Tuesday, July 28, 2015

First Days? Begin With the End In Mind.

I am in limbo. For 7 of the past 10 years I have taught 8th grade language arts (three years in the middle I was an academic interventionist). There is a possibility I will be moving to 6th grade for this school year.

This year. The one that starts in 14 days - 7 of which I will be out of town.

Normally by now I will have my room set up and ready to go - able to fully enjoy my last days of summer by doing whatever I want because there is nothing I feel like I HAVE to do. But, I don't want to set a room up I might have to pack away, so I haven't done anything.

This unknown and uncertainty is frustrating and stressful.

By now I like to have pictured my first week or so - with rough outlines of lessons. Ideas on how to get everyone up to speed on my classroom rituals and other procedures. Everyone getting to know each other.

But, I've been mostly frozen. How can I possibly plan the first days of school when I don't know what I'll be teaching?!

Then - just a short while ago - my perspective changed. I can do some truly great work while living in this limbo.

I've got the opportunity to create a clear vision for what I want my class to be this year. Not the physical space, or even the curriculum and materials, but the emotional space, the environment, our culture. Regardless of what I end up teaching, that cultural element should be the same.

By not being tied to any specific curriculum at the moment, I can focus in on what activities and experiences will truly lead to the vision I want.

So, I ask you to think about your initial plans. What type of space would you want to create for your students regardless of the content? Age level? Number of students?

Really focus in on what you want for your students this year, and work to create that before you get wrapped up in content, standards, and the day-to-day dealings of education.

Friday, July 17, 2015

EdCamp Leadership in Sketchnote

Two weeks ago, I wrote a post about women in in Ed Leadership, combining some thoughts I had about women in ed tech leadership with thoughts about educational leadership in general..

I promised myself (and the Internet I suppose) that I was going to show up. I was going to do what I could to get my voice into the conversation.

So, I stepped out of my comfort zone and went to EdCamp Leadership. I hadn't ever attended an EdCamp, am new-ish to Twitter, blogs, PLN, etc, and am just now working on identifying myself as a leader. I was excited to have this networking experience and stick my toe into the leadership waters.

I thought that the team from ConnectedEd did a great job organizing the day in St. Louis. I felt like they framed the day in a way that even people new to EdCamp (like me)  had the information needed to be engaged in the process. Going to an even like this without anyone that I know is really branching out for me, and I felt comfortable to contribute.

I really hoped I would have some sort of wonderful statement to make, but I don't. I keep thinking about it, reviewing my notes, and hoping that something will come to my mind that will make a great blog post - but it's not happening!

So, I made my first official sketchnote.

What I learned about sketchnoting -

  • I should have made a different note for each session
  • It would be easier to make as the session is going along
  • I'm a natural doodler, so I'm loving the idea of sketchnoting!
I have a few PD opportunities left this summer, so I'm hoping to get in  a few more sketchnotes. 

Overall, I had a great time at EdCamp; I will definitely try to go again. It seems to be an experience that gets better with practice. After years of "sit and get" PD, it's challenging to really be in charge of your own learning experience.

As I'm going to try to be moving to a more student-led, student empowered environment in my classroom this year, I need to remember that feeling. Perhaps, that is my biggest take-away of all.

Monday, July 6, 2015

I'm going to show up.

This is a little rambling, but it's my first post in a while. Forgive me!

So, this year I was #notatiste. I was fortunate to be sent to ISTE in 2011 in what was probably a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Thankfully, there's a great and very active community of people who engage in ISTE style learning from their homes during the annual conference. I was right in the midst of a graduate course this year, so I was a little late to the game. I did participate in some Twitter chats and joined the Voxer group - which led me to this post -


This, has struck a cord.

First of all, I have lately been really having a feeling like I have something to give to the conversation. I haven't been sure how to get my toe in the water, for lack of a better analogy. I feel stuck. I have things to say, but I it hasn't yet formed into a concrete message. And how do you even get started?

Second, her points here really make me think about a conversation I had with the professor of the course I took this summer. I'm applying for admittance to an Educational Leadership program. This now, in the state of Illinois, requires the creation of a portfolio along with various other requirements to be reviewed by committee prior to acceptance into the program. After acceptance you have to options "principal" or "teacher leader".

While I haven't yet been official accepted, I am very confident in my application portfolio. However, I am paralyzed by this decision. Right now, I do not see myself as a principal. Leader - yes. Building principal - no.  It's not necessarily what I want to do now, but who's to say it won't be what I want in a few years? I was talking with the professor about this inner conflict I've been having, and she suggested that she has seen this pattern with women.

She said that in talking with women in particular, they seem to not see themselves as principals - but then end up becoming one once they've earned the degree.

So, I'm wondering if somehow this is related to the lack of women presenters at ISTE. Do women, in general, struggle to see themselves outside of the roll in their classroom? Do we get so focused on what we're doing day to day and the connections we're making with students, that it's difficult to think beyond those walls?

For me, imagining doing something other than teaching is almost impossible. I love what I do. Would I be happy doing something else? Can I find a space in the universe to keep teaching but also share my voice?

I don't know.

But, I'm going to explore it. I'm going to put myself out there, try to get into the conversations, and share what I'm doing with the world.

There is value in what I have to say, but I have to be in a place where others can hear me.

I'm going to show up.