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!
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.
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!
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 T 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 toThe 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…
Educators who have a different philosophy or simply fear the change.
Parents that are left with questions of uncertainty for the change is so skewed from their own experiences in the classroom.
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!
My #1 goal is: To find the standards to which I am accountable for beyond my professional portfolio that reflects theDanielson Framework
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.
Create a blog for my class on WordPress!
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
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
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?
When a child walks into your life, what thoughts race through your head? Are they thoughts of…
excitement? Excitement for the opportunity to have someone’s precious child in your life. A chance to make a difference. A gift of time to impact their life… to open doors and encourage them to walk through!
wonder? Wonder of who they are under that smile… frown… or look of fear. Wonder of how you will connect and build a relationship that will set sail the journey of learning together.
worry? Worried that you may not be able to connect. Worry that they may be the most challenging student you have had to date. Worried that their own life may hold them back from trusting you. Worry that you don’t have enough time in a day to make a difference.
judgement? Judgement of who they are…
When you walk into a child’s life, are their thoughts the same? Are you setting the stage for a relationship with EVERY child…
Do you make school exciting? Do you give them a reason to be there?
Do you create a connection to every child or do they wonder why they don’t fit in your world like others do?
Do you foster a caring environment? One that eliminates worry from their life… possibly the only stretch of time in their day to let their shoulders down.
Do your students feel judged? Or do you give every child a “Planet Fitness: Judgement Free Zone”?
This Christmas I received a very special gift from a very quiet and reserved child. A child that walked into my room withdrawn, with limited social interaction, lack of engagement, and little interest in school. None of this due to home life… as a matter of fact he comes from a beautiful loving family that builds him up and sets him off each day to conquer the world trusting that his teacher will bring out his best.
This precious child handed me a special gift. Then he did something that caught me off guard… he insisted on opening it for me, which warmed my heart to the core because he was so invested in the moment. He unwrapped a snow globe that took my breath away. It had a 3 dimensional silver snowflake with the words WISH*LOVE*HOPE that sparkled while music played and snow floated effortlessly within the globe. He said, “Oh Mrs. Nan, I know the snow globe is nice, but look what it says to you.” To which I looked at the inscription that read:
“Students may forget what you said, but never how you made them feel.”
Tears of joy streamed down my face. Not the first time my students have seen my emotions. Why? Because they impact my life!
Over the months we connected. We found his passion of art and embedded it into his learning through sketch-noting (THANK YOU Carrie Baughcum@HeckAwesome in my EDUAwesome @Twitter PLF) This child is now engaged. He is building relationships stemming from the one that we created together. He is happy to be in school and moving his bright mind forward with each given day. He is a #LeadLearner with Sketchnoting, #MakeyMakey and #Osmo in class. He has found relevance in learning and a purpose for being a part of a learning community.He is empowered!
I start my Christmas vacation with heart full… of love and joy for I know that I have lived by my own advice…
You WILL have impact on EVERY child… it is up to you whether it is POSITIVE or negative!
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.
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!”
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!