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.


I haven't done a lot with the Celebrate Monday on Twitter this year and I've neglected this blog for a couple of months....That being said I'm in the reflective mode as the year winds down...and looking back on some reasons I had this year to #CelebrateMonday. (Also trying to get back to posting on here and catching up)

It's the last full week of school. It's the next to last Monday for us and summer is clearly in view. I've loved almost every minute of this year. There have been those that have exhausted me, worn me down at times, deadlines that stressed me, but there have been way more moments that made me smile. Moments where a student who never thought they would make their AR goal comes in with huge smiles to say they did. Moments where that student who doubted themselves at the beginning of the year is displaying confidence that you can see, she can see, and the data even shows growth! Moments where that parent says thank you for making a difference in my child this year. Moments where a colleague tells you they learned to do a new tech tool. There have been lots of moments to look back on this year with a smile. I'm not the same teacher I was when I started and it's hard to believe I'm finishing year 10 and will be watching my first student graduate next week.

Depending on when you finish out the school year, tomorrow may be one of the last couple of Mondays with your students. What can you do to change their day? How can you make a difference in their Monday that will impact their Tuesday in a positive way? Monday is the rock thrown in the pond...what kind of ripple will it create when it reaches the end? The choice is yours...Let's #CelebrateMonday and celebrate our students. After all...they are why we do what we do each and every day. 

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

We all play a part....

When the email came out about what the topic was for the post, I had to take a minute to think. It wasn't hard to find someone at my school that I wanted to write about, but narrowing down to just one was difficult. It truly takes a village to raise a child and that applies at school as well. From the lunchroom workers to the custodians, to the classroom teachers and administration...investing in the lives of all our students is why we do what we do on a daily basis. I'm a special education teacher, I have the honor and privilege of working with several teachers throughout the day. I love sometimes just sitting in their classrooms and watching them come alive teaching a lesson whether it's about writing or division.

This year at our school we have been able to have an Instructional Partner for the first time. Some of you are reading that and thinking, but I thought every school had one of those. Well this is only our second year in existence. So it takes time to lay a foundation in which to build upon. Last year our Instructional Partner was a classroom teacher. She taught 4th grade Math and Science and her classroom was one that I loved getting to spend some time in. The students were engaged in whole group and in small groups throughout the day. Engaged students +Fun =Learning all day. Most of all these students left her classroom every day knowing they were loved. They knew that Mrs. Crippen cared about them as a person as well as pushing them to do their best academically. This year even though Mrs. Crippen has transitioned from being a classroom teacher to being a teacher's teacher. She analyzes data, looks for ways to help all of our students improve, shares resources with teachers and students, and works to help establish a new school's climate. In addition her helping spirit comes through because if she can, she will do it for you. I've watched her hold students accountable for behavior in the hallway and at the same time watched former students and others stop to check in with her throughout the day. She continues to make time for students that she may have previously had that just need an extra person to remind them they can do it during the day. She has also taken on a role of listener this year as teachers find her classroom a place where they can go and not vent or complain, but talk out the struggles that may be going on in the classroom.

I know the transition may not have been easy, it's hard sometimes to learn a new position, but Mrs. Crippen has done it with class. I still learn from her wisdom every day as I watch her with students and when I find myself in her room going, how can I help this student. Thank you Mrs. Crippen for impacting students and teachers on a daily basis at Moores Mill Intermediate.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

EdCamp Take-aways

It was hard getting up this morning early, but EdCamp is always a fun day of learning. If you have never attended an EdCamp, I encourage you to do so. It's an unconference that runs on the power of 2 Feet. In other words if you find yourselves in a session that isn't meet the needs of you the educator, go find another one. Some of the best learning is just sitting down and talking with other educators at what is going on at their schools, how are they are integrating technology etc. A day spent with some of my PLN will always remind me that I have a voice (even if I didn't present today ;-)) 

Here are some of my take-aways from today:


This is a website geared towards K-4 with reading passages and activities, but it also has several interventions on the site such as read aloud etc. I'm excited to try this out with a couple of students and share it with my teachers. 

This was the first resource I learned about today at EdCamp. I seriously could have gone home after learning about this one and been content. This is a site that has a library of videos that have assignments integrated throughout. It's a great find for teachers wanting to do more with a flipped classroom. 

I love Twitter chats and learning from other educators so this resource made me excited. I'm going to try it out this coming week with ALedchat. 

4. One other thought that I took away today was from a session on Digital Portfolios. I had never looked at using the concept of these portfolios to teach digital citizenship and branding. Can students tell you who they are in 3-5 words? Do they know about their digital footprint and the impact it is making (or not making)? Have they ever googled themselves ? 

Thank you to the EdCamp Madison AL staff who always put on a wonderful event that brings educators together. (and there is always cake at EdCamp)

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Love this book!

I ordered this book last summer, started it but didn't get deep into it until Christmas break. That was my mistake...this book is an easy read full of applications for teachers of all tech levels. I still remember my first EdCamp a couple of summers ago when I walked into a session on Twitter and my world opened up. I had been on Twitter for a year at that point, but within 45 minutes I started to see the power that 140 characters held. Power to connect with educators outside of my little word and power to share what I was learning with others.

There was a section in the chapter for Key Connector three that brought tears to my eyes. I know you are thinking why is a book on technology making you cry. When you read how you have been feeling in black and white, you know you are not alone(and not making it up!). There is a push on the inside that reminds you to stay focused when you see that others are walking this connected journey with you and together you are helping each other grow.

Thank you Todd Whitaker, Jimmy Casas, and Jeffery Zoul...this Connected Educator found inspiration, affirmation, and a push to keep sharing what I know with others in my PLN.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Moving Forward

Ten days into the new year and five days at work....
This time last year I would probably have said I give up on any type of resolution (because usually at this point I had already had to restart more than once). This year however with using the three words, it's been different... It takes time to make changes and I'm being patient with myself and staying focused. 

I want to be focused this year so I can keep moving forward. At the end of the year I want to look back and know that I was faithful to give each and every day my all. These are my three words for the year..focus, forward, and faithful. 

There is a song that I heard at my friends' church early in 2015. The lyrics stuck with me as I started focusing on what I wanted to change in the new year. So many times as teachers we look at what didn't get finished, what may not have gone according to the plan, and what we could do differently. While reflecting on the day is a good practice, letting the moments of the day become something that weighs us down is not. It's good to reflect, but that reflect should propel us to make a difference and an impact in today. Find that one student that needs someone to tell them they make a difference and make it a goal this year to help them to see that they have a difference to play. You'll find yourself moving forward as you reach out to others. 

On days when I don't feel like I'm moving forward or maybe taking a pause at this go around the mountain, this song has become a mainstay. I have it on my iPod and also saved in my YouTube playlist.