Sunday, February 4, 2018

Reflective PD learner

My mindset towards PD over the last couple of years has changed. I remember going to so many workshops one summer that I didn't know what I had learned at that point. I remember thinking I had notes in this bag from one week, notes on Evernote from another, and a list of apps and websites on my Ipad from yet another week. It was a summer experiencing learning, but looking back now I'm not sure how much of it was learning. I love learning and will often times find workshops on my own to continue to grow. I have a stack of books that people recommend, but now that I've shifted my thinking on just what professional development is for me...I read the books with a highlighter, pencil, and looking to find something I can tweet. If I'm reading just to read and not reflecting on what I've read or thinking about how I can share it with others, am I really learning anything? As educators, we know there is a difference the way the students react to learning for the sake of learning and learning that they own because they had a choice in it. 

A couple of summers ago, a mentor from my PLN encouraged me to blog after conferences to share my reflections and takeaways. This was a game changer for PD because it made me not just go back over what "tools" I could take away, but how I could apply those tools. It also made me start to reformat my role as a presenter and what content I shared. Did I want teachers to leave with a list of tools or tools plus content? Some sessions are a little of both ;-). 

The past two Saturdays I attended a couple of PD sessions. One was an AEA training and another an EdCamp. Takeaways were different from both. As an educator and a lover of learning, there is always something to be gleaned in each session if you are looking for it. As a presenter, it may even be a what not to do or how to improve, but there is something to learn. During the AEA day of learning, what stood out to me the most was a question asked in one of the sessions about leadership style. The presenter displayed a picture of Andy and Barney and asked what style is seen in your classroom? Think about that for a minute, educators. if someone is looking from the outside in, do you respond like Barney or like Andy? Barney reacts and Andy has a calmer way of dealing with things. Andy sees the bigger picture and Barney can only see what's right in front of him. Barney sees the behavior in the moment, while Andy works to understand why the behavior has surfaced. I could continue on and on with the list. The Andy style should be our goal and what we strive to demonstrate to not only that outsider looking in, but the students who are on the inside. Barney may happen at moments, but it shouldn't be the norm. Another of the sessions reminded educators to focus on everything the student brings to the learning table (It's not just about what takes place during the school day). 

EdCamp is always a day I look forward to because I get to see some of my PLN that I only see at tech events. This year the week had been long and my Friday night plans didn't allow for a lot of sleep before the day, so I wasn't sure what to expect. In the middle of the day, it was hard for me to pull away from the takeaways, but after a nap when I got home...they started to come. First, take away....that session you didn't expect to learn from are usually the ones that have a nugget or two. Two, being around enthusiastic teachers stirs something back up on the inside of you. Three, smackdown session never disappoints with a new tool. Last but not least, teacher voice is so important. I love how EdCamp encourages teachers to share something they are passionate about in a setting that makes it comfortable. 

Find something that you are passionate about this year and share it! Find an area where you need to grow and take a class or read a book (then share what you learn with others!)! I'll end with something Angela Maiers always says, The world needs your contribution. So educators make 2018 your year to share you! 

Tuesday, January 2, 2018


I haven't done very well with making this blog a priority, but that will change this year. I know I've said that before...but it's part of my #oneword for this year. You do what you make a priority and growing as an educator is going to be a priority this year. I know I've said it before, but having a PLN has been a game changer for me. It's opened my world to connections outside of my own little world in my system. It's spoken life when I wasn't sure I had any, and most of all it has been where I've been reminded over the last couple of years especially that I have a voice and something to share. So many times we let labels define what our voices are instead of letting our being define us. We are more than a label, more than a role...we all have a piece to add to the puzzle and a voice to add to the mix. As Angela Maiers as always says, the world needs your contribution. We all get discouraged at times and think we do not have anything to offer. Feelings are not truth and 2018 is the year for being to be louder than feeling. Let's not focus simply on making the moments count, but on making the moments matter.

I chose being for my #oneword this year. I wanted a word that would work for my personal life and my professional life. In my quiet times with God throughout the last month or so of 2017, the truth of feeling vs. being was a topic of discussion. The word never said we wouldn't feel certain ways, but it said to be. That's where the word being started to take root. My verse is Acts 17:28 where it says In Him we live and move and have our being.  I struggle sometimes with doubting my abilities and not thinking I have anything to offer. Sometimes we can get so caught up in the "I'm just a_____" that we lose sight of who we are. What we do isn't who we are and that's the theme for 2018. You have something to contribute, something to add to your school, your group of educators...share it. The hardest person to convince to believe in you is you. Don't put limits on you based on what has been said or not said...stay focused on your passions, what excites you...and find an avenue to share that. Twitter and blogs are a great resource for finding a connection. I've presented at state conferences, at ISTE a few years ago, and regularly present webinars for Simple K-12. Last year I also recorded a podcast episode for 10MT for Teachers (Vicki Davis). Yet I still had moments where my do overrode my who and I found myself going, am I making a difference, an impact. My do was focused on busy instead of focused on being. For me, the presentations are wonderful and I'm so thankful for the opportunities that's about connections though. It's in those connections where you find a purpose and a drive that keeps you going. It's those connections where you have that mentor that continues to remind you that you have a voice when you start to doubt you. It's in those connections that you are empowered to pour into other teachers what's been poured into you. At the end of the day....if we gave all we had if we did all we could, and if we loved all we met....then we are leaving an impact that not only counts but matters.

Educators be you this year and make a difference that will last beyond 2018.

Saturday, August 12, 2017


We just finished our first full week with the students. Teachers have been back since the last week of July officially. This year has started off at full speed and to say I'm at the pace needed yet would be, well we all know it takes a month or so to get into a routine where you feel productive and have balance again. The picture above was from our Institute speaker (Mansfield Key, III). He issued several challenges that day, but this is the one that stuck with me, Someone's Destiny is tied to our assignment. What we do each and every day makes a difference in the lives of more than we realize. It's not always about what we can see in the moment that makes the difference. Sometimes we are the ones that plant the seed, sometimes we may be the one that waters it, but in the end, growth is what matters. Some of our students may simply be searching for that person that be that voice every day saying, you can do this. So many times we let our focus at the beginning of the year be numbers driven and paperwork focused. While those both have a role, the destiny decision is in taking that moment to listen when a student says hey can I talk to you. The destiny decision is made in taking that moment to be that smile for a student. The destiny decision is also in being patient with yourself and taking care of the most valuable resource that those students, the teacher. So many times we pour so much into what we do, that we forget to pour into who we are (which in turn fuels what we do even more). This year give your students all of you, that 110% because the difference being made is tied to someone's destiny, but also take the time to give to yourself too. 

Another challenge offered this year was to be bold. Boldness for one may not mean the same as boldness for another. Maybe bold for you is taking that class to better your educational leadership skills, maybe it is learning how to use that tech tool that has always seemed to scare you, or maybe it is using your voice and telling your story. Growth happens out of our comfort zones. Growth happens when we realize maybe it's that extra push that is what we need to climb the next mountain. Boldness happens when we step outside of our comfort zones and shine. Be bold in what you do, bold for the students that you will see each day, bold for you as a professional who has so much to share, and bold for your community, your reach, that needs the spark you have on the inside of you. 

You have a story to share, so share with care! The world needs your contribution as Angelia Maiers always says, so add something to where you are planted at. 
Be amazing this year readers! 

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Create more than consume (AETC take-aways and more)

My heart's in ISTE right now, but my feet are not. I am anxiously awaiting for the time when ISTE comes back closer to home so I can drive there. It's not easy funding PD on your own (I gotta find a grant next year).  On to talking about AETC (Alabama Educational Technology Conference) from a couple of weeks ago.

Tech conferences in the summer are a time to connect with friends in my professional learning network from outside my system and meet new people to add to my network. We all have something to contribute and learning to share that is half the battle. (As Jennifer Hogan always reminds me, I have a voice). In the midst of a fast-paced conference, sometimes it's hard to truly see what the takeaways are, I have learned after ISTE to reflect a week or so later to truly glean from the learning that took place. My session at AETC was on using tech tools to differentiate instruction. (The link is included below the picture to the handout if you are interested). My heart when I present is that every educator present as something to take back to their classroom. I've learned a lot over the last seven years presenting and still continue to learn. There is something though about sharing your voice, your passion, your gifts....and empowering others to do the same. If you have any questions about any of the tools in the presentation feel free to reach out to me via email, Twitter, or comment here.

My biggest take-away was a reaffirmation, a challenge to create more instead of just consuming. So often we are consumers of technology, we are takers, but not givers. I want to always be someone that adds back and gives back, to add my piece to the digital puzzle as we all work together to do what is best for our students. I have slacked on creating and lived in the consumer zone for the last year or so, but through this conference and some wisdom shared from my PLN, I'm ready to get back to creating more. (I have a list ;-)) So keep a watch on my LiveBinder for updates as I add more resources etc and feel free to share it with others at your school! We are truly are better together!

Friday, March 17, 2017

The extra degree

When you lose sight of the impact you can make and are making, you lose sight of the passion that made you start doing what you do in the first place. Other people may put labels on you and define you by your title, but don't let that define who you are and what you can do. As Angelia Maiers always says, you matter and the world needs your contribution. The world needs the mixture that makes you, quit with the comparing, the competing, and just be YOU.

I know it's been a while, but between buying a house, moving, catching the crud, and well just plain busy...I have lost sight of some of the things that fuel my passion. I had let the labels again dictate the voice that I have and almost convinced myself that I had lost it. I had almost let the hustle and bustle of the motions drive out the passion of what makes me move. A conversation with my administrator one day a couple of weeks ago was the turning point professionally that I needed. He shared with me about 212 degrees (a training he had attended earlier in the month(there is also a book)). At 212 degrees water turns into steam and steam can propel an engine. At 211 degrees water is just hot, but it's that extra degree that makes it boil...and boiling water can make a change. We all have the same hours in the day. What we choose to do with them is our choice? What are you giving your extra degree to? Is it fueling your passion or maintaining the motions?

As educators, we must constantly be pushing ourselves to become better than we were yesterday at the same time while realizing that our yesterday made an impact in someone's life. We can't lose sight of the push or we will become comfortable in just staying at the 211 point (or below) and our passion, our students, our profession is longing for that extra degree.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Your flame, your voice....

I'm's been way too long since I posted on here and that's my own fault. I had forgotten a piece of wisdom that was shared with me a couple of years ago...the part of telling my story. As educators we exist in a comparison world. We are always comparing data, comparing funny student stories, light bulb moments, and even those venting moments. We compare more than we share sometimes and that's where we lose sight of our connection with others. We lose sight of the connections that exist to help us help our students. You see for when your flame is fanned, you are able to fan other flames. When we see the difference we are making, we are energized to keep doing what we do regardless of the cost. When we know we are making an impact, we keep pushing forward to make an even bigger ripple that makes an even greater impact. Sometimes we walk around waiting for others to see the difference we are making, when we have to see it first. When we forget we have a voice, we quit trying to speak up. When we we lose sight of our flame, we quit trying to uncover it. Our passion is a part of who we are......don't hand it over without a fight. You are where you are for a reason, grow in this season and determine to make a difference. Your students need your flame and your voice...they need you!  (For any other teachers who may have already hit burnt out this year and the exhaustion phase. You are important and the difference you are making is impacting more than you can even see! Keep doing what you do and giving all you can, it's planting seeds that will one day grow into trees that will continue making a difference). 

I am thankful for a PLN who have sown wisdom in over the years and it's been a seed that has taken root. Connection is a powerful tool and sometimes as educators we just need to know that someone is listening and that our opinions are valued. The first step is listening to yourself and valuing your own opinions...for that is where you realize you have a voice that needs to be heard. If you don't tell your story and the amazing things you are doing, who will? 

I'll be posting weekly from now on and am thankful to have uncovered my flame and found my passion voice again to tell my story....

Monday, May 16, 2016

Why I do what I do....

I'm catching up on some #CompelledTribe posts. Okay I have missed posting on here for the last three months and am trying to at least post for May.

Two years ago I saw the You Matter message on Twitter and immediately thought of how amazing this would be for teachers and students. That following summer I was fortunate to meet Angelia Maiers at ISTE14. Hearing her in person tell about her vision, her passion, and her You Matter message was inspirational. This has been a message I have made a point to have in my classroom over the last two years. It's a message that I have had students read when they were frustrated or down on themselves. It's a message that I have watched impact students they learn that they not only matter, but that they can make a difference (and that they are more than a number).

I went into teaching because of the teachers I had in school. I was blessed with teachers who I knew loved being there, who were there to not only instruct in academics but in everything else that was needed. I wanted to be that kind of a teacher when I grew up to be a teacher. I wanted to not only make a difference but for the students I had to leave knowing that they mattered and could make a difference. Every year at the beginning of the school year and during Teacher Appreciation week I'm reminded of the teachers I had in school.

This year I've been inspired by several students. Students that never gave up even when the number on the test wasn't what they wanted. Students that continue to come to school with a smile on their face despite what is going on at their house. Students that help others, that lead others, and care more about others than themselves. Students that saw a need and created a plan to meet that need. I could write multiple blog posts about each of these. The ripple has been thrown out this year and the impact is continuing.

Social media has allowed me to stay connected to several of my teachers from elementary and high school. They get to continue to see what a difference their time is making as a former student pays it forward each and every day. This is why we do what we that the world will be a better place for those that come after us. Teaching is more than a job for me, it's a calling...I learned from early on what that meant as I saw that calling walked out day in and day out.