Domain 2: Classroom Environment

Our Students Are Our Customers: Service Counts!

As I was checking into my room for a recent conference, I found my customer service to be over the top fabulous.  I was greeted with a smile, my questions were answered with ease, and to top it off I was given an opportunity to upgrade at the same cost.  What more could I possibly ask for?  Well within minutes, I needed directions to my room to which the concierge was pleasant and more than willing to help.  This amazing customer service left me smiling… I was delighted to be there!  The atmosphere was pleasant, everyone greeted me with kindness, and I was left with the feeling of importance.

As I checked out days later, I overheard an irritated woman share her disgust over the refrigerator outage that occurred in her room.  Immediately, the manager stepped in and offered reimbursement for any loss that she may have had in food.  Within minutes she was calm, appreciative, and relieved to hear that her concern was taken seriously.  What could have lasted minutes, dwindled to a moment based on the incredible customer service she received.

I then went to have breakfast.  My waitress noticed me sitting down and welcomed me at once.  Her prompt attention to me, delivered with a friendly smile, gave me the feeling that this simply was a place where people enjoyed working.  She buzzed around working effortlessly and making my time worth hers.

Then it happened… she noticed a line of jewelry that I was wearing.  One that is not common within the states and not easy to come by without being close to a rather large city.  She complimented the pieces that I was wearing and asked me if I liked them.  I raved about each piece as I love the uniqueness they deliver.  She then told me she owns 3 pieces that have each broken in some way.  Right then I knew what was coming next.  See, this company is unique to its customer service or lack there of.  Unless you order and return to the main store they are unable to fix or replace any of their pieces.  I have never known the downside to this service as I haven’t needed it, but this woman can tell a different story.  It was then that she said as much as she loves the look, she will no longer purchase their work.  She elaborated on her dissatisfaction in their service.  She simply felt that her needs were not met and in turn cannot trust the product or the makers.

This left me thinking about my customers… my students. 

Do I make them feel important? 

Do I answer their questions? 

Do I listen to their needs? 

What do you think great customer service look like in the classroom? 

Here are 6 Key Rules I have created within my classroom to deliver the service I feel my students deserve.  How do I know if it works?  I survey them!

  1.  Patience!  Without this we lose them from the very start.  We must walk the walk like a grandparent does with their grandchild… slow and steady.  As if the entire universe just stopped and we have nothing but time.  The minute you speed up, become agitated or frustrated, you have now left that child’s needs behind and made this about you.  Be patient… their time is valuable too!
  2. Attentiveness: BE PRESENT!  Look them in the eyes.  Do not allow others to distract you… their words are your teacher!  If you want to know what they need or what bothers them you need to listen attentively!
  3. Knowledge of Product:  Whatever it is that they are in need of you must be able to deliver a knowledgeable response.  That doesn’t mean you need to have all the answers, but you need to be able to be open and honest with them that if you don’t you will be putting this concern to the top of your list and yes, you will be getting back to them in a timely manner.
  4. Positive Vibes: If you cannot be positive when working with children PLEASE take your business elsewhere!  They don’t sign up for negativity and if they come packaged with it, YOU should be the one that puts positive vibes in their world!  Bottom line is YOU will have an impact on every child… it is up to you if it is POSITIVE or negative.  Choose wisely… every child depends on it!
  5. Handle the Unknown: Teachers can write books on the things that children say… so be prepared.  There is not a blueprint to the day in the life of a teacher with 27 different little people with 27 different backgrounds, let alone “starts” to their day.  BUT there is ONE constant… YOU!  BE PREPARED to handle the unknown with kindness and grace.  You will pay it forward without a doubt!
  6. Willingness to Learn: PLEASE acknowledge that you do not know everything… open your mind and your students’ minds to growing and learning together!  Be willing to learn something new and never underestimate the power of learning from your students.  They are a force to reckon with as long as you force yourself to recognize they may know something you don’t!

6+ I cant help but think there should be just one more take away to customer service in a classroom… DON’T TAKE IT PERSONAL!  The minute you think it is about you, you have lost the battle.  There will always be a child hurting, worried, frightened, (or worse) that ends up letting it out with their behavior.  That behavior is not about you!  It is about the child.  Go back to #2 and learn about the child!

In the end customer service is about one thing… the customer!    What are we doing to maintain customer satisfaction in our classrooms? Are our customers “delighted to be there”?

Do we greet them with a smile?

Do they get up”grades” to their learning?

Do we leave them smiling?

Are they left feeling important?

If we don’t know, we need to survey them!

What if your students made a video that reflected your customer service?

Would it look like this? #NoSoupForYou

or this? #positive

Domain 4: Professional Responsibilities

The Power of a Keynote: an investment in our future!

Why does one go to a conference?  What draws a person in?  The conference mailings arrive weekly in my mailbox at school.  For some I open, but for most I toss them straight into the garbage.  In order for it to grab my attention it needs to provide me with more than my daily growth within my PLN and twitter.  (Twitter alone nurtures my love for teaching and can be done from the comforts of my home.)  It cannot just be a buzz word.  It must be legit.  So for me it is the keynote.  The person chosen must be relevant to teaching and learning… not only for my students, but for me.

So how did #SASInstitute2017 get it right?  For starters, they sought out one of the most powerful influences in education today… George Couros, author of Innovator’s Mindset!

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George is key to my attendance.  It really is that simple.  I am an educator making positive change in the classroom.  I am pushing myself forward every day without a conference, so for one to grab my attention, be worth my financial investment, and hold value to my students and to me, it must have impact!

IMPACT: the kind that pulls on every emotion possible! The kind that changes me for the better!

Truths that were spoken by George… hard core truth:

Truth:   “Learning is your job so stop whining and settle down.”  (I about jumped up and gave him a standing ovation!)

Truth: “If you do not have a twitter account you are no longer relevant to teaching!”

Truth: “If you still have a computer lab, the question is do you have a pencil lab too?”

Truth: “Isolation is now a CHOICE that educators make!”

Truth: “Do kids do it because of school or in spite of it?”

Truth: “Data driven is the stupidest term in education!”

Truth: “Stop making excuses!”

Truth: “What serves kids the best?”

Truth: “Make the positive so loud that the negative becomes almost impossible to hear!”

Truth: “CHANGE IS AN OPPORTUNITY TO DO SOMETHING AMAZING!”

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The energy in itself… the mere magnitude of educators buzzing with enthusiasm has drawn me in to conversation.  Conversation that I don’t normally engage in.  (Don’t laugh too hard… I have the gift of gab, but I’m talking about the choice to put myself in conversation.)  The truth is, I don’t like the downers… the fun suckers… closed mindsets.  Most groups I have encountered at school conferences have always included closed mindsets.  One that sucks the positive life right from my soul.  But this conference is different… the buzz is about George.  His truths.  His innovative practices.  His doors he opened… for us!  His relationships he nurtured… with us.  In turn, I have engaged beyond the keynote… into small groups… lunches… dinners… downtime.  I came with an amazing group of educators, connected with my twitter family, and am growing each day with incredible educators!  The power of a keynote has created an opportunity for me to do amazing things!

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Game Changer: George Couros and yours truly!
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Fabulous colleague and goal driven friend, Donna Steff

 

Domain 1: Planning and Preparation, Domain 3: Instruction

Student Voice Shines with Project Based Learning: Igniting Empowerment and Instilling Empathy

Increasing student empowerment and engagement is wrapped up and delivered in “Life Changing Lessons“.  The gift of Project Based Learning (PBL) is one of intense impact… the kind that continues to give, as if you are unwrapping it for the first time throughout the entire journey.  It creates a student driven environment that is begging for more… more opportunity… more hours in a school day.

Project Based Learning is a connection beyond your four walls… a chance to open up the windows, blow off the door to learning, and ignite global impact with student empowerment!

I recently posted “A Walk In My Shoes” (One Ah Ha Moment within the Voice PBL) on twitter and have received countless DM’s asking how to get this VOICE PBL started.  So this one is for YOU!

The Voice PBL that I teach is one of great magnitude.  It covers concepts from every subject in a depth and understanding far beyond a worksheet.  This is a way to take Common Core Skills/Standards and light a fire under learning! Before the Driving Question is even asked, I hook them in like a pirate  …

It starts with the universal language… MUSIC!   

Students are given a choice to write/draw/sketch their interpretation on a variety of music shaped cutouts or use of poster paper to sketchnote

  • Allow students the freedom to personal space in the room… on floor if desired
  • Quiet space… lights out… reflection time!
  • Copy and paste each URL into google for each song
  • I do not show videos.  This is auditory only!

This is a quiet journey that typically lights up quickly because the students (UM… and ME) cannot contain ourselves… we end up singing and dancing… moving to the beat of our own hearts!

First up:

Man in the Mirror-From A Joyful Noise (It’s shorter than Michael Jackson’s version) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9paJyh8t_sE

This is a WOWZER!  Students stop in their own tracks when they realize that looking in a mirror can give them so many answers… so much POWER! (C-H-I-L-L-S)

Count on Me- Bruno Mars https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yc6T9iY9SOU

Every student responds to this song thinking of a time they needed someone or were there for someone.  This is the moment most of them start putting the pieces of their voice together.  

Firework Kidz Bop https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R2s-9Kyumgo

Thank you Katy Perry!  What happens when you don’t light a firework?  That’s right, NOTHING!  Let that speak to each of us… we must light learning up if we want to see what is inside!  Fireworks splatter their drawings with thoughts and ideas coming from within! 

Fight Song Rachel Platten https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e8qDOGLCSFo

Drop the Mic… this song allows every student and every teacher to connect!  This is the song that opens up their little world to you.  Are they struggling?  academically? behaviorally? socially?  Is there worry on their mind?  Are they scared of something? Do they lack self-esteem?  Are they the “little girl with the crooked pigtails?” (Getting R.E.A.L. with Tara Martin)

I actually play 7-10 different songs and it is never enough, but the song pick changes from year to year because my students change and I need to make sure that my choices will resonate with each of them.

#Sketchnotes

So about that Driving Question…

DQ: Why Might Having A Voice Matter?

Empowerment/Empathy/Citizenship/Government/Family/Bullying/Debate

Where do we go from here?

Students pick a song and add creative movement to the lyrics.  They now understand that they can express themselves in many ways.  This is one more life changing moment for them.

This is a video of my amazing students from last year interpreting “The Fight Song”.  (My current class in interpreting “The Man In the Mirror” which they will definitely post on YouTube soon!)

Is this “just a free for all” Ahhhh… NO!  This is a creative way to connect an incredible amount of skill in a unique way to impact all students.  Skills are endless!

ELA:

  • Books from Dr. Seuss’s My Many Colored Days to The Invisible Boy by Trudy Luwig
    • This is where “Walk In My Shoes” was created.  This very lesson is a blog in itself… soon!
  • Choosing a book that shows your voice in a way you haven’t been able to… we end up reading 30+ books in a 4 week time period!
  • Use song lyrics to discuss parts of speech (highlight nouns, verbs, adjectives, etc.)

Math:

  • Creating Conjectures and Arguments
  • Collaborating and critically thinking to solve a problem
  • Writing and reasoning

History:

  • Choosing a person of impact such as Rosa Parks, Thomas Edison, Martin Luther King Jr., President Lincoln, Amelia Earhart, and so many more.

Government:

  • Voting
  • Being a Good Citizen
  • Debate

Let’s not forget that doors are blown off to this process!  Students learn (to):

  • blog
  • code
  • design
  • create
  • paint
  • draw
  • dance
  • sing
  • poetry
  • build
  • invent
  • 4Cs

This list is endless because students CHOOSE their own project that in turn answers the Driving Question.  They also choose their Authentic Audience to which they powerhouse to impress!  My former students created this video showcasing ALL of their voices and then chose YouTube as their “Authentic Audience”.

I can’t wait to see what this year’s students choose!

While leading my book chat on “Teach Like A Pirate” by Dave Burgess, I posted this reflection for my fellow colleagues to ponder:

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Teach Like A Pirate Book Chat #tlap

     If there were a “Life Changing Lesson” that “I could sell tickets for” I believe this is the one!  I hope that this was what YOU needed to get started…

Go light them up and find out what’s inside! #VOICE and #CHOICE

 

Domain 4: Professional Responsibilities

#IMMOOC Week 6: The Impact of Others

The IMMOOC journey is the epitome of innovation!  When you are having fun, are engaged, and find relevance in your own learning… TIME FLIES!  After 6 weeks of breaking down and rebuilding my mindset, I find myself with more enthusiasm than ever before.  I am full of ideas, reflection, and energy as I head into week 7 of “innovative leading.”

A NEW MINDSET.  One that has been shaped and formed by many hands.  I cannonballed into IMMOOC knowing that my life, not only as an educator but as a mother, wife, daughter, and friend, would never be the same.  Little did I realize that the relationships formed through blogging would impact me in a way unlike any other.

If I am being R.E.A.L. , there are so many posts that have touched my life, from Mike Mohammad, Tara Martin, to Annick Rauch and countless others in-between  It is so easy to continue to grow with their posts and views as they are the foundational family to my blogging.  So I challenged myself weeks ago to read more, reflect more, and open myself to others as that is what this journey is truly about.

Then came the final blogging challenge of the season. George Couros asked us to reflect on 3 other posts.   Challenge accepted.  Here are 3 that resonated within me:

 

CHANGE STARTS WITH ME by Jillian Schulte 

“The more we believe in the power of “me” (the power of our own ability to initiate change) the stronger will be our power of “we” (our collective ability to move the needle forward).”

 

Why Are We Still Assigning Homework? by Katie Martin

“As we think about what it means to be “smart” and what we will value, we have to acknowledge that information is abundant and rather memorizing and regurgitating content, we need students and educators who can learn, think, and act in ways that create new and better opportunities for those we serve. This requires that we examine traditions in education, like homework that may actually get in the way of learning and innovation.”

 

 

“In the spirit of trying new things, I’m going with Tumbler for my blog and sketch noting my takeaways from Innovator’s Mindset.”

 

 

I am not ending this #IMMOOC season with week 6… I am simply taking the fire lit under me and burning a new path in my journey!  Let’s light the world on fire… together!

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Domain 1: Planning and Preparation, Domain 4: Professional Responsibilities

Your Passion is Your Power: The Impact of Dave Burgess #tlap

When one hears that Dave Burgess, New York Times Best Selling author of Teach Like a Pirate, is coming to your hometown of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (#KDPconvo17), the only possible option is: BE THERE There is absolutely no option 2… simply stated. #tlap

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I immediately felt the fire burning inside me… the burning that told me my life as an educator would never be the same.  The one that told me if I was actually going to go and see this amazing keynote, that I was now signing on to the Dave Burgess commitment to “create an experience” for every child, every day!  “A contract”, in my eyes, to be 100% committed to this “life changing business” as Dave so eloquently calls it.

Well, I’m there!  I’m committed!  Bring it on Pirate!

To be so bold and make a statement about the power of Dave Burgess seems almost impossible… close to unnatural or maybe better said as not worthy of me to do.  To possibly sum up the impact that he had on me, let alone the hundreds of educators in one room, once again feels close to impossible.

But let me give it all I have and lay it out there in a way that you may just be able to wrap your head around his amazing influence on my life.

“The most powerful force on earth is the human soul on fire” -unknown

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If you did not see into Dave Burgess’s soul when he “spoke” (a mile a minute might I add) well,  you simply did not have a heartbeat.  If you did not laugh, feel a slight tinge of embarrassment, want to jump up and say “AMEN”, or for some like myself… cry, you were not present emotionally.

My face literally hurt from smiling 90 minutes straight.  My heart beat 1,000 beats/minute… I forgot there was anyone else in the room.  I was convinced he was speaking only to me!  Like a preacher, preaching to his congregation, I was a believer! His passion behind every word was his power!

WOW, isn’t that how our students should feel?  Do I do that for my students? #impact

Dave tossed up shocking posters for us to view.  Did it have an impact, YES! 

He put humor around every bend… did it work?  Yes, it did! 

Dave NEVER stopped moving… did it keep my eyes on him? Yes! 

Did he bring energy to the room?  YES!   

Were his words of wisdom practical so that every single educator could walk away feeling empowered to make a difference?  YES! 

He continued to tease us with hooks left and right.  Did it work, YES! 

Did Dave “PIMP HIS LESSON”? YES! 

“We are in a life changing business” Dave Burgess

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“You need to make life-changing lessons” –Dave Burgess

Dave Burgess gifted me an experience.  He took 90 minutes and created feelings inside of me that left me with wanting more… yes, after a full day of work, and sitting through 2 hours of professional development, all I wanted was more…

More time with my students!

More opportunities to create experiences!

More moments to change lives! 

More opportunities to “preheat my grill!”

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More everything!  Twenty-one years into education and all I want is MORE TIME TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE!  I want to be the teacher that “could sell tickets to my lesson!”

Dave Burgess made a difference in me… in many.  He paid forward a gift to every child through creating an experience for every educator in the room! #grateful

“At some point in your career you have to decide if you care more about teaching to tests or teaching kids. My decision was made a long time ago. I teach kids.”
― Dave Burgess, Teach Like a PIRATE: Increase Student Engagement, Boost Your Creativity, and Transform Your Life as an Educator

 

 

 

#WeTeachKids

Domain 4: Professional Responsibilities

#IMMOOC Week 5+: When You Know Better… You Do Better

When you know better, do you actually do better?  Or do you tell yourself that somehow, some way you have been given this gift that supersedes all knowledge and experience of others in your path?  Who is it that you imagine will show you a better way?  Is that person older, wiser with age or experience?  Are they new to the scene?  Do you have an image of better in your mind whereby all others are unable to get in?

Do you allow all creators of “better” into your world?

Do you let others break you down?

Better yet, are you willing to break yourself down in order to build a better you? To repair with gold or silver knowledge and experience.

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I look back at the last year of my life and I sit in awe!  The people that have come into my life are absolutely remarkable!  Let me rephrase… the people I opened my life up to are remarkable!  Professionally,  I have connected with over 700 other educators through twitter alone.  But let’s get real, they weren’t knocking down my door… I was pounding on theirs! I wanted more!  I wanted better!  I needed them in order to find the better me!

I have read over 10 books affiliated with education in one year.  May not seem like a lot to an avid reader, but for me, 10 books is like producing, filming and starring in my own movie!  It takes time!

That wasn’t enough though… I have built an in-house PD platform for colleagues to borrow books from me.  I am leading my first book study on #tlap in 10 short days for my district.  This study will once again connect me with educators to help create the gold glue of knowledge that fills my better person.

I took the leap from lurker to full fledge #IMMOOC member with leading educator in innovation and author of Innovator’s Mindset  George Couros!  I have read, reread, chatted, tweeted, blogged, and found myself in passionate conversations about this life-changing experience.  I have colleagues that have turned into friends… ones that have pushed me to push myself.

 “Get R.E.A.L.tell your Kristen Nan story!”, said Tara Martin

This gave me the desire to look for conferences that could connect me to my #IMMOOC #tlap family.  Which takes me to the most incredible, powerful, unforgettable, “better me” transformation I could have asked for… yes, my last 2 unforgettable days with New York’s Time’s best-selling author of Teach Like A Pirate, DAVE BURGESS!

Let me tell you about this POWERFUL experience8647beec-2ece-462a-a0d8-aaf3bcd26157.png

in my next blog! #hooks

Domain 1: Planning and Preparation, Domain 2: Classroom Environment, Domain 3: Instruction, Domain 4: Professional Responsibilities

#IMMOOC Week 5: Exploring 20/20 Vision

Do we share the same vision? The vision of CHANGE!

Were you ever asked where you see yourself in 5 years?  10 … even 20 years?  I remember when I was in college and I was being interviewed by a pledge sister within my sorority.  This was a common question.  I remember laughing at the “oh so young age of 20” thinking how on earth would I answer this question.  I wasn’t quite sure of the answer, but the one thing I was certain of was that I would change!  #changeforthebetter

5 years

I’ve spent more years in education than I was alive when I was asked that thought provoking question, yet no one has ever asked me where I see learning in 5 years.  10 years.  Why is that?  Do we not project change?  Is education destined to be the one constant in everyone’s life?  Do you have a vision?  I do!  Do we share the same vision and are you open to creating it together? Do we have 20/20 vision in education?

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20/20 Vision:  the clarity of vision; dependent on optical and neural factors, i.e., (i) the sharpness of the retinal focus within the eye, (ii) the health and functioning of the retina, and (iii) the sensitivity of the interpretative faculty of the brain.

Wikipedia

What connection does the Wikipedia definition have to how we “see” within the educational system?  My vision may be blurred, but this is my view:

20/20 Vision in Education: the clarity of a shared vision; dependent on an open mindset and forward thinking, i.e…. (i) big thinking precedes great achievement- Wilferd Peterson, (ii) learners instead of students – Innovator’s Mindset, (iii) understanding that there are “8 things to look for in TODAY’s classroom” -Innovator’s Mindset (and the understanding that those 8 things may/should change over time), (iv) relationships

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Let’s share this vision!  The only way we can possibly dive into this together is by asking our students, parents, community, AND one another.  I am confident that I have integrated all “8 of these things” into my classroom over the last two years, but the one I am most often viewing under a magnifying glass is “opportunity for innovation“.  This is my personal goal for growth, not only for my students, but myself!  This is one area where my students must understand and appreciate their own passion and purpose so that they can open doors to their own learning.

What are your goals to fuel your passion?  Mine are set… I hit the button to attend not one, but TWO incredible conferences this year!  Why?  GO BIG OR GO HOME! Top 2 Keynote Speakers in education… 

  1. Dave Burgess is the New York Times Best Selling author of Teach Like a Pirate and co-author of P is for Pirate.  Keynote in PITTSBURGH, PA next Thursday, October 27-28
  2. George Couros is a leading educator in the area of innovative leadership, teaching, and learning; author of Innovator’s Mindset.  Keynote in Hershey, PA December 3-6

I can bring on the enthusiasm, options, idea generator moments, 30 Second Pitch, as well as open doors for them to embrace new ways of thinking, but if they do not make a connection to what they are most passionate about we will find ourselves with only a singular vision, and limited execution.  Let’s not hallucinate! #fuelyourpassion

Vision

Vision without execution is hallucination – Thomas Edison