Saturday, September 9, 2017

Bringing Back #Stu2StuChat 2017-2018

It was a few years ago when I was teaching fifth grade that my dear friend Sandy Otto thought of putting together a chat.  You can read her blog post about it here.

I loved helping my students participate in the #stu2stuchat.  The students were about 1:1 that year if you include the devices that they brought with them. They logged into Twitter and into my class account @bluejacketway . Everyone had the password as I kept it on the board. That helped them learn social media in a safe way. I also had three students who were our key Tweeters for the day, but all could tweet if they were logged in.

Here is what we learned:

  1. Digital citizenship skills in real life.
  2. How to have conversations with people their age in other places.
  3. How to develop conversations about core subjects
  4. How to develop conversations about interests
  5. How to develop conversations that help us see society through their eyes.
Most of all we HAD FUN.

Was it risky? YES! But it was a great safe space to be a digital citizen and the students and families knew that. I did not get any pushback.

This year, I would like to bring back the chat, "The little chat that could," as Sandy says. It would be once a week at 12:55-1:25 (give or take in that time frame) PM CST and geared toward 5-8th graders. We will have a question and answer format but keep the questions to three and a CTA, Call To Action.

So, what to you think? Would you like to join in the conversation with your class? Here is a form to fill out so that we can get this up and rolling! 

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Be Brave, Take Risks and Find Your Heartbeat Again

In June I left a job I loved to pursue a job invitation at a different school not in the district that was presented to be deeply related to my passion of technology. I started work with hopes and dreams, just like I had done in all the years I had previously taught since 1994. However, it was not much into the first week when I knew something was wrong. Going to #edcampMSP and spending time with like-minded friends confirmed on my heart that I was not imagining things. As much as I tried to fix what I could and change myself to adapt to the new school, I could not and in December of 2016, I took a risk and quit my job post. It was the Sunday evening just before TIES2016 when I pressed send, and I was thankful because I had two days off due to presenting at and attending the conference and thankful that I could be with friends at that time.

I was sad. I was sad that I left my friends at the school where I used to work and I wondered for all those months how I could have made such a grave misstep. I was sad that I came home crying almost every day from the new job and it was effecting my mindset and home life. I was sad that my working at that school didn't work out and in order to save my soul from crushing any further, I needed to look elsewhere. 

I learned a great deal about myself in those short months, but what I learned the most was that just like how not every student fits every school, not every teacher does 


That was a freeing thought and it gave me hope.

After trying to figure out many scenarios, I started working as a full time sub at the school around the corner from my house, one mile away. I have worked each day with no days off and working many areas, but with most of my time spent in Special Ed--ASD and STEM. I knew that it was a right choice beyond a shadow of a doubt. Throughout this time, I was able to date a school, date the staff, date the system for what will be just over 5 months. I was able to understand the infrastructure, the how and why of policies and dynamics and fall in love with the heartbeat of the school as well as recover from my earlier experience of frustration and fall in love with teaching.

Did you ever consider that schools have their own heartbeat? They have a pulse of their own and my heart, and as a person of faith, the heart of my creator must beat in unity with the heartbeat of the school. Finding that heartbeat is essential and when it is found, and when the blood is moving and it is fluid and when there is oxygen flowing through the blood, you have found magic.

As usual, the magic was by stepping away from the shore, and being willing to make enormous changes. I was terrified, but that didn't hold me back from not trying. I was scared. You should read my journal, but if you did you would see how the hand of God led me to resign, led me to rethink and led me to the right place where my heartbeat for education matches the administration and the staff. My faith is important to me. Each moment was unmistakably and supernaturally planned for me and unfolded in front of me like a gift from God for taking a gigantic risk. I wanted to just say thank you to those who stood in the gap with me including my friends and family who continuously reminded me why I teach and why it is still a worthy profession. Also at that time, two people came out with a book that was new and published by Dave Burgess PublishingThat book was Escaping The School Leader's Dunk Tank and I found in them a friendship and found in them comfort in knowing that I was not alone, nor was I completely out of my mind. Thank you Rick Jetter and Rebecca Coda.

I am happy to tell you that there is a good ending to this, that taking a risk was worth it all. I am happy to tell you that I will be in a space I love and I cannot wait for fall to start. Had I not taken the risk, I would be ever so lost and fallen out of love with my passion for teaching and learning. It was a bumpy road of emotions, but mostly living my faith out loud.

Maybe you too are wondering about something in your life and wondering if you should make a change, press pause and listen to your heartbeat and lean in to hear the heartbeat of your Creator and answers will come when they need to. I promise.

Love, Kimberly

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Merchant of Hope

Merchant of Hope
There are many wonderful things that I enjoy about education, but one of them that always rises to the top is being a merchant of hope. Hope is the heart of compassion which teachers and administrators need to navigate the waters of people and situations in our schools. Hope is found in the middle of the storms at work, not the shoreline on either end where the storm has subsided. Hope arises on the capsizing waves not the white foam found on the shoreline that tickles your toes. Hope is found in the darkness of a situation before the promised light comes. It is found in the hallways as we are faced with many doors of decisions to make as we ponder which to choose. Hope is the greatest gift, asset or treasure we can give out. Hope is being part of the solution, not the problem. It doesn’t solve the problem, but it whispers to you that it can be solved. Being a merchant of hope has to be part of the school culture.

As a teacher, staff member or an administrator, it is vital to be a merchant of hope. That doesn’t mean that we live in an alternative reality where everything is always awesome because we know that it is not, but we know that it does mean that we are not paralyzed by fear because we have hope. We might find ourselves in spaces where our heart is broken in raw and relevant ways though we have done everything possible to make mattering the agenda. We all have sat behind a closed door with our head between our knees from time to time, gathering our spirits again to open the door to hope. Hope is what we give and what we need & breeds successful schools.

We can do this by honoring the stories that people want to tell by authentically listening and by creating spaces for that speaking and listening to flourish. I myself find that geniushour and teaching students to harness the power of hope through speaking & listening skills as they prepare to give TED Talks of their own creates a learning legacy because I am letting students know that they are born for significance. I do this with intentionality as I remind them that their purpose is wrapped up in both their passions and their compassion and to give hope to others.
Hope is a gift received as well as a gift returned to the world.

Future of Life Institute

I approach all the students as little seeds. I partner with the parents and the school to plant seeds and nurture the seeds so that it will grow. I am only given so much time to help the seed grow, but in that time I must water it well and give it needed nutrients. Those nutrients give it strength to push through the dark, cold soil into the sunlight with hopes of becoming something more than just a seed and being part of that becoming is my honor.

Hope in our classroom or school says:
I accept you.
I love you.
I appreciate you.
I see you.
I support you.
I respect you.
I will protect you.
I believe in you and you can do this.

In fact, hope even goes farther. Hope says to the students, families and staff, HOLD ON! I will row my boat out to the middle of the lake where you are. Hope says you can get in the boat with me or I will get in the boat with you. It even offers to tether the two boats together to continue moving forward. Hope throws you a life-preserver. Hope helps airlift you out. Hope makes way for extraordinary change because hope takes risks together.

Illuminate with hope. Let it fly around our workspaces like fireflies free at night, the tiniest bits of light pushing through the dark and in that moment when we can’t catch our breath, hope comes in and fills our lungs and turns our heads finally just when we least expected it. Schools that thrive, have hope found in their hallways, offices and classrooms. Anything is possible when we are a merchant of hope and create this culture at school.