L.E.G.I.T. Relationships

Here I am ready to host my first twitter chat.  Some may think, come on Kristen what’s the big deal?  Me on the other hand, well I see the big picture… the one that was built on L.E.G.I.T. relationships. Built on trust.  This is a big deal to me.  This chat isn’t just a chat for me.  It is an affirmation of my growth.  It signifies that I have taken myself and I have stretched my own limits.  The ones that I bound myself by in my own mind. #TRUST

I thought I used to put myself out there by going to conferences or signing up for local workshops.  Going to a conference is great, but let’s get real… it isn’t enough.  It isn’t the conference itself that creates a new path for your learning, it’s the relationships you build while attending them and then continue to nurture beyond that point.  The conversations that drive you to reconsider your own view point or maybe even your own philosophy.  But even then I  would find myself returning to school… to my room… to my own little ol’ opinion without ever seeing or talking to those educators ever again.

Fast forward… 2016 became the year that I found myself needing more.  So much more in fact that if I didn’t find what it was that I was searching for, I would consider leaving the profession that once filled my cup on a daily basis.

This was the year

… the walls of my own learning broke down.

… that I reached out.

… I found that I had a world of educators waiting in the wings to move forward with me. #LEGITeduRelationships

Twitter itself has been a springboard to so many incredible relationships.  Ones of inspiration and of immense respect.  This is where I met the foundation to my #PLF (As my friend Tara Martin dubbed it… Professional Learning Family) in #IMMOOC.  A Massive Online Community of Educators pushing the mindset to create change for the better.  This community was formed around the inspiration and leadership of George Couros, author of Innovator’s Mindset.  When IMMOOC came to an end, I had to find myself another book… another group of educators to add to my world… the ones willing to push one another as #IMMOOC did for me.  That is when #tlap was sent my way.  The fuel to my fire was right in front of me.  With one simple Amazon search I had Teach Like A Pirate, written and published by Dave Burgess, in my hands the very next day.  This is when the snowball started to roll…

I located my own coordinates on learning and found educators around the world to learn and grow with me.  I questioned the coordinates of my students,  parents, colleagues, administration, and community… was I meeting them where they were at?  I empowered myself to take charge of my own learning.  This was when I realized it had to happen for my students too!  #30SecondEmpowerPitch was born!  Yet, when I had a conversation with an incredible mentor in my life, I found that I was still not there… the place I was looking to be connected to in education.  He asked me what my goals were and I didn’t have an answer… I had not created any up to that point!  I had hopes and dreams… I had imagined a more powerful way of learning for my students and myself, yet the reality was I had not taken myself serious enough to create a plan… to commit myself to goals.  That was when I jumped into another #twitter chat, and this one called me out on my dreams.  This chat wanted to know more.  Beth Houf and Shelley Burgess, authors of Lead Like A Pirate, questioned what I would be willing to do to make these dreams happen!  This was my moment of truth.  #LeadLAP

I sat down and gave myself goals.  I felt these goals would push me to take risks and continue to ignite my learning along the way.

  1. Create a book study for my colleagues to reignite and nurture their passion for learning/teaching. #tlap
  2. Create a personal website with standards to hold myself accountable for connecting with others and building stronger relationships.
  3. Blog on a regular basis (for me 6-7X/month was huge!)  This past month was the first time in 8 months that I had not achieved that goal.
  4. Enter into #PD that is of value to me and my students.
  5. Create a class website to empower my students to share their voice beyond our four walls.  #30SecondEmpowerPitch
  6. Read ReAD and READ meaningful books that will create a stronger relationship between myself and my profession.
  7. Engage in chats with others around the world to push my thinking.
  8. “Fill buckets” full of thoughts on where I want education to go… create opportunities for all educators and students.
  9. Build a #PD Lending Library for educators to borrow books (This is getting it’s final touches to be ready for red tape ribbon cutting in the fall… thank you Dave and Shelley Burgess)
  10. Host a twitter chat #MasteryChat

Tonight I get to check off my last goal just in time to create new ones!  Thank you to The Grid Method for believing in me and giving me the opportunity to chat about one of my many passions!  Without L.E.G.I.T. Relationships, none of this could have happened! Thank you to my powerful #PLF… my family beyond my four walls.  #tlap #LeadLAP #IMMOOC #MasteryChat #4OCF

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Shout out to my awesome PLF!

 Thanks Mike Mohammad (IMMOOC PLF) for creating the top pic and to Laura Steinbrink (4OCF PLF) for creating the bottom pic!

Make it a GOOD YEAR: BLIMP Worthy

Did you ever catch a glimpse of the Goodyear Blimp and think WOWZA… now that is AMAZING!  Think about it… simply stated this MASSIVE balloon floats through the sky and takes your eyes off of just about anything that you are doing!  Did you ever read the history of the blimp?  The key words are “momentum, unique, expand, and creation!”  Sound familiar?  The ride in education is just as eye opening!

What if our students caught a glimpse of the New Year that is about to begin in our very own classroom AND had that same reaction?  Wouldn’t that be EPIC?  That’s what I am aiming for… I most definitely want to BRING IT in 2018!  I am committed to making learning BLIMP Worthy for my students!

I decided to go back to my T.R.U.E G.R.I.T foundation and from there I build my “G” for new Goals!  I have learned over time to keep my goals attainable with a twist of Risk that could possibly fail, but worthy of learning through.  Overall this year, I am honing in on the and R in T.R.U.E and G and R in G.R.I.T.

T: Take Risks!  I am a natural born risk taker so this area can be… let’s just say interesting for me.  I am a sharer by nature because that is the way I learn.  I love to attend conferences, but I never once thought of speaking at one myself until one day  I was hooked when this one simple idea was planted in my head.  So… I took a risk… I submitted my first proposal to speak at a conference in February and was approved this past month.  Risk!  I must model this for my students, colleagues, and my PLF!  I will own it, whether that makes it a hit or not is yet to be seen, but I will BRING IT to The Mid-Atlantic Conference on Personalized Learning (MACPL) right here in Pittsburgh! 

R: Resilience~ Be Tough!  This amazing movement in education is tough!  Push back from all angles makes it so challenging to move forward. Each day brings a different hurdle… 

  1. Educators who have a different philosophy or simply fear the change.
  2. Parents that are left with questions of uncertainty for the change is so skewed from their own experiences in the classroom.
  3. Students who find the simple change in structure challenging by bringing an unknown to their compliant predictable world.

We must be tough… we must keep our focus on every child and stand strong for what every child deserves!  How do I stay resilient?  

I will continue to surround myself with positive mindsets and goal driven educators through twitter chats, Voxer PD groups, book studies, conferences and other possibilities on the horizon.  I will remind myself of what I have been taught by incredible educators in my life and will seek new relationships to create a stronger mind within myself!

G: Goals!  Blimp Worthy Goals! 

  1. My #1 goal is: To find the standards to which I am accountable for beyond my professional portfolio that reflects the Danielson Framework
  2. Create categories in my blog so that I can build a portfolio of my learning, as well as my teaching by connecting my actions to the betterment of education.  
  3. Create a blog for my class on WordPress!
  4. Place #EDUAwesome books in the hands of others!  Share my blessings of the many DBC books in my possession so that others can see “Change is as an opportunity to do something AMAZING!” –George Couros change by george
  5. Bring  30 Second Pitch to other classrooms! I must open doors for students beyond my own room… they need options so that each child can make choices as to where their learning can go.  In place of the compliance that traps a child into being dependent upon a teachers response of yes or no, we need independent thinkers that are empowered to create opportunities!  Empowerment… that is what I believe future employers dream of in an employee and the 30 Second Pitch can Bring It! #growth

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R: Responsible!  I am accountable for how I serve my students, leading my team (Lead Like A Pirate), and how others feel about the change in education via my positive projection.  I will foster goodness through my conversations, actions, and teaching.  I will hold myself accountable for thinking inside the box in which I serve, while continuing to break down the walls of a closed mindset in education!  

I am looking forward to a GOOD YEAR… what can you do to create the same for you and your students?

#IMMOOC Week 2: “Save a life”: OBSERVE, STAT!

The journey I am on with Innovator’s Mindset continuously resets my inspirational compass.  This is now the third time I have read this amazing book by George Couros, yet it impacts me like it’s my first.  Maybe it’s the way I am observing others this time through; reading posts and listening attentively… or simply because my eyes are literally understanding some of his words for the first time.  #observe #reset

I  can’t help but think we put a lot of pressure on ourselves as educators.  We often think we need the answers to everything STAT, as if we are in the ER, not the classroom.  Do we take time to observe?  Even the ER doctor must observe, right? What if a doctor jumped right in without observing?  Would we end up in surgery for a sprain that only needed wrapped?  Would we find ourselves taking an antibiotic for a common cold?

Think about the first time you meet a child’s parents a mere two weeks into school at the annual Open House.  What is the first thing they are compelled to ask… How is my child doing?  That is a loaded question that comes with an incredible amount of responsibility.  If you answer with “great”, that may mislead the parent into thinking that everything is just fine when there may be concerns.  If you answer with, “okay” that opens the door to questions and a very awkward moment in front of others.  Let’s not even go to “not as well as I would like” because that simply shouldn’t exist in the first couple weeks of school, right?  Especially when you are the amazing teacher you hope to be which in turn should bring out the “amazingness” in every child, STAT!  What is so bad about saying, let me tell you about #observeme and how that impacts both my students and myself.  Why not open the door for an innovative approach that could benefit their child and remove the arrogance we embed into ourselves with the need to know everything? Observing leads to goals… isn’t that what we are searching for?

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Observing can lead to amazing things, including the characteristics of an innovator’s mindset.  Isn’t that why facilitating is becoming the new teaching?  That is for another day… another blog!  Observing will give us:

  1. A New Perspective: How do they solve problems without me? Do they need me and how much?  If I am always posing the problem will they ever truly be able to solve it?  What about a scenario? Can they see the problem themselves without me?  Tossing out an idea, a skill, a concept, or event will allow me to observe their strengths and weaknesses so that I can in turn plan my next move.
  2. Individualized Goals: What do they need verses what do I want to give?  Is learning really about a pacing chart or a map?  I have students in class that were born at the same time others were crawling or even walking… all in one class!  Do you know how many milestones a baby has in their first year of life?  What on earth would I be doing right if I thought each of my learners were on the same “growth page”?  Did one baby sit and wait for another to crawl before they were allowed or tempted to walk?  Goals!  Each student must have goals that are focused on their own individual growth.
  3. Empathy: Who are they from the inside out? How do they show this to others and what does that tell me about them?  Observing a child’s reaction to a situation can speak volumes.  It is a map to their life experiences.  Are they able to have empathy?  Are they able to infer what is happening for others in that moment?  Can they truly put themselves in the other person’s shoes?  THE DAY MY LIFE CHANGED: It was the day that a child showed up for school sweating profusely.  To lighten the moment, I asked him, “What on earth were they serving at breakfast this morning?”  He wrapped his arms around me and said, “Oh Mrs. Nan, I missed breakfast.  I missed my bus this morning and had to run to school so I wouldn’t miss being with you.”  Tears rolled down my face.  I knew what that meant.  Would his peers?  Do they actually need to know or would they be able to show compassion and empathy without the tough details.  As I dried my eyes, I observed one child hand him a cereal bar that she had brought for her snack that day.  WOW-heart in my feet… this my friends, is why I teach!  This is what will make them the best they can be!  This is what opens doors to their minds and to learning.  This will always be the day that I knew I was helping “to create a school where students, staff, and parents are beating down the doors to get in… not out“.  Thank you Beth Houf and Shelley Burgess for helping me to Lead Like a Pirate!
  4. Habits of Learning: Who do they network with?  How? What foundation do they come with?  Do they have T.R.U.E. G.R.I.T. ?   Do they attempt to work alone?  Do they use the 4 C’s… Collaboration, Communication, Critical Thinking, and Creativity?

I am observant.  I notice… the smallest details.  The big impact.  The positive.  The mindset of all!  My journey continues and by observing I WILL LEARN… not for a moment, a day, or a week.  I will learn for a lifetime!  #ObserveMe