July 25, 2012

How Will We Spend Our Inheritance?

Bear in mind that the wonderful things you learn in your schools are the work of many generations.  All this is put in your hands as your inheritance in order that you may receive it, honor it, add to it, and one day faithfully hand it on to your children.   - Albert Einstein

This quote hangs next to my desk as a reminder of the many teachers who imposed significant influence upon my learning, career choices, and mentorship as a teacher.  I've always loved Einstein's way with words, but this particular quote is a call to action to honor the legacy that has been left for the education profession and make our own meaningful contributions.  While one could see this quote referring to education and schools as a whole,  today I choose to honor the legacy that educators have left throughout my schooling.  I share this in the hopes of spending my inheritance of this profession wisely as I continue my work to make a meaningful impact.

Mrs. Keller and Mrs. Stapleton were my 3rd grade teachers who truly changed my life.  They introduced me to my first love- the stage!  My debut at Mrs. Claus in our class play "Santa Claus Takes a Vacation" was a defining moment in my young life and I am forever grateful for how this experience shaped my interests and pursuits in theatre.

Mr. Erikson was my 5th grade teacher and while I don't remember much about the class, I do remember a lot about him.  He entrusted me with a very important job out of the many classroom job choices.  I was in charge of filing papers.  Yes I know it may seem like a rather boring task, but you see, I did it so well that Mr. Erickson asked me to continue my job throughout the year.  I helped him reorganize all his teacher files that year!  In Mr. Erickson's class, I mattered.

In 6th grade, my teacher Mrs. Crider asked us to do a presentation about anything we wanted.  I was set on being a marine biologist when I grew up so I wanted to do something about ocean animals.  Being the child of a foodie/caterer, what did I do for my presentation?  I made an entire scene of ocean animals out of fruits and vegetables.  Oh how I wish I had pictures of my eggplant killer whale!

My 8th grade science teacher, Mr. Arnold, showed me that I actually was good at understanding science through his patience, extra help, and very creative projects.  In high school, my French teacher through all 4 years, Madame Gruwell, made learning French the most delightful experience, even when my verb conjugation wasn't the best.

But my #1 favorite most influential teacher of all time came in college, when I was least expecting it.  Meet Dr. Fred Kiesner.  I had declared a minor in Business Administration and registered for one of his classes, another life defining moment.  He challenged me to scrutinize my dreams and failures, and insisted on absolutely nothing than my best.  Dr. Kiesner roped me into an emphasis in Entrepreneurship (which was perfect since I was set on becoming a producer and opening my own theatre one day) and opened many doors for me through internships at theatre companies.  He believed in me and my insatiable ambition.  When I decided to go back to school and become a teacher, he wrote an amazing letter of recommendation that made me believe I really could be the teacher he saw in me. 

What does my inheritance have in common?  The teachers who shaped my educational journey let me focus on my interests, gave me choices and valued my creativity, they were patient and did not give up even when I wanted to.  Most of all, they believed in me and helped me believe in myself.  It's encouraging to look back and see these examples of personalized learning.

With the opportunity to work with 350+ students this year, personalized learning seems like an enormous task.  I will make a difference through believing in each student's unique strengths and talents, spreading enthusiasm for learning and discovery, and I will challenge my students to accept nothing less than their best.  This seems like a good place to start with my inheritance.

July 7, 2012

Trying on a New Hat & My Blog is 1!

Happy Blog-day!  With Enthusiasm is 1!

Baking is one of my favorite hobbies and I never need a reason to make cupcakes, and I certainly couldn't let the first anniversary of With Enthusiasm pass by without a sweet treat!  THANK YOU to all who have read, commented, and supported me this first year as a blogger!  I reread my first post today and was inspired with how far I have come on this journey, and look forward to the new adventures as a new year of blogging begins.

Putting on My "Coach" Hat 
Knowing I would be my new role as a STEM teacher and coach as I headed to ISTE was helpful.  I was able to focus my experience to learn more about the roles of technology coaches and instructional technology specialists.  I attended the "Standards for Us! The New NETS*C for Technology coaches.  This session unpacked this new NETS*C in a very succinct way, focusing on the elements for the standards:
Visionary Leadership
Teaching, Learning, & Assessments
Digital Age Learning Environments
Professional Development & Program Evaluation
Digital Citizenship
Content Knowledge and Professional Growth.  
This session put my new coaching role into perspective as the NETS*C are no small feat of accomplishment, however, it was also eye-opening as to the depth and breadth of coaching we could provide teachers.  Rubrics for the NETS*C will also be available soon, and there was discussion about the inclusion of language regarding coaches building positive relationships with teachers.  I see the rubrics as a valuable tool in my practice as my school corporation adopts a new teacher evaluation system this fall.

Thanks to a tweet by Sandy Rollefstad (who I met at the SocialEdCon after party as she was just beginning her Twitter account), I made it just in time to "Peer Coaching Panel: Meeting Teacher and Student Needs", presented by Matt Huston, Mary Lou Ley, and Tracy Watanabe.  This was probably my favorite session from my ISTE experience because of the panel's use of video in their presentation.  It was a brilliant choice to contrast interviews from Year 1 and Year 2 collaborative coaches.  I was able to hear the change from a teacher-focused classroom to a student-focused classroom as the interviews were played.  The changes that the presenters observed are that Year 2 Coaches are:
- Focusing more in learning outcomes
- Finding technology to align with learning
- Coach using more protocol and structured procedures
- Don't focus on one tool, focus on lesson improvement then evaluate if there are tools to integrate to improve the lesson
- Have a measurable way to collect data about lesson improvement
Final words of wisdom included that while some coaching conversations may feel contrived, it's important to work through it and stay focused on the work and student learning.

With my "coach" hat on, I returned home from ISTE and found myself sharing this post about Flipped Faculty Meetings by Steven W. Anderson with administrators in my school corporation.  Which led to participation in #flippedclass chat and great discussions with Kristin Daniels about Flipped Professional Development as a model for coaching, which is also aligned to the NETS*C.  More tweets and emails began to fly and now we are all abuzz with enthusiasm for what #flippedpd could look like in our elementary schools and faculty meetings.

As my new STEM meets this week to create our vision, plan, share and learn from one another, I am eager to be part of the collaborative process of developing our coaching model to support student centered learning experiences.

July 3, 2012

A Changing Vision

Yesterday I had to begin the arduous task moving out of my 3rd grade classroom and into the new STEM Lab.  It was surprisingly bittersweet and overwhelming.  As I paged through several of my favorite read alouds and anchor texts, I realized that I will not be reading these to a class of eager students next year.  My favorite read aloud of all time is Roxie and the Hooligans.  I love everything about Roxie, her good nature, her "Do not panic" mantra, how she wins everyone over in the end.  Sometimes I get carried away and think I could write a stage adaptation of the book, but I get hung up on the whole garbage barge and island setting issues.
My finger tips are sore from the stupid staple remover and I accidentally stabbed my fingers a number of times.  The the reality of this huge job change set in today.  I worked all day back and forth between two rooms and felt like I didn't accomplish much.  Then I got in my car and had a good cry (which I just don't do) realizing that I'm in the midst of my own catharsis. Change is so necessary and undeniable.

This morning, back in my classroom and making much better progress, I came across this:

It's called a "Vision Stick," from Native American tradition I think.  I made it during the Teacher Leadership Academy years ago.  The experience crafting my "vision" was very cool, at the end of a long day of PD we had time to reflect and set personal purpose to write a vision statement.  Then, we wrapped our vision statements around the stick and decorated.  It's been sitting up on my top shelf for a very long time and I would see it and smile remembering that experience.

Today, however, I was curious about the vision statement I had written so long ago, so I took it off the stick.

"My vision as a teacher leader is to inspire by example, inform with respect to the tried and true traditions, and to encourage those who are ready for something new."

I kind of want to give my 2007-budding-teacher-leader self a big hug and say, "Look how far we've come in working toward that vision." It's time for an updated version, but first I need to finish packing.

Many thanks to Steven W. Anderson who shared great encouragement this morning and gave me a renewed "can-do" attitude to keep moving forward.