Saturday, January 11, 2014

Where Did That Come From?

This Saturday morning was pretty normal at my house. Of course, it starts with #satchat and coffee. This morning's topic was Digital Leadership. There was tremendous conversation from what seemed like hundreds of dedicated educators. My TweetDeck had a difficult time keeping up.

Following this fast-paced hour, it was time to start house-cleaning. This seems to be a routine for Saturday mornings, as long as sports do not interfere. Scrubbing counters, folding laundry, dusting, vacuuming. I know, you are jealous how I spend part of my Saturdays...

While I was finishing cleaning the sink in my kids' bathroom, which always contains stains I can not place for the life of me, I dropped the towel I was using. After picking it up, I glanced back at the newly cleaned sink. There, in the center, was a stain! Why is this a big deal, you ask? I just finished cleaning this, and I thought it was spotless! No one had entered the bathroom in the three seconds between finishing and picking up the towel that I had dropped...

My mind quickly began thinking how important it is in education to revisit a new strategy/ tech implementation/connection/new program we just instilled. Often, we are so interested in creating new opportunities for our institution, that we forget to "look back" and see if we missed anything. Did a "stain" happen to be missed, even though we thought we had cleaned it thoroughly?

Constantly reminding ourselves to reconnect and/or revisit is not always easy. The news might not be what we were hoping for. The new program might not be working properly. The new technology may need a new component so it works properly. That once great relationship may be changing because of new situations. The good news? Finding this out allows us to grow. Learning why things did not work is extremely important as improving as an educator! We can not fear learning that something is not working. As leaders, we must be willing to eat a slice of "humble pie" to give ourselves a chance to grow in our current jobs. Always looking forward is very important, but so is looking in the review mirror. This will give us a chance to make sure things are still operating smoothly.

I understand we do not want to constantly look into the rear view mirror as we move push through our days, but glancing back periodically lets us see if anything is sneaking up behind us.

You may be wondering what that stain was in the sink. It was a glob of toothpaste I missed the first time. I never thought two years ago I would have found inspiration for a post from cleaning the bathroom sink. Does that show growth or educational insanity?

I would love to continue the conversation on strategies you use to get feedback or reconnect. Is there any technology you can recommend to help with this? I would love to hear from you...

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

My Three Words: Present, Persistent and Proactive

I have been thinking for some time, okay the last couple of days, what to write as my first blog of the new year. I have enjoyed reading a number of posts during that time, each one as inspiring as the next. The latest one I read, by Jennifer Hogan (@Jennifer_Hogan) really resonated with me. She was asked to sum up her "New Year's Resolution" in three words. Yes, only three words! I liked this challenge so much, I had to jump in...

My first word is Present:

I vow this year to strive to be in the Present. With my busy schedule, I have developed a bad habit of always looking ahead to the next thing on the agenda. I have started to look at things as something to check off the "To-Do List". I am striving this year to be as present as possible as much as a I can. Professionally, that is going to help me when I begin to start conferencing with my students after the break. This is going to force me to stay focused on what the students are actually learning instead of just what I am teaching.

With my family, I want to keep enjoying what we are doing at the moment. My kids go back to school tomorrow, and my son is extremely upset. He loves when the family is together for either a long weekend or an extended vacation. He is only nine years old, but he already understands how powerful a strong family network is. I love how he constantly reminds me of that.

My second word is Proactive:

I vow this year to strive to be more proactive. I want to try and stay one-step ahead of up and coming strategies or policies that are current in education. I want to push myself to extend my Professional Learning Network. I want to stay proactive in current methods of instruction that will challenge both my students and myself to make our classroom the best it can be. If staying current leads me to getting involved in altering/challenging educational policies, so be it.

With my family, I want to try and create an environment with my kids where they do not hesitate coming to me if they have any problems or questions. They are starting to get to the age where they are using social media. I want to stay proactive in learning with them in this area. They need a positive role model in this area,  and I will do my best to try and stay one step ahead of the curve. My kids are worth the extra time and energy....

My third word is Persistent:

I am planning a major shift in my classroom this winter. I want to start conferencing with my students. I am planning on meeting with them individually to have them show me what they have learned. I am planning on using a series of "I Can" Statements for my students each chapter. They will be responsible for conferencing with me in order to show mastery of each topic. This is going to be a major change for me. I know there will be some challenging days. I know there will be times when I want to go back to the way things were. I am vowing to remain persistent to stick with this change of a more student-centered classroom. My students, and myself, will be better off for it.

With my family, I want to remain striving to be a positive role model to my kids. I want to stay involved in their daily activities. I want to have the strength to admit when I am wrong, and the courage to face them when I  do it. I want to have the strength to help them with their daily challenges as they grow up. I want to show them that it is okay to fight for what you believe in...even if others are telling you you are wrong. I want them to continue pushing themselves to improve...because you learn so much when you step out of your comfort zone!

Many thanks to Jennifer Hogan for her inspiration with this post. I am looking forward to a great new year. What would be your three words for 2014?