Adding and receiving value from those around us

The 2018-19 school year has been a sprint. Nonstop. So much learning and growing with a workflow that that can often be intense. Blogging has fallen off my radar these past few months. I’ll admit it. I’ve articulated such many times over the course of the past weeks especially.

However, today something powerful happened. No not me jumping back on the blogging horse – beyond that. A group of three district peers and friends Michael Parker West, Erica Everett, Terrance Hinnat and I met for a few hours to discuss school community and how it connects to the powerful EdNC article from our fellow district colleague Christina Spears (who unfortunately was unable to attend)

https://www.ednc.org/2018/05/31/building-community-beyond-the-classroom-walls/

This professional development session while small was powerful. Three school administrators and one aspiring administrator gathering on a Sunday afternoon at Panera over warm beverages and side items to dive deep into successes, similarities we’ve seen, are aiming to achieve, etc. in alignment with Mrs. Spears’ article.

This all came to be a few weeks ago with Erica reaching out to around 20 district peers via email. The collective group had a choice of meeting dates/times to choose from with today being the eventual winner.

During the course of our meeting we all realized that each of us had connected directly or indirectly from Twitter over the course of the last 2-3 years. We have become so close as district peers that each of us had lost sight of that. What a strong connection tool Twitter is. It has enhanced all of our personal learning but also school community bonding through hashtags. #WendellHowlout and #WeAreCarroll are significant school community connection drivers for Mr. West and myself at our respective schools for sure.

While district and school learning is always strong, sometimes the learning and personal connections we choose are the most powerful. Who knew a colleague-initiated two hour meeting on a fall Sunday afternoon in Raleigh with 4 district colleagues would be so powerful? It was.

Value added. Value received.

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Refreshed, recharged and ready to go in 2016-17

 

Bloggers note:

This blog post originally appeared on the ASCD EDge blogging platform in August 2016. web1-back-to-school-logo-2

As I write this blog we are now one week into the 2016-17 academic year for traditional calendar schools in our school district. I’m eager to see where we go as a school with implementing both school-wide initiatives as as well as district-wide initiatives and vision. Two words – You Matter.

http://www.angelamaiers.com/2012/09/you-matter-manifesto/

Most exciting this school year are the embarkment on three initiatives that will serve as a constant theme this school year and revisited/woven into most of the PD and reminders throughout the school year in an effort to be embraced by the faculty and in turn part of the school culture and community. https://vimeo.com/103280107

I knew I had a winner on my hands when the very next day at school I saw this sign in a 4th grade teacher’s room… matted and framed with Angela Maiers’ You Matter manefesto. Powerful. This was followed by numerous staff members asking me face to face or via email for more information about Maiers’ movement, books, blogs, videos, etc. Several faculty members are embracing this concept not only with their students but also one another. My relationship PD was student-student, faculty-student and faculty-faculty. You Matter served as the center piece.

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How powerful would it be if we had a culture not only at our school but many schools that after a year, two or more of this movement and this could occur…. https://vimeo.com/170351064

Intertwined with many links and resources found within The Skillful Teacher, Cultural Proficiency and Mindset. The faculty at our school now has a baseline of understanding to work around with the whole child and one another in an effort to move mountains for our students in 2016-17.

When the staff sees me leading by example constantly growing, learning and pushing myself out of my comfort zone this goes a long way toward them wanting/wishing/being interested in expanding their own mindset as we all work to do what’s best for kids and expanding our scope as educational professionals. Excited to see how all of these deep skills presented initially and revisited throughout the year will take off and hopefully blossom throughout the school year. Here is to a fantastic 2016-17…

Links to books referenced in my presentation and/or this blog:

https://www.amazon.com/Cultural-Proficiency-Manual-School-Leaders/dp/141296363X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473112839&sr=8-1&keywords=cultural+proficiency+a+manual+for+school+leaders

https://www.amazon.com/Skillful-Teacher-Building-Teaching-Skills/dp/1886822107/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473112882&sr=8-1&keywords=the+skillfull+https://www.amazon.com/Skillful-Teacher-Building-Teaching-Skills/dp/1886822107/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473112882&sr=8-1&keywords=the+skillfull+teacher

https://www.amazon.com/Classroom-Habitudes-Revised-Teaching-Attitudes/dp/1935542621/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473112945&sr=8-1&keywords=angela+maiers

https://www.amazon.com/Liberating-Genius-Angela-Maiers/dp/1365025004/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1473112945&sr=8-2&keywords=angela+maiers

https://www.amazon.com/Mindset-Psychology-Success-Carol-Dweck/dp/0345472322

Goodbye to 2016, hello to 2017. Next steps? Unwritten.

As an educator, I’ve taken many risks throughout my career. This is a topic I’ve spoken, tweeted and even blogged about numerous occassions. Taking “the road less traveled” is so significant to me I devoted an entire post to the subject and the song based on the meaning to me. 2016 is a year that saw a lot of growth in me professionally as an educator.

I bring up my love of taking risks and encouraging others within my district and profession in general to do so because of the great learning experience(s) and powerful reward involved.

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As I look back at 2016 professionally, risk reward and fail forward moments are the cornerstone without question. For me, it’s truly all about staying on track and following the principles below…

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In the spring, my first significant risk came in the form of being asked by a trusted friend and district colleague, Mrs. Melanie Farrell, to be part of her presentation group at the Wake County Public School System’s 2016 Spring Convergence Symposium. While I had presented for the faculty several times at my school I had never presented at a large venue.  However, considering the topic was something I was very well versed in, Twitter for educational growth and connectivity, why not? Leap of faith. Huge success. I not only grew as a learner, leader and educator but was also found something I truly enjoyed – presenting to others and helping them grow and learn. Powerful learning experiences in the “Twitter Garden.” clbk8zfuyaaipsc

In the summer I took the leap by being on the leadership planning team of Ed Camp Leadership – North Carolina. While I had attended several EdCamps locally and throughout the state, I had never been on the planning committee. That changed in July when a group of of us worked together for several months to successfully plan and oversee the second #EdCampLDR. Another leap of faith. Was the event perfect? No. Did we learn from the #FailForward moments? Absolutely. Growth, growth, growth. Looking forward to next summer’s event which will be even better and stronger. http://midcareer.gse.upenn.edu/edcamp-leadership

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This experience made the decision to co-organize #EdCampWake with Mr. Michael Parker West this coming spring much easier. https://www.eventbrite.com/e/edcamp-wake-tickets-30179882842

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At the beginning of the school year “inservice days” before the students arrive the principal, assistant principal and I spent a day taking turns diving into relationships and cultural proficiency with the staff. I presented on relationships staff/staff, staff/student, student/student. The presentation was powerful and was centered around Angela Maiers’ #YouMatter initiative and TedX talk.  https://vimeo.com/103280107

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The experience was so powerful and well received I decided to blog about it on the ASCD Edge platform: http://edge.ascd.org/blogpost/refreshed-recharged-and-ready-to-go-in-2016-17

While I got a lot of positive feedback from that blog post, I never realized the true impact until a month or so later when Angela Maiers contacted me about the post. She loved it, adored my/our work at the school and wanted to have a phone conference. Wow. Really? A few weeks later it happened. A conference call with myself, principal, a literacy coach and a classroom teacher and Angela Maiers. A 45 minute conversation that was liberating and could have gone on for hours. Empowering puts it mildly. Great advice and encouragement throughout to help us #BecomeBetter as educators in reaching the students we all serve while building the #YouMatter message throughout the school. Powerful experience for all of us involved – Mr. Shane Barham, Mrs. Fran Haley, Mrs. Kim Edmiston and Angela.

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In the fall, Dr. Sandy Chambers, an amazing principal in our district, invited myself, the above mentioned Mr. Shane Barham and Mrs. Melanie Farrell along with my friend Ms. NaShonda Cooke from Durham, NC to attend Racial Equity Institute training at her school. This two day emersion training was extremely empowering. Life changing. Attending was something that took a bit of a risk. Why? I was stepping way out of my comfort zone but engaging in a topic that would enrich my leadership and overall well being in not only my profession but personal life. My attendance was something I really wanted to do but it took risk. I’m eternally grateful to Dr. Chambers for offering this experience to me. Top notch organization and truly life changing experience – no way around it.  https://www.racialequityinstitute.org

In November, I presented with several key stakeholders in my PLN, including the above mentioned Dr. Chambers, at the Fall Convergence for our district on the power of the PLN – I recently blogged on this session and Fall Convergence experience in depth. The successes of these presentations were the culmination of the previous experiences listed above and #FailForward moments. Grateful for my presentation pals both in that session and Mrs. Renee White and Mr. Michael Parker West with whom I love presenting with and am truly looking forward to again in March at NC Ties 2017. http://ncties.org/conference/index.php

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All of these planning sessions came with the assistance of Google Hangout which is quickly becoming invaluable to professional development and a tool I added to my arsenal this year as well. Google Hangout even aided the teachers at my school last spring when my friend Mrs. Kara Brem, a teacher on the other side of our large district held an interactive Seesaw session via “GHO” with our faculty. Powerful.

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Much of the above mentioned and so much of my growth can be attained to the work of John Maxwell. Many that know me well know I’m quite the fan of Maxwell’s work. Most notably his “value added” model. It’s always important we stay focused, #StriveForGreatness and aim to #BecomeBetter but also vital we add value to others and seek to surround ourselves with those who add value to our lives. The basic parameters of this concept can be found here: http://www.johnmaxwell.com/blog/the-law-of-contribution-7-tips-to-cultivate-an-attitude-of-growing-others

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Additionally this brief clip on the subject by Dr. Maxwell is also powerful: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e1OQcdYyjJU

Most that know me know I’m always on the go and continually very “global.” It wasn’t until I stopped and actually reflected a bit that I realized just how significant 2016 was on my growth as a leader, learner and educator. What’s next? Well, that’s still unwritten. This song and the corresponding lyrics sum it up well though… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b7k0a5hYnSI

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Unwritten

Performed by NaTasha Bedingfield

Written by Tarik L. Collins, Ahmir K. Thompson, Karl B. Jenkins, Tahir Cheeseboro Jamal, Khari Abdul Mateen, Radji Mateen, Ridhwan Mateen

Copyright © EMI Music Publishing, Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Universal Music Publishing Group

I am unwritten

Can’t read my mind
I’m undefined
I’m just beginning
The pen’s in my hand
Ending unplanned

Staring at the blank page before you
Open up the dirty window
Let the sun illuminate the words that you could not find

Reaching for something in the distance
So close you can almost taste it
Release your inhibitions
Feel the rain on your skin
No one else can feel it for you
Only you can let it in
No one else, no one else
Can speak the words on your lips
Drench yourself in words unspoken
Live your life with arms wide open
Today is where your book begins
The rest is still unwritten

Oh, oh, oh

I break tradition
Sometimes my tries are outside the lines
We’ve been conditioned to not make mistakes
But I can’t live that way

Staring at the blank page before you
Open up the dirty window
Let the sun illuminate the words that you could not find

Reaching for something in the distance
So close you can almost taste it
Release your inhibitions
Feel the rain on your skin
No one else can feel it for you
Only you can let it in
No one else, no one else
Can speak the words on your lips
Drench yourself in words unspoken
Live your life with arms wide open
Today is where your book begins

Feel the rain on your skin
No one else can feel it for you
Only you can let it in
No one else, no one else
Can speak the words on your lips
Drench yourself in words unspoken
Live your life with arms wide open
Today is where your book begins
The rest is still unwritten

Staring at the blank page before you
Open up the dirty window
Let the sun illuminate the words that you could not find

Reaching for something in the distance
So close you can almost taste it
Release your inhibitions
Feel the rain on your skin
No one else can feel it for you
Only you can let it in
No one else, no one else
Can speak the words on your lips
Drench yourself in words unspoken
Live your life with arms wide open
Today is where your book begins

Feel the rain on your skin
No one else can feel it for you
Only you can let it in
No one else, no one else
Can speak the words on your lips
Drench yourself in words unspoken
Live your life with arms wide open
Today is where your book begins
The rest is still unwritten
The rest is still unwritten
The rest is still unwritten

Oh, yeah, yeah

 

Blogging 2.0 – taking the leap!

After wrestling with blogging for nearly a year I finally took the leap in the summer of 2016, when so much interest among fellow educators throughout our district and state wanted to hear my connectivity journey through Twitter. I finally decided I wanted to blog about a story I had verbally told countless times. Already an ASCD member (www.ascd.org and @ASCD) I took the next step of blogging on their ASCD Edge blog post platform – one that several friends in education, notably Dr. Steven Weber (@curriculumblog) and Mr. Kyle Hamstra (@KyleHamstra) had utilized for some time, and encouraged me to utilize.

After that first post,  The Power of Twitter, being and connected educator and the PLN on my career, I started to blog here and there once a month or so, often after being encouraged by others in my PLN, but always on the same platform. I was enjoying the occasional blog post on ASCD Edge, but was remaining stagnate in terms of my overall growth as a learner and educator in this domain. I needed a change but didn’t truly realize it.

Fast forward to last this past week. I’m blessed to work in the Wake County Public School System (WCPSS) the largest school district in North Carolina and very progressive in terms of new concepts, ideas and innovative thinking within education. Every fall and spring, WCPSS holds a Convergence Symposium at the McKimmon Center at NC State University. This is a conference event held over two days with an opening and closing keynote address. The keynotes often hold a few sessions as well. Think smaller level of NCties on the state level or ISTE on the national level regarding what this conference is like. Edu tech and media services are the primary targets so every tech facilitator both school and district based is invited along with media. Additionally classroom teachers, administrators and other stakeholders in our district are often invited along with a handful of out of district guests in education. For the past two years, I’ve been fortunate to attend and also present at both fall and spring editions of the WCPSS Convergence Symposium. 15220046_10154486311260804_4758858825984773281_n

This year, I was excited to present in three sessions with some of my biggest edu heroes in our district: Mrs. Melanie Farrell (@MelanieCFarrell), the above mentioned Mr. Kyle Hamstra (@KyleHamstra), Dr. Sandy Chambers (@DrSandyChambers), Mr. Michael Parker West (@mikeaustinwest), Mrs. Renee White (@RaRaPenguin) and Mr. Phil Echols (@PhilEchols) all of these wonderful educators in our district are vital to my PLN and certainly recommend following on Twitter if you aren’t already.

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Going into this year’s Convergence, aside from presenting material on a large level, I was most excited about day 2 out of the gate. This was the day one of my biggest heroes in education was presenting, George Couros. (http://georgecouros.ca/blog/ and @gcouros) While George was presenting three sessions Wednesday, I knew I would only be able to attend his final presentation since his first two conflicted with sessions I was presenting in. However, his final presentation before his closing keynote address was one I couldn’t wait to hear. Blogging. Yes, I knew, thought didn’t verbally admit it, I was stalling in my blogging movement and desperately  needed to hear Couros’ message considering he’s quite the edu blogger. Did. He. Ever. Deliver. A few days later, I’ve created a WordPress account, upgraded to a personal account, and have shifted from being isolated to having my own blog and domain. Yes, Couros’ session sparked all of that (along with powerful lunch conversations with many of the above mentioned plus post conference discussions all about blogging next steps.)

This is where it all began. In a packed room at WCPSS Convergence. Wednesday afternoon, Nov. 30, 2016 Throughout George Couros’ presentation on blogging my head could barely contain it all. I had moved past the fact that despite being a life long Alberta resident, Couros was far more into NFL and NBA than the NHL, hence our limited conversation about hockey, which was a bit of a downer, though I digress. So much information was being tossed around though in that 45 minute, information and energy packed session, I knew it wasn’t a question of if I was going to take my blogging to the next level but when. After his session had concluded and we chatted about the day so far over lunch with a group of 30 or so connected educators from our district and beyond over Amedeo’s down the street https://twitter.com/edtechtom/status/804017450962583553 blogging took center stage of the conversation for nearly all of us present.

By the time George Couros started his closing keynote address Wednesday afternoon, I knew I was ready to “blog 2.0” as I began to refer to this “next step” in my blogging adventure.

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His closing keynote was so strong, so empowering, I knew that my inevitable when with blogging 2.0 was coming even sooner.

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In short, while my 2016 WCPSS Fall Convergence Symposium experience was one of the highlights of my career in education thus far because of the lasting impact of George Couros’ words, message and our conversations I would be neglecting the power of my PLN both in our district and beyond if I didn’t mention their lasting vital impact. Not only the above mentioned co-presenters but also “my tribe” pictured below and all by folks I’ve connected with through EdCamps around the state, district level meetings, Twitter, Voxer, etc. Your impact on my career has been and continues to be invaluable.

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In the words of another one of my true educational heroes, Angela Maiers (@AngelaMaiers) #YouMatter. (Which coincidentally is a central theme in one of our presentations at Convergence and will be presented again at the 2017 NCties Conference in Raleigh.)

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Here is to my wonderful PLN, George Couros, Angela Maiers and so many who have contributed in my ongoing effort to #BecomeBetter and make the leap from entry level blogging to “2.o” I truly appreciate all of you more than you’ll ever realize.

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