July 4, 2014

Ridiculously Positive

That's me, ridiculously positive.  And I don't mean it in a cynical or snarky (I love that word) sort of way.  Ask the folks who know me, I'm such a big dreamer and optimist that I am ridiculously positive in the best of ways. I'm clinging to that positivity because my world is rocked right now. Everything I believe about education, what I believed to my core, has brought me to an extraordinary experience where I'm challenged daily to question the status quo. You can read more about this wild ride here if you're interested.
I'm in the company of greatness through this experience, working with some of the smartest educators I've ever known.  These are people who will change education (there I go again!). But we're thrown into this intense experience that is kind of like boot camp for leaders who are expected to be change agents. And it's incredible.
Sir Richard Branson has become my go-to when I'm feeling like I can't live up to the expectation.  Even the ridiculously positive have their moments.  What I've learned, that was not required for class, is just how capable we are and how comfortable with complacency we get.  I read this quote the second day of class it was the moment everything changed: 
"Let’s shock the future rather than suffering future shock. Let’s make change happen instead of reacting to change." - Dr. Sidney Parnes
Stop being complacent. Seek opportunities and challenge doing something because it's the way it has always been done. We ARE who we've been waiting for to make change happen (thanks Dan!).  And be ridiculously positive because that's what it's going to take to shock the future.

October 1, 2013

A Day in the Life of a Connected Educator

June 10, 2013

The Ultimate Guide to #ISTE13

It's that time of year again where thousands upon thousands of tech-enthused educators come together at the annual ISTE conference!  The hosts of the TechEducator Podcast invited ISTE13 keynote speaker, Adam Bellow, and myself onto the show last night for our take on the Ultimate conference experience.  Check out the recording here.
There are lots of posts going around right now to help others prepare for the conference.  So in the spirit of sharing, here are my top 3 tips for the Ultimate ISTE experience:

Networking Fair
When:  Sunday, 6/23 from 3-5pm
What: An amazing opportunity to meet Twitter and Conference Ning friends face to face, make new friends, get great session ideas and be sure to stop by the YEN booth for YEN session picks!

Organized Conference PlannerWhen: Start NOW and download the app
What:  This is the premier ed tech conference with oodles and oodles of amazing session choices, I'm booked 14-deep on Tuesday along, have a backup session for your backup session, share notes with others using Google Drive or Evernote since you can't be in two places at once, and be sure to visit the Poster Sessions and Playground areas for a different learning and sharing environment.

Social Events Social opportunities are great way to decompress from an amazing day of learning!  Follow the #ISTE13 hashtag for ticketed events and casual meetups and treatups.  Plan ahead and come out to Lonesome Dove on Monday from 5pm-7pm for a #EpicYEN fun with the Young Educators Network, whether you are a young educator or young at heart!  Sign up today!

Your turn!  What are your top 3 tips to make this ISTE13 the ultimate conference?

March 13, 2013


I'm a talker.  I teach 380+ students per week, direct the school play, facilitate Student Council, and I talk too much.  This week I had the opportunity, dare I say privilege, to stop talking and listen.  Seven students from my 4th grade Student Council group were invited to guest blog for the 12 Days of Dreaming: Student Edition.  They had blogged about their dreams for education on our Student Council blog and submitted proposals for their post which were thoughtful, honest and very, very surprising.

Over the past two days I met with three of the guest bloggers to talk over their ideas.  I quickly realized that my role was not to do the talking but to listen and ask questions.  The conversation was remarkable and the students schooled the teacher.

Listen, these students shared that they want to be heard.  They want the opportunity to share their perspectives and have their thoughts and opinions matter.
Choice was a consistent theme in our discussion.  Choice in topics of study, project guidelines and due dates.  These students value their extracurricular activities (enjoyment, life-long skills, specific interests) and wanted to better balance their schedules to accomplish learning goals and extracurricular. 
Passion was a topic that made them all jump out of their seats!  Maybe they're a passionate bunch to begin with, but these students want and dream of opportunities to pursue their passions- in 4th grade none the less!

We looked at this post of photo prompts together, and this particular slide really got under the skin of these 4th graders.  They could all personally relate to the quote and thought of classmates who also fit this description.  This led to a very heated conversation about grades and report cards- details forthcoming in their future #12DOD blog posts.

I walked away from these meetings reminded again just how important it is to have these discussions with students.  In this day where teacher evaluations and school letter grade ratings are dependant upon student's standardized test scores, we cannot lose focus on student learning and what is important to students.  Many of the ideas, suggestions and dreams these students shared are easily attainable, we just need to stop talking and listen more.

If you are a teacher reading this post, I challenge you to ask your students what are your dreams for education?  They are dreams worth dreaming.

I would like to thank the three students mentioned above who completely inspired a very lethargic teacher/blogger to blog again.  

November 12, 2012

You don't know what you don't know, do you?

After reading a great post today, How to Connect the Dots, from Brett Clark, I ended up on a post from Tom Whitby which really got me thinking about this question, How do educators get to what they don't know?
This overarching question, how do educators get to what they don't know, is a challenging one.  I think of the phrase "you don't know what you don't know," and wonder how do we move beyond it?  I feel I did move beyond it because I felt stagnant in my trajectory as a teacher and knew there had to be more I could, and should, be doing.  But how is this accomplished when teachers may be complacent, simply because they don't know what they don't know?
The model of Flipped PD that I've implemented within my school has been one way to bring this overarching question to the front of our minds- mine included.  One hour a month of face to face time, with consistent and personalized support in between meetings, has provided the time for teachers to think, to consider, to wonder, to dream-- what don't I know, how else can I do this, what do my students need, how can I cultivate this...
How do we get educators to what they don't know?  I know now it goes slowly, with caution and regard for their experience, comfort level, and personal and pedagogical beliefs.  It's about building relationships and trust so that the unknown doesn't seem so isolated and scary, when impending observations loom.  It takes time, a lot of time, maybe more time than I ever imagined.  Consistency, encouragement, celebration and reflection are so important along this journey. 
I think now, getting to what they don't know is not simply about a piece of technology, or starting a class blog, or using the online features of the science curriculum.  It's about getting to know who we are as educators and truly what we believe about teaching and learning, beyond that philosophical paragraph on the parent welcome letter at the start of school.  It's the shift to not only student centered, but learning centered classrooms.  We're changing our school culture through collegial conversation that is deep, challenging, and meaningful.
I didn't know how this model would work or IF it would work, so for me, getting to what I didn't know meant simply to try, and not give up on my teachers no matter their fears, resistance, or struggles.  Growth, change and progress take time, as does learning.  Looking back over the first few months of this journey, I'm awed and inspired by the goals and projects which have tremendously impacted student learning in my school.  We have momentum and I believe this momentum will continue to inspire teachers to question, wonder and seek out what they don't know.  My calendar and to-do list are there to support them all along the journey.