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

There is no other way to enter the 2nd week(end) of my summer journey, than with EMPOWERment!  Such an incredible word with so much meaning.  Something I must create.  I find myself talking endlessly about it with my students, colleagues, friends, and family, yet I have fallen short on walking the walk at times.  With many articles, books, and blogs on this one topic, along with living life, I feel I have narrowed down the top 4 ways that I can make this happen and in turn it may just be what others are looking for too.

The E in L.E.G.I.T. is what I need to move forward.  To create opportunities.  To feel confident.  To own my summer!

The E stands for: EMPOWER and move forward.  Try these top 4 ways that are guiding me on my journey:  

  1.  Take A Time Out!  BOOM! Tap out… take the phone off the hook.  Set your cell phone on vibrate.  Shut down the computer.  Take a day away from networking.  Do not put anything, I repeat ANYTHING, on your calendar!  Say no… to whatever it is that wants to schedule your day for you.  Then ask yourself… what creates joy for you?  Whatever that is… GO DO IT!
  2. Give Yourself Permission and Release The Guilt!  Do it WITHOUT saying sorry.  Do it without regrets.  Do it without thinking or overthinking.  There will always be someone or something that could take your attention, tis life.  But it is YOUR life… one chance.  A better you creates a better you to share with others.  Take care of yourself.  This doesn’t have to be at the cost of others or quite frankly the financial cost of your family.  I’m not suggesting jetting off to the islands (although if you want to call me we can talk), I am simply saying that empowering yourself to make decisions about your day without any obligations is okay.  No Regret!
  3. Forgive!  Most often this word is used when thinking of others.  When you have wronged someone or have fallen short and need to ask for forgiveness.  This time I am talking about YOU… YOURSELF.  I’m talking about ME… MYSELF!  I am so far from perfect it literally makes me chuckle and then sigh.  I mess up a lot.  I fall short as a mom, wife, daughter, sister, friend, neighbor, teacher, community member and the list goes on and on.  What I don’t do well is forgive myself.  I say it to myself… I lift it up to God, but then I hold on to it like I deserve to be punished or something.  I didn’t always do that, but as time moved on I found myself living the life I wanted in place of what others wanted for me, or from me, and in turn I have did this (and still do at times).  I must take the time to acknowledge my imperfections that I must walk this earth with… and forgive myself.  When I do that, my shoulders are lighter, my body is less tense, my heart doesn’t hurt, my smile is bigger, and I can share a better me with others!   However, if you find yourself needing to forgive someone… do it.  Life is simply to short.  Your heart will thank you… your soul will love you, and I am certain your mind will open up even bigger for joy to come in.
  4. Find Your Joy and Share It!  Once you have it, don’t keep it to yourself… GIVE IT AWAY!  This is when the magic happens and your joy begins to multiply!  The thing is, when you empower yourself… I mean truly take care of yourself without guilt, joy will find a way in.  That joy is a sparkle waiting to shine for others.  It is a feeling inside that nurtures the soul.  Joy is magnificent.  Find it, love on it, and then pass it along.

This past week I took a time out and shut off my phone… not for an entire day, but for a few hours.  It was a start.  I kept my computer on to blog… my passion.  I read a lot!  I had coffee on my patio.  I created a few ideas I had in my head.  I found my balance.

I gave myself permission and turned down a few invitations that came my way, not because I wanted to, but more so because I wasn’t sure how to fit them in to my already packed day.  Before, I would have tried to make it all happen… at the cost of myself or my family.  This week I didn’t.  I took an afternoon with my boys and let them lead the way… this brought me joy.  Listening to their ideas, stories, goals, and dreams was music to my ears.  My heart was light and full all at them same time.  I gave myself permission and did not allow guilt to settle in to my mind.

As for forgiveness, this was a little tricky.  I had this intense feeling of guilt related to my mother in law‘s passing.  It wasn’t the kind of guilt that was meant to happen, but it did.  Mom wanted to die at home, a place that she found comfort and love.  With this wish came responsibility on us as a family.  It meant bringing in hospice, something that no one was ready for, but I knew it was the only way to honor her wish.  So I did.  This in itself brought on heavy feelings for every one of us and I was the one making it happen.  Then came the emergency comfort kit of medication.  The one that scared each of us for an abundance of reasons.  This was the kit that would bring her comfort, but also the one that would be helping her to end her life… comfortably.  I knew I had to understand it… to learn about each one and when they needed administered.  So I did.  Then the morning came that I talked dad into going to church because he needed to take time for himself.  This was the day that mom’s breathing took a horrible turn for the worse.  I went to the kit and found the right one.  I gave it to her.  She found comfort and fell asleep immediately.  My heart knew where we were at with this journey and my mind didn’t know how to prepare everyone else.  When mom awoke, I told her what happened.  I explained to her that this was going to happen more often and ultimately the mediation would help her from suffering these last days here on earth.  She held my hand.  We both knew what was unfolding.  We sat together.  Prayed together.  Learned as much about “life” as she could possibly teach me to be able to help dad once she was gone.  Once dad was home, she sent me to the store (the worst trip I ever made hoping that she would be there when I returned).  She had to buy her boys their Valentine’s.  She needed one for her precious grand-kids Trent and Jack, but also for dad.  Whatever she needed I promised to make it happen.  I returned and helped her prepare her cards.  She didn’t want me to leave that night, but dad needed his time (little did we know this would be her last night).  The next morning I arrived to another hard turn in her path.  I went into action and continued to administer all of her medication until her final breath that day.  My mind knows I did what she wanted and what she needed, but my heart has not been on the same page.  My own heart feels her absence and with each member of my family hurting I have placed guilt on myself for “being the one” to take her away from them.  I never blamed the cancer… not once.  I somehow took it all and placed it on myself.  I know that sounds so crazy, but I’m owning it.  The logical side of me says there is no reason to forgive myself, but somewhere in my heart I needed to act on it and I have.  I am not a nurse.  With all my resources around me, nothing in life could have possibly prepared me to take on such a huge responsibility, but I did.  My love saw no other option.  She was my rock and for once she needed me to be hers.  On this very day, I am letting it go… I am crying out my guilt so that I can lighten my heart and continue on my journey for joy.  It is time.

I am finding my joy… this blog is a start.

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Beyond Flexible

I am a huge fan of flexible seating.  Why?  Because it speaks to me… to every child.  It is a language all on its own.  It says … come in and choose what works for you!  Choose what is best for your learning.  To me “beyond flexible” is a respect to all languages of learning…. it builds a culture of value, trust, and respect.

Respect for differences. 

Respect for prior knowledge.

Respect for one’s strengths… because everyone has them! 

By providing flexible seating I am “speaking and interpreting many languages to learning.”  It is the “multilingual approach to learning”… each child’s own personal language.  I am letting each child know that I am privileged to learn with them and I cannot wait to see what they have to offer in their own way27C9FC8A-82E4-4FD5-87A4-F31C751D79DEBut why stop with seating?  Why not go beyond and have flexible learning too?

It makes me think of how I choose my shopping experience.  I am in the moment.  My moment looks different based on my day… my mood… my energy.  I am the one who likes to walk in to a store that offers a variety.  I want different.  I don’t want a carbon copy of someone else.  I don’t want everyone to know where I bought it just by glancing at a “label.”  I am different and I embrace it, just like I embrace the different learners in my classroom each day!

George Couros, author of Innovator’s Mindset,  made a strong point this week (during the IMMOOC YouTube live session)… one that resonated with me.  He mentioned that when leading there are times “I am literally trying to figure this out right now.”

Thanks George…  that is me!  That is my shopping style!  My life style!  My learning style!  I am wrestling with what I want… what I want to wear.  I may not even know until I see it.  I feel my shopping is similar to students’ learning.  I feel they wrestle with their own learning and it may change from subject to subject like brand to brand.  They may not even be in touch with their own likes or dislikes, yet they are trying to win at the “game of school” through one experience.  Shouldn’t they come out with an amazing outfit of learning designed just for them?  Shouldn’t their learning be flexible too… the kind that goes beyond differentiation?  Isn’t it their own learning language?

“It’s more than just a skill level.  Each student has a different set of interests and passions and prior knowledge.  Each student has a different set of questions.  Each student has a different system that works for them.” –A.J. Juliani and John Spencer, authors of Empower

 

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IMMOOC Week 4 Sum It Up

Let’s Sum It Up this week… refocusing our lens on “Empowered Environments

How do you view assessment?  Is it a tool? A grade? An outcome? Is it yours to fulfill? To steer? or is it your studentsdownload

Let me be blunt with the help of A.J. Juliani and John Spencer, authors of EMPOWER (paraphrasing their points)…

In place of being committed to your curriculum, are you committed to student interest?  

Do you create plans based on choice or are you inspiring possibilities? 

Bottom line is that my professional responsibility is to teach the skill… many skills to many different types of learners.  I don’t take that lightly.  My professional responsibility is to also create an environment to which every learner is opening doors to their learning… to their interest.  This is not about just differentiating their learning, it is about lighting a fire under each of them so that they in turn can choose how they want to show me that they mastered the skill.  I am turning “the possible” into “possibilities” just by shifting the focus from me to them!

When I taught internal conflict during my most recent novel study, students had to choose a quote and create a way for me to assess their understanding.   I had students creating on Scratch, i Movie, Squishy Circuits, Design and Challenge in Maker-space, Bloxels and more.  I wasn’t flustered about the variations in creativity.  I wasn’t concerned about how I was going to put a grade in the grade book.

I knew the skill they needed to master… and so did my students!

 

I Can’t Go With Them

I have had more conversations around this topic than any other in the time that I have been teaching.  It has looked different, sounded different, and has been reacted to differently.  Yet, my response is always the same.  No, I cant go with them… and would you really want me to?

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Building a legacy for your learners is never about you.  Once you humble yourself to recognize that one simple statement, you will then build up each child so that they are ready to take on the world… with or without you!

EMPOWER!

When I first read the incredible book EMPOWER by John Spencer and A.J. Juliani, I felt like they had been inside my head as they were writing.  It spoke to me… it was an outlet for my thoughts.  The quote  “Student choice is the heartbeat of ownership and empowerment was exactly what I had been trying to say.  I felt vindicated.  I felt… heard.

Do I want a child that can only learn through my method?  My style?  My way?  Or do I want every child learning through their method… the one that shines a light on their strengths and passions.  One that shows their own unique style that they learn to love and appreciate.  A style that they can channel their knowledge and learning through for a lifetime and not for 180 schools days with ME.  Their way… their choice… their voice so that they can learn to make decisions that they are able to own through personal experience.

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Empowerment is one of the most exciting words for a human-being, yet it scares the pants off of most.  This struggle is so real for educators.  You must be willing to take the RISK… but no one is saying you have to do it alone!  Or worse off without preparation or backing.  This is where I reach out… to a new book, a Twitter Chat, my PLN built by ME!  I am only alone if I chose to be (Not so much the exact quote of George Couros, but the truth is embedded)… there are educators around the world ready to support me at the drop of a hat because I have empowered myself to build these relationships.

This mindset is the same for my students.  One that they must be flipped for and by themselves within the first few weeks of having me.  It is scary for them.  It is exciting for them.  It is messy.  It is CHAOTIC.   AND at times like herding cats, but…

We must breakdown their mindset of compliance before we can build up EMPOWERMENT in their learning! 

I create this opportunity for my students with the 30 Second Pitch… it encompasses Mindset, Research, Connect4, and their Moment all wrapped up in one.  They must plan and pitch their idea to me in 30 seconds or less.  Not an easy task, but it takes them from

MAY I

to

I CAN

in one shift to their learning.

#LCInnovation: What if…

What if…

the way isn’t the right way?

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I sit down, get my focus on, and layout what I think are the perfect plans for the upcoming week.  I take everything into account from each child, the skills, where education is today, to where it is going tomorrow.  I really think this way of planning is the right way… looking at all angles.

Asking myself questions such as how can I…

Ditch That Textbook?

Infuse ISTE Standards into my lesson?

Remake Learning “Pittsburgh style” by creating opportunities to design, make and create?

Reach every child at their instructional level?

Inspire students to innovate or iterate through inquiry based lessons? 

Hook my students into knowing down the door to learning?  LCL Dave Burgess style

Empower every child to own their learning and have confidence to act on the 30 Second Pitch

and the list goes on and on. 

Yet, as I am reading Katie Martin‘s book Learner Centered Innovation, it has me asking what if the the way I am planning isn’t the right way.  To be clear it was a blend of reading her book and taking part in the #LeadLap Chat she moderated on Saturday morning that really pushed me to take action on this “what if“.

As any chat goes, I type away my gut instinct in seconds flat.  I hit the “tweet” button and find myself staring at my best plan yet… 

What if YOU answered Katie’s question?  What if… 

 

The EDUCandyCounter

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!

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It really is all about the right book.  The book that opens your mind and allows you to wonder…

“What if ?”, say Katie Martin.

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 she had 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?

As Katie Martin says in her new book Learner Centered Innovation, “What’s in Your Sphere of Influence?”

Your learning, your growth, your sphere… what does that look like for you?

How do you shape it for yourself? 

 

Take a Risk and Get Into the RING!

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…

GEOOORGE

COUROSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!

Yes, that is how I think of #IMMOOC… it is powerful and commands attention.  It is a game changer for all educators.  Just imagine what this season will be like when we LEVEL UP OUR LEARNING with Innovator’s Mindset, EMPOWER AND…  Learner-Centered Innovation

Whether you lurk or take the risk and join in, you grow by being part of the experience.  JOIN US… you know you want to!  

How do I get in to the #IMMOOC ROUND 4 ring you ask? 

  1. 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!)
  2. 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!
  3. 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!
  4. 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.  
  5. 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! 
  6. 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

change by george