L.E.G.I.T. Summer Week 3ish: GOALS

“Week 3ish” is a Kristen Nan way of saying I was caught up in the joys of my L.E.G.I.T. Summer and the days got away from me!  Can you say the same?  If so, we are both on the right path.  It’s kind of crazy when you stop and think about how much joy comes from the summer when you stop and take it in.  I have been embracing…

the sun,

more time in the day (okay, at least we get more daylight in our days),

the more relaxed vibe of having time to stop or pick up and go,

the scent of something yummy cooking on the grill,

the sounds of laughter as the kids are running around playing freely,

and the opportunity to write a bucket list!

At the start of summer, I headed to Bakersfield, one of my favorite places in downtown Pittsburgh’s Cultural District.  The street tacos are amazing and the organic Margaritas are truly refreshing.  I always feel alive as I walk in… the upbeat vibe puts a smile right on my face and the friendly service keeps me coming back for more.  Even better is the company I take with me.  This particular adventure was with my dear friend Tammy.  We sat and laughed and talked about the months ahead.  We both agreed that a bucket list of joys was a call to action moment for each of us.

Oh yes, the G in L.E.G.I.T. is for Goals.  This summer I decided mine would come in the form of buckets, just likes the ones a mentor of mine challenged me to fill during the school year.  So we made our lists and off we went.  At times we flew solo on our own journeys and at times we conquered the list together.  Either way, the goal was to not just look for joy, but to create it.  My list started something like this:

  1. When a friend calls, drop the laundry and go!
  2. Head to Pittsburgh as much as possible
  3. Summer Concert
  4. Bike ride on the Montour Trail
  5. Time by the water
  6. Meet up with my friends I haven’t seen in awhile
  7. Go to Phipps Conservatory to view the beautiful flowers
  8. Work out
  9. Eat breakfast at Waffles Incaffeinated
  10. Make time to write my book

Well, the list is coming along great!  I have accomplished a lot of other things too like cleaning out the top and bottom of the garage (WOWZERS).  The reality is, if I wouldn’t have intentionally made time for this simple list of obtainable goals, I may have let the summer slip right through my fingers.

My summer isn’t the only area of my life that I have created goals.  I have a list that I am generating for the fall when I return to my other family… my school family.  I cannot wait to try new things that I have learned this summer and I look forward to filling buckets with my students.  It is moments like this that always remind me that in order to dream big, I must be willing to take action.  The simplest dreams are only that if we do not take time to bring them to fruition.

Set goals

Fill those buckets… mine’s half full, what about you?

 

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 4: Climb A Ladder or Take The Ride

Relationships! RelationSHIPS!  RELATIONSHIPS!

With a goal driven mind, there is always the question whirling around in my head of what will be next personally and professionally.  Am I satisfied?  Do I envision more?  Is this enough… at least for the moment? There are times I feel accomplished.  Other times I feel defeated by the mere expectation I had for the outcome that never graced the highest rung on my ladder.

“IF WE WANT TO CREATE A CULTURE OF INNOVATION, WE MUST FIRST FOCUS ON FURTHERING OUR OWN LEARNING AND GROWTH.”

George Couros, Innovator’s Mindset

That ladder… the one with extensions that project beyond the ceiling of my ability.  It doesn’t intimidate me.  It doesn’t hang over my head giving me boundaries to my dreams.  It is more often the driving force that fuels my fire to reach higher and higher.  I am a dreamer.  Dreaming matters.  It helps me become what I aspire to be.  I thrive on “greatness” in every sense of the word.  I am driven to achieve beyond my own ability with the deliberate decision to place myself in the presence of opportunity.  I’ve said it before and I will say it again, staying stagnant is my worst nightmare.  Therefore I shall dream!  Therefore I shall connect! #relationships

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When the rungs of the ladder feel like a mile apart, how do I find the strength to pull myself up one more step?  The ultimate pirate Dave Burgess says it best, “Find your crew! All Pirates travel with a crew; you can’t sail, navigate, and fight battles on your own.”  Oh, is he right!  My crew is what helps me to reset my inspirational compass so that it points straight forward.

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My crew is how I gather the strength to place my hand on the next rung.  That strength turns into inspiration.  The inspiration fuels my dreams.  My dreams turn into my reality.  My crew is not limited to the boundaries of my district (although I have AMAZING people around me every day).  My crew is global thanks to twitter (and blogging of course)! They may not even realize it, but they are my crew in every sense of the word: Dave Burgess, Tara Martin, George Couros, Katie Martin, Alice Keeler, Annick Rauch, Aaron Hogan, my IMMOOC family and many more.  I am the teacher I am today because of this crew! Breaking down the walls… taking the ride!  #twitter #tlap #IMMOOC

Yes, I must climb the ladder to reach my goals, but it is just as important that I stop and take the rideIt’s the ride that rejuvenates my soul.  It’s the ride that makes me laugh uncontrollably… call it a joyride if you must.  Just as the sea captures the spirit of a pirate, this ride has my hair blowing in the wind, with nothing but joy flooding my mind.

 

#IMMOOC Week 3: Permission=Trust; Without it We Have Nothing

TRUST: firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something

This is the one word that can make or break a relationship… all relationships!  Do you trust me?  Do you trust that I have your best interest at heart?  Do you feel it in my core?  I know that when I look in your eyes I am conveying trust.  When I tell you that I honestly believe that taking a chance on change can lead to amazing things.  Do you see it?  Do you hear it in my voice?  The confidence I have to make this decision.  The grit that runs deep in my soul that will take this to a new level.  Do you trust me? #truth

Years ago, I remember laughing with my colleague as we took in the advice of asking for forgiveness rather than permission.  The laugh was half-hearted because we felt the true depth of not being trusted.  If you had asked anyone if we were trustworthy, the answer/word spoken would have been yes, yet when we tried moving forward we were continuously met with the word/action of no.  I wish I could say that I was always able to take the higher road, but I am human and found myself breaking.  I looked to bid to other positions or to possibly leave the district as a whole.  I wanted to find innovation the easy way in place of creating it with roadblocks at every turn.  Where was my grit then?  It was there, but “the innovation-squelching effect of no” was “spreading like wildfire” in ME! -Innovator’s Mindset #truth

THE POWER OF “NO” VERSUSES A CULTURE OF “YES -Innovator’s Mindset

This didn’t just end with me.  The power behind no stayed with me and I found myself saying it more and more within my classroom and within my building.  How did I take “no” and spread it like a virus so quickly?  I had always been a YES GIRL!  Yes, I can make that happen!  Yes, I would love another student teacher!  Yes, I can have that done in no time!  Yes turned to no.  I told myself it was a compliance issue, a form of respect that I simply had to follow the rules, but was it?  Was I being spiteful?  Was I using my restrictions and limitations as an excuse for not being innovative?  Did I take this word “no” so personally that I then stepped down from committees and took on the negative attitude of… get someone else to do it?  What was happening to me?  I don’t suppose the onlookers saw this as clear as I do now.  I love what I do too much to allow that to truly be seen.  But I felt it.  I felt it in my core.  I am positive you could see it in my eyes.  The glow wasn’t there… the drive had been stolen from me with one repeated word… NO! #truth

CHANGE CAN HAPPEN ONE PERSON AT A TIME -Innovator’s Mindset

I looked over and saw my new Assistant Superintendent Dr. Jacie Maslyk standing in the doorway.  I walked over.  She asked me what I would like to see happening in my classroom.  I chuckled.  The same half-hearted laugh I had become accustom to at “work”.

Side note:  My passion for teaching had been sucked out of me and for the first time I found myself going to work each day.

Was she serious?  Does she really want to know?  Do I TRUST her?  If I open my heart and tell her how I really feel will this be another smoke blowing session or does she truly care?  Is she setting me up?  Is she going to take my words and use them against me?  Or does she actually see me as an “investment in place of an expenditure?”

I took a chance.  I saw the trust in her eyes.  She cared… I could feel it!  I opened up and told her I wanted to break down the walls to learning!  I wanted to go beyond the compliance that had been demanded of me.  I wanted to relight the energy in my students… I WANTED TO LIGHT THE WORLD ON FIRE! Okay, so maybe those weren’t my exact words, but I promise you she felt the message.

And that is when it happened… I decided to once again ask for permission.  Do you know what she said…  “Why not, we wont know unless we try!”  I started reading book after book.  I got on Twitter and started building my #PLN that turned into my #PLF.  I jumped into educational chats and found myself looking up the definition to #IMMOOC for the first time.  I felt my soul on fire… I was ready to Teach Like A Pirate again.  Thank you Dave Burgess!

“Our job sometimes, is simply to be the spark, help build confidence, and then get out of the way.” -Innovator’s Mindset

On that day, Dr. Jacie Maslyk was my spark!  She believed in me.  She trusted me.  She has built a trust WITH me and in turn we have relit the spark in our children, continue to build confidence, and are getting out of the way!

Is this #truth or am I just blowing smoke?  Well, a few weeks ago I was surprised by Chevron/Steelers with Week 1 Leader in the Classroom Award.  This award was beyond anything that I could have imagined.  It wasn’t for years of service or for having a big heart and loving my students (which has always been a given), it was for remaking learning… for being INNOVATIVE in the classroom.  I was blessed to receive $1,000, a Steelers’ authentic jersey, tickets to an upcoming Steelers vs Patriots game, and front page of the Sunday paper.  Beyond all of the beautiful gifts that were presented to me, the one that meant the most was when I heard “Leader of Innovation in the Classroom“.  That my friends, is the biggest YES ever!

“IF WE WANT MEANINGFUL CHANGE, WE HAVE TO MAKE A CONNECTION TO THE HEART BEFORE WE CAN MAKE A CONNECTION TO THE MIND”

-Innovator’s Mindset

#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?

8-Characteristics-of-the-Innovators-Mindset

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

 

T.R.U.E. G.R.I.T.

T.R.U.E. G.R.I.T is the foundation to success in learning!  Grit is the stubborn refusal to quit!  It is something that was not only instilled in me as a child, but a CHOICE that I made for myself.  I find that it is what my students need most to have success in today’s learning environment… one of opportunity with Voice and Choice! A world that is in need of makers and innovators with true grit!  George Couros, author of Innovator’s Mindset states “Having the freedom to fail is important to innovation.  But even more important to the process are the traits of resiliency and grit.”

T: Take Risks!  I once heard someone say, “If you are living safe, are you really living?”  I suppose I have lived a lifetime in a small period with my amount of risk taking.  Safe to me is close minded.  Safe for me makes my heart stretch and my neck tense.  Safe learning keeps me in a box when there are valuable resources within reach.  Risk taking is natural for a child until fear is learned.  So what does risk taking look like in the classroom?  For me it is giving up control.  It is facilitating in place of direct instruction. It is believing that my students can do it without me!  It is failing in front of 27 admiring minds and allowing that vulnerability to be a teachable moment for both sides.  Take Risks… it is life changing for your students and YOU!

R: Resilience~ Be Tough!  Resilience is key to pride!  We aren’t proud of easy work the same as that of the tough stuff.  We get tough through resilience! We must be tough-minded to push ahead in our learning and grow “through” our mistakes.  Look at a child with a participation trophy vs one that earns a trophy by winning the game.  Which one truly has pride…the kind that is felt to the core?  Resilience is nurtured through setbacks and hurdles.  It is brushing yourself off and getting back in the game of life.  We must allow ourselves the time to rethink, try again, and grow.  In turn the resilience filters into the picture.

U: Ultimate Listening Skills! This has major impact on you and the one speaking.  Make eye contact! Shut down your own thoughts and truly listen… not to have something to say back, but to take in what is important to the one speaking.  Process what is being said and show that you care by staying engaged in the conversation.  Communication between partners and groups thrives on careful listening skills.  

E: Empathy & Understanding!  Without empathy we live in an isolated world of our own thoughts and needs.  You do not need to understand to show empathy.  You need to put your own judgement aside and allow for others to be vulnerable.  This should never be confused with the “feel good society” mentality.  This should never be thought of as “everyone’s a winner”.  This is acceptance that we are each different with our own story.  We each have a chapter in this thing called life!  We each have a way of learning that changes and evolves just as our mind does.  We each have a story that builds bridges or breaks our learning.  Modeling empathy in the classroom shows respect and that is one thing that nurtures goodness.   

G: Goals!  This is part of achievement… the cornerstone of success!  Goals should be achievable and with growth in mind.  Goals are not set to stay at the same level of learning, but rather to propel you forward!  This is where I put students in charge of their own learning.  They must recognize from a young age what learning they have already acquired and where they could possibly go from that point.  Being done with a math lesson in 15 minutes, does not mean you take out a novel to entertain yourself because you do not know what to do with your time.  Reading is essential and if the book is relevant to math, I am certainly open to it.  But if I do not empower my students to grow within the content area in all ways possible, have I truly done my job?  I must open doors with options so that each child can make choices as to where their learning can go.  Independent thinkers that are empowered to create opportunities is what I believe future employers dream of in an employee!  #growth

R: Responsible! Being responsible is of great value to everyone.  A child that has their bag packed and unpacked at home for them will not know what they have, or scarier yet what they need.  A child that blames their parent for not having what they need in school may be the same child that blames the teacher for not having what they need at home. Placing blame is not beneficial for a child, so taking the time to teach responsibility in all settings tells the child they are in charge of their learning and that they can control outcomes at a young age.  

I: Imagine Excellence vs Perfection! Striving for perfection is setting yourself up for failure that can be detrimental both in and out of the learning environment.  Striving for excellence is a forward thinking mindset that allows you the opportunity to meet setbacks head on and grow!  I’m not claiming that failure does not have positive outcomes.  A former colleague and current director of Educational Strategy Robomatter, Jason McKenna, shared with my students that “failing fast is key!”  Reflecting on the process and communicating throughout helps to catch failing moments in place of failing outcomes!  Students who are unable to fail and grow from mistakes, because they expect personal perfection, are in need of a mind shift to excellence.

T: Tough Mindset!  Lastly, a tough mindset is where I feel the foundation of learning starts for educators and children alike.  A mindset that is tough enough to fail, to have confidence in one’s self, to persevere when moments are heavy, to stretch yourself beyond the comfort zone that could keep you stagnant, and the one that can make or break all growth within the educational system!  

Note: Maybe “Leaping Like a Pirate” should be the subtitle to this blog because that best describes my everyday mindset.  I am one to leap… feet first!  Sometimes into failing moments and other times success.  Not because I enjoy failing or feel like I am a failure, but more so the small chance of success intrigues me!  “T.R.U.E. G.R.I.T.” is my foundation to leaping! Teaching like a Pirate is what takes my grit to a new level!