Saturday, January 24, 2015

It Begins With a Smile

Week 2 of the #youredustory blogging challenge is how I will make the world a better place.

It begins with a smile.  I remember a long time ago, someone was talking about how difficult it is to not smile when someone smiles at you.  As a fairly new employee in my district I work to build relationships with the teachers, staff, students, and parents I work with.  The smile is the first step.  Whenever I pass someone, it gives me the opportunity to brighten everyone's day by smiling as I pass and say hello.

Here is a smile challenge:

  • For one week smile at any/all people you pass during the day.  If it is people you see everyday and multiple times a day, do it EVERYTIME. 
    • Make sure it is authentic and if you can get your eyes to light up or twinkle that is even better
    • Smile at everyone in the office, school, classroom each time you cross paths
    • When approaching a student or someone with a question (sometimes an annoying question) if you start with a smile, it changes how you start the conversation to a positive and provides an opportunity to build a relationship and trust rather than getting off on the wrong foot
    • If you are somewhere like the grocery store, smile as you pass others in the isle and see what happens.
It will take a while for you to start smiling automatically when encountering others.  You will need to make a conscious effort at first.  Soon it will become something you just do and you get to reap the benefits.

Here is how the smile challenge has/is impacting my life:
  • My interactions have become more positive especially with students and challenging staff members by starting the interaction with a smile and authentic greeting
  • I love watching and counting how many people I can get to smile back at me... There are always a few of the curmudgeons, most will change their demeanor and smile back
  • I am modeling for my son and my students, teachers, and others the impact a smile can have on others
Now for a short tale of the impact it has had.  During our ornament exchange in our district office, I received a chessire cat ornament.  There is always a story that goes with each ornament and I received that one because I am known to be smiling wherever I go in the office.  I did not even realize that I smile that often, that is how automatic it has become for me.  Now, the chessire cat also has mischievous eyes (also a trait of mine) which is story for another time.

Take the smile challenge and see how it impacts you and those around you!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

#oneword 2015 - Embrace

Last week I joined the  #YourEduStory Challenge @youredustory on twitter.  It is a blogging challenge that asks that you blog once a week for the 2015 year.  There are weekly topics to inspire your blogging or you can just do your own thing.  The idea is that you blog weekly.  That has always been my goal since Saturday night is my designated blogging time.  Our first week's topic is our #oneword for 2015.  I was inspired to write my one word and enter the challenge after reading John Wink's #oneword FOCUS and Jennifer Kloczko's #oneword LESS.  These two posts inspired me to ponder my #oneword for 2015.

EMBRACE is my #oneword for 2015.  I am in a state of flux which actually happens to be my chosen state most of the time.  As I have stated many times on this blog, I am trying to find my way after leaving the classroom and moving to the Educational Student Support Center (ESSC or DO) as an instructional leader and coach.  I chose the word EMBRACE as my #oneword 2015 because I need to consciously remind myself to embrace every aspect of my life as an educator and as a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, colleague, and many other labels I put upon myself.

Embrace the messiness of my life.
Embrace the many mistakes I make throughout the day.
Embrace the conflict I create (I am a rabble rouser)
Embrace the learning from my PLN and educators surrounding me.
Embrace where the teachers are in their implementation of CCSS and technology
Embrace the challenges and questions of my perspective on education issues
Embrace the good, bad and ugly of myself as an educator and person
Embrace the fact that I am imperfect even though I know I struggle with being a perfectionist
Embrace the messiness of leading and learning as a coach and instructional leader
Embrace the difficult - standards based grading, active student learning, CHANGE, CULTURE
Embrace the wonder when visiting classrooms and watching students
Embrace my ability to take great risks

I can go on and on there are so many things I need to do as an educator.

Even though I am a girl (funny that I used that word), I am an athlete and sports fan and I have struggled with the death of Stuart Scott on many levels.  So, the most important Embrace I learned this past week from his  2014 ESPY Awards Speech

  • "Our life's journey is about the people who touch us" - building relationships is extremely important
  • "Don't give up, don't ever give up" - I need to fight for what I believe is best for students and for me and my family
  • "I'm not special" - What I do is not about me, it is about helping others and being there for others
  • "How I live, why I live, and the manner in which I live" has an impact on those around me
  • "When you get too tired to fight, lay down, rest, and let somebody else fight for you" - I know Stuart is alluding to battling cancer, but sometimes as educators we take on great battles and sometimes we need to let someone else fight for us.  We need to let others step in and help.
  • "This is not a solo adventure, it requires support" - This is the most difficult for me.  As a classroom teacher, I could rationalize being solo even though I had a social network PLN.  
So, my focus for 2015 is to EMBRACE by building relationships, not quitting, letting others help, and asking my PLN and other to support and fight for me and the teachers and students I support.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

2014 In Review: My Blog Word Cloud and Top Posts

I am truly blessed by my Personal Learning Network (PLN).  It has grown and expanded exponentially this past year.  I have learned so much from them and many of the interactions have been the inspiration for my blog posts.  So, as many others out there, I am sharing a word cloud summary of my posts as well as my most read posts of 2014.

My word cloud below was inspired by: Jennifer Kloczko's Word It Out post.  Like Jennifer, my chromebook is my tool of choice for blogging among other things.  So I created my word cloud using Word It Out.  

A quick reflection of the stand out words:

  • I am proud of the fact that the largest word is STUDENTS - education should be all about the students.
  • I am ashamed that the other largest word is I - this is not about me, which I see I need to work on.
  • LEARNING is large which is a good thing - apparently I am writing about learning
  • I think it is interesting that TIME is a good size - yes, time is limited. However, we can prioritize our time and focus which is something I am planning on working on in 2015
  • MAKE, SHARE, ALL, TEACHERS, NEED, KNOW, GOOGLE, MATH are also used often in my blog posts - These words represent areas that I have been focused on as an educator
Goals for my blogging in 2015:
  • This blog is and always has been a place where I can reflect on my life as an educator.  It is for me first and foremost, if others benefit that is an added bonus.  I appreciate all input and consideration of the posts I write.
  • Continue to reflect on my journey and share all that I can
  • Continue to include links to my PLN folks that inspire and drive my thinking and learning
Now for the top 5 posts of 2014 (in ascending order):

#5 - What Happens to the Thinkers and Tinkerers? - I wrote this post after watching my 8 year old son tinker with Google Glass

#4 - How I Taught my Middle School Math Students to Blog - I truly believe that it is important for students to understand the importance of "Writing to Learn" and if we expect that of students, how do we introduce the concept of blogging across the curriculum

#3 - Did the Mountain Lion Catch The Mule Deer? - This post was inspired by a walk on our property (we live on 7.5 acres) and we found cougar (mountain lion) tracks very near deer tracks and my son wondered what happened, we were surprised after our research.

#2 - Modeling Standards Based Learning by "Failing" a High Stakes Test - In this post I shared my near miss of passing my administrators test and what I learned from the feedback I received 

#1  - What Does a 58% on a Math Test Mean to a Third Grader? - I am really honored that this post received the most hits on my blog.  It is the impetus for me to start the conversation of standards based grading in my district

I am so looking forward to 2015.  It will be a year of continued growth and sharing of my journey as an educator.