#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!

m&m

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? 

 

GRACE: How to Find the Path to BETTER

A child sat worried that he was unable to complete the task I had given him.  One that was not timed,  but clearly not going to be finished before the day would come to an end.

A child not sure why anger or annoyance surfaces spilling over into friendships.

A child that arrives late most every day with a look of worry.

A child walking down the hall, head down.

Not to mention the interactions with friends, family, coworkers, parents, community members… and the list goes on and on.

Did I mention me?  Probably not… but I too need GRACE 

Grace comes in so many forms.  Find just one way to show it to others.  To yourself.  A path to BETTER.

GRACE IS:

a bridge… extended from one to another so no one ever feels alone.  A simple hello when a child enters your room or you pass someone walking by.

forgiveness… because any other way builds resentment and lays a poor foundation for both you and others on this journey of life.  It is a heart changer… a life breaker… don’t just push to forgive others, but even more challenging forgive yourself when needed.

hope… this is nourishment for the soul… for emotional and physical well-being

happiness… everyone deserves happiness!  Be the positive… go out of your way to spread goodness.  Be the one to share it… it will come back to you in abundance.

mercy… this is such a huge component of grace.  Not one of us is beyond needing mercy.  Think of how often you need this as an adult… now think of a child.

love…  love a child enough to know what they love… what they are passionate about… what they thrive on… find their good on their worst day. 

kindness… spread it with a smile… a kind word… a hug… acknowledgement of one’s presence… find one way that you can share this part of grace and you will change lives!

blessed… never forget what you have.  Challenge yourself to not ask for one thing and simply acknowledge your blessings.  Blessings are gifts.  Count yours.  Help others to see their own.  Do this during a difficult time when you want to ask for so much… it opens your eyes and you feel the purest form of GRACE!

Grace can mean so many things.  What does it mean to you?

CTA: (Call To Action): find what it means to you and share it.  Bestow it on yourself and others.

For me, I think… Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound

 

#grateful

 

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

 

 

Be the Million Dollar Decision

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…

Ummmm…

well that is where I stop and question.  Best serve… who?

students?

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?

unknown

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.

Joining Twitter: CLICK HERE to connect with me

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:

  1. 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.
  2. How do you collaborate with others… beyond the four walls of your building?
  3. 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?
  4. 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 the Million Dollar Decision

Today, I am ready for another interview, are you?    

MLK Style: “Believe in Your Worthiness”

I love to hear my students react to history.  Why?  Most often their reaction represents the growth we as a nation have had over time.  At times it is excitement.  At times it is disgust.  This is when they truly understand that this is their story… when they feel it!  Yes, history is our story… our story as a nation… the story of our past.

As an educator, it is my responsibility to deliver… as students, it becomes theirs to decide the impact.  Will history repeat itself or grow and “change for the better“…  time will tell.

Silence settled over the room.  I simply posted a picture.

separate-but-equal-

That is when the conversation started… the gasps, the disgust, the questions, the confusion.  It sounded like this:

“Does that say white and colored?”

“They have two fountains like us, but why does it say colored?  Colored what?”

“Why is the white fountain nicer than the colored?”

“Look, they are still connected… with one pipe!”

Then, as the discussion simmered, and they started looking to me for some type of explanation, I powered up the most incredible speech in history… words spoken by a man honored with a Nobel Peace Prize.

 

I passed out paper to sketch-note the life of a man that impacted history.  Impact to a degree that we recognize him with a day off of school… yes, his legacy lives on.   Martin Luther King, Jr. gifted us with 10 incredible focus points in life that can impact every human being… “Believe in Your Worthiness“.

Let’s follow his lead… let’s design our blueprint: OUR VOICE! OUR CHOICE! Let’s Create CHANGE AGENTS!

  1. Believe In Yourself
  2. Be Fearless
  3. Fight For Yourself
  4. Keep Moving
  5. Follow Your Morals
  6. Act Now
  7. Be Determined to Achieve Excellence
  8. Stay True to Principals
  9. Stand for Something
  10. HAVE A DREAM

My class is currently on a 10 Day Challenge of “Pure Goodness“.  On Tuesday, January 16th, they will extend that challenge for the greater good.  They will choose one of the 10 listed above and begin to write their legacy in history.  This legacy will unfold with their digital footprint in their NEW CLASS WEBSITE.  We hope you follow our journey… we cant wait to get started!

Join us… create your very own blueprint!  Send us your blueprint and we will share on our website!  Will it be a sketch-note? A writing? A drawing? An iMovie? A blog?  We can’t wait to see! or

Simply CLICK HERE to be the first one to leave a reflection on our NEW Class Flip Grid! 

When Passion Knocks You Off Balance

I woke up a bit off balance …

Lists pinned up.  Post-its stuck to every surface.  Notes upon notes in my iPhone.  Calendar alerts set.  Focused? No, not yet.

Time with family.  Time with friends.  Time to my classroom.  Time given to the holidays.  Time to PD.  Time volunteered.  Time to my passions.  Not enough time.

Each time I give, what do I take away?  Why do I add on in place of exchanging?  I ask myself these questions each time I find myself a bit off-balance.  I feel my emotions surfacing and am about to lose control.  This is when I feel like I’ve been set up for failure… by myself!  Never enough time.

thomas-edison-quote-time-is-really-the-only-capital-that-any-human-being-has-and-the-only-thing-he-cant-afford-to-lose

Everything is a choice, isn’t itWell, maybe not EVERYTHING!  So, is this really a priority issue for myself?  Do you ever ask yourself these questions?  Questions that wrestle with your why?

I know my WHY… my why for life… my why for family… my why for education.  But WHY do I struggle with balancing my WHYS…

because I am PASSIONATE My soul nurtures my passions for life!  I am that person… I am blessed with a love for life.  I am the one who can never get enough time in a day to do everything that I possibly want to do… to make, create, share, listen, reflect… to achieve!

To know me… to truly know me, is to accept that I continuously have a fire burning inside me that will rage out of control if not given an outlet.  To know me is to understand that I can never walk away from the flame.  The one that warms me most often.  The one that burns me at times.  The one that lights the world on fire when I focus my heart and soul on what I am passionate about.

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So when I feel off balance, I go to my survival instinct.  The instinct that nurtured me through childhood.  The one that empowered me. The one I relied on when I was my only resource.  The instinct to stop and regroup… I adjust.  I kinda clean sweep my life removing what hasn’t paid off.  I need this space back.  I need to regroup!

It’s like cleaning out my closet.  If I haven’t worn in over the last few months, guaranteed it is just taking up space.    

It is pitching files in my classroom that have no value or relevance to how my classroom moves forward.  

It is taking a look at how I feel after spending time with people and reflecting on whether I am renewed or left spent.  

It is weighing out my needs versus my wants.

This is when I regain focus.  When I find my way back to my WHYS.

What I needed was simpleThis past week I took time to mourn the loss of my beloved pet… my Chocolate Lab Sarge.  He only had one single why in life and that was loving my beautiful family.  Then, I took time to open up a book and allow the words to resonate with me in place of reading just to read.  I created one of my family’s favorite mommy meals of Chicken Piccata on a busy school night.  I stopped by a couple of Animal Rescues and looked into the eyes of sweet precious dogs that are ready to fulfill their own why in life.  I created my long awaited class website that is now ready for student blogging.

I regrouped. 

I adjusted. 

I re-calibrated my heart. 

I found my way back to my whys.    

I focused.

I am balanced again.

I got close to the flame, I warmed up, and let the fire burn.