Monday, June 24, 2013

Under Every Rock, In every Corner, Beneath Every Couch

lifehouse231.blogspot.com 
Do you ever feel like life at almost 42 is starting to make sense? Oh, what? You are not 42? Well in my life right now it seems like under every rock, in every corner, beneath every couch I am finding the same thing being whispered to me over and over. I can no longer ignore it. Even the big themes of Mr. Holland's Opus and  William Ayers book, To Teach: The Journey Of A Teacher point me in the same direction I have been going for a while.  They are not the just the themes of the book, not just the themes of the movie, they are the themes that have been playing on my heart.



Themes: 

  • People Matter
  • Passionate Teaching Matters


When people matter, you are including the voices of stakeholders in your corporation or in my case, the classroom. You are including student voice, parent voice, community voice, administration voice and well as teacher voice.   Ayers says,

 "Parents are often too unwelcome in schools, and we too often dismiss their insights as subjective and overly involved." 

Yes, people matter and parents matter. Their voice matters in the classroom to me. They are a blessing and they are welcome in my room. 


www.ourdailyreflection.com
Ayers goes on throughout the chapter on "Seeing the Student" to give multiple ways that we can demonstrate in our teaching that people matter, that students matter. Seeing the student not with our eyes, but with our heart. I liked this quote from Mr. Holland's Opus when Glenn Holland says, 

"Playing music is supposed to be fun. It's about heart, it's about feelings, moving people, and something beautiful, and it's not about notes on a page. I can teach you notes on a page, I can't teach you that other stuff." 



Let me say it this way. Anyone can teach, it is actually easy to do. The curriculum tells you what to do. However, it takes a really special teacher who can reach out across the curriculum, in spite of the curriculum and touch the heart, see the student's heart and speak to that. People matter. Every voice matters. Every last one. In a conversation on Twitter a few nights ago on June 22, my PLN was discussion passion. I wrote,

 "First touch the heart, then touch the mind." 

Then  as fast as a Twitter minute Barry Saide replied,  

"Teach them to think with head, feel with heart, decide with soul." 

Here, Mr. Saide combines the first theme of my life with the second in such a eloquent and beautiful way. 

The second theme is that of the passionate teacher. It comes from an understanding that there are eight ways to be smart and we are not all smart the same way. We celebrate our classroom differences when we understand how God made us all unique and special, yet put us together to learn from each other for the common good, learning together in a classroom.

YES!

That is the ticket out the door. A passionate teacher says to a student like Holland says to his in the movie Mr. Holland's Opus, 

"Play the Sunset."

What does the sunset look like to you? 
On my dresser I have a sunset taken here in Isanti with the farm fields and the glorious sky. Sunsets are stunning, but there are so many different colors to the sunset. A passionate teacher lets all the colors come out. Every last one. Another great quote comes from Principal Jacobs: 

"A teacher is two jobs. Fill young minds with knowledge, yes. But more important, give those minds a compass so that that knowledge doesn't go to waste. Now, I don't know what you're doing with the knowledge, Mr. Holland, but as a compass, you're stuck."  

Are you stuck? Did you loose your compass? We all need help unsticking ourselves a bit along the way. Ayers does a great job at that as well as does Dave Burgess in Teach Like A Pirate. 

helenotway.edublogs.org 
 I had the opportunity to wade into genius hour at school with my fourth grade small group.  The purpose behind it comes from Joy Kirr,  who is part of my PLN. She got me hooked. During genius hour, you spend  of your time with your students letting them seek out their passion as well as to manifest their passion to you in some tangible form. Your job as a teacher is to coach them along the way and encourage them when they are stuck. When they ask a question, ask that question right back...engage their mind. I had a great time with this during our testing season in the spring right up to the end of the year. 

What I learned through the students passions included wolves, history of gaming, about anacondas, and Stellar Blue Jays. They learned about it on their own and sought a medium to tell me about it. I received two paintings, a home made book of hand drawn graphics and a time line. It was precious. 

When I combine this with Angela Maiers idea of student voice and her www.choose2matter.org big idea, I will see an explosion of awesomeness! I will do this again next year even with my firsties. I can't wait! It will be different, it will be VERY different, but I can't wait to see what they want to know and how they want to tell me. 



People matter. Passion matters. Keep that close to your heart and reach out to your PLN when you are stuck. I will close with this quote from Ayers in his book

"Staying open to mystery, to the recognition that there is always more to know and more to be, is to allow students their full humanity and to stay alive as a teacher.

This is what I am finding under every rock, in every corner, beneath every couch.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Gone Fishing

www.sturbridgeyankee.com 


Anne Isabella Thackeray Ritchie in her novel, Mrs. Dymond coined the term, "If you give a man a fish he is hungry again in an hour. If you teach him to catch a fish you do him a good turn." You I am sure by now have heard the term and have seen it everywhere. We smile, we nod, but what is important to do is to take a kid fishing. Your kid or even #tlap the situation and take your class out to the pier, dock, lakefront, river or what have you to learn to fish and to learn about life, themselves and nature. 




Lessons learned in life and about yourself:


  • Patience
  • Persistence
  • Grit
  • Stick-to-itve-ness
  • Eventually you will be rewarded and even if you are not, that is okay
  • Quiet time is important


I spent the other day this past week with my own daughter. Oh, she likes fishing for 10 minutes, but because she is a perfectionist, she finds the fact that there is no fish on the other end IMMEDIATELY annoying and wants to quit. It is true! She is a brilliant student data wise in school but there are so many other ways to be smart, she needs to cultivate those ways and so I take her fishing. Not for a punishment, but to talk to her. Yeah, she thinks were just fishing.  

Were not. 


pic from fishing-in-minnesota.com
As her bobber got stuck on a rock as she was reeling it in, it was hard work for her. She had to think of an innovative way to get that bobber unstuck! It wasn't as easy as it sounds. It involved a water pipe, a tree, and a stick. She also had to get over her fear of leeches sticking to her. 

As she hooked her own worms (sometimes we use leeches or maggots) she learns the fine arts of arranging the critters so that they don't fall off when you throw the line out. 

When no fish came in the first 10 minutes and her boredom started to appear, I redirected her to try another spot.   Try a different lure. You just don't give up, the big one is out there. 

Even in the silence when only nature was talking, she learns that it is okay to surrender to the silence. Quiet time is important. It leads to self reflection as an adult and when we are quiet, we can hear what is really being said.

Lessons learned about nature:


  • All the animals that live in lakes, ponds, rivers, streams and make it their habitat
  • All the critters and ecosystems
  • Kinds of fish
  • Looking at the sky and weather charts
  • How deep lakes are
  • How to survive




When I lost my bobber because it got stuck in a tree then flew off like a rocket into the river I laughed. What a goof! Good grief! So I made do. I needed a bobber and it helps to drive the line out. Without throwing out the line was a joke. I so I found a twig. I tied it with fishing line to the line, after I re threaded my pole and added a hook again. :/ It was goofy, but it did its job. So, I taught my daughter to make do with what is around you. Use nature for your resources. 

Yet, appreciate nature and all the goodness it provides. the beauty, the sounds, the mirror imaging on the lakes. 




So, what could you do as a teacher, as a #tlap teacher? You could on a Saturday or even for a week day field trip, organize a Take A Kid Fishing Day for your class. Invite the whole family, make it a Beyond the Bake Sale moment. Seize the opportunity to draw in parents to a great day of fishing. Maybe arrange a scavenger hunt for the ones who need a break. Have people share a picnic together. 
Ice fishing in MN on Gull Lake from http://kootatio.com

Now I am working on taking my kids ice fishing. NOW THAT IS A HARD SELL! That really takes GRIT! Brrr...but until then, we are off to go fishing again, and again just off the dock, or off the shore, on off the pontoon. Here fishy-fishy! And for now, she still thinks "We're Just Fishin"





And I will always be the single mom who made sure her kids went fishing. Maybe when they are old, they will know what I was trying to teach them. 

I love Jesus. I love my kids. I love learning. I love teaching and I love fishing! 




A Reflection of Habits (Part 1)

Habits like all things can be good or bad. As a teacher-leader I have formed habits in my classroom. For example, I like to listen to music that is instrumental only or it is in another language. Frankly, I don't care what language, though I prefer Italian or Spanish so I can sing along. Yes, I can sing along but my students can't, so therefore, they are not thinking about other words as they are working, they are using the music as background noise without singing karaoke.  I have formed a bad habit that I have changed this year. I have always been a teacher with a desk in the classroom. Now I am not a teacher with a desk in the classroom. After reading much research into the matter and discussing it with my PLN in depth, I have had it removed and it is in an office away from students. I am the token guinea pig in this matter. We will see how a new habit forms in that regard indeed! After spending time studying Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People I have found myself questioning habits that I have as a teacher-leader and how his theory has affected me so far in this journey in education. This is not the first time I have read Mr. Covey's work. I will combine that with  important elements that are needed for someone who is engaged in  21st century leadership and with Marazao's research that lead to the Art and Science of Teaching as well as Martin Haberman's work, “Can Star Teachers Create Learning Communities?” and attribute action points for myself in my educational development.




According to Covey, the first habit is to be proactive. I need to realize that my decision-making skills determine my effectiveness in my life and to take responsibility for them.  That is also one of the key leadership qualities in the 21st century. It is important to calm myself first in the face of stress or difficult decisions. Difficult decisions are what I face everyday as a teacher or what I will face everyday as a principal. Keeping a clear presence of mind and by the power of the Holy Spirit is the only thing that will empower me to make deliberate and decisive choices for my classroom, the school body, a student or family. Even in the heat of the moment, I should take into account what is the outcome that I am seeking. How can I maintain my decorum as well as honor the spirit of the student as well as the family or other coworkers? How can I show them that they matter and that they are important and still resolve an issue?  That is a very high priority for me. I feel like I do that well in the classroom yet, it is not a destination I seek in this matter. Different students, different families, different cooperative teaching sections every year. It is a matter of MINDSET and getting my head in the game as a habit. When it becomes a habit, it becomes a lifestyle. My goal is to keep this in the forefront of my thoughts, people matter and treating them with dignity matters! According to Haberman, modeling is a very important skill to creating effective communities. I can model proactive behavior. One of the people in my PLN is Jimmy Casas,principal from Bettendorf High School in Iowa. He signs off most of his mentoring during PLN with, “BE THE CHANGE.”

Ghandi said it first Modeling. Be what you want to see changed around you and pretty soon, people will follow you and your ideas. One way I do this for my administration is to keep a blog and to show what is going on in my classroom and some of my educational view points or what I am learning along the way. My administration can't always be in my room, and I have found that this helps my administration keep a pulse on me and I am ever happy to share! 

I can also begin with the end in mind as I develop lessons.  Keeping the end in mind is the second principle Mr. Covey states. With all the instruction being found in text books, it is easy to do that. What I like to do is challenge myself and one way I do that is to create genius time in the classroom where students are working on their own project based learning (PBL) and I have a rubric for them to use. That helps keep the end in mind. I also enjoy this when I develop a PBL activity for my whole group to learn together with even though they are in small groups. Different from genius hour, this would be a topic that may be broad like SPACE and from that there would be several small topics. My students did a great job of this and I attached a rubric to help them keep on track. The end result was eight different projects for 34 students and we made a lovely picture/audio video with it using 30 Hands.  If I don't begin with the end in mind, I will not know where I am going. If I don't know where I am going, the student won't either. Again, it must be about the student so therefore, I must have my act together!  



It is really important to think what Mr. Covey calls, “Habit 4: Think Win Win” in educational leadership. When combined with the fifth habit, “ Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood,"  this creates an atmosphere of caring, and positive problem solving. When we value people we say to them, you matter. One of the people in my PLN is Angela Maiers, she is the founder of choose2matter.org.  She says, “These two words can change lives and change our world, if we understand them and we leverage them in the right way. When someone believes that they matter, they see the world in a different light. They approach life and work in a manner that understands that their actions can have a positive impact on the world. Yet every day, someone asks: Did you notice me? Do you appreciate what I do? DO I MATTER?” I want each person that I meet to know at my school that they matter, not just the students but also the custodians, the cooks, and the office staff. I want the families to know that they matter. When you think win win, when you make a choice that people matter, you will see problems resolved to their best potential. You will see situations resolved in the best approach that will take people to victory. Not me. Not myself. The collective group of people involved. When you win, I win. All for one. One for all. Philippians 2:3 reminds us that we must put others ahead of ourselves. I think that is why I don't prefer to be called a TEACHER. I prefer to be called a LEAD LEARNER. Teachers have given that name a bad rap. It comes with some crazy notion that we know everything. Do as I say. No, that is not how I teach. That is not how I learn and

that is not what is best for any learning environment. Haberman also suggest this same concept. He  knows that if you want to get work done, it is best to get your EGO out of it! Somewhere in a Bible study I learned that EGO meant Easing God Out.  Yes, you ease out God and you ease out others. Maybe it should read EGOO!  

Yes, it is time to reflect over the summer on new habits that I want to now cultivate for next year and old habits that need to be ditched. Perhaps, that is why God gave teachers summers! Thank God for that! 


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Why I Became A Teacher


     Her name was Ms. King. She was a tall sort of a willowy lady with brown wavy hair and I just so happened to adored her. She was my first grade teacher at a small private school I attended while my daddy went to PSU. Her eyes twinkled and her warmth was genuine. Her words were that of encouragement as we learned. She sat by the piano and sang. I still have the song book she made. She showed us grace and kindness by praying for us & sharing in our joys. Even though we did have a chapel time, she always extended that to how she taught in the classroom, as it should be.


     When I close my eyes, I am still in first grade. So many favorite memories from that '78-'79 school year flood my mind! The friendships I had like with Carolene, Eric and Kelly, my very lovely Holly Hobbie lunch box and the fact that I had no teeth in front. However, the one I love the most is when we were allowed to stay overnight at the house Miss King shared with her mom in State College. I recall the books she read, the ice cream treats at Meyer's Dairy and the breakfast she made of pancakes. She had a sofa chair that turned into a bed. I thought it was magical.

     I have a photo of myself at her house. A snap shot of innocence. I love that photo so much. It reminds me of my goal. My goal is life is simple, love God, love people and serve the world, and Ms. King did just that. She still continues serving the Lord working at Walter Reed Medical Center by bringing cheer with puppets to the patients there. We were here last class. She would forthrightly tell you that we were her favorite class.
Me at Miss King's House!
My eyes were upon her all the way. From her example and from the example of my parents who were educators, I knew that the desire of my heart since I was three was right on track. I wanted to teach. I would teach my stuffed animals and dolls. I would later play school at the house with friends, willing or unwilling. There was no other profession that I wanted.

    Now, to get to this point of twenty years in the business, I have had to take a few routes, mostly staying in Elementary Education and it was a process of knowing what I didn't want to teach like high school! Even the year I taught high school technology classes I though perhaps, I was a fish out of water, but I did it anyhow. That is what I do. Now I combine everything I do with the things I love, elementary teaching, technology, reading and learning about the world around us in as many wonderful “PIRATE” ways as possible.
I have finished reading, How To Teach Like A Pirate by Dave Burgess. He is part of my PLN on Twitter. In that book, he discusses ways to increase student engagement, become a creative teacher and how to transform your life as an educator. It was just the book needed for someone who is done with her 20th year of teaching! I did take sometime to reflect on this book and how it applied to my life on my blog www.seedsforlearning.blogspot.com. I will quote myself by saying “Sometimes, I think teachers are afraid of student engagement and innovation. They think they will loose control. In fact, they see their job all wrong, teaching is not about control. It is about facilitating students to find their shape and passion and go forward into this world as agents of ideas, change and making our world a better place." Teachers are parents, youth group counselors, staff at a school, paras...we have to work together to raise up the next generation, help them and encourage them. 

     I also believe with a passion that teachers hide behind worksheets and call it teaching. It is not. Teachers as dictators is old and dead, teachers as learners co-existing with students and parents in creating and cultivating a learning environment seed by seed is  where the best of the best takes place. Next year, I can't wait to create a global classroom by making more videos, helping the students create their own podcast, and finding a classroom both in this country and one around the world to connect with. What a wonderful world! Indeed! Learning together and from each other....awesome.”As I start my 21st year of being a professional educator, I remember the following very well.: I am NOT the teacher. I am the lead learner. I will approach the next years of my professional experience in that regard. I will continue to learn from those around me, my students, my co workers, the parents that I serve. I am addicted to learning and passionate about teaching students how to learn.

     God is the abundant giver of passion. He created it. With passion he made all things. Not by some sort of slapstick moment of chaos, but with a heart filled with deep desire to create a world for us to live in and find “good.” As you may have already read yourself, I too have read the PurposeDriven Life by Rick Warren. In it there are five clear purposes:
  • 1)  Love God with all your heart.  You were planned for God’s pleasure, so your purpose is to love God through worship.
  • 2)  Love your neighbor as yourself.  You were shaped for serving, so your purpose is to show love for others through ministry.
  • 3)  Go and make disciples.  You were made for a mission, so your purpose is to share God’s message through evangelism.
  • 4)  Baptize them into…  You were formed for God’s family, so your purpose is to identify with his church through fellowship.
  • 5)  Teach them to do all things.   You were created to become like Christ, so your purpose is to grow to maturity through discipleship. (FromThe Purpose Driven Life)
It is with this book in mind that I approach teaching with a Christian world view. I love my students very much and my job is to serve them and their families, in that sense and specifically because I teach in the area where I work, I am loving my neighbor. I am also loving my neighbor when I deal respectfully with my co-workers in a professional manner. I am not able to be a vocal evangelist at school for my faith, but that doesn't matter because actions speak louder than words, so I am the hands and feet of the Most High God who sends me to do his work. I can't baptize them, but I can touch their hearts and teach them and learn with them along the way. I can do my best to point them in the right direction to go. It is an honor to serve the Lord in this capacity. My local church Horizons Community Church has a simple mission statement that I love, "Love God, Love People, Serve the World!" I apply that to my life and my role as a teacher. 
venspired.com 

     Twenty years has gone by fast, but what I have learned along the way will last a lifetime. I am a learner, it is my superpower, and I know I was put on this Earth to be a lead learner in a classroom and facilitate learning in the hearts and minds of generations to come. What a honor! I believe that is the way my precious Miss King saw things too, in fact, because I am still in contact with her quite often, I know that to be the case. Indeed, I learned from the very, very best her and my parents. 



Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Traditions!

One of the traditions at School For All Seasons is our end of the year program.  It is a lovely time where each grade level is showcased and our fifth graders are given a proper send off for their new middle school adventure.   

The awaiting parents with cameras are eager to snap a shot. Usually it is around 300 parents, friends and relatives pack our gym like canned sardines! 


The anxious students with butterflies line up for the performance. Some of the lasses in gorgeous dresses and the lads decked out in handsome attire. 

 Add lights...show...ACTION! Fitting us all on stage is never a possibility. We can only hope some don't fall off the back! 

Here, my coworker Mrs. Coleman and I are directing students through a rousing song of "I've Got A Friend Like You." Pat speaks German. I speak Spanish. We both speak English...so we turned this song in to a very Gerspanglish version! 

Hay un amigo en mi! Du hast einen freund in mir! You've got a friend in me! 

Of Pirates, Pioneers and Old School Houses




I love old school houses. If they could talk, they would tell beautiful stories don't you think?   Here are pictures of two old school houses in Isanti County where I live. 


This old school house was the high school.  Currently the building to your left is still being used as the Cambridge Intermediate School. The building to your right is gone and the new Cambridge-Isanti High School is a few blocks behind the old high school. 


Here is the old Isanti High School. This goes back to the days when Isanti and Cambridge had their own. 

"This 1905 building was 2 stories tall, included a full basement and had four rooms with more space for expansion.  Years later, in 1950, an old country school was moved in to serve as a cafeteria and band room.  This building happened to be the very first school in Isanti's first school district." (From Isanti Primary webpage) Now this is the site for Isanti Primary School.


The Old School in Isanti County
As we close out this school year at School For All Seasons and Isanti Intermediate School , my co worker and I thought how much fun it would be to have a Pioneer Day Experience on our school grounds.  In the past, the third graders have been able to go to this school house located a few miles from us for half a day, but in the recent years, that has not been possible.

Still, we wanted to close out our unit on Isanti county History with an experience!  So we created a plan. 


MASTER PLAN: 

  • 8:00: Homeroom 8:15-8:30: Morning Meeting                                                                                                                                      
  • 8:30-8:50: Mrs. Sarault comes to talk about the Ox Cart Trails Red River Trail Ox Cart Trail 
Break students up into two small groups of 17 each

The original Pledge of Allegiance: "I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands- one nation indivisible-with liberty and justice for all."

  • 8:50-9:30: Pat plays outdoor games with students: Annie Annie Over, Red Rover, Oh Dear  
  • 9:30-10:10 Repeat
  • 10:10-10:25: Whole group singing:  

Yankee doodle, Home on the Range, You’re A Grand Ole Flag w/ Jolina on the fiddle and a square dance! 

  • 10:25-11:00: Butter Making(Pat) and Old Time Photo Booth (Kimberly) 
  • 11:00-11:20: Lunch on the lawn with our tin pails, baskets and cloth wrapped food..no baggies, etc..
  • 11:20-11:45: Split into three groups for making spinners, working on the weaving loom and creating yarn dolls.
  • 11:45-12:20: Practice for end of year program with other grades
  • 12:20-1:10: Continue working with spinners, the loom and yarn dolls. More time to play outdoor games 
  • 1:10-2:00: Specials
  • 2:00-End of Day: Finish projects of button spinners, yarn dolls and copy book.



As you know, "The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry." (John Steinbeck, Of Mice and Men) For the most part we did accomplish all we set out to do with our students. With a few switcharoos here and there because of our concert practice, that we had to do twice.  It was a lovely day! 

We made an iMovie of our Pioneer Day Experience. 



As you know, I am a big advocate for the book Teach Like A Pirate by Dave Burgess. I think Pat and I have always done our best to teach in this manner throughout our teaching careers. It is a powerful way to connect with students and create meaningful learning experiences. Sometimes, you may feel alone on your ship when you teach like a pirate, for it is a radical way to approach your teaching and being creative is VERY hard work. As I have said before, a pirate's life is for me.  I want to take moment to say thank you to four people.


  • 1) My parents for cultivating in me a sense of adventure.
  • 2) Mr. Ziebarth, my principal who allows us and gives us space to be creative in the classroom. Working with him and for him is an honor. 
  • 3)Mrs. Coleman, who put up with this crazy scalawag this whole year and the adventures we had. She is a treasure a dear kindred spirit and a passion driven teacher. 
  • 4) Mr. Dave Burgess who's inspiration, sound advice and excellent wisdom I lean into when the seas get rough. 


You all are a gift from God to me in my life. I fully recognize the blessing and I am eternally thankful. 









Sunday, June 9, 2013

More Thoughts On Tribes, Hashtags, or PLN


There is an educator that I follow in my PLN, Michelle Hiebert from Canada. We briefly discussed our joy in developing our PLN on Twitter. She shared with me her blog and I shared with her mine. It was on the same topic PLN. We also connected with Bill Powers a principal from Missouri and he shared his blog again, on the topic of PLN on Twitter. You can find the link to their blogs below in my blog roll and I will put them here: 

Michelle Hiebert  
Bill Powers

I could not be more grateful for a circle of educators that I am connected with. Michelle shared with me this above link to Seth Godin's TEDtalk. In that he talks about the importance of a tribe. The definition of a tribe is: A social division in a traditional society consisting of families or communities that are linked in some way, shape or other.   
Yes, that is me..with my mom in a striped shirt. 










I know a bit about tribes. My dad is an accomplished anthropologist. In fact, the first year of my life was spent moving from Costa Rica to Venezuela to live among the Yanamamos where my daddy was the jungle pilot. The only way to get to where we lived was by daddy's plane or by canoe. We have had many encounters with other cultures or tribes of the sort and that would include growing up in PA with Amish friends and community as well as with the Mennonite Community that I would still consider myself part of being as that is my family background on mom's side. I am a member of the Penn State Tribe, Bethel University Tribe, Kids Who Have Lived in Colombia and Costa Rica Tribe, Women Who Love Broom Ball Tribe and yes, The Hard Working Single Mother Tribe. 

So I know tribes. 

But you can feel very alone as well in life sometimes. Mom would call me a free spirit. I have great ideas that take me places people don't often want to go and I am alone. I used to hate it. It is scary to be alone. Sometimes being alone is not all that fun as Dr. Seuss says in All The Places You Go. 

But in my aloneness  one day, I found a tribe. A tribe of crazy scalawags and pirates who LOVE to Teach Like a Pirate. 

Then that lead me to: 

  • The tribe of Iowans 
  • The tribe from Arkansas. 
  • The crazy tribe of people who awake at the crack of dawn on a SATURDAY to chat and those of us who sleep in and join in later for the West Coast version. 
  • The tribe that I join on Wednesdays that study the best way to grade or not grade a child. 
  • The tribe that meets all about how to develop student genius and passion and student voice
  • The amazing tribe that have recently gathered to discuss how to Teach Like a Pirate and study math! 
  • And there is that crazy tribe from Minnesota who LOVE to chat at 6PM on a Thursday night. Frozen people! 
And that is only the top of the iceberg! 


And I discovered I was not alone. I have found a variety of free spirited educators to learn from. Some think like me. Some don't, but either way, I learn and they push me forward each time.  This link for Twitter Chats as compiled by Thomas Murray and others is something you will want to use as you get started developing your PLN. Margaret Mead, another anthropologist whom we named one of our dogs after once said: 


"Never doubt that a small group of 
thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." 

It is true. Call it what you will. Tribes. Hashtags. PLN. It will change the world. It has indeed changed my life and how I view my profession. 








Here are some recent things I have learned in just the past two days and how I processed them: 

Instead of starting with the outcome...start with the question...What is the experience. What do you want them to discover? Yes! When you don't make room for curiosity and wonderment, you will move away from opportunities to REALLLY learn! Students are more than a test score! I am passionate about guiding students to think outside the box and to know that to me they are more than a bubbled in circle. who feel the same and with in the data and what it provides...know that the heart of the child is more sacred.


Chris Kennedy's TEDX Talk Hopes and Dreams For My Kids Schooling  * I could not get the video to embed here, so here is the link instead from his own blog.* 


In my school at the start of the year, we discuss with the students their hopes and dreams. In this video Mr. Kennedy will share with you his point of view not only as a Superintendent, but as a parent.  It will take about 15 min to watch. Well worth the 15 minutes. Here are my take aways:


  • 1)Stay connected with your child's teacher. Teachers stay connected to your employer and utilize social media.
  • 2)Why are you giving so much homework? *Busy work*
  • 3)Why are you giving away so many prizes? Why are you giving so many rewards?
  • 4) Engage students in causes! Give them a place in the world!
  • 5) Create an atmosphere in the classroom for genius hour and passion hour.
  • 6) Why are you using busy work?
  • 7) Why are you showing a movie?
  • 8) Stop focusing on grades stop ranking students and focus on learning!
  • 9) Teachers, be interested in your students passions outside of school.


See! All of this I learned in just two days! Revolutionary. Life Changing.  Could you make this summer, a summer of PLN on Twitter? Yes you could! Try it. I dare you! 


I am thankful for a wonderful PLN that points me in the right direction. There is a Bible Verse at the top of my blog it reads: Point your kids in the right direction— when they're old they won't be lost. Proverbs 22:6  I would say, POINT TEACHERS IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION AND THEY WON'T GET LOST!