Saturday, October 24, 2015

     The real world is hard.  

     There, I said it.

     The truth is, I love teaching.  I have always been passionate about my job, and my students, and my school.   I am also passionate about my family, and my children, and their lives.  And, sometimes, because I am so passionate about so much, I tend to get emotional.  When passion fills you up to the brim, tears flow easy.  (At least they do for me.)  This week, I cried for the first time at a parent teacher conference for my own child, and the line between balance and passion and sheer exhaustion seemed to collide.  Embarrassment soon followed.  I am a teacher.  Teachers don't cry at conferences.  

     I think I just broke an unwritten rule.  

     As this week continued, I began to realize that perhaps rules are meant to be broken.  There is no one right way to do anything.  I went from room to room, coaching and teaching and meeting with people, and from some their passions spoke clear and loud.  Their excitement.  Their actions.  Their words.  They exuded passion.  And it re-energized me.  Their passions made me remember my own.

     Hiawatha once again inspired me.

     This #educoach post has the purpose of reminding us coaches to help the teachers we work with to find their passion, to develop it, and to ask them to share it with others.  

     For all educators, remember to bring YOU into your classroom.  Find ways for your voice to be heard.  We can't only teach things that we are passionate about, but we should put some of US into our teaching.  It makes a difference, for our own well being and on the impact we have on the kids.

     For teachers reading this, remember to keep your students' passions in your mind, too.  When our students are engaged and eager learners, that will spread to their classmates like wildfire.  Whether it be on coding, or LEGOs, or the Cubs, strong emotions can lead to great learning opportunities.


Know Thy Impact

Sunday, October 18, 2015

the ability to produce a desired or intended result: There is little information on the efficacy of this program.

ORIGIN early 16th cent.: from Latin efficacia

     I just spent 2 days at a conference with John Hattie on Visual Learning, and my take aways were many.  I intend on blogging about many of them, as the year continues, because their ideas will make our teaching better, and our learners more self directed.  But, I need to write a quick #educoach post today, so I'll start with thoughts about teacher efficacy.

     The impact we have as teachers is immense.  We affect our learners in many ways, some of which are visible the same day, and many that are not visible for years.  Christopher Lehman recently compared teaching to a mission to Mars.  The results of the mission would take years to be seen, but could be extraordinary.

     But, sometimes, the rocket ship crashes.

     As a coach and as a teacher, I have seen teachers feel trampled under the piles of new curriculum and the standards and the new initiatives that come along.  They adopt new programs and strategies, but sometimes don't see the big picture.  They start to lose themselves in the process.  This is not new.  In my 17 years an educator, I have seen many initiatives come and go (and even come back again).  As Ainsley Rose said today, sometimes teachers find themselves in a constant state of disequilibrium because they do not feel true to themselves.

     When teachers don't feel that they have efficacy, when they feel that they don't have an impact on their students, then all seems dark.  Lost in space, if you will.

      What is the answer then?  How can we find our way out of the darkness and see the stars in front of us?

      We need to be evaluators of our own impact.  We need to be the ones who look to our students, and see the difference that we make.  We need to determine what our ethical and moral base is, and we need to be true to that.  If we commit to a purpose, and not a plan, then we stay true to who we are, and our students benefit from our teaching even more.

     The truth is, the classrooms of today are very different from the classrooms that we attended ourselves.  The students we have in our classrooms need to be prepared differently, because the world that they will live in is far more connected than the past.  It is important that we stay true to the needs of our students, but also to the needs of ourselves as learners too.  We are also adapting to this new world of learning.  How can we be both a learner and a teacher at the same time?

     Know thy impact.  Know that the work you are doing is making a difference.

     Collaborate with others.  Don't think you are in this process alone.  You are not.

     Believe in the efficacy of teachers.  Know that you are preparing the future.

     But, perhaps my favorite of the day...

     Be an evaluator of your own impact.

     With all the changes out there, we cannot wait for people to come to us and tell us we are on the right path.  We have to look at our own instruction, and then look to the kids.   Are they learning because of us?  It is in those honest and private reflections where we will know what we need to reteach, or learn ourselves, or ask for support.  It is also where we will see our impact, and know that we matter.

     Here is a video by John Hattie to help with that reflection:

     Know thy impact.  :)  

Also, do your PLN a favor and follow these Visible Learning experts:

IRC Reflections

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

     Here are my reflections on Illinois Reading Council 2015!  

     This year, I used the Paper 53 app to take notes during the sessions.  A few years ago, the Cognitive Coaching instructor had us do a single page mind map at the end of the PD, in the same way that our Apple PD provider had us make a One Sheet.  I remembered this strategy, and how effective it is for me as a learner, this summer at a PD session with +Lucy Carrera and +Stacy Rammer.  The result?  Digital mind maps from IRC!

Day 1

     Our first session of the year was breakfast with Maria Walther and Jan Richardson.  We got to hear their fantastic literacy ideas about both whole group and small group instruction.  What a great start to our conference!  

     I have been waiting to see +Christopher Lehman at IRC since last fall at IRC 2014.  He was listed in the preview for this year, and I have had it on my calendar ever since.  Legos, bitmoji, references to great literature, and a mindset for #edujoy and collaboration.  He is one of my favorite eduheroes for many reasons, and he did not disappoint.  

An hour about writing from sources + an hour on primary close reading = 2 sessions in a row of inspiration. 

     For lunch, we got to listen and watch Dave Burgess perform.  I have been following his energetic and passionate style of teaching on Twitter with the #tlap hashtag, and with Paul Solarz and #LearnLAP as well.  Check them both out and redefine yourself as a teacher.

     Back to Jan Richardson... 

     Our whole school is trying to follow her Guided Reading structure, so I had to hear her talk about the top 5 strategies to use.  She even gave us an extra strategy as a plus one!  She is one amazing educator.  

     For my next session, I couldn't take notes because I was actually presenting it with Jeremy Majeski.   We were presenting on using 1:1 tech, literacy, and assessment.  Thanks, +Jeremy Majeski, for giving me the push to present.  Now that it is over, I am grateful for the challenge.  We made quite the bitmoji pair.  :)

If you would like to see our presentation, here it is:

     Day 1 ended with a table full of blessings.  All the #bsd100 staff who attended the conference from Emerson, Pershing, Hiawatha, Irving, Komensky, and Heritage all got together and shared a meal with a shared spirit of collaboration and growth mindset.  Our extremely talented literacy coach at Komensky, +Felicia Frazier, made all my literacy dreams come true and invited +Christopher Lehman to join us.  I might have screamed in a restaurant when I found that out a day before...  After getting over the embarrassment of telling my #eduhero that he is indeed my #eduhero, I managed to eat my meal.  Thanks, Felicia.  I hope someday to be half the literacy coach that you are, but even more important half as thoughtful as you are.  

#grateful #thankful #blessed #inspired 


Day 2

     We started the day off with listening to Dav Pilkey talk about his experiences as a child with ADHD and dyslexia, and how he created his first books in a hallway because he got in trouble in class.  He shared parts of his newest book with us, this time in an auditorium filled with educators and  as a very successful author.  What a great story of triumph to remind us as educators that all our students are individuals.  Sadly, I was not able to take notes with Paper 53, because the auditorium was dark, but I did snap a picture.  

     Donalyn Miller.  The Book Whisper.  Oh. My. Goodness.  

     I love her.

     Penny Kittle is also a new #eduhero of mine.  I saw her for the first time at the online EdCollab Gathering a few weeks ago, and I have been thinking about her words ever since.  So, even though her session started while I was still at the breakfast with Donalyn Miller, I snuck into the second half of her session to get inspired.   And I did.  

     My goal of Day 2 was to go to sessions about writing, because I am actively trying to improve myself as a writing teacher and coach.  Georgia Heard knows her stuff.  I wrote fast and furious in that session.  I have a lot to learn, and she put me on that path.  

     This is where there should be a session with Tanny McGregor, but sadly we ended up leaving the conference before her 2 sessions in the afternoon.  SO sad.  But, I certainly couldn't get stranded in Peoria.  My family would have missed me.  So, instead I virtually attended +Michelle Brezek and +Colleen Noffsinger's session on PLNs on Twitter during the ride home.  They introduced the #mytimePD hashtag to the IRC world.  So, if you find yourself learning on your own time or in your own way, tweet about it with their hashtag. 


     So, here's a secret...  I'm a literacy guru fangirl.  

     After almost every session, for the last few years, the lit coaches and I (and sometimes I by myself) try to get a picture with the presenter.  It's a fun (yet apparently odd) way to say thank you to the presenters for their influence and time.  Here is the post from our first year at IRC as lit coaches, with some pretty awesome people.  Why not embrace our deep respect and admiration for those who make a difference on our teaching?

     Here are some #litguruselfies from IRC 2015.  These educators have all made an impact on my students and my professional self.  This year, I have a picture of my son's first grade teacher in the mix!  Thanks, Mrs. Hartmann, for being such a dedicated teacher.  It was such a surreal experience, sitting next to you while listening to Jan Richardson and Maria Walther, having such deep respect for them as educators, but at the same time being a thankful parent.

     IRC is such a special place.

I'll end with a little #hiawathapride.  Thanks for a great trip, ladies.