Sunday, July 12, 2009

7 SMART Habitudes of Highly Effective Teachers

A few weeks ago I was asked to deliver the Keynote Address at a SMART Conference held in Lewisville, Texas. A group of 350 enthusiastic educators from the district converged on a local middle school for a day of SMART training with local trainers and SMART Texas Education Consultants.
Below is the gist of the keynote. If you'd like to add a SMART Habitude, please post a comment. Together we are SMARTer.

As we begin, let's take a few minutes to look at the bigger picture of effective teaching by using SMART Habitudes to describe best practices.

Number 7: Check for Updates Regularly
Set your automatic updates to run frequently - that includes settings for SMART products, too. Easy access for updates is located within the Notebook software toolbar under "Help."

Number 6: Learn Something New Everyday

One of my teacher friends from Amarillo says she learns a TAD more everyday. I thought she meant like how you eat an elephant, one bite at a time; but she said TAD stands for "Technology Achievement of the Day". We expect our students to keep learning, rightfully so, and we should, too. If you don't know something, just ask one of your kids. If you allow your students to teach you the technology, they will allow you to teach them the content. Sounds fair enough!

Number 5: Share Your Notebook Lessons with Others

Don't be afraid to share. Everybody starts at the beginning. Share your lessons room to room, school to school, on a district website, or globally on the SMART Exchange. There's a host of up-to-date, high quality Notebook lessons free for the downloading on the SMART Exchange. All you need to do is join. With another school year looming on the horizon, check in the Back to School Lesson Activity Archive folder. Not only will you find 36 lessons for elementary to high school students that you can download and modify, (meeting boards, games, activities, fun) you'll also find my submission, "Great Beginnings: A First Day of School Welcome" sitting in the #1 download spot with over 7,000 downloads last I checked.

Number 4: Create Notebook Lessons Before Class

Research bears this out that it's important to structure your lesson before class. You know that. Doing this has made me a better teacher because it forces me to plan out my opening, objectives, interactive activities, and assessment before turning on the light. Now I didn't say that I never winged a lesson, I just know that the lesson is much more effective for all learners if you plan for student success before class. That's just good teaching pedagogy.

Number 3: Improve Your Pedagogy

Stay current in your field. Study. Read. Learn. Attend professional development and apply your learning. SMART Boards are absolute magic in the hands of a good teacher. Learn all you can. Read good blogs. Teachers Love SMART Boards, written by Jim Hollis, is my favorite blog to read. Check it out. He also has an online training site, Teacher Online Training. I've completed most all of his unique lessons. You won't find his training anywhere else on the net! Then there are YouTube videos on SMART's channel. And last but certainly not least: Use the SMART Exchange and the SMART Technologies website to find hundreds of lessons resources and free training with the latest SMART products.

Number 2: Join a Users Group - Get Connected

Get connected in your school, district, region, any place where you can go to share and learn with other teachers. Respect your fellow learners. Everybody starts at the beginning.

Number 1: Step Away from the Board

Move over. Put your students on the stage. Coach them well and send them to the Board. Use your SMART Slate to get out of in front of your classroom. We all know that students learn best and remember more by doing it themselves, so let them. Play during your conference period or after school. Why should teachers have all the fun?

With Back to School just a few weeks away, I encourage you to consider applying these SMART Habitudes to your own best practices. "Step away from the Board" is a good one with which to begin. Your students will love you for it.