Increasing Your School’s Likeability

Using Facebook to increase your school's likeability

Using Facebook to increase your school’s likeability

Here are some thoughts I’ve had about using the school’s facebook page to increase community support:

First, try spotlighting a different teacher each week. Maybe start with an elementary, then a middle school, then a high school teacher.  Put a short post about them with a picture.  Towards the start of school, focus on the teachers who will be transition people: kindergarten, 5th or 6th grade, 9th grade.  That way, parents and students who are nervous about starting a new school see a face and information about their teacher(s).
Second, how about doing what some places do: ask people to like the facebook page.  A lot of times, I’ll see someone post when they’re getting close to a milestone number (like 500) and ask for more likes.  We could also ask people to pass the facebook page along to alum who have not liked the page.  The more alumnae we can get watching what we’re doing, the easier it will be to ask for money later on.
Third, maybe a contest here and there?  Ask people to post a picture showing their school pride.  Pictures of people on vacation wearing a shirt showing the school mascot or school colors could get people talking.  The more pictures you post on the page, the more people will want to come back to the page to look at it.  That makes it easier to broadcast other things about your school and get noticed.
What do you do to publicize what your school is up to?

Awesome Podcast to Listen to

I recently discovered a podcast called BrandEd.  It is wonderful!  The episodes are engaging and filled with great ideas.  I often find myself listening to an episode more than once; each one has so many good ideas, it’s hard to remember everything the first time through.


If you haven’t listened yet, you should.  These podcasts basically are a how-to manual on getting your school noticed.  They give all sorts of easy ways to use social media and electronic communication to get the word out about what you are doing.

Having held student led conferences lately where my students create a powerpoint about their work and progress, using the smartboard, I’m here to tell you: parents have NO idea what is happening in the classroom.  They are astounded when their child gets up to use the smartboard to take them through a powerpoint.  The more we can open up the classroom walls and show them what’s going on, the better.

In addition, I think it’s important for the community to see and hear what’s happening in the schools their tax dollars are supporting.  This podcast can help us do exactly that!


Branding Your Classroom


You can also check out the website:

Edmond Dixon: Six Keys to Success with Middle-School Boys

My principal sent us this in an email:

Six Keys to Success with Middle-School Boys 

In this article in AMLE Magazine, Edmond Dixon says it’s not lack of passion and energy that keeps adolescent boys from learning – it’s teachers not figuring out how to direct it. Drawing on his experience as a parent of boys and a middle-school teacher and principal, Dixon offers these suggestions for eliciting motivated engagement and focused effort:

• Movement – It may seem contradictory that boys are restless and fidgety in class and yet can play video games for hours, but these have the same source – a need for constant action. Classrooms that ask boys to be passive and sit still for extended periods of time will encounter problems.

• Games – Boys get powerful psychic rewards from setting goals, competing, improving their performance, and winning. “However,” says Dixon, “if they don’t think they can win in school because they aren’t smart enough, they will often refuse to play the game.”

• Humor – Boys’ love of funny stuff can veer into the inappropriate and crude, but teachers can take advantage of this trait to capture interest and spur learning.

• Challenge – Posing difficult problems can motivate boys to commit energy and mental tools to improve their performance. Marshall Memo 541 June 16, 2014 10

• Mastery – “Success for any boy ultimately comes when he takes ownership for his own learning,” says Dixon. Part of this is understanding why it’s important to learn something, how things work, and how to control them.

• Meaning – “Why do we have to learn this?” is a perennial boy question in middle-school classrooms, and it’s not about being lazy. “It is essential for him to understand the importance and meaning of the task at hand,” says Dixon. “If a teacher can help him see how his learning fits into the larger picture, a boy will increase his interest and commitment in the classroom.”

Dixon believes that the first three – movement, games, and humor – are the beachhead to getting boys engaged in the classroom. Once engaged, they’re ready for the next two – challenge and mastery – increasing the chances that they’ll reach the ultimate goal – seeing meaning in what they’re learning in school. This helps a boy attain his “heroic individual potential… an outcome he secretly longs for, but fears he is not worthy of.”

Dixon’s website has examples of strategies in each area and a three-minute quiz:

“Six Secrets for Success in Teaching Boys” by Edmond Dixon in AMLE Magazine, May 2014 (Vol. 1, #9, p. 28-30),; Dixon is at


I think it makes a lot of sense.  Now, I’m thinking about how to incorporate these ideas into my classroom next fall.  So goes the life of a teacher.  One school year is barely in the rear view mirror and we’re already making plans for the next one.  This could be why I love my job!

How I Use Social Media

I’m finding social media to be the newest version of the Great Divide.  Some people are all over it, couldn’t live without it, live their whole lives on it, while others don’t want to even consider a facebook page.  It doesn’t seem to have anything to do with age or gender, either.  I’ve seen young adults who embrace social media, while others remain skeptical.

Since it’s such a big part of life in 2014, I thought I’d share how I use it.  Feel free to chime in with your thoughts, strategies, or opinions.  We can all learn from each other!


First, This mostly functions as my personal account.  I have family on there, friends from high school (long ago!) and people from the town I teach in.  This is how I keep up with what’s happening in my family/friends’ lives.  I don’t tend to see a lot of drama on here (I understand others do), and when I do run across a post I disagree with or one I don’t feel like getting involved with, I keep scrolling.  I tend to do the same IRL (in real life for those not on social media), so it makes sense to me.  I also find, since the small town I live in and the small town I work in tend not to make the news much, when something is happening, facebook is where I get the deets (details).  When there was a fire downtown a few years ago, facebook kept me updated.

Our district also has a facebook page which has been invaluable.  This single website allows us to put out positive press (again, the local media ignores our town and school district), as well as post bits of information people might need.  I wouldn’t want to go back to the pre-facebo0k days, it’s just so much easier to communicate now.  We’ve even had people report incidents to us through the district facebook page which have allowed us to avoid bigger discipline problems.  Parents can also post questions like what time is an event happening, allowing us to respond quickly and easily.

twitter logoSecond,  I find this to be even harder for people to accept than facebook.  For me, twitter works as my professional account.  This is where I have been able to connect with teachers from all over the world.  It’s allowed me to find mystery skype partners, get answers to questions my students have and learn about new and exciting ideas in education.  Simply by following people on twitter, I am able to stay up on the latest trends in my field.  I don’t check twitter obsessively, but I try to scroll through tweets a few times a day.  I don’t see every tweet in my feed, but I have found anything worth seeing is tweeted, then retweeted multiple times, which means I will see it eventually.  Because the tweets are so short, it’s easy for me to skim over what’s going on and move along.

I also have found a number of good blogs to follow from twitter.  I’m able to find these blogs, thanks to my tweeps.  I’ve also found a number of articles which were worth reading.  Whether I’m reading the article to stay current on world events or it’s more focused on education, I find this is a great way to keep up with information.  I may be an old teacher, but I’m often more current on trends than the younger teachers.

1024px-Pinterest_logoThird, This one gives me a little of everything.  I have boards on pinterest that I keep pictures of home decor I like.  I also have several boards to keep track of sites to use in my classroom.  Since I used to tear pages out of magazines (and then have trouble finding the right one when I need it), this seemed like an easy fit for me.  I pin with abandon.  Periodically, I scroll through my boards to remember what I found that I want to use.  I also will add a reminder on my calendar if it’s something I want to use at a future date (knowing I’ll have completely forgotten about it when that date comes along).

instagram logoFinally, I have used this less than the others, so far.  I just got an iphone last week (yes, I finally made the leap to a smartphone!) so now my goal is to make better use of instagram.  I’m trying to think about taking pictures more often.  Trust me, I’m in no danger of being that person who spends so much time taking pictures that I never actually enjoy an event.  I spent 10 days traveling in Switzerland when I was in high school and I think I took a grand total of 6 pictures.  I just don’t naturally think that way.  I’m trying to do more, since it is fun to look back on those later.

How do you use social media?  Do you use it with your students?  If so, please comment and tell me what you do.  My goal is to use it more next year, so any ideas are VERY welcome!

Branding My Classroom

Once again, my travels around the internet have given me inspiration:internet

This time, I’ve been checking out BrandEd podcasts (if you haven’t listened, yet, you should!  They are filled with great ideas and inspiration) and I ran across a tweet about a slideshare presentation here: Branding Your Classroom.branding your classroom

These various educators got me thinking: the more we remind our students what we want them to achieve, the more likely they are to achieve it.  I look at it as if I’m marketing a product for a large corporation (or a political campaign).  The more recognizable the name is, the more people are to buy what you’re selling.  So, if I can sell my kids on my “product” which is the content I need to embed in their brains, I can improve their test scores, their confidence and their IQ.  At least, that’s my hope.

I’m thinking about creating some vines for back to school time.  Get the kids and families excited about their child being in my classroom.  Then, sticking with the branding idea, we could embed the slogan, logo and other things in our newsletters, our remind101 notes, and on the walls of our classroom.  My teammate and I could simply bombard them with the brand.


Now, for the brand.  I’m thinking it needs to be something that will continue to raise their achievement, so my slogan could be “Today, be awesome”.  That’s something that would cover many things.  It allows me to use it referring to behavior, studying, test taking, homework, writing assignments and more.

I don’t know that we can get the money to have t-shirts printed up, although that would be “awesome!”  I’m also planning to focus on attendance and getting students to be in school whenever possible.  We have a number of students who have very poor attendance and research shows that this can impact their graduation capability.  Perhaps “being awesome” can also fit with good attendance.student led conference

Do you have a brand for your classroom?  Do you use a slogan?  If so, how does it work?  What do you do with it?  I’d love to steal (I mean borrow!) any ideas you have out there!

Reading Street Powerpoints Uploaded to Google Drive

Logo_of_Google_DriveSo, I spent the past year getting all the powerpoints I’ve made for Reading Street 6th grade uploaded to Google Drive and shared publicly.  You can access them from my school webpage:


6th Grade

Power Points for Reading Street 6th Grade

I really like using the powerpoints.  I have the book available as a back up, but it frees me up to walk around while I’m teaching and not have to focus on the pages of the book.  It also makes it easy for students to catch up when they’re gone.  While they can’t understand everything from the powerpoint (job security for me, right?) they can at least see what we covered when they were home sick.



My wife is a lazy liar

If only more people really understood what teachers do!


It’s the last day of school for my lazy, lying wife. She says teachers still have to go to work, but that can’t be right. Teachers only work when the kids are at school. I wish she would come clean and admit she is not really a teacher.  School starts around 9:00 and dismisses at 3:45.  She leaves the house before seven each morning, and it’s only a fifteen or twenty minute drive to the “school” where she “teaches.” She comes home around six or six-thirty in the evening. Sometimes later. What is she doing with all the extra time?

6:57 a.m. and the bag lady leaves the house. Looking for an OTB parlor that opens early. 6:57 a.m. and the bag lady leaves the house. Looking for an OTB parlor that opens early.

When she gets home, I make sure dinner awaits the slacker. It’s a wonder she doesn’t demand I spoon-feed her. After dinner, she works on “lesson plans” and “grades papers.”  The way she describes…

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