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Transparent teaching and learning: Capturing the why

4 min read


Tyler Hart caught my attention one day on Twitter by posting student-created math videos on his classroom Vimeo channel. I clicked the link and watched a few of the videos. Then I followed a link to his classroom blog and next, I clicked on a link to his website, where there were lots of pictures, showcasing interesting student projects.

Looking around the site, I learned more about Tyler’s path to becoming a teacher, his education and his interests. There was a lot of information available about Mr. Hart on Twitter including a link to an award for being named the top teacher in Henrico County, Va. Tyler proclaims a love for using technology, and it shows in his online presence.

Tyler is an example of a transparent teacher sharing his passion and ideas freely with his students, parents, colleagues and the world. Tyler is sharing best practice through his social networks, website and reflecting on his work using a blog and Twitter. Tyler is ahead of most teachers today, but everything Tyler has done can be replicated and an educational technology degree is not needed to do it. We need more educators like Tyler and we need them now!

Missing for most teachers and administrators is the understanding about why this type of broadcasting is important today. Why you ask? I believe the reason is to showcase the great things that are going on in classrooms across the building, across the district, and across the world. I recently worked with the leadership team in Maercker School District #60 in the west suburbs of Chicago to help them define the purpose or why broadcast information from their district.

The district serves 1,290 students in portions of Westmont, Willowbrook, Clarendon Hills, Darien and Hinsdale in DuPage County. This is a culturally-diverse population with 25% of the students speaking a different language than English and about 40% receiving free or reduced-price lunch. The leadership team has historically used newsletters to share good news, but they quickly discovered using digital pictures and social media was a great way to reach all stakeholders .

This is a great team to showcase because they started with the why, and then created a vision for sharing beyond the walls of the classroom. Their purpose was to share with the community the great things happening in classrooms in the three-building prek-8 school district. The leadership team members included teachers, librarians, administrators and a school board member.

Collectively this team had virtually no experience with the “how to do this broadcasting through Twitter thing.” In my role of consultant and Twitter freak (@megormi), I was able to share some of my favorite hashtags from other buildings and districts including #leydenpride, #cantiague, and #dg58learns. The hashtag #d60learns was launched.

Sean Nugent (@PrincipalNugent), the middle-school principal, is posting Tweets with pictures of the many activities in the middle school. He is archiving his Tweets using Storify and you can follow their progress here. Along with celebrating learning, replacing the paper newsletter is one of the goals of the Twitter project.

Lissa Blake (@D60HolmesTech) is the technology integration coach at the primary school, and it has been great fun watching her learn the language of Twitter. Lissa broadcasts student work through posts and pictures. The curriculum director Cathy Fisher (@D60curriculum) is embracing the Twitterverse with posts about various meetings and activities using the #d60learns hashtag.

This is just the very beginning for the #D60learns journey of sharing. I painted this compare and contrast between Tyler Hart and the new #D60learns journey because it helps to illustrate wherever your team is on the journey, make sure everyone understands why being a transparent teacher leader is important today!

Meg Ormiston (@megormi) has served as a curriculum coach, school-board member, keynote speaker, professional development specialist and grant facilitation specialist. Ormiston has also authored five books, written numerous articles and collaborated on professional videos and participates in many personal-learning communities. Her latest book, “Creating a Digital Rich Classroom: Teaching and Learning in a Web 2.0 World,” is being used as a summer book study for a number of administrative teams across the country.