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

30 Second Pitch: Engage-vs-Empowerment #IMMOOC

If we are truly trying to transition learners to leaders, don’t we also need to transition from today’s buzz word engagement to the future of empowerment?

A powerful and impactful challenge flag was thrown last year by my new administration… 100% engagement for all students, all day… and yes, every day!  That was a challenge that I couldn’t wait to get ahold of within my classroom.  It was absolutely incredible to see my students embody my love for learning.  Was this for the day?  The week?  The month?  That is when it happened.  The moment I realized that engaging my students was only going to be sustainable if I empowered them!  WOW! That was a moment!

A moment“… that was what I needed to give my students.  I started with asking them to pitch me an idea in 5 minutes or less.  I gave a little criteria, but I didn’t want to close their minds to revolve around my thinking, so a laundry list of stipulations went right out the window.  I simplified and initially gave 5 minutes.  FIVE MINUTES is a LONG TIME!  Either they know what they want or they don’t.  Period.

Dave Burgess, author of Teach Like A Pirate, says, “I’m more than willing to take advantage of and influence everything around me to increase my students’ chances of success.”  Yes, that is my thought exactly!  How can I teach like a pirate?  Here it is- challenge the holder of the hookThey need to hook ME!  My students need to be the ones creating the hooks too!

EMPOWERMENT:
-authority or power given to someone to do something; the process of becoming stronger and more confident, especially in controlling one’s life and claiming one’s rights

This definition is embedded in my brain so I reread Innovator’s Mindset, again and again!  I needed an example… something concrete.  I absolutely love how George Couros shared his moment with engage vs empower.

“So instead of trying to create engaging content for my students, I decided to turn it over to them.  Deep Learning occurred- they understood and remembered what they taught each other.  I had given my students control over their learning, and the change in atmosphere was palpable.” –George Couros, Innovator’s Mindset

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Then the moment came when a student came to me and asked for the use of Ozobots outside of tech stations.  YES, I was that teacher… the one excited and willing to bring as much technology in as possible, (Thank you donorschoose.org and my supportive community) but ONLY used it in isolated learning moments… UGH!  Weekly, even daily isolated moments, but I literally separated it from the content!  What was I thinking?

So, on this particular day it just so happened that I barely had the 5 minutes to spare… no time to hear why or how they could possibly make this applicable to character, setting, and the plot of our story so I challenged them to tell me in 30 seconds or less.

#30SECONDPITCH

Mrs. Nan, I can CREATE a setting based on the chapter we are in today.  I can CONNECT it to technology by using Ozobots.  I may need to go on to the computer to look at a coding idea that I have, but that isn’t a big deal because “Rachelle AKA RESOURCE” is an expert and can show me.  Oh, and then I can turn the Ozobot into a character and have it navigate the setting.  AND I would really like to blog (MOMENT) about it after! #micdrop

WOW… the excitement in my student literally infused the pitch into my mind in LESS THAN 20 SCEONDS!  It reminded me of  Jacie Maslyk asking me what my “1 minute elevator pitch” would be like.  My response, “What is an elevator pitch?”

“It’s that 1 minute when (insert name of famous person) walks into the elevator with you and you have your chance to tell them your brilliant idea before the elevator doors open again. It’s your brief moment to grab their attention, pull them in, and convince them that yours is the next great idea.” –Jacie Maslyk, STEAMMakers

This was it… the moment the 30 Second Pitch came to life!

30 Second Pitch

  1. Mindsetthis is your creative moment… approach it with excitement and use your creative juices!
  2. Connect4: Explain how you can connect your idea to technology BEYOND our 4 walls of learning!
  3. Research: Call on your resources!  Collaborate ~ Communicate ~ Dig into your idea! #WhoIsYourCrew
  4. Moment: This is YOUR TIME TO SHINE!  How will you do it?  #VoiceAndChoice

I have shared this with a few of my colleagues, as well as many parents, who have been curious as to how on earth I can justify the use of this technology (Hour of Code, Sphero, Ozobot, Osmo, Edmodo, Canva, Snap-Circuits, Bloxels, Makey Makey, EdPuzzle, Scratch, and more) in my room.  How can I possibly teach the “curriculum/book” and also have time for this?  Well, to be clear, I actually teach skills.  The PA Common Core skills that are a foundation to the success of every child in 3rd grade.  How I teach that skill is choice… and not just mine.  When I really want to know how to make something happen (the thing that will light the world on fire) for my students, I simply ask!  They always tell. #empowerment

Note: Thank you JESSE REESE for the incredible “piece of art” you created out of my very sloppy notes!  YOU ROCK! #grateful

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Domain 4: Professional Responsibilities

#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.

 

Domain 2: Classroom Environment, Domain 3: Instruction

#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

Domain 1: Planning and Preparation, Domain 2: Classroom Environment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Domain 2: Classroom Environment, Domain 4: Professional Responsibilities

#IMMOOC Week 1: Setback or Serendipity: choosing the road less traveled.

Overcoming adversity builds T.R.U.E.G.R.I.T … small setbacks build character.  Setbacks come in different forms, especially in education.  Many see change as a setback, something that will disappoint and have complications.  The fear of change has always had an influence on the mood of teachers, students, and parents alike.  You can see it in a person’s eyes.  The fear that creeps over them when you are trying to explain what is about to take place.  The questions forming in their minds with every word spoken.  You find yourself in that moment choosing which road you are going to travel.

Do you continue to move ahead with change or do you comply and conform?  Do you actually have a choice?

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Have you ever sat in your first in-service day of the year to hear the changes that are coming your way?  The kind of change that is done just for the sake of change and not necessarily for the better.  You find your entire body tightening up as if  you cannot take one more word.  You wonder how all your optimism could possibly leave your body in 20 seconds or less.  You spend the following hours telling yourself to wipe away the negativity so that you can get back to your happy place.  The place where you just redecorated your classroom that awaits smiling, optimistic, and excited children.  Is this a setback?  My guess is that the change in which creates that tense feeling is most often not change for the better,

I’m one to choose the road less traveled.  Yet compliancy is at the forefront.  Compliance is not just a term we use with students.  It has been a professional responsibility that has inhibited my teaching and growth for many years forcing me back on a one lane highway… traveling in one direction with head on traffic.  George Couros (author of Innovator’s Mindset) states, “Compliance does not foster innovation.  In fact, demanding conformity does quite the opposite.”  Where was George when I needed him for his perspective?  The right perspective can help make the impossible possible!

“Listen to the mustn’ts, child. Listen to the don’ts. Listen to the shouldn’ts, the impossibles, the won’ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me… Anything can happen, child. Anything can be.” ― Shel Silverstein

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Then there was the in-service day that did change!  The one that went from a hot sticky auditorium (with a lecture on how we need to be better before we even get our fresh start) to an air-conditioned banquet hall with the high school’s marching band loudly playing the fight song just for their teachers.  The change that gives you chills and resets your inspirational compass so that it points straight forward.  My guess is that the change that gives you chills is the kind that George Couros is talking about… Innovation!  The kind that has your innovative administration ( Dr. Jacie Maslyk  Dr. Michelle Miller #PLF) challenging you to open a #twitter account and connect with other educators in the crusade to remake learning.   The kind of administration that TRUSTS you with social media.

What about that change?  George Couros says, “Change is an opportunity to do something amazing.” #InnovatorsMindset

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My current administration has brought on many changes… positive changes… innovative changes!  We now have permission to choose how we will teach the common core standards in our own individual classrooms in place of being on the same page, on the same day, just like all other classrooms in the district.  We now have tech-fest where lead learners step up and share their knowledge to help push our district forward.  We now have trust to choose #flexibleseating as an option for a learning environment that challenges and encourages all children.   We now have permission to blend our curriculum so that we are no longer teaching the same concepts in 3 different subject areas according to the map.  We now have district goals to engage all students every day, all day- to show purpose, passion, and pride in school and throughout the community.  This change is AMAZING!

For me it is always my mindset that turns things around.  Setback or serendipity? I’ll choose the road less traveled!  As George Couros says, “We need to make the positive so loud that the negative becomes almost impossible to hear.”

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Domain 2: Classroom Environment, Domain 3: Instruction

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!