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Innovative Minds

MSET welcomes member and guest blog submissions from teachers, school leaders, and district level leaders highlighting innovative practices by educators across the state. MSET's Blog "Innovative Minds" looks for pieces that inspire innovative teaching, leading, and learning. 

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  • 04/04/2022 2:01 PM | MSET Webmaster (Administrator)

    MSET has an exciting lineup of professional development webinars this month!

    Putting the SAMR Model into Practice & Supporting High School Students as they Transition to College

    Join us Wednesday, April 13 at 8PM EDT for a double session. First, Jeromie Whalen, a technology teacher at Northampton Public Schools in Massachusetts is going to discuss putting the SAMR model into practice. Not familiar with the SAMR model? Essentially, it is a model that helps us to determine the right tool based on the task we want students to complete. A visual depiction of the model is included below. 

    The SAMR model can help educators think about the role of technology in supporting learning.

    Creative Commons from

    In his presentation, Jeromie will not only explain the model, but he’ll provide practical examples and share tools that he uses with his students.

    Following Jeromie’s presentation, Matthew Checrallah, a learning specialist at University of Massachusetts Amherst will share tools he uses to help students prepare for their transition into high school. He’ll explain which tools he use and how they can help students prepare for their journey into higher ed. Be sure to register here.

    Unlock the Love of Learning with Breakout EDU

    On April 27th at 8PM ET, we are delighted to have the CEO of Breakout EDU, Adam Bellow join us to share how you can unlock the love of learning with the Breakout EDU platform.

    Breakout EDU’s standards-aligned games challenge learners to use content knowledge and collaboration to discover clues and unlock puzzles. It promotes the 4Cs (Communication, Creativity, Collaboration, Critical Thinking), promotes career readiness, and enhances social-emotional learning skills.

    Breakout EDU won a Tech & Learning Award of Excellence in 2021 and is currently used by more than 350,000 teachers. 

    To learn more about the platform, check out their website and be sure to register for our session.

  • 04/01/2022 12:12 AM | MSET Webmaster (Administrator)


    I love working as an instructional technology coach. It’s the opportunity to work with educators on the frontlines where they are trying new tools and implementing new strategies to enhance learning in their classroom that gets me pumped. In my work, my favorite strategy is implementing coaching cycles. Coaching individuals is a methodical process involving inquiring to understand the current landscape of the classroom, planning with attainable goals, acting through co-teaching and modeling, and finally reflecting to identify areas of improvement. 

    If this sounds right up your alley get ready because it’s that time of year when many schools are beginning to look at their 2022-2023 staffing assignments. That means schools are looking for the next great Instructional EdTech Leader. Schools are in dire need of high-octane, self-drive, as Ron Clark would call them, runners to be the next technology leaders in their respective schools.

    As you begin wordsmithing your cover letter and tweak your professional portfolio, take a moment to learn a few tips from individuals who have recently made the transition into a formal leadership position in technology. Our tales are unique and wisdom may help you as you look toward an EdTech position this spring.

    Alison Glace,

    Informational Technology & STEM Coordinator

    (beginning position in 2022-2023)

    Technology has always kind of been my thing. Growing up with two techy older brothers certainly didn’t hurt. On top of that, I knew from a very young age that I wanted to be a teacher. So naturally, when it came time to start writing lesson plans, technology played a huge role in my teaching style. For ten years I have taught in a technology-rich classroom, and for ten years, I said I would never leave. Until now. A new opportunity is on the horizon for me, and here are some of the things that I believe helped me score the position. 

    1. A masters degree in Educational Technology. A master’s degree might not be listed as a requirement of the job. However, many employers are looking for candidates with a higher-level understanding of technology in education. A candidate with a master’s degree on their resume will stand out among the rest. 
    2. List technology proficiencies on your resume. Employers will expect that you are up to date on the latest best practices in educational technology. Listing all of the programs that you currently use in your classroom will make a big impact. 
    3. Provide proof of leadership experience. While you might be a rockstar at managing a class of 25 eight-year-olds, part of your new position will involve leading adults. Provide your future employer with reason to believe that you are able to lead adults just as effectively as you are your students. 

    Ben Hurley

    EdTech Coach

    (began position in 2021-2022)

    I have always been an advocate for technology and computer science in the classroom. As a child, I was always interested in how things worked. I went to college as a computer science major and halfway through that program I decided that sitting in front of a computer was not for me but teaching others was more my speed so I moved to Early Childhood / Elementary teaching with my Masters in Curriculum and Instruction in Educational Technology. I began my teaching career in middle school teaching Tech Ed, moved to elementary teaching 4th and 5th grade for 15 years where I was always looking for creative ways to engage students with technology. When Hour of Code came in the picture in 2013 my students enthusiastically participated and I was hooked on their engagement and the importance of teaching computer science in the elementary and middle programs. With the full support of my administration, seeing my dedication and passion for computer science, we began developing a Computer Science and STEM Specials class to bring access to all students in our school PreK through 5th grade. With the continuing support of our library media supervisor, collaboration with Career and Tech Ed and senior leadership, the continued growth of computer science education, and then later, infusing those concepts into our district's essential curriculum has become more of a priority. 

    As part of an EdTech Coach team, my role is to provide coaching support for teachers in their classroom, plan and execute district-wide professional development, and oversee and develop our big picture development of Computer Science throughout the county. With this continued growth across the district, our Library Media and Instructional Technology Supervisor saw the need to reimagine the aging Digital Integration Specialist role to an EdTech Coaching position which really puts the focus on growing teacher leaders in our schools to use a variety of digital and computer science tools giving them an opportunity to dive deep and enhance curriculum to truly engage and reimagine student learning. With my knowledge of computer science, robotics, my district involvement in the MSDE SCRIPT process, my prior experiences in the elementary and middle classrooms, ability to work with a variety of grade level teachers and passion to drive computer science, this was the perfect role for me. 

    My biggest piece of advice for those looking for positions such as this is to be an advocate. Advocate for your passion. Advocate for how your students learn. Advocate that education needs to meet their interests and needs. Advocate for being creative with your teaching and helping them find connections in their learning they never thought or imagined.

    Brian Cook,

    Instructional Technology & Innovation Coach

    (began position in 2019-2020)

    Leaving the classroom was one of the most difficult professional decisions I ever made; I loved teaching middle school language arts and always pushed the envelope of technology to enhance learning in my classroom. Sometimes I wonder how I ever made it to my current leadership position as an instructional technology coach.

    However, after listening to an episode of the Future Ready EdCast, a podcast hosted by two of my amazing colleagues from my school district, I found myself learning of this concept of having a mentor and sponsors, which might be the most thought provoking professional advice because I truly believe this is what happened to me too.

    Let me explain …  One of the biggest reasons I managed to move into a leadership role in instructional technology within my district was I was fortunate to have two major pieces on my professional journey, a mentor and numerous sponsors. 

    My mentor was the guy who listened to me ask questions and listened when I needed to vent about not getting a position after an interview, which sometimes can happen more than we want it to. This person reassured me in time it would work out when the position was right for me. 

    My sponsors were the individuals who occasionally dropped my name as an EdTech leader when new initiatives were beginning and the district needed volunteers. For instance, I have always been an EdCamp attendee and never knew my knowledge of the events would lead me to helping initiate one in my own district. Another example is being a ginny pig for a learning management system (years before it was required) and inviting district personnel to see my students in action utilizing it. 

    These opportunities allowed my circle of sponsors to expand before my dream technology position opened up in my district. Like my mentor said would happen, when the right position opened I was ready and fortunate to be selected for the position.

    Every school that posts a technology position has a specific need to be filled and you may be the individual who earns that position, but you may not be that person too. There is no magic recipe to guarantee you a promotion into a formal technology leader position. However, a title does not define a leader. A leader is defined by the work he or she does and their willingness to support their colleagues.

    Regardless of whether you get the position you apply for or not this spring, there will be other positions in the future available. Your willingness to look forward and have a desire to coach and train others already shows your passion to be a technology leader. Believe me, when the right position comes available it will be yours.

    Thank you for what you are doing now to support students and colleagues with technology.

    Brian Cook serves as the MSET President. You can connect with Cook via email at or find him on Twitter at @drbriancook

  • 03/06/2022 7:56 AM | MSET Webmaster (Administrator)

    Last month, MSET invited two members of the Employee Induction and Professional Learning Department in Frederick County Schools to present The Science of Learning: Using Technology to Reduce Cognitive Load.  Maureen Corio and Tammy Sander led a 30 minute presentation packed full of strategies on how teachers can use tech tools to reduce the stress of the classroom.  The learning leaders from FCPS explained how frequent check-ins to provide feedback allow students to review their progress on their work and get proper guidance on how to meet their learning goal.  Tools from Google Workspace for Education provide easy ways to comment in real time or asynchronously on work being done.  Chunking larger or long-term assignments into smaller tasks can help students focus on segments of the assignment instead of being overwhelmed with the many components of the project.  The built in tools of an LMS to use completion rules as work is completed or publish dates to reveal the next part of the project can do this nicely.  Due dates on Google Calendar help students manage their time and stay aware of due dates.

    When there is a large amount of work to be done, teaching students to prioritize the work to be done using apps such as Trello or Google Keep allows the learner to know what the important work is to be done first, second, and so on.

    On March 9th, Maureen and Tammy will again be presenting the Science of Learning to our MSET audience.  The topic this time will be the Mindset of Belonging and Retrieval Practice.  In this webinar, attendees will learn how technology enhances and builds the mindset of belonging, making sure every student's voice is heard.  When students feel they have a voice in their learning, they are more likely to persist through challenging tasks and be successful.  They will also explore how technology can enhance and revolutionize the art of retrieval practice and feedback-driven metacognition. These are two of the four “Power Tools” presented in the book, Powerful Teaching, authored by Pooja Agarwal and Patrice Bain.

    This short learning opportunity will be sure to power up your classroom with research informed strategies you can use immediately.  To register, sign up on the MSET web site.

  • 12/01/2021 11:48 PM | MSET Webmaster (Administrator)

    On Wednesday, December 8th University of Maryland Global Campus’s (UMGC) Instructional Technology faculty will be sharing some of their favorite infographic tools during MSET’s monthly Speed Tech professional development webinar. Speed Tech, a professional development collaboration between MSET and UMGC, offers six, five-minute presentations (30 minutes) on popular web tools and applications in education. This month’s edition will have a festive theme with a plethora of ideas for you to take back to your classroom.

    A preview of the infographic tools are offered here:


    • Canva is a powerful design tool to create stunning visual displays, including infographics, posters, flyers, presentations, graphs and charts and more! There are so many potential uses for this tool and during the webinar, UMGC faculty will share some holiday themed ideas to use in the classroom.

    Big Huge Labs

    • Big Huge Labs has been around since 2005! It’s fun and engaging tool that allows you to do more with photos. UMGC faculty will share how you can use Big Huge Labs’ tools to help your students set goals for the new year.

    Adobe Spark

    • Adobe Spark is a suite of design tools that are easy to use and incredibly powerful. It’s completely browser-based and allows students to create engaging graphics, websites, videos and more. Learn how you can use these tools to help students express their creativity!


    • Visme, another powerful design suite, offers numerous templates for presentations, charts, and maps, infographics, documents, videos and gifs. Create a free account or take advantage of the teacher and student plans.


    • Piktochart is a visual content maker that offers tools to create infographics, reports, presentations and other visualizations. Start with a free educator account to give this tool a try!

    Get the scoop on these great tools and network with colleagues from around the state! Register for the webinar here.

  • 11/06/2021 8:08 PM | MSET Webmaster (Administrator)


    As educators, we work hard to implement effective and research-based practices in our classroom daily. To keep everyone healthy, education has undergone tremendous shifts. Many of the best practices we relied on have become an outright safety hazard. Technology, when harnessed properly, can fill in many of these gaps. However, with so many educational technology tools readily available, sorting through and finding the right tool to meet your needs can be overwhelming. 

    Differentiation is one of the most powerful tools in my first-grade classroom, and it has been sorely missing since the switch to virtual and hybrid instruction. Planning one day of instruction for students virtually is difficult. Planning one day of instruction for virtual and in-person students simultaneously is challenging. Planning for hybrid instruction while also differentiating to meet the needs of individual students felt outright impossible. 

    With our students recently becoming 1:1 with iPads, I now have access to possibilities I did not have before thanks to the iWork apps. Given that first graders are still emerging in their tech skills, I need to be selective with the tools I choose to introduce them to. Some of my requirements include easy navigation, picture clues, text to voice, and the ability to enlarge the screen; all of these tools help to make the content accessible to my emergent readers and writers. Up until recently, I had been unable to find a tool that would allow me to once again implement the differentiated station rotations our curriculum calls for.

    The Apple app Numbers, typically known for spreadsheets, is the one tool that has miraculously stepped up to the plate to fill my differentiation needs. This was done through creating templates that are updated weekly with new station rotation activates.  As the teacher, I only needed to learn a few simple skills to create my templates. From there, the templates are easily edited from week to week. Sustainability and ease of use are a necessity with there being so many tasks and demands on teachers’ plates.   

    The actual formatting of the template is dependent on the needs of the classroom and the teacher. I chose to have one math template and one reading template. These templates contain 5 stations which allow the student to choose one for each day of the week. Each station has an easier and more advanced option to allow for a wider variety of needs to be met. Finally, students once again have an outlet to make choices about their learning. 

    There are a few features within the Numbers app, and the other iWork apps, that allow for the ease of implementation. The distinction that the Numbers app receives that the others do not is the use of the tabs. The tabs, also known as sheets, can be labeled with both emojis and words to allow for students of all reading levels to access the different stations. Other tools that are available on the other iWork apps include the ability to insert voice recordings and the use of shapes, emojis, and photos to make directions clear to students. On the student end, they have a toolbar that makes it simpler for them to insert voice recordings, audio, and drawing. The work is easily shared between me and the students through the Schoolwork app. These few resources can be combined in countless ways to create meaningful learning through engaging activities. 

    I had overlooked the iWork apps due to a lack of knowledge of them and I did not see how they would be valuable in my first-grade room. If you have gaps in your instruction that you are looking to fill, and have access to Apple devices, the iWork apps allow for easy implementation for both teacher and students. You can learn more about these apps on the apple education website. The goal of educational technology is to enhance learning, but there is something to be said for finding tools to use in your classroom that inspire you to show up each day. For me, finding these tools has given me the boost of inspiration I needed, and I hope they can do the same for you.

    Makayla Merrill is a graduate of Salisbury University where she earned a degree Elementary Education. She has spent two years teaching first grade in Worcester County, Maryland, and is certified as an Apple Teacher. You can hear more from the author in her self-published book, “Dear First Year Teacher: Counterculture Advice from a First Year Teacher on How to Enjoy Your Rookie Year And Beyond”, which is available on 


    Amazon. Retrieved February 24, 2021, from

    Education - k–12 - learning from home. (n.d.). Retrieved February 24, 2021, from


  • 10/13/2021 9:09 AM | MSET Webmaster (Administrator)

    Students deserve the opportunity to engage in their learning and enjoy the process of learning. Sometimes it can be challenging, and trial and error often occurs, but that’s how learning happens.

    My school district has been fortunate to bring the iPad into our classrooms as the primary device for their instruction. The change has offered limitless opportunities where students can create by drawing, video, and audio using the iWork Apple tools (i.e., Keynote, Pages, and Numbers). Tonight’s session will showcase five quick tips or strategies anyone with an iPad.

    Measurement: Science teachers look out! Today’s session will have a middle school science teacher showcasing how he utilized the iPad to measure the distance of an asteroid from space. The simple process is one students and teachers can easily learn to make learning come to life.

    Music Helps the Heart: Using music in the classroom challenges students to think in a different manner and GarageBand on the iPad is the way to go. Jump in with a music teacher who utilizes GarageBand to support his classroom instruction and aligns it to classroom content in reading.

    Collaboration: Numbers is commonly thought of as another type of Excel. Yes, it does some spreadsheet concepts, but it does so much more. Learn about how one elementary teacher shares Numbers as a collaborative document.

    Accessibility: Ensuring every student gets to access their devices and curriculum is paramount to them being successful in school. Tonight’s session will show few quick tips that showcase how to support students in the classroom.

    Keynote: Make your presentation come alive with animation. Keynote allows documents to be turned into GIF files and movies. Come join one of our technology coaches who will showcase these Keynote features.

    MSET’s Speed Tech Event will kickoff tonight at 8PM via Zoom Webinar. Sign-up for the event today using this Registration Link

  • 09/26/2021 6:00 PM | MSET Webmaster (Administrator)


    Although I have been a child psychologist for over a decade, I recently found an unusual source for my “continuing education,” my puppy trainer. As I have been raising my puppy, I realized the overlap between puppy training and teaching social-emotional regulation. So here are a few puppy ideas to consider that translate into the child world.

    1. What you allow will continue-- Just as with puppies chewing our shoes, unless we take steps to correct, it is likely that the behavior will continue. We frequently underestimate the power of behavioral scaffolding and correction when addressing social and emotional issues. Unkind words among peers, anxiety-driven work avoidance, and chronic disorganization don’t magically disappear. If we are allowing unhealthy behaviors in our class, most likely, those behaviors will not only persist but may even mushroom into more significant, persistent, and pervasive patterns.
    2. Tolerance is the goal-- As we have been trying to “sell” school as a place of excitement and games, the implicit message being sent is that school should be fun all the time. Not true. Just as with life, there are many things that we don’t like, but that we tolerate (does anybody love going to the dentist?). The same applies to our social-emotional world. The expectation is not that the child should like everyone but that the child can tolerate everyone while being kind and respectful. That tolerance can gradually morph into actual enjoyment of the peer. The child doesn’t have to like math, spelling, or science, but the child needs to tolerate the growing tension, frustration, and developmental confusion associated with learning new concepts. The same applies to feelings. The goal is not that we enjoy being sad or angry but that we tolerate being in those emotional states. The development of that capacity for tolerance is one of the greatest weapons against chronic anxiety. In the world of SEL, we have been putting much emphasis on feelings recognition and identification. While self-knowledge and self-awareness are crucial, they are not sufficient in producing more optimal functioning. We know from Cognitive Behavioral Theory that we have the most control over our behavior, secondly our thoughts, and least control over our feelings. When helping students become more emotionally healthy, our emphasis should primarily focus on action and behavior while recognizing the emotional component. Address the behavior first by asking, “While you are feeling anxious, what can you do that would make you feel better? Addressing cognition next, ask, “While feeling anxious, what can you tell yourself  to make yourself feel better?” Naturally, healthy action will result in healthier, more adaptive thinking and subsequently more enjoyable feelings. As the saying goes, “feelings are indicators, not dictators.” 
    3. Let them figure it out-- When we see our students struggle, especially socially or emotionally, naturally, our first instinct is to helicopter in, rescue the child, and fix the problem. It is difficult to tolerate our own discomfort when seeing our students in emotional pain. But that type of pain is a wonderful motivator and teacher, helping our students learn how to make good choices through learning about the related consequences of those choices. Our students often don’t figure things out until there is an emotional incentive for problem-solving. Sitting with them in their distress and focusing more on our companionship can be more productive and ultimately instructive than offering leading guidance. Children put a higher value on life lessons when they have been able to successfully problem-solve on their own rather than having to rely on “spoon-fed wisdom” from adults. Children’s self-esteem and confidence grow as they master new situations and skills, which involves making choices and experiencing corresponding consequences, helping them determine what to do or what not to do next time. We are tempted to shortcut this learning process by trying too hard to turn everything into a “teachable moment.” As we know, each child is on their own learning timetable, which cannot be rushed. 

    As we are starting the new school year teaching our students SEL skills, let’s remember the entire Cognitive-Behavioral triad (behavior, feelings, thoughts) and emphasize each component equally. Action towards the right direction produces healthier inner dialogue and self-concept, which always makes us feel better. 

    Lucie Pentz is the child psychologist at St. James Academy in Monkton, Maryland. 

    Join MSET for its Tech Development Session on Wednesday, September 30th at 8pm EST as it has University of Maryland Global Campus faculty member Erica Ellsworth showcase how one can utilize technology to support Social Emotional Learning! Register for the event here.

  • 09/08/2021 9:27 PM | MSET Webmaster (Administrator)

    On Thursday, September 16th University of Maryland Global Campus’s (UMGC) Instructional Technology faculty will be sharing some of their favorite tools in a brand-new webinar series, titled, “Speed Tech.” Speed Tech, a professional development collaboration between MSET and UMGC, will offer six, five-minute presentations (30 minutes) on popular web tools and applications in education.

    To kick off this new event, faculty from UMGC will share their favorite web tools. A preview of the web tools are offered here:

    Prezi Video

    • Prezi video you and your slides together in real time. You can have your face and your video together while you stream in an application like Zoom or record a video. No longer do you have choose between just your face or your slides! Plus, it’s a cool feature that sort of makes you look like a news broadcaster.


    • Remind is a private mobile messaging platform that allows teachers, parents, and students communicate with each other. It’s a great way for teachers to communicate with students without having to share a personal phone number.


    • Do your students love cartoons or animations? Powtoon is a web tool that allows you to create animated videos. Their free tier provides 3-minute videos. The videos look professional created, but you don’t have to have graphic design experience to use this tool.

    Microsoft Lens

    • If you are a person who likes to take notes but wishes you could save them electronically without having to type, Microsoft Lens is for you! Office Lens is a great way to capture whiteboards, handwritten notes or memos, signs, graphics, sketches, drawings and save the, electronically. It’s available for iOS and Android.


    • Wakelet is a free platform that allows you to save, organize, and share content from across the web. You can save content in collections, which you can share with others, invite collaborators, or share publicly. It’s a great content curation tool and a great way to share resources with your students.

    Get the scoop on these great tools and network with colleagues from around the state! Register for our first event here.

  • 07/02/2021 1:40 PM | MSET Webmaster (Administrator)


    This COVID-19 pandemic created a teaching train-wreck. As teachers, we were forced to learn a new way to instruct students. For many of my coworkers, technology was their greatest struggle this year. My personal struggle was different. I struggled trying to find a way to respond to my students as if we were back to normal (in person and face to face). 

    Pre-COVID, while students worked on assignments in the classroom, I was able to walk around and see students working. I was able to read what they were writing and quickly address any misconceptions while they were working. Students were free to ask quick questions for clarification on a skill, and I was readily available to help them, guide them. During a lesson, I was able to see if a student was struggling or confused just based off of the student’s facial expressions and body language. It didn't work that way when cameras were off and muted; I didn't know if they were lost in their learning.

    When virtual teaching was thrust upon me, everything I knew in supporting in those moments listed above was taken away. I was lost in how to guide and help my students and I felt like a failure. For the first term of this year, I would teach a short math lesson, then give them an assignment to work on independently. I hadn’t realized until afterwards that without the guidance I was once able to offer, my students struggled a lot. When reviewing their work I found those simple errors I should have caught walking around the room. But I knew I had to find a new path as I was unable to change the circumstance of COVID.

    Setting My Own Goal

    I had to find a way to communicate with my students virtually in a similar way to how I helped students in person. 

    Through many trials and errors (and too many failures to count) I found solutions to the problems I was facing. I have much more to learn and practice, but by using these new strategies, I quickly saw improvements from my students. I was now able to interact with my students in ways I didn’t even know I could before. I was able to answer students' questions even when we were not on the screen together. I knew when my students were confused about the content. But most importantly, I could  help students who needed more guidance and direction than others. 

    Here are a few suggestions that I found useful and hopefully can help other educators if they found themselves facing similar problems: 

    • Nearpod: While Nearpod has many features, my favorite was  the “Draw It” tool. While I was logged in as the teacher, I could see which students were participating in my class. As they worked on a problem, I could see in real time the students solving it on their own computer at home. It was as if I was walking around the classroom looking at student’s whiteboards when they were solving a problem. When students were done answering, I could “share” a student’s answer to the class without the student’s name showing. This allowed me to show incorrect answers and offered me the opportunity to have a teaching moment with students to dive in on how to fix their math problem. 

    • Google Slides: I used to let students to work on assignments independently off of Zoom because I couldn't see their work. However, that all changed when I went to using Google Slides. As they work I can view every student’s Google Slide and check their answers before they submit it and leave zoom. 

    • Cameras On: Luckily for me, we were allowed to require all students have their cameras on while teaching. I know this requirement wasn't allowed for all schools, but I could see when my students were confused or distracted or not doing their work because they left. In the fall if you are doing virtual learning, I would recommend to teachers make cameras on a mandatory requirement. 

    • Premade Videos: I used Screencastify to record math skills. I saved those videos and attached them to online worksheets for students to watch while they complete their assignments. This allowed me to help students at home even when they worked on assignments independently after hours. I even had some students share that when they got stuck they would remember a line or phrase I said during the video to remind them of how to solve a problem. I know not every student watched the videos every assignment, but even if it helped one child it was worth it. Here is an example of one of my instructional videos.

    • “Mote” Google Extension: This was my last discovery. When teaching in person, any teacher knows there’s always at least one student who asks for the directions multiple times. The Mote Extension allowed me to record myself saying the directions for an assignment, or even reading a word problem aloud. I was able to easily insert the short  audio clip into the assignment for students to click on and listen to. This is not a video, it’s an audio clip. 

    As many of us are attending summer professional learning, I encourage you to continue to look for ways to connect with your students as we return to in-person learning in the fall. Yes, it was was a challenging year, but I am thankful to have spent the time trying new things and experimenting. I know even when we return to in-person learning with every student back in school, I will be using these tools to teach.

    Madeline Naumann is a 5th grade math, science and social studies teacher at North Salisbury Elementary School in Wicomico County School District. She is pursuing her Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership at Salisbury University. You can contact her via email at or find her on Twitter @MadelineNaumann

  • 06/17/2021 8:17 AM | MSET Webmaster (Administrator)

    Please don’t do this.

    Whatever you do, don’t go there.

    Trust me, it will not end well.

    I am referring to looking in your rear-view mirror and going through your coulda, woulda and shoulda’s. You have been through an incredibly difficult two years. Allow yourself to feel good about where you are.

    Leadership expert Dan Sullivan would recommend that you focus on the gain, not the gap. In other words, reflect on the progress made, not the distance between where you ended up and where you wanted to be. This does not mean that you shouldn’t continue to strive to get better. It’s in your DNA. I know you are always looking for ways to improve. And just in case you were looking for more, I wanted to provide you three great ways to become a better educator this summer.

    Listen to Podcasts

    Am I biased because I host two podcasts? Probably. But is listening to podcasts a great to improve your practice in just ten minutes? Absolutely.

    The beauty of podcasts is that you can listen to them on the go. You don’t need to be sitting, highlighting or even have your eyes open to learn from a podcast. I know folks that listen to podcasts while they are driving, exercising, or cutting their lawn.

    Again, I am biased, but I would recommend one of the many podcasts on the BAM Radio Network. No matter what your position in education, there is a podcast for you. And best of all, podcast episodes usually only run between 4 and 15 minutes. Try just one. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

    Prepare Yourself Physically

    I will never forget my dad’s advice the summer before my first-year teaching. He said, “Jon, you are going to want to be in the best shape of your life before you step foot in that classroom.” At the time, I had no idea what he was talking about. I mean it’s not like I was going to be playing in the NFL.

    Now I understand what my dad meant. Teaching is exhausting. I played competitive sports growing up, so I had some idea of what it was like to be worn out. But there was nothing I played that prepared me for how tired I was after a long day of teaching. It is a tired like I had never experienced.

    Here’s the thing. You don’t have to spend hours and hours exercising and working out like you may have done when you were younger. Not that you still aren’t. Just don’t talk yourself out of exercising because of where you may be now. Go for walks. Do a few push ups each day. Play with your kids or your pets. You can get a good workout in as little as five minutes a day. Your body will thank you when you head back to school in August.


    Rest Your Mind

    What is the one thing that never seems to turn off during the school year? Your mind. Heck, even when we are sleeping, we are dreaming about the next day or being chased by a giant unsharpened pencil. Maybe that’s just me.

    Start by making a list of everything that comes to mind when you think about next school year. Take as much time as you need to get everything down on paper. When you are done writing, put the piece of paper away and don’t look at it again until the week before school.

    Finally, allow yourself to get more sleep than you did during the school year. You’re probably thinking, “Jon, that won’t be a problem.” Remember, when you sleep you allow your brain to rest and to flush out all of the toxins that built up during the day. Your brain will thank you and you will be more mentally prepared in August.



    Remember you have earned this summer. Enjoying your time away from school doesn’t mean you are unprofessional or that you don’t like kids or enjoy your job. Don’t let social media or non-educators try to convince you otherwise. Oh, and one more thing.

    I’ll see you in August!


    Jon Harper is a former elementary school teacher and current assistant principal in Dorchester County Public Schools.  


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