One Friday afternoon before the long Memorial Day weekend, a kind teacher saved me from a potentially humiliating situation. This teacher, one of several on an interview committee, forewarned me that I was about to give my fifth-grade model lesson…with my fly down! Whoops!
Several months later, I discovered that a different teacher on the committee actually prompted this rescue mission. A teacher too shy to carry out the good deed herself. A teacher named Ellen, who within a couple of years, married me!
Now nearly a decade married, my wife and I have accumulated over 30 combined years of upper elementary teaching experience in competitive Bergen County, NJ. It is here, within the classroom, that a spark began, personally — and professionally.
The Whole Child
Our district partnered with Columbia University’s Teacher’s College for many years. Consequently, Reading and Writing Workshop became the model for literacy instruction. With the adoption of this model, conferring notes became a district expectation — and a district challenge — as teachers toiled to effectively implement this teaching methodology.
Ellen and I contemplated how to improve the practical implementation of conferring notes. Somewhere in the process, we set out to create a tool to not only help with the practice of conferring, but a tool to help with the implementation of BEST practices. We came to realize that the concept of conferring itself, in its simplest form, is rooted in the practices of formative assessment and effective feedback. Understanding this helped shape our vision. We desired to still help teachers with conferring notes, but more important to us than this was the desire to help the whole child through the use of practices (like formative assessment and effective feedback) widely accepted to be BEST at influencing positive student outcomes.
In a data-driven world, the best teachers are driven by the understanding that a student will always be much more than data. So if data is to be used well, it should be purposeful, actionable, and used with the intent of wholly moving a student forward. Academically. Socially. Emotionally.
This belief guided the design and direction of Chronicle as an app, as well as Powerhouse Education as a company.
A New Child
A few months after Powerhouse Education launched Chronicle 1.0, a localized iOS app for teachers, into the competitive world of ed-tech, my wife and I welcomed our daughter into the equally competitive world of life (luckily our daughter didn’t “launch!”). Backstories comprised of various obstacles precede and accompany each, but don’t most worthy things in life?
Nothing can fully prepare you for these things, right? Parenting. Teaching. ____________ (insert any endeavor of your choice). But with a lot of stumbling and frustration, and grinding, we can somehow fall forward. Somehow grow stronger.
Team Chronicle Cloud — Getting Strong Now
Getting Strong Now. I love this song from the Rocky soundtrack. My wife and I got married in Philly, actually. We have wedding pictures in front of the famous Rocky statue. Entering marriage is, in a way, like joining a team. And to be our best, don’t we all need to be part of some type of team? Take a minute
to watch the Getting Strong Now video. Observe the help Rocky receives. Apollo Creed. Paulie. Sparring Partners. Adrian. To achieve his goals, Rocky needs a team.
Enter Team Chronicle Cloud
Powerhouse Education has teamed up with the technical solutions experts from Synapse, LLC to release Chronicle Cloud. As its name suggests, Chronicle Cloud is a cloud-based application. This technology allows us to strengthen our guiding mission of using classroom best practices to maximize positive outcomes.
How you may ask?
Well, cloud technology allows teachers to share students and classes, similar to how one might share a file from their Google Drive, or, a folder of files. A teacher can even share students with another teacher through QR codes generated within Chronicle Cloud. These advanced sharing capabilities encourage teacher-to-teacher collaboration, helping produce the right conditions for Collective Teacher Efficacy. Collective Teacher Efficacy refers to the shared belief that when teachers work, as a team, for the good of students, they can positively improve student outcomes. In fact, John Hattie’s extensive research places it as the strongest factor influencing student achievement.
Above motivation. Above socioeconomic status. Above feedback.
But the actualization of collective teacher efficacy has enabling conditions, as outlined here by Jenni Donohoo.
Instead of the word “enabling,” however, I prefer the word “empowering.” Creating conditions that empower teachers to positively influence student achievement — that’s our aim here with Chronicle Cloud. Team Chronicle Cloud.