Ed Interview: Carmela Dellino

dellino

1) Can you briefly describe your background in education and what your current position is?

I began my career in 1979 as a middle school English teacher. I taught for four years as a high school English teacher, after which I decided that I could best serve students and families as a school counselor. My school counseling career involved four years at a middle school and 13 years as a high school counselor. I then worked as a high school assistant principal in the same school at which I had been a counselor.

After years of being at my school and in many ways still consider the most rewarding work years of my life, I decided to leave secondary education and seek out an elementary school principal position. Admittedly, it was not hard to transition out of the high school AP role. What made it difficult was leaving the school community I had come to love. Since leaving my job as a counselor I really felt a void. I missed the “distance” I felt with kids and families, although most would not say that I was anything from “distant.” I was seeking a smaller school community, one that I could know really well and I also wanted to transition to a high poverty school. Throughout my educational experience, I found that what really fueled my soul was working with students and families who had been marginalized and who did not have all the benefits of privilege that others had. I also wanted to work in an elementary school so that I could support students and families before the gap was so wide and before students were feeling helpless and hopeless.

I served as the principal of a small, richly diverse elementary school principal in a highly impacted area of the City of Seattle. Wow! That was an amazing experience. After four years, I was asked to work as the Executive Director of Schools for the southwest region of Seattle.

I currently work for the City of Seattle as an Education and Leadership Consultant. In this capacity, I provide coaching, consulting and mentorship to Title 1 elementary schools in the city that are receiving Family and Education Levy dollars.

I guess that was not so brief.

2) What inspires you about the work you do at Roxhill?

What inspired me? Students, families and staff. What I came to learn on a daily basis was the power of resilience, determination, compassion, a shared vision and perhaps, most important, the innate capacity and ability of children and families to overcome massive barriers and to achieve at the highest level. What also inspired me was the staff that worked tirelessly with students and families so that they could grow and thrive at the highest of levels.

3) Can you share a story from your first year as an educator, counselor or principal that illustrates an important lesson or skill you think all first year teachers should know or have?

I remember seeing this question when I first read your email a long time ago and I thought to myself, how could I ever respond with just one story. My lessons learned have been many, from the very first year as a teacher, counselor and principal.

But, here’s what I remember:

Teacher: I was 23 years old and teaching HS kids who were 17 and 18. I wanted to show that I was in charge and not get walked all over, yet I really wanted them to “like” me. I remember using sarcasm with this one kid in my second period American Lit class. Well, to make a very long story short, I quickly learned that sarcasm and trying to be liked was anything but what I should be doing as a teacher. Sarcasm is hurtful. Sarcasm is mis-understood. Sarcasm is abusive. Sarcasm is anything but modeling compassion, understanding, “belief-in”, etc… I never was able to salvage a relationship with that student. I can see his face to this day.

Principal: Really, the story here has to do with Alejandra. Her first year at Roxhill, she would barely step into the school house doors. She did not feel it was her place to do so and she did not have the confidence in her own right and skill set of being a voice not only for her kids, but for all kids. I remember I saw her in the back parking lot and she was clearly fuming mad. I asked her what was wrong and she said she could not explain herself. I invited her into my office. At first she said no and then I said that I was there for her — to listen to what was going well and what was not going well. I tried to reassure her that we (me, teachers, the school) are not always right and that we make mistakes and if we have made a mistake, we need to hear about it and learn from it. I also said that she was an equal partner in her children’s education and that when we partner — truly partner – with parents, then our children will thrive. She came into my office. I learned of something a teacher had done that really upset her. The teacher had made a mistake and long story shortened, the problem was rectified. (Teacher did a great job of acknowledging that what she had said was a problem.)

From my first days and for every day that I was a principal at Roxhill, I learned the power of parents as partners in what we do at school. I also learned, experienced and re-affirmed what the great President of Malawi, Dr. Joyce Banda said at Nelson Mandela’s funeral service:

Leadership is about falling in love with the people and the people falling in love with you. It is about serving the people with selflessness, with sacrifice and with the need to put the common good ahead of personal interests.”

4) How do you continue to develop as a professional? Where do you see your professional growth taking you?

I love this question — and struggle with the answer. In my current role, I find that I need to be very mindful to seek out professional development. I can read articles and go to conferences (actually, not so much), but the best PD for me involves processing the work with colleagues. I do not have a small group of educators (I learned a great deal from you from our conversations. You pushed and challenged my thinking!!) that I can talk with, bounce ideas off of. I have been reading as much as possible and listening and learning from the teachers and staff in the levy schools.

Where will my professional growth take me? Hopefully to be partners with teachers and administrators in the field in closing the gap and seeing students achieve at the highest level. I want to continually know more about school reform. What is working? Why does it work? How do you get there? What does it take? What are the key moves for school leaders? How do you support the school leaders in doing what needs to get done?

5) What kind of learning culture do you try to establish in your school and among your colleagues/staff?

I try to establish a sense of urgency that is nurtured with compassion, commitment, and careful and strategic efforts. Everyone in a school (staff, families, students, and even community members) should understand what we are striving to achieve. With this shared vision, everyone needs to work collaboratively to achieve that vision. Hopefully, what happens, is everyone feels our work has meaning and purpose; we feel inspired and supported to do the very challenging work ahead of them; we feel like we are partners in the thinking about what is happening in the school (even though as a school leader, you will be the final decision-maker), and we have fun doing it!

6) What are you currently reading for personal enjoyment? And what book would you recommend for a first year teacher?

I am currently reading Wonder and Unbroken for my personal reading pleasure. Asiya Werfa wants me to lead a book club with Wonder. I am excited to work with some of the students at Roxhill again! My mom loved the book Unbroken and I really want to read it for her. Also, my brother’s father-in-law was a prisoner of war in the same camp where this takes place in Japan, so besides the Italian connection, there is a family connection.

Two books: Creating Highly Motivating Classrooms for All Students: A Schoolwide Approach to Powerful Teaching with Diverse Learners by Margery Ginsberg and Teaching with Poverty in Mind by Eric Jensen. There are many more, but those two are what I think of right now.

7) How do you gain institutional knowledge about a school, district or city office that you are tasked to lead? How do you join that community and learn about its history?

Another insightful and great question that comes with complex and yet simple answers. Listen, learn, and engage. All this implies that I am going to ask lots of questions and immerse myself in as much as I can. It will mean going to the local grocery store and hanging out with books and art supplies so that families can stop by to visit and I can meet all their family. Maybe they will sit with me as we read a book; maybe they will leave their child with me as we read a book; maybe they will just look at me and gradually come to trust that I care about them. I will go to the housing complexes in my area and one night a month, hold a time when I invite children to come to read and do projects associated with the reading. I will invite families to talk about their own experiences in school, what they hope for and want for their children (it is to be happy and successful) and what does the school need to do to help them. I will go to businesses, walk the neighborhood, talk to the local law enforcement, talk with social service agencies and parks, and church leaders.

My 2015 Professional Development Plan

I have finished up my student-teaching clinical with Teach-Now and am in the process of applying for my K-6 teaching certificate from the Washington D.C. OSSE. In the mean time, while I am here in Korea teaching English I am going to have pursue my own professional development as an elementary classroom teacher via my Personal Learning Network, MOOC’s, and keeping up with the latest education research. I have tried to make each of my PD goals a SMART goal, therefore many have a specific deadline for implementation at some point in 2015.

Here is the link to my full PD Plan for 2015:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1t-_parfMDI6mP-GR_idkJUYEo_6t1Pf8maKfvZFl3W0/edit?usp=sharing

I will list just a few of my top PD goals for the coming year below, along with some commentary on my progress where relevant.

Objective: Create and execute more student-centered lessons.

Action Step:

  • I am gathering student-centered materials and methods, experimenting with implementation, and will be giving a formal PD session at a teacher orientation of new foreign English teachers here in Korea.

Implementation:

  • As I research student-centered methods in more depth while I am teaching here in Korea, I will identify appropriate methods that I feel confident in implementing one-at-a-time, and integrate them into my lesson plans, routines and activities. My goal will be to implement two new student-centered activities in each grade level that I teach per month.

Objective: Deepen my understanding of math instruction pedagogy for elementary school students.

Action Steps:

  • I will have regular correspondence with my math mentor, University of Washington professor, Elham Kazemi.
  • I will complete the readings that have been assigned to me by my math mentor, Elham Kazemi.
  • I will take notes, ask questions, reach out to my PLN for further clarification and advice, and create a blog post about each math reading and my personal study in general.

Implementation:

  • I will have at least two blog posts about my math pedagogy investigation by July of 2015.
  • I will have more than 5 blog posts about math pedagogy and instructional methods a year from now.
  • I will observe at least 5 recorded math lessons and take copious notes in the next year.
  • I will note my preferences and pedagogical beliefs around math instruction, and make sure to create goals for my first year math instruction based on that research and understanding.

Objective: Investigate methods of teaching character in my classroom.

Action steps:

  • Take the Coursera MOOC “Teaching Character” with the instructor, David Levin, a KIPP schools co-founder. (I am currently in the middle of this six week MOOC. I am taking notes on the videos and getting a little behind on the assignments, but learning a lot, collecting many resources and strategies on character education.)
  • Read and blog my notes of Paul Tough’s book, How Children Succeed. (This is done, see the link.)
  • Identify further readings and professional development opportunities in this area. (From the David Levin MOOC I have discovered and saved to my reading list a number of good research articles on teaching character and its importance.)

Implementation:

  • I will create a student character self-assessment Google Form to be filled out at the beginning and end of the school by both students and their parents.
  • I will design community-building activities or a project that will emphasize the development of character strengths.
  • I will intentionally observe and note character strengths and weaknesses in my students and create a routine that facilitates regular one-on-one conferences or interactions with students in need of character support.

Objective: Develop my leadership capacity as a teacher, including in specific areas of education interest like Design In Schools, teaching character, student data management, global education, meetings and PD facilitation and collaboration.

Action Steps:

  • Watch, take notes and blog about the 2014 Global Education Conference sessions with education leaders that I admire.
  • Take IDEO “Design In Schools” MOOC in March of 2015.
  • Lead a professional development session for the new ESL teacher orientation here in Korea in April.
  • Execute a Skype in the Classroom lesson in Korea by August of 2015.

Implementation:

  • Be available to the principal in areas where you can advise and provide a level of expertise.
  • Participate and grow in my presence as an educator online, expand my Personal Learning Network, keep blogging, tweeting, and collaborating via the web.
  • Identify and cultivate a good, collaborative working relationship with a mentor teacher when I arrive at my first American school.

Ed Interview: Craig Seasholes

Craig is a teacher-librarian at Sanislo Elementary in Seattle. I had the pleasure of collaborating with Craig on multiple occasions when I was working as a bilingual instructional assistant at a school in the same region of the school district. Craig brings a lot of energy, passion and innovation to his work as a librarian, but his work as an educator definitely extends beyond the classroom, participating on many district committees and involving himself in many education policy discussions. I count myself lucky to have Craig in my Personal Learning Network!

This interview was conducted by email. I want to thank Craig for taking time out of his busy schedule to thoughtfully respond to my questions.

1) Can you briefly describe your background in education and what your current position is?

My teaching started with ten years teaching mountaineering and everything you need to know to enjoy a month in the mountains of Wyoming, Washington or Alaska. From mountaintop to teaching Kindergarten was a short step, as children’s absorption in the adventure of learning is a wonder to behold. After completing a master’s thesis for Pacific Oaks College on “Growing Diversity” in a small independent school in Seattle, I switched my teaching to the library and technology program where I can impact students of all ages, including teachers and parents. Now I happily serve as teacher-librarian in a small, and deliciously diverse public elementary school in southwest Seattle.

 

2) What is one technology integrated lesson that you have done with your students recently?

Gearing up for a 11/17 presentation for the #globaled14 conference on the topic of connected environmental education I recently had 5th graders watch and respond online to a short video a local environmentalist prepared for them. Talking about doggy doo may not be highbrow science, but picking up pet waste before it runs into Puget Sound is a tangible effort. Likewise helping students learning to respond constructively and appropriately to online conversation is an important info-tech skill. The next step, connecting our students with other classes concerned about their local water quality issues. Contact me @craigseasholes on Twitter if you’ve know of some!

 

3) Can you share a story from your first year of teaching that illustrates an important lesson or skill you think all first year teachers should know or have?

I was walking down the sidewalk in Seattle’s Central District with Kindergarteners, happily leading them from tree to tree with “run to the cherry tree” and “stop at the laurels.” “eeeeeewwwww” came the call from kids gathered around something under the laurel, “It’s a dead cat!” Being the “teachable moment” idealistic first year teacher, my intent was clear when I asked, “That is so sad. What do you think happened to the cat?” Expecting a traffic safety lesson to emerge I was instead the one getting the lesson when one boy spoke out, “The police shot it. They shot my cousin.”

Welcome to the real world, Mr Teacher man.

 

4) How do you continue to develop as a professional? Where do you see your professional growth taking you?

The collaborative community of teacher-librarians presents a dizzying array of opportunities to connect and grow as an engaged professional. #tlchat, #globaltl, @WLMALIT @aasl and associates like @JoyceValenza, @ShannonMiller and @readerdavid have opened doors to communities of engaged learners who all call the library “home.”

 

5) What kind of learning culture do you try to establish within your classroom and among your colleagues?

I aim to build and sustain a culture of adventure and possibility to ensure that all students are effective users and producers of ideas and information.

 

6) What are you currently reading for personal enjoyment? And what book would you recommend for a first year teacher?

Later today I’m eagerly finishing Christopher Paul Curtis’ newest book “The Madman of Piney Woods” for school-review, but personal reading stack is topped by U of Syracuse iSchool Dean R.David Lankes’ “The Boring Patient” a brilliant response to undergoing extensive treatment for Hodgkins Lymphoma. Jump online and view his “The Community is the Collection” video address http://quartz.syr.edu/blog/?p=5137 to get a quick sense of how inspiring “The Boring Patient” is.

First year elementary teachers should definitely read Vivian Paley’s “The Kindness of Children”  from Harvard University Press.

Secondary teachers might want to jump ahead and read a current-issue book like Jesse Hagopian’s “More than a Score: The New Uprising Against High-Stakes Testing,” due out next month from Haymarket Books. I blogged it just yesterday and do think new teachers may find strength and inspiration in the test-defying push back against high-stakes, standardized testing. http://bookmansbytes.blogspot.com/2014/11/more-than-score-movement.html

Global Education Conference ’14 Sessions Archive

Session 1 – The Quiet Leader: leadership attributes of elementary social studies teachers in an era of deep change.

I have created a Storify archive of my tweet notes during the session. It was an interesting conversation among eight to ten education professionals from around the world. Katherine Ireland, the session presenter, is a PhD student in New Brunswick, Canada, studying teacher leadership in social studies education on the elementary level.

Session 2 – Going Global: A Literacy, A process, A Library Call to Action

Convergence – Librarians can be the catalyst to take advantage of the convergence of technology and global changes. There is no reason to be alone as a professional anymore. If a principal asks you “Why should I hire you?”, your answer should refer to your Personal Learning Network (PLN), “You are not just hiring me, you are hiring all the smart people I know.” The workplace of the 21st Century demands that we are able to connect and collaborate across borders and time zones.

All school subjects with the prefix of ‘geo’ would be more true to the issues of study. For example, biology or medicine as geo-medicine, would reflect current phenomena in global health like the outbreak of ebola.

Skype introduced a new feature this year called Skype Translator, a service that can translate communication between two languages, in real-time, both written and verbal translations. This service could be used in a Mystery Skype event to connect classrooms across the globe. Check out Skype in the Classroom to read more about all of these global education resources.  You can also participate in the Teacher Librarian weekly chats on Twitter which can be found using the hashtag ‘tlchat’.

GlobalTL – Librarians without Borders is the Google+ community for Teachers and Teacher Librarians to collaborate on inquiry projects across the country and world.

Paul Fleischman – Eyes Wide Open: Going Behind the Environmental Headlines

The environment seems to be vastly under-reported even though it will effect today’s teenagers and elementary students vastly more than any other generation. This is a book for students age 14 and up who want to understand their place in environmental history. Paul reported on one field report based on the reading of the book by a class in Minnesota that investigated Colony Collapse Disorder and why beekeeping and apiaries were banned in their town. They ended up getting laws changed in their town. He reported on the Munich School System which connects every urban school with a cabin in the Alps so that students can spend time and learn in the natural world. Citizen science is taking off, for example, the U.S. coastlines have a citizen monitoring system which identifies, logs and tries to understand the cause of death of every animal which washes up on the shores.

Virtual Book Clubs can be really powerful for a small group of students. Being able to communicate with people and students beyond their own community can really enrich the learning experience for many students. The special hashtag days on twitter, online summits, and global awareness days are really powerful catalysts for connection for both teachers and students.  Figure out ways for let students lead the way in the creation, research and impact of global collaboration.

Shared Presentation Resources and Links:

http://www.litworld.org/wrad/

http://flipgrid.com/info/

http://save20gallons.org/

http://www.dec.ny.gov/chemical/92229.html

http://www.eyeswideopenupdates.com/

http://www.projectnoah.org/mobile

http://honeybeesforedina.weebly.com/

http://scooppoop.org/

http://poetrysummit.weebly.com/\

Session 2 – Using Facebook and Twitter as online classrooms: Connecting students and educators around the globe.

– Katrina Ingco and King Pierre Moncal, The Philippines

Facebook

A Babson Survey found that 61% of teacher have Facebook accounts, 18% use it to communicate with other educators, and 12% use it to communicate with their students.

The positives of Facebook is that students are already on Facebook, privacy setting options are available and you can create closed or secret groups for your class.

슬라이드1

To safely ‘friend’ your students, you can create customized lists to keep things private from your students, or set-up a second professional account that you use just to connect with students.  You can also create a Facebook ‘Fan Page’ to organize your student ‘friends’ or a private group. Groups can be thought of as a place of creation for students and the teacher, where as a Fan page is a place where the teacher is still the ultimate mediator of the conversation and sharing.

The potential learning opportunities on Facebook mimic many of those that are advertised by traditional edtech dedicated social networks, mobile and web apps. Sharing documents and content, brainstorming, educational math and reading games, peer review of journal entries using the FB Notes feature, extra credit ‘flash’ assignments for students to take advantage of in a timely manner, class polls, school news, parent communication and involvement in the group or fan page (this can also act as a regulator of the students’ social media footprint). In fact, you can save paper and streamline the permission slip and newsletter distribution by posting them to a class FB page or group. Last, you can invite guest professionals, content contributors and mentors to add to the conversation and information sharing on the FB group. For example, after a guest lecture by a guest expert, they can continue the conversation with the class online.

FB ed apps

Twitter

There are 1 billion users of Twitter. 5,700 tweets per second and 100 million Tweets per day. There are about 50/50 male and female Twitter users.

It is recommended that you create a special Twitter class account that students are to follow. You simply ask student to tweet @yourclassaccount every time they are interacting or responding to an assignment or conversation on Twitter. In addition, you can in turn follow your students Twitter account and learn about their interests via their feed.

Students can connect with the world, sharing their content, understanding the specific Twitter grammar and comparing it with traditional forms of grammar. Besides sharing, of course, they can follow the incredible feeds like NatGeo, NASA, and other inspiring and informative Twitter handles in a variety of fields.  The Direct Messaging feature allows you to have private communications with parents and students via Twitter. Parents are eager to monitor their children’s social media footprint, this is a great way to leverage parent support as a regulator of interaction on the social media platform and provide transparency about the content of the class.

Below are some Twitter apps which enhance the educational value of Twitter for teachers and students:

http://twtpoll.com/ – Twitter polls

http://www.twitterfall.com/ – Research and collect specific hashtag information

http://historicaltweets.com/ – You can follow the Twitter feeds of historical figures and those who Tweet histories of places and events

http://www.twtbase.com/twiddeo/ – Sharing video via Twitter