow and shallow and dry up and blow away like fall leaves in the coming winter. Committing to support my friends who are LGBTQ+ is easy, but how do I support people who are LGBTQ+ in general? How do I step outside the comfort zone of heterosexual security and push not only when it is easy or convenient, but every time, everywhere? I need to step up and take the advice I gave a colleague long ago, "If that is the reason you get fired, do you really want to work with those people?" The answer is within me, I just need to stop being scared of "what if" and do the right thing.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Coaching Resolutions Challenge #1

My friends at Eduro Learning are doing a 10 Coaching Resolution Challenge to kick off the new year. I'm a little on the crazy, busy side right now, but everyone always is, so I refuse to use that as an excuse. I also want to help them spread the word and model best practice to their educators studying for the Coaching Micro-credential. The first challenge was about defining your role as a coach. I decided a more fitting choice for me would be to focus on redefining a certain aspect of my role. I have often supported fellow educators with thinking up creative ways to collect data, but rarely get involved in supporting them with analyzing the data. As we all know, gathering data is all well and good; but, if nothing is actually done with the data -- what was the point? I want to work more with educators to ask the questions that come after data is collected.
Things like:

  • What could this data possibly mean?
  • Now that we have this data, do we need more? If so, what type?
  • What actions does this data suggest we should take?
  • If we take action on this data, when should we gather more to evaluated impacts?

Monday, January 13, 2020

Cell Phones in the Classroom

The year started off with a great personal success for me -- I was quoted in the January issue of Empowered Learner. Of course, I support the use of devices in the classroom when it is appropriate. My feeling is that we should be teaching our students how and when to use technology. If we only ban the device, we only make it more alluring and fail to teach appropriate use and self-regulation. The devices aren't going away; they will have them in college and in the work place. If the student was doodling on a notebook with a pen, would you ban the notebook and the pen? No! Why not help them learn to use it effectively and efficiently? Isn't it our job to help them learn?

Happy New Year! Let's make 2020 a great success for all learners.