Domain 1: Planning and Preparation, Domain 2: Classroom Environment, Domain 3: Instruction, Domain 4: Professional Responsibilities

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?

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!