Domain 4: Professional Responsibilities, Personal Learning

#OneWord2019 “OWN”

This isn’t just about one word, it is about a word that will become

my go to

my action

my reaction

my mantra

my why for 2019

My #OneWord2019 is OWN!

This one word is where my thoughts will go to in most, if not all, situations. That is how I tick. When I give worth to something, I OWN it. I make it mine. I use it for betterment and depend on it to be my mirror for accountability. I value it enough to give it my time and attention. I create opportunities because of it and at times in spite of it. I am committed.

When I listen to others, I will try to OWN my part in their story. Maybe they are feeling let down, left out, frustrated, or deflated. What can I do to help them and others to feel better? To feel important. To feel worthy. I want to OWN my share.

Unlike a New Year’s Resolution, this #oneword is a constant reminder for betterment in my world. It becomes a way that I can mold a moment and put a new spin on what may seem disappointing, upsetting or even disengaging. It is a way for me to OWN my share on this walk in life. I am an optimist by nature, so I don’t always see a situation from the bottom up or from a stance that devalues what I see as an experience. By OWNing it, I will go from

…consumer to contributor.  

I have consumed an abundance of information in the last 2 years. I have read more in this time frame than I have in my entire life, and all by choice. I have opened myself to others’ views, opinions, philosophies, and “whys”. I have attended conferences taking away life changing moments and adding them into my next EDUmission. I have consumed new ideas and methods that have transformed education as I have known it. And now… it is my time to contribute. This is my year to give back to education what has been gifted to me! It is my time to OWN my part in the future of every child, not just the ones within my own classroom.

…isolation to fellowship.

I have isolated myself at times by feeling misunderstood. My excitement for learning has removed me from conversations thinking that maybe I just didn’t belong. I have had to watch my words around others as to not offend by my mere energy for life and learning. I have walked out of conversations that did not better me and turned down open invites into negative closed off situations. I have isolated myself into a crew that supports my beliefs and initiatives in place of throwing up hurdles and roadblocks at every turn. And now… it is my time for fellowship.  The kind that is okay with uncomfortable. The kind that can add a new perspective. The kind that does not personalize, but OWNs an opportunity.

…blame to responsibility.

I have blamed the system one too many times. Truth be told, I have blamed decision making without understanding why the decision was made. I have blamed 24 hours in a day for not being 30. I have blamed circumstances for disappointments. And I have blamed myself when I was not to blame. And now… it is time for responsibility to be taken. If I am going to be responsible, the kind that I want to model for all my children, then I need to OWN my part!  I will hold myself accountable to learn the why before I react. I will OWN my 24 hours and use them to better myself as a mother, wife, daughter, sister, friend, and educator. I will take responsibility for my part and use it to lead others.

Day 1 of 365 days to OWN! They are each gifted to me by Him and I plan on making each of them count! Bring it on 2019… This year I am ALL IN and OWNing It! #OneWord2019

Personal Learning

The Forgotten War

It was Christmas Day and I was waiting to talk to my brother. My heart was heavy not having him home for the holidays, yet so grateful because I could at least connect with him…

see his face

hear his voice

all through Face-Time, which was something that I could not do during his previous deployments.

My brother, CW5 William David Kilgore, is on his 5th deployment with the U.S. Army and has spent the last 7 months in Afghanistan with a few more to go. During this time, I have talked with him most every week, been able to send along some pick me up gifts from the “Burgh”, and even had him connected with my classroom so that my students could build a relationship with a true hero. Through all of this, I have been able to have a stronger connection with him during this deployment than ever before, yet on Christmas Day he said something that made my heart just drop and truly gave me pause.

Pittsburgh Natives: Robert Wilhelm on left and, my brother, Billy Kilgore on right.

We were in the middle of chatting when I had asked about his holiday dinner provided by the Army. We talked about his delicious meal and how he had looked forward to serving dessert as a privilege and honor for being an officer. We went on to talk about conversations with family back home and how the other deployed men and women were doing being away for the holiday. He kept his smile and then simply said…

this has been the “forgotten war” for soldiers.

I just stopped.

I felt the tears welling up in my eyes.

I was fighting to be strong.

I didn’t want to break.

I wanted to give him a smile to fill his heart. I knew at this point I just needed to listen. His words were not spoken out of pity for himself or others. It was clear to me that he was sharing something that I never truly acknowledged. My brother has always made it clear to me to not feel sorry or worry about him. He has ingrained in me that his service is his passion and that he chooses to go there so that the enemy cannot come here. All I could think of in that moment was… have we become so “accustomed to war” that we have forgotten that my brother, along with so many men and women, mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, husbands and wives, not to mention friends, have sacrificed so much for each of us? How did war become our normal? How did having soldiers deployed become a part of our normal every day life for each of us? When did we stop counting down the days for the war to end? Have we forgotten?

As our conversation was coming to an end, my 16 year old son Trent entered the room and asked to talk with his Uncle Billy. This was not uncommon for Trent, and with the holiday it was even less surprising. He began to speak and my heart filled with an amount of love that made my insides feel like they were going to burst. He said something like this…

Uncle Billy, thank you for your service. Thank you for being over there so that we can be safe here. Thank you for giving up your Christmas so that I can be safe and comfortable here in my own home sitting warm by the fire. Thank you for all that you do and to all the men and women serving with you. I love you and Merry Christmas!

Oh my heart. We remember. We are grateful. We pray for you daily and will continue to do so. We are counting down the days until you arrive home safely, along with every single soldier serving.

And Billy, I will own my share for the forgotten. I will reach the masses and remind them how blessed we are to be here while all of you are there. I will recognize my own shortcomings and pave the way for others to hold themselves accountable in honoring the men and women serving. I will use my freedom as a vehicle towards a better tomorrow. I will count my many blessings. And… I will pause and pray for the families of those that have sacrificed the ultimate sacrifice for each of us.

Always remembering. Always grateful. NEVER forgotten.

Congratulations to Chief Warrant Officer 5 William D. Kilgore on his promotion.
My students busting their best dance move! True Joy! #ThatSmile

Personal Learning

Sit On Your Thoughts

The power behind listening strengthens all relationships!  The question is how well do you do it?   When someone else is talking,  what exactly are you doing?  Are you sitting on your thoughts?  With experience and self-discipline at the forefront I have found “sitting on my thoughts” to be the best tool for building relationships.  As I enter this holiday break with both a 12 and 16 year old at home, I feel that I have already learned so much more about them just by being there… oh, the power behind listening!

The phrase “sitting on your thoughts” started when my 16 year old son Trent was about 8 years of age.  He had been diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and was in need of a strong dose of filtration, boundaries, and acceptance for his thoughts (just to name a few areas of need).  One of the biggest roadblocks was his need to say what was on his mind… this was part of his “make-up” yet reminded me of so many people that I had interacted with over time.  The strong urge to be real with others was a must for him.  This could go right and at times very wrong.  I had to teach him to not give himself permission to say whatever he felt compelled to share.  I told him to sit on his thoughts and filter what was relevant and would unleash positive impact.  I’m not saying that there isn’t a time for those real thoughts and tough conversations, but I wanted him to manage his own in order to bring quality perspective to a conversation.  This is how I felt I could raise him to be the man he himself would be proud of one day.  Would his words be valued for kindness?  Would his words help to make others better? Or would his words create a hole in someone’s heart… leaving them feeling less in place of more because he had a need to say it.  The question I remind him to ask himself is… is it really worth saying or should you simply sit on your thoughts? 

While you are “sitting” go one step further… what look are you portraying?

“The look of” hurry up I have something to say?  This is one I have felt from others and I am guessing you have too.  Did they really hear you or did you hear what the person is saying?  Are you racking up a rebuttal, a solution, or a personal experience that connected to the topic?  The one that is on the tip of your tongue ready to share.  Or did you just interject, right there in the middle of their story?  Although my friends tell me that I am an amazing listener and am someone they feel they can always go to, there is no doubt I have fallen into every single one of these “scenarios” at one time or another. 

Are you actually present and listening? 

Or are you waiting to talk? 

Do you feel you are engaged, but your eyes are telling a different story? 

This holiday season while you are gathered with family and friends, just try it… sit on your thoughts.  Listen. Learn. Love.

Personal Learning

The Outlier

Today’s keynote at #SASinstitute2018 was dynamite!  Dr. Tony Wagner, author of “Creating Innovators”,  left me in awe as he connected data to the burning topics of education.  It is powerful to hear others speak of their passions and what resonates with them, but something bigger started to formulate in my mind as I soaked in the experience and research that was connected to his words.  He took us on a journey of curiosity, problem solving, the assembly line approach to teaching, connecting innovation to team sports, referencing the silos that should no longer exist in learning, extrinsic and intrinsic rewards, mindfulness and accountability.  Yet the simplest share out, possibly a side thought or reflective moment, of remembering “the outlier” is what left me nodding my head in full agreement.  He mentioned that if you ask a child who their favorite teacher was… or even their favorite year of school, the answer fell with the outlier… the one flying solo… the “different one”.  Yep, no doubt… every time!

The outlier!  Beyond a statistics class, I am not sure that I really thought about it, but that is exactly where the innovation in education is taking place.  That teacher that students remember…

the one that was different

not status quo

a disruptor

a risk taker

the playful

passionate

student centered

and full of driving purpose.

A teacher of impact!

It leaves me thinking… when did such impact become the outlier in learning?  How did creativity, failing, imagining,  perseverance, empathy, and passion get so far out of reach from the norm that comes with developing as a child?  It truly amazes me the amount of conferences, blogs, books, and professional development on a whole that is needed to create change so that students are not left with a silo experience of one teacher making a difference.  When did the average experience become acceptable for our children?  When did conformity become so comfortable?

When will you… become the outlier?

Thank you Dr. Wagner for never losing sight of our most precious part of the future, our children.  Thank you for continuing your journey with education to allow others the opportunity to question our practices, as I have done today.  May we all come down from our “ivory towers” and allow for experiences that pave the way for our young people that are ready to change the world! 

 

 

 

Domain 1: Planning and Preparation, Domain 2: Classroom Environment, Domain 3: Instruction, Personal Learning

Tis’ the Season to Create Opportunity

Tis’ the season…

for true insanity!  The kind that comes in the form of 

gift brainstorming

decorating

celebrations

shopping til’ I drop

(let me toss in the excitement of presenting at my first conference)

and…. oh, yes…

planning engaging lessons that supersede that of the jolly ol’ man himself!

Now that last one is a dooooozy!  So how on earth can we as educators keep learning at the forefront of the holiday season.  Quite simple… just ask our students!

What would you like to do in math for the next couple of weeks? Their eyes were wide open to match their little voices that were going nonstop as they talked over one another to get their idea out.

We had just finished up celebrating our Chick-fil-A luncheon reward for embracing flexible seating in the classroom.  Our local Chick-fil-A in Robinson Twp. had closed one store to build a new and better establishment across town.  In turn, they offered out their used furniture to anyone interested.   My fellow colleague Olivia, who formally worked at their business, called me up to see if I was interested.

Interested? Ummmm… YES!  I brought home tables, chairs and stools that have added more awesome options to our already flexible classroom.  But the one thing that I felt would take our learning right over the edge was the ENTIRE LIGHT UP MENU BOARD!  You heard me!  Yes, I’m the one that looked over at the heap of metal stacked up, ready for the dumpster and said, “Any chance I could have those too?”  I remember the look on the manager’s face as if that was far from something that she envisioned we would desire.  “SURE!”, she said.  Oh yes, this was the game changer I was looking for… math would never be the same in the most exciting way possible!

Rewind… If I am being totally honest, the menus sat in a stack for almost 3 months.  They were huge and heavy.  The idea had gone from complete excitement to… what was I thinking?  Then the day came.  The reward luncheon was about to unfold and what better “decoration” to have than the menu boards, right?  I brought each one in with the intention of having a simple “REAL-WORLD” math lesson and then off to the stack they would go again.  I mean, come on… where on earth was I really going to put all of them?

But when the hype of Christmas came barreling in, I found myself questioning my plan to move into a new unit so I had to ask the experts… the students themselves!

“Let’s run our own restaurant!”, one said.  WHAT? HOW? WHEN?  We haven’t even learned decimals yet… or money.  Wait, we don’t even know the first thing about running a business.  How will this take shape?  All these questions whirled though MY mind.

HOW WAS I GOING TO SOLVE THIS PROBLEM?

Crazy how I thought this was a PROBLEM that had too many hurdles to make happen.  In reality, it was an INCREDIBLE OPPORTUNITY with a personal invitation to authentic learning at its finest!  Even crazier to think I felt it was MY problem and not an opportunity to problem solve in the most authentic way possible.  A restaurant… WOW!

IMG_9569
A new space was created for the menu boards

Well my friends, that is exactly what we will do for the next 2 weeks of school.  I smiled and said, “Let’s get this plan in place.  Remember, we have to connect it to our learning goals… whose in?”

“WE ARE!”  And off they went.  The research began instantly.  They began talking about managers, shift managers, cost, employee responsibilities, resumes, interviews, and so much more.  We have reached out for a little more support from Chick-fil-A to donate bags and paper products to give our “business” life!  Students are ready to bring in their kid friendly cash registers, along with additional play-dough and other materials they have listed.  Over the next week, my students will be creating their own math journey.  One that I know will leave a lasting mark.  All of this excitement has unfolded because I simply asked one question.

IMG_9322

Tis’ the Season!

Personal Learning

L.E.G.I.T. Summer- Together

The T in L.E.G.I.T. is what I needed to bring my summer to a close and transition back into what I love professionally and personally.  The T stands for Together.  When it comes down to it, we are all better together.  Time to revisit trust!  To create opportunities.  To feel confident.  To own my summer.  To be the best version of my vision.  To open my eyes, my arms, and my heart… to find that place that I strive to be.  To Be ME!  But this could not be done alone… I needed my people and together we built a better me for a greater tomorrow!   

I find that when I am on a specific journey in life that I have a tendency to walk alone.  Not because others are not there for me.  It is more like me being me… I go back to my childhood instincts.  My survival mode.  My way of fixing things… on my own.  I admit, this is not the best laid plan.  But that is an issue in itself.  When was the last time I created a plan for me?  Not me the teacher.  Not me the wife or the mother.  Not me that others need in their world.  Me.  Simply Me.

It’s not easy to do… to take time for yourself.  We often tell ourselves that there is “No I in TEAM” and when do we really allow ourselves to be anything but a team player?  I am built to take care of myself so that I can serve others.  I just forget along the way that I need others too.  Others help to create a better me.  Others push back on my ideas and help to grow them into something larger than I could have dreamed.  Others add their perspective to remind me that mine is simply that… mine.  My guard goes up… my heart tends to fight the sensible understanding that I can lean on others, but then comes the jolt…

The jolt of reality that I can be me, broken me, put together me, flawed, imperfect, risk-taker, and at times too much me and yet I will always be better when I am TOGETHER with others.

To be a better me definitely means being with others.  Crazy, but true.  Being with others that pour goodness into my life the way I try to do to theirs.  Here are 4 ways that I made sure I was intentional about putting myself out there with others when my instinct said otherwise.  

  1. Put it on the calendar! There is something about putting a date on a calendar that tells the brain don’t you dare break that plan.  I was raised that when you make a commitment you fulfill it.  End of story.  So I did just that.  Bike ride with my son… on calendar.  Lunch with good friends… on calendar.  Read a book that I had been waiting for the release date for over a year… put it on calendar.  Stop into a friend’s office to see what his new job is about…  calendar.  Jump into a teacher Twitter chat that threw unfamiliar questions at me… calendar.  Dinner with hubby… calendar.  This is how I became intentional about being with others that filled my heart, fueled my soul, and rekindled the fire that burns inside me.
  2. Say yes! Often I tell myself to say no in order to not add too much to my world that I continuously strive to balance.  But this summer I wanted to say yes.  Not the easy yes, when my make-up is on and I am feeling fabulous.  I am talking about the times I am being reclusive, not feeling like getting ready, or do not want others to see inside my heart when I am not completely put together.  The times that I may not be able to help them or be my bubbly self.  So I did just that… yes, I will go to the museum even though my heart is beating out of my chest and I feel like I am going to cry.  Yes, I will meet you at the pool even though I don’t know if I am ready to be seen by others who will ask me if I am okay yet with the passing of mom.  Yes, I will leave my house a mess so that I can grab a few hours of catch up with a colleague.  Yes… the kind you say when it is not comfortable.  The kind that puts you together with others and sends you home a better you.
  3.  Sit On Your Thoughts!  I use this with my students and my own children, but somehow it slipped my brain to use myself.  I could be surrounded by 50 people, but when I was too busy chatting up a storm it felt like I was alone.  One isolated point of view… one long winded rambling sentence.   Then I would walk away no better than when I entered the conversation.  Now, I am intentional about sitting on my thoughts so that I can hear those of others.  Together we create a vision of what life really looks like from different perspectives.  When you have a spunky, outgoing spirit it takes some getting used to… not only for yourself, but for others.  We all become accustomed to what we know.  Others were used to me being a chatterbox (and still am, ha!) so at times I would get the question of,  “Are you okay? or is something wrong?”  Nope… I am just realizing I talk too much!  haha!   I look at it like I am passionate and it exudes from my being.  Yes, that is true, but others are passionate too and if I don’t stop and let them in I will be alone…. alone in my own thoughts.  I prefer together.

Here I am ready for the new school year.  I am filled with hope, love, excitement, joy, curiosity, and so much more.  I have a support system of pure goodness around me on every side.  I am loved, supported, pushed, and believed in.  I have my family, my friends, my faith, my colleagues and my #PLN (that is growing by the day) that are in this with me… the kind of support circle that only happens together.  #BetterTogether

 

Personal Learning

L.E.G.I.T. Summer- IMAGINE

Imagine all the possibilities.  Imagine what could come from your dreams… a chance to create new opportunities.  Go ahead, visualize pure goodness!  What an awesome vision, right?  The I in L.E.G.I.T.  stands for IMAGINE… something we never want to lose hold of in life.  So what are you doing to get there… to get to the better you?  I hope you are dreaming.  I hope you have set goals.  This is your masterpiece… IMAGINE and BELIEVE!  

Imagine a Better YOU!

When I was a little girl I used to walk down my road to a little one lane bridge.  I would boost myself on top of the cobblestone wall and look down at the stream below… and dream.  I saw my future in the ripples of water that flowed.  I would toss in small stones and watch them make their impact on the world below.  Sometimes they hit into other rocks and other times they sank straight to the bottom, but the one thing they always did was make ripples.  Those ripples mesmerized me. They spoke to me. They made my imagination wander.  I could sit there for hours and at times I did just that.  It was my getaway.  My place… a place that I could block out all obstacles in my path and simply imagine.  I would imagine a better me.

At the time a better me would look more compliant… more like my peers that were able to focus on all information that was being poured into their minds.  I was different…. for me it was more like the information was being poured over mine at a rapid pace.  So rapid that only little droplets were being absorbed.  In place of a sponge of a brain like my peers, mine was more like a sieve or it would simply runoff leaving me in the deficit… dried up and always a step behind. Why was this?  Well for starters, I am a passionate person that thrives on my interests and what I was learning on a regular basis didn’t come close to them.  My imagination was always wandering… imagining the better me!

I never lost myself in my learning the way I did in those quiet moments sitting by the water.  I wanted to, but I didn’t. I was the kid who learned the game of school and tried to play it the best that I could.  I didn’t go to school ready to give my best every day and I didn’t even try to pretend that I did… so sad for this passionate educator to think back on.  Instead I did what I had to do to get by because what I wanted to do was never an option in the traditional mindset of teaching that I had experienced. I wanted to wish it all gone so that I could live in my passions… that’s what made me tick!   

The crazy thing is that was not the impression I got of learning when I was 4 years old.  At 4, I was begging my mom to send me to preschool so that I could do all the great things that school had to offer.  I was begging for books to “read”. I was inventing a world of learning in my backyard and giving myself homework that I found relevant to my 4 year old self.  

Preschool was spectacular!  I was submerged in wonder!  Every day was new and exciting.  I was an explorer, doctor, inventor, and teacher.  I was an artist and gymnast.  I conquered the highest mountain and roamed the grassy plains.  I saw magenta if that was the color I chose to see.  I had the world at my fingertips and it was all surrounded by LOVE!  It was truly magical!  Each day was set for play… what little kid didn’t like to play  Well, there was one girl and her name was Alison.  It wasn’t so much that she didn’t like to play as it was that she was shy.  She needed a spirited, fun-loving friend like me… I just knew it.  So I sat down next to her and introduced myself.  We became best friends all in a matter of seconds.  Alison was tiny and truth be told her family nickname was Peanut. Only her closest friends called her that though and I was one of them!   Yes me… the girl who was ready to conquer the world.   The one that was set to be a teacher or a nurse or maybe even the first woman on the moon!  I was the spunk in spunky… the fire in firecracker and the joy in joyful!  I was the best friend.  WOW, preschool was AMAZING!

This summer I did a lot of reflecting.  I took time to think back on what sparked my love for learning.  I also took note of what created sparks for my students over the course of my career.  I sat by the water and tossed a few rocks in… actually tried to skip a few while I was at it, but my knack for that needs a little more attention these days.  I took in beautiful walks in the calm of the morning.  I sat fireside and stared into the flames.  All this was done while imagining.  I imagined…

 

a better me,

a better school year,

a better way of creating sparks in learning,

a way of making every day like preschool… submerged in wonder.   

Imagine the possibilities!

imagine 2
-John Lennon