Call me stubborn, but I refuse to quit! T.R.U.E. G.R.I.T. is the foundation to success in learning and life! Exploring the dynamics of a successful classroom and how grit is a vital characteristic for student achievement through empowerment!
The right book changes everything! As I prepare for my next journey with #IMMOOC Season 4, I can’t help but feel like a kid in a candy store. The choices appeal to my core in all facets of my life just like different candies speak to me on different days… in different moods.
#IMMOOC 4 is like walking up to the M&M candy counter and tossing in every shade of chocolate goodness you could possibly desire. Whether it is my Innovators’s Mindset that draws me in to each book’s positive energy or my personal take on life that leaves me inspired to be better and do better, the choices #IMMOOC 4 is offering has me at the EDUCandyCounter with bag in hand!
It really is all about the right book. The book that opens your mind and allows you to wonder…
So I ask.. what if every student found the right book?
How do you help your students find the right book? What happens when they simply can’t find their way to the gift of reading?
As a child, I couldn’t find my way until one of my elementary teachers read Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls. I just connected. I wasn’t exactly a hillbilly, but I had very little. Billy Coleman, a 10 year old boy, was growing up in the Great Depression so he too had very little. What he lacked in money, he made up for in G.R.I.T.. He set himself Goals and took Responsibility for himself. He Imagined excellence in place of perfection to find happiness in all that he achieved. Not to mention his Tough mindset that created opportunities for himself in place of self pity.
It was the right book to help a 10 year old girl see that shehad the power to shape her own experiences. You could say that her Innovator’s Mindset helped her to work within her restraints to achieve success. A mindset that kept her from blaming the situation that could have lead to a poor outcome of isolation. The right book changes everything!
How do you open that possibility up for your students? What book could EMPOWER every child? Every child… every walk of life!
Maybe the bigger question should be… what are you reading to create experiences for yourself?
Introducing first…. from the innovative mindset of education… He hails from Edmonton, Canada and was rated by many as the best influence on change in education… and for best change agent of the last decade. With a leading book in education, sought after keynote, and leadership consultant… Weighing in on student voice and giving their education a purpose. He is a former teacher champion, principal champion, and CHAMPION FOR ALL STUDENTS AND EDUCATORS…
SIGN UP… just do it! Once you add your name to the list of EDUrisktakers you have already stepped forward in your thinking. (sign ups will be posted soon!)
YOUR VOICE AND CHOICE will steer your learning… you decide how much you can give and in return that is what you will take away. Big or small the takeaways ALWAYS impact!
DON’T FEAR THE BLOG… this may be the biggest issue for many educators. Worrying that they do not know how or may not know what to write. THAT IS HOW MOST OF YOUR STUDENTS FEEL EVERY DAY! This is your safe place just like you provide to your students… growing together in place of isolation is powerful!
TWITTER CHATS… you won’t receive a personal invite in a fancy envelope. This is a platform open to EVERYONE. Type in #IMMOOC and you will see the questions posted. It is a typical Q and A style format. You will see Q1 for Question 1 and you will respond with A1 for Answer 1. Just don’t forget to put #IMMOOC at the end of your answer (If it isn’t there automatically) to keep your response in the chat itself.
BE A CONTRIBUTOR not just a consumer… WE NEED YOU! If everyone simply consumed we would be self absorbed mirror images of one isolated way of thinking. Give… get into conversation… SMASH up your ideas with others and let EDUrelationships form for the betterment of your students, colleagues, and YOU!
Most often there are weekly videos to watch and reflect on… this is usually the jump-start to your blogging. There is no one way to reflect. This is your blog… JUST SPEAK YOUR TRUTH and others will chime in!
Here is your opportunity… get ready to do something AMAZING!
I remember my hiring day vividly. Jubilation for me and feelings of betrayal to the small community that did not get the teacher they had hoped for… the one that they nurtured through the district as a child, the one that learned from them, tackled hours in the classrooms with them, and was hand picked to complete a long term sub position that very spring. I was the new girl in town. The unknown. The crazy redhead ready to take on the world with one very big smile. The one who wore a pale pink suit with matching shoes to my interview to stand out from the traditional black. The one who didn’t know a single teacher to lean on or to have a glimmer into the mindset of a school not yet connected to technology.
I was not from the district… not from the county. This was NOT common practice. I was the Junie B. Jones, the Clementine, the Outsider.
Fast forward to 2016… the hiring process was about to begin and the buzz among the teachers was intense. Each had their own connections and experiences with whom they felt would best serve…
well that is where I stop and question. Best serve… who?
or them as teachers?
See the perfect sub kept the ball rolling. The perfect sub completed the task left by the teacher. The perfect sub kept children quiet and out of trouble. The perfect sub was compliant and maintained perfectly compliant learners. So what’s wrong with that? Who wouldn’t want to return from an absence to the work completed and no behavioral reports?
I was with several of my colleagues when an intense discussion unfolded… one that included our then new Assistant Superintendent Dr. Jacie Maslyk. Teachers started asking about the possible new hires and with all due respect Jacie just listened and did not comment. Then one teacher decided to throw out their pitch to have a particular substitute hired, which then opened the door to other names of “future ready colleagues”. This is when it happened…
With confidence like no other, without hesitation and very matter of fact, Jacie said,
“You need to understand that every hire is a Million Dollar Decision!”
Mic Drop! or was that a pin?
Silence settled over the room. Their eyes told a story. Were they thinking what I was thinking? Were they wondering the same thing as me in that very moment?
I sat there wondering, after 21 years of teaching… if I were interviewed today… WOULD I BE THE MILLION DOLLAR DECISION? I immediately knew the answer… NO! I was sick to my stomach. What had happened to me? Why wasn’t I good enough anymore? (This was not a pity party… this was legit!) More importantly, what on earth was I going to do to be BETTER?
PERSONAL CALL TO ACTION! I believe You must DO BETTER to BE BETTER! (spin on Maya Angelou) Where would I start? Who do I ask?
I started in-house by taking Jacie up on whatever she had to offer. Summer PD, opportunity to visit other classrooms, visit other schools, be a part of a team of teachers within the county striving for innovation, reading her book STEAMMakers, and yes, I joined twitter as Jacie had challenged each of us to do.
Now find time. I hadn’t read a book in years! GOALS! I was going to read this book… her book! I became engaged in the material… the words were jumping off the page because they reminded me of my childhood… I was a maker, as all children should be. My game changer with that book came when I was looking for a bookmark. I glanced at a dollar bill that I had laying on the table next to me. That was it… The Million Dollar Moment! I quickly snatched it up, folded in in half, and placed it in the book. That dollar became my reminder. My incentive. My mirror… if I were interviewed today, would I be the Million Dollar Decision?
I wasn’t in that moment, but I was determined to be.
Why was joining twitter the biggest game changer? Well for one, I was as good as I was nurtured to be within my district, and this one is on me. (I own it because I was waiting for others to impact my learning when I could have been empowering myself all along to be better). I always took on new initiatives, I always volunteered, and I always tried new things. So why wasn’t this enough?
Simple… there was SO MUCH MORE OUT THERE! Twitter gave me a connection to discussion on NEW topics, opportunities to connect with others that opened doors to my learning, EdCamps galore, and an array of conferences that would fit me. Twitter helped me build relationships. These relationships opened my eyes to new ways that I could learn by reading life changing books such as Innovator’s Mindset by George Couros, Teach Like A Pirate by Dave Burgess, EMPOWER by A.J. Juliani and Jon Spencer, and so many more. It gave me a chance to find EDUrelevance behind SnapChat by creating BookSnaps with Tara Martin. It encouraged me to join learning platforms such as IMMOOC, DitchSUMMIT, and personal Voxer Chats with an array of educators. Twitter connected me with society… entrepreneurs, universities, and businesses.
My journey over the last year and a half has set me on the right path… the one that takes me from hire to retire. The one that helped me point my EDUcompass in the right direction.
Do you want to be the MILLION DOLLAR DECISION for your students? What questions are you asking yourself to fulfill that vision, that goal, that EDUresponsibility? After inquiring as to what questions may come into play with hiring today, I was left struck by the following:
How do you use technology to enhance your instruction? Not add to instruction, but infuse. Not what YOU use it to instruct, but how your STUDENTS use it to create.
How do you collaborate with others… beyond the four walls of your building?
What is your digital-footprint? If your name was googled what would the world find? What would it tell the world about you as a person and educator?
What are you reading? How has it impacted you? your teaching?
I was hired by the Hopewell Area School District on a beautiful sun shiny day in 1997. Why did I get hired? I believe on that day, I was theMillion Dollar Decision.
I love to hear my students react to history. Why? Most often their reaction represents the growth we as a nation have had over time. At times it is excitement. At times it is disgust. This is when they truly understand that this is their story… when they feel it! Yes, history is our story… our story as a nation… the story of our past.
As an educator, it is my responsibility to deliver… as students, it becomes theirs to decide the impact. Will history repeat itself or grow and “change for the better“… time will tell.
Silence settled over the room. I simply posted a picture.
That is when the conversation started… the gasps, the disgust, the questions, the confusion. It sounded like this:
“Does that say white and colored?”
“They have two fountains like us, but why does it say colored? Colored what?”
“Why is the white fountain nicer than the colored?”
“Look, they are still connected… with one pipe!”
Then, as the discussion simmered, and they started looking to me for some type of explanation, I powered up the most incredible speech in history… words spoken by a man honored with a Nobel Peace Prize.
I passed out paper to sketch-note the life of a man that impacted history. Impact to a degree that we recognize him with a day off of school… yes, his legacy lives on. Martin Luther King, Jr. gifted us with 10 incredible focus points in life that can impact every human being… “Believe in Your Worthiness“.
My class is currently on a 10 Day Challenge of “Pure Goodness“. On Tuesday, January 16th, they will extend that challenge for the greater good. They will choose one of the 10 listed above and begin to write their legacy in history. This legacy will unfold with their digital footprint in their NEW CLASS WEBSITE. We hope you follow our journey… we cant wait to get started!
Join us… create your very own blueprint! Send us your blueprint and we will share on our website! Will it be a sketch-note? A writing? A drawing? An iMovie? A blog? We can’t wait to see! or…
SimplyCLICK HEREto be the first one to leave a reflection on ourNEW Class Flip Grid!
Lists pinned up. Post-its stuck to every surface. Notes upon notes in my iPhone. Calendar alerts set. Focused? No, not yet.
Time with family. Time with friends. Time to my classroom. Time given to the holidays. Time to PD. Time volunteered. Time to my passions. Not enough time.
Each time I give, what do I take away? Why do I add on in place of exchanging? I ask myself these questions each time I find myself a bit off-balance. I feel my emotions surfacing and am about to lose control. This is when I feel like I’ve been set up for failure… by myself! Never enough time.
Everything is a choice, isn’t it? Well, maybe not EVERYTHING! So, is this really a priority issue for myself? Do you ever ask yourself these questions? Questions that wrestle with your why?
I know my WHY… my why for life… my why for family… my why for education. But WHY do I struggle with balancing my WHYS…
because I am PASSIONATE! My soul nurtures my passions for life! I am that person… I am blessed with a love for life. I am the one who can never get enough time in a day to do everything that I possibly want to do… to make, create, share, listen, reflect… to achieve!
To know me… to truly know me, is to accept that I continuously have a fire burning inside me that will rage out of control if not given an outlet. To know me is to understand that I can never walk away from the flame. The one that warms me most often. The one that burns me at times. The one that lights the world on fire when I focus my heart and soul on what I am passionate about.
So when I feel off balance, I go to my survival instinct. The instinct that nurtured me through childhood. The one that empowered me. The one I relied on when I was my only resource. The instinct to stop and regroup… I adjust. I kinda clean sweep my life removing what hasn’t paid off. I need this space back. I need to regroup!
It’s like cleaning out my closet. If I haven’t worn in over the last few months, guaranteed it is just taking up space.
It is pitching files in my classroom that have no value or relevance to how my classroom moves forward.
It is taking a look at how I feel after spending time with people and reflecting on whether I am renewed or left spent.
It is weighing out my needs versus my wants.
This is when I regain focus. When I find my way back to my WHYS.
What I needed was simple. This past week I took time to mourn the loss of my beloved pet… my Chocolate Lab Sarge. He only had one single why in life and that was loving my beautiful family. Then, I took time to open up a book and allow the words to resonate with me in place of reading just to read. I created one of my family’s favorite mommy meals of Chicken Piccata on a busy school night. I stopped by a couple of Animal Rescues and looked into the eyes of sweet precious dogs that are ready to fulfill their own why in life. I created my long awaited class website that is now ready for student blogging.
I re-calibrated my heart.
I found my way back to my whys.
I am balanced again.
I got close to the flame, I warmed up, and let the fire burn.
Do you tag your “PLN” when you post? Why? Please share with me!
I recently was given a challenge by someone whom I consider an incredible mentor in this crazy EDUawesome life of mine. The challenge was to make my writing so good that I wouldn’t need to tag anyone to my blog posts. I was floored! What about my relationships… my people? The ones that give me feedback, direction, and…
well enough said… challenge accepted. I cannot say no to a challenge! BRING IT!
It is so interesting to see how this unfolded for me…
My life as a blogger was born on September 27, 2017 during Round 3 #IMMOOC created by George Couros, author of Innovator’s Mindset. It was a natural path for me as I have been a lover of writing from the young age of eight. I wrote a lot as a child…
scraps of paper ( a LOT of scraps folded up as small as possible)
the back of composition notebooks
in my head… my safe place.
My first “legit” journal came in 1988 from a close friend. It was a birthday gift for my Sweet 16 (Thank you Amy). Whether it was intentional or simply a coincidence it was a priceless gift that I needed in my life. It was absolutely perfect… and it was for ME! MY EYES ONLY! This is where my darkest secrets were kept. Ones that I felt the world could not handle. This is where my break ups went down… my friendships were built… my dreams were first committed to a pencil mark. See, I never used pen… that was too final for me. I had to have the chance to let it all out and then tweak and code what I didn’t want others to really know if they stumbled across it. Yes, I still have it!
Fast Forward to 2017… the worst timing possible for me to give up MORE precious family time. I was just pulling myself back together from the loss of a dear friend, my beautiful extended family was living with me during a military transition in their life, my amazing mother in law had been ill with countless diagnoses including lung cancer, my dearest friend diagnosed with breast cancer, a commitment to book studies, a mentor, a Virtual Co-op, my sons need me, my husband needs me, and the list goes on and on.
I like to describe #IMMOOC as a book study on steroids (aka huge muscles). This multifaceted learning EDventure is beyond mind-blowing due to the diverse talents, viewpoints, and experiences of each participant.
However, it’s so much more!
It really is about the connections; it’s ALL about the people. Every round, new members join the course, and together we become an EDU-family–spanning the globe. We encourage and challenge one another, and in many instances become face-to-face friends.
Round 3=#IMMOOC Family Reunion with new family members!
“No” simply wasn’t an option! See, I was a lurker Season 1 and 2. Why? Well, I didn’t know how to share my writing publicly. The only time I wrote I wrote for me… MY EYES ONLY!
Then came the first video… Alice Keeler! What a hoot! I couldn’t stop smiling, laughing, and learning! Wow, was this fun! I was nodding my head, talking to the computer, carrying on as if Alice was talking to just me… preaching the gospel of EDUtruth! The hour flew by and I was empowered to start my first blog.
What do I write? (That was my first question of course) That was when I knew I had to simply write from my heart… my experience… my belief. As one of my incredible mentors would say, write from “MY WHY!” This wasn’t about being right, or politically correct… it was about sharing… letting others into my world!
This was the day T.R.U.E. G.R.I.T. finally went down on paper. Prior to this moment, it was solely mine. In my head. My conversation. Mine to use in my classroom because it was my foundation for learning and so it became my philosophy for education. It was mine… and now it needed to be EVERYONE’S… at least an EDUspin for others!
Since that first blog, my writing and reflections have grown stronger, deeper, and more powerful for me. My thoughts need to come out. Just like the child in class that I pull to the side… where a journal is born… where we create a special cover for that “personal space” to write. Where we take a digital approach to this paper masterpiece and start blogging to connect… to build relationships in our isolated universe of thoughts!
So what about that challenge? To Tag or NOT to Tag? Here is how it went down:
Where does this leave me? I want to hear your thoughts. I know I need to follow my heart… because that is where others will “read” my writings. I love to blog, but it isn’t just about me. It revolves around my Why… and that in itself has changed. My Why is connected to people… my tags are different every time. They are personal. No doubt, there are a few that are tagged more often than others, but it is a connection. A relationship I have built. One that happened through #IMMOOC #tlap #DitchSummit and more!
Relationships within my #PLN have transformed my way of teaching.
I had 240ish connections in September 2017 (one year of being on twitter)
After IMMOOC I had 700ish
Before my SAS Conference in Hershey (December) I had 800ish connections
During the conference I went over 1,000
Today I have an amazing 1,244 connections to incredible educators on #Twitter alone!
I have 400 TIMES the connections from #Twitter than I personally had in my own district from the start of the 2017 school year
I now have published 24 blogs in just over 3 months. A sense of pride has emerged, a desire for more, a need to grow. Yet I am left wondering…
I’ve been pondering my #OneWord for 2018 over the last few days. Many words have spun through my mind, but yesterday I actually experienced one that spoke to me.
Pure “goodness” is what I witnessed as we drove home from the mountains in the frigid cold of winter.
A bitter day. A mere heat burst had just come through and lifted us up to 9 degrees. Not the type of weather you want to be out in.
As we sat in our cozy warm truck we thought nothing of the hours of driving ahead. Never once did we think we would need anyone but ourselves to make this simple journey home… one that has been driven countless times.
Never once did we think we would need to rely on goodness in this world. In a society that lives with such fear and ugliness.
Do you worry? Do you fear harm coming your way… often wondering if pure goodness still walks the earth. I am not a natural worrier, but I do have others in my life that are… that find it difficult to trust, especially once they are scarred by fear.
I live in the moment. Generally not worrying about what lies ahead.
I believe in good.
The moral compass of goodness.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that the world is not filled with kindness and those paying it forward. But as much as I feel goodness is a lot like acts of kindness, I do see a difference. As I create and instill this value with my students, these random acts can be calculated and in the safety of our own terms and conditions. Yes, they are amazing and wonderful and need to happen… even if we have to create the opportunity ourselves. However, I feel goodness spontaneously spills over in a moment… not necessarily a choice but rather a “moral or value” to live by.
goodness (ˈɡʊdnɪs) n 1. the state or quality of being good 2. generosity; kindness 3. moral excellence; piety; virtue
Pure goodness is what I felt yesterday… moral excellence in another person.
As we drove down the highway, our check engine light came on and we had to pull over. Just as we came to a stop, we put our hazards on warning others of our situation. That’s when I witnessed goodness… a vehicle pulled up behind us without hesitation. Let’s face it, most people drive right by those in need… most likely assuming everyone travels with a phone these days and the chance of something bad happening overpowers the good.
We were lucky enough to not need assistance so we waved him along. He waved back and off he went down the highway. Pure Goodness rang through me. I had warmth in my soul. It felt to me to be beyond a random act of kindness. To me it felt that the traveler lived in the moment of goodness… the right thing to do… so pure.
This moment stayed with me for the rest of the ride. I never actually met the person, nor did he physically do anything to impact me, but his goodness had a lasting effect. The kind that changes the world. The kind that changes it for the better!
So I choose GOODNESS… PURE GOODNESS! I want to be able to give another person that same rekindled spirit and belief that there is goodness in the world. I want to act on what I believe and not live in fear of what the world has shown us through the lens of destruction. I myself have been a part of that destruction on a smaller scale. Maybe not news worthy, but so not okay nontheless. Oh, I mess up… life gets tricky. I have chosen a less admirable path over time… truth. I make no excuses. I own it. Now, I am empowered… with a better choice. I will take this opportunity and I will own it!
As Pirate leaders and teachers, we refer back to a compass quite often as we steer learning and leading within our districts and communities. Having my compass continuously point to good is so challenging when I am faced with negativity and unkind words. It is so crippling to have others choose negativity towards my actions of an open mindset. A mindset I have been blessed with through the actions of George Couros, the author and speaker that is changing the face of education with an educational best seller “Innovator’s Mindset”.
This year my compass will point to goodness. The pure kind to which my actions will live in every moment. I won’t overthink the reaction. I will not fear the negative closed mindset of individuals too afraid to create positive change. I will not fear being disliked. I will not fear being called out by closed mindsets. So go ahead…
Call me out…
because I will become the good! Compass set… I will strive for pure goodness!