#OneWord2017 — August temperature check

As the 2017-18 school year opens for students in our district in the very near future (August 28 for our traditional calendar schools) what better time to reflect on personal growth and gauge a self temperature check?

On December 30, 2016 I blogged about my #OneWord2017. At the time of the post I was an elementary curriculum coach spinning my wheels going through daily grind of 11.5 years in public education all at the elementary level in a variety of capacities. I had learned, grown and evolved as an educator, professionally and personally so much over the years but overall the next — was truly unwrittenC1CLK8QXgAAtlW0.jpg-large.jpg

Natasha Bedingfield’s lyrics to the song with the same name rang so true….
2017 came in with many changes. My beloved principal at my elementary school had just left to open a brand new school in our district.img_2198
I was loving what I was doing but deep down needed a change. That opportunity came when I least expected it and in March I made a difficult decision to leave the elementary world and so many amazing educators behind leaping to the middle school world as a curriculum coach when an perfect situation came my way.
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A complete fish out of water feeling for several days, even weeks literally a sink or swim situation. I embraced it and kept it moving – I’m at home with the best yet to come.
We hear a lot of talk about risk, leaps of faith and #failforward moments. This experience has embraced all of the above and then some. I was taking another step toward writing the unwritten for 2017 in a significant way.
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In between transferring from the elementary to the middle school world I was blessed with presenting and co-presenting in three sessions at the 2017 NCties (ISTE-affiliate) conference in Raleigh. Powerful experience being on the presenter end of this amazing conference.
As the months rolled on in my new role I continued to learn, grow and become more comfortable in the secondary setting. Growing capacity in myself and others.
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Adding into the mix co-organizing a highly successful the spring edition of #EdCampWake was another growth opportunity where risk was taken and the reward was high.
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My initial visit to the RACE: Are We So Different? exhibit in April led me to deepen my work with equity and education policy — while further seeing the shear power within “embracing the uncomfortable.” The power of personal growth in the exploration of the uncomfortableHow-To-Leave-Your-Comfort-Zone...-And-Feel-Awesome-733x414
Learning and growing with school and district peers this summer at ISTE 2017 in San Antonio fueled professional passion, growth and strengthened relationships. Further writing the “unwritten.”
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Through all this I’ve gained a new job title for the new school year as well. Always growing, always learning. As we complete our beginning of 2017-18 meetings, trainings, “nuts and bolts” and gatherings before the students arrive. What will the final 4 months of 2017 hold? Who knows. I like the trajectory things are heading currently. I’m only as strong as those around me who guide me daily, help me #StriveForGreatness in our ongoing quest to #BecomeBetter. Best is yet to come! KOKO. (Keep on keeping on)
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Rest of 2017? Unwritten….

“You can’t live a positive life with a negative mind.”

Several days a week I tweet out an inspirational message of leadership, thought or even something more specific to education. Normally these occur in the morning hours as I prepare my day often tagging fellow other educators within my PLN to share inspiration.

Recently the title of this blog went up in one as of the above mentioned positive tweets. “You can’t live a positive life with a negative mind.” Simple but very powerful. I normally receive a lot of traction over these messages but this particular unanimous quote received heavy traffic throughout the day and going on throughout the week. I’m known for my love of positivity – I’ll find a silver lining in any situation. Perhaps this is why I chose that particular line. It seemed so “order of business” to me.

However, easier said than done, right? “Ah, that can’t be done” or “Well…you know the family situation…” We as educators have heard these types of lines time and time again throughout our careers.  Regardless of the type of school, district or setting we are working in we’ve heard those and similar lines repeatedly from colleagues. It’s an unfortunate reality.

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I’m a huge fan of Ted and TedX talks. One of my favorite Ted talks launched a few years ago. It stars Linda Cliatt-Wayman, the principal of Strawberry Mansion a high school in inner city Philadelphia who was tasked with turning the school around. At the time of her taking on the school this was seen as daunting with Strawberry Mansion being one of the most infamous schools in the nation for violence, lack of resources and bottom of the state test scores.  A few years after her taking over the school, ABC news picked up her story which is how I was first introduced to Cliatt-Wayman. http://abcnews.go.com/US/strawberry-mansion-high-uss-dangerous-schools-receives-needed/story?id=21084212

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Additionally, the Ted talk itself is pure gold. If you’ve not seen this power talk – do yourself a favor and spent the 17 minutes to watch. If you’re not inspired my Ms. Cliatt-Wayman afterwards, check your pulse. Linda Cliatt-Wayman 2015 Ted talk

What she faced was daunting beyond what the vast majority of educators across America will face in their lifetime and that’s saying a lot considering the challenges education presents regardless of our role(s). However, that didn’t stop her. She believed in every child in the building. She believed in every educator who truly believed every child could succeed. Every decision she made was best for kids. Again, every decision was centered on what was best to meet the overall needs of the students. Every.

Did the transformation happen overnight? Far from it. Were there days she wanted to throw in the towel? Almost certainly. Did she? Never. Why? What’s best for kids was the center over every single decision she made. She believed in them and wasn’t going to give up on them nor were those leaders in and out of the classroom at her school who believed in the students just as much. Powerful. Inspirational.

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Be mindful of impossible. Where there is a will there is a way. We must believe no matter how seemingly grim the situation. As I so often say, we must surround ourselves with those who encourage us to #BecomeBetter. We as leaders in education and life must embrace the positive and pass it along to those we interact with day to day.

As the great educational leader Jimmy Casas (@Casas_Jimmy)  said “As a leader model the behaviors you want to see repeated. Lead  with passion, focus on the three Rs, strive for excellence, serve others.” The three Rs being relationships, relationships, relationships. Power of positivity, taking time, fostering relationships for creation of a solid foundation and reflecting before action.

The students we all serve know when we’re being sincere or not. What will you do tomorrow to go the extra mile? Will you embrace the challenge or just accept the things as they’ve always been and not even attempt to take the chance, the risk, in order to make a positive change. #YouMatter and the world needs our contributions as the equally inspirational Angela Maiers (@AngelaMaiers) so famously said.

Will we accept the way we’ve done it? What about a reflective mindset and innovation to meet the needs of all learners? Ball is in our court.

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