During the month of May I applied to become a Google Certified Innovator, and yesterday I got word that I did not make the cut for the Washington, D.C. cohort in August. I have a vision of transforming Social Studies classrooms by utilizing the best technology resources out there and pairing them with innovative instructional strategies. Here's an idea of where I was going with it...
There's nothing wrong with having this vision, in fact, it's probably one that I will have for the rest of my career. But, the real task is this...
How can I change the world of education by tackling complex opportunities? Innovators will work on a wide variety of projects during their first-year that drive transformation in the people and organizations they’re serving. Projects can be far-reaching or hyper-focused, but should be accessible and/or replicable for other educators.
So, I've chosen to fail forward and go back to the drawing board, fine-tuning and expanding on what I really have a passion for. I'll get to experience this firsthand in August when all of our district HS SS classrooms will receive a Chromebook cart. Regardless, of my Google Innovator status, I have big things in store and can't wait to make my vision a reality. Here's to #Syd17
Talking about my strengths is not something I'm comfortable doing. But in my job, it is vital that myself and co-workers leverage our strengths for the benefit of others. We've been charged with reflecting on our strengths and the things we have done well in the past few months. Before I get to that...
Here's a few things I believe about Humility.
Context - Competition - Achiever - Deliberative - Belief
These are my strengths according to Buckingham and Clifton's Now, Discover My Strengths.
Context - People who are especially talented in the Context theme enjoy thinking about the past. They understand the present by researching its history.
Competition - People who are especially talented in the Competition theme measure their progress against the performance of others. They strive to win first place and revel in contests.
Achiever - People who are especially talented in the Achiever theme have a great deal of stamina and work hard. They take great satisfaction from being busy and productive.
Deliberative - People who are especially talented in the Deliberative theme are best described by the serious care they take in making decisions or choices. They anticipate the obstacles.
Belief - People who are especially talented in the Belief theme have certain core values that are unchanging. Out of these values emerges a defined purpose for their life.
When I reflect on these strengths and the things that have been going well for me the past few months, it makes sense.
I have a purpose behind every small choice I make. I'm very deliberate in my planning and anticipate the what if scenarios. I work hard because I believe it is the right thing to do. I understand and value past mistakes because it directs my plans for the future. And anyone who knows me knows I like to win. I try not to be a sore loser (or winner), bur I genuinely want to win the contest.
These strengths make me a planner. With plenty of direction and input from others, I've planned a lot of things that I would deem successful.
I'll leave you with this. For those of you that know and work with me, don't take my silence to mean the following things:
I knew I was going to have my second child on August 26th, the first day of the 2013 school year. I planned every day and every lesson to the T. I took care of every. single. thing. that could possibly happen....and then God hold up. Everything was perfect until the moment of delivery, and then God laughed. He said, you're having a boy. The one thing we could not control in our situation...we didn't have a girl...we had a boy.
And you know what? Everything turned out ok. Better than ok. It always does.
I left off saying I was going to blow Twitter up. I wanted teachers to see that Twitter isn't another thing you have to do. I wanted them to want to do it. I wanted them to connect with each other in a different way than they do in their PLCs. I wanted Twitter to become their PLN - personal learning network because it offers a diverse network of fellow educators and resources who are designed to make us better teachers.
Not only have I gained Twitter followers, I've gained some first followers on my campuses. For those of you who don't know about what a first follower is, please watch this.
I've learned that change and embracing new things will never happen at the speed I intend, but gaining momentum, or in this case, some first followers is key. At some point, maybe even when I'm long gone, lots of people will join the party. I have also learned, that no matter what, there will always be people who (according to the video) will stay on the sideways, sitting on their butts, and do nothing but talk negatively about the people doing the "dancing." In relationship to my job and role in education, I'm feeling more and more licensed to ignore those people.
As a result of a principal's vision and #bragonateacher, a campus has embraced using social media to tell the story of the great things going on in public schools. Here's what they've been talking about.
In fact, I think so many educators have embraced getting out the message that our state legislators are listening. Below is an excerpt from a local news story.
The Texas House on Thursday dealt a serious, perhaps lethal blow to state-funded 'private school choice' programs this session.
Our next mission comes Tuesday, April 11th, where we will join educators from all over the state and tell the world why Gentry Elementary rocks. I met with teachers from each grade level to plan unique projects where their kids' voices will be heard. They went above and beyond what I envisioned, and I'm so excited to share those things with Twitterdom. Follow @gentryelementar to see the great things they are doing.
I've been sitting on 70 drafts of tweets for three days, and it's killing me. The plan is to make it one more day, and then I'm gonna blow Twitter up. I get to spend my Tuesday with the teachers of one of my elementary campuses, but this time, it's different. This Tuesday I am charged with the task of convincing teachers to tweet daily.
Teachers need to unite and make all our positives so loud that we drown out the negatives. Having turned to Twitter recently, I am excited that this is going to our latest platform. In addition to #happyclassrooms, our teachers will be using #publicschoolproud and #gentryproud. So, if you have anything to brag on happening in your classrooms or schools, please use the appropriate hashtag so we can document our story.
Speaking of bragging, there are teachers out there doing extraordinary things (and sometimes what seems ordinary to one is extraordinary to another). If I am going to convince teachers to tweet every day, especially ones who are hesitant in doing so, I have to prove them the value of what Twitter can personally do for them. I thought of an idea, talked it through with a colleague, shared it with the principal, and #bragonateacher was born a week ago. No one that I had seen ever tweeted with that hashtag, so I knew that I could track anything that was mentioned with that hashtag. I also knew that I could just Google 100 most popular hashtags, but these teachers would likely have zero connection with these (and may even question what a hashtag is). I reached out to co-workers, friends, and even strangers to brag on a past or present teacher and use the hashtag; I'm incredibly thankful for all who did that. But it still wasn't enough. I needed to make it more memorable - personal.
So, a few days ago I hung out in the gym all day and just started asking kids to tell me why their teachers are special. I'm not gonna lie, those kinder babies melted my heart, but my favorites were some of the older kids who you could tell were just dealt a bad hand. They shared that their teachers "treated them like their own sons" and they "are like a mom" to many. I'm so ready to share those #bragonateacher moments.
On the backend, I hope teachers will see that Twitter isn't another thing you have to do. I want them to want to do it. I want them to connect with each other in a different way than they do in their PLCs. I want Twitter to become their PLN - personal learning network. Twitter offers a diverse network of fellow educators and resources who are designed to make us better teachers. You could've been a great teacher 10 years ago, but if you've changed nothing, you could be irrelevant.
I encourage everyone else to blow Twitter up with relevance.
For my professional development, my team and I are researching Coaching in Education. We started brainstorming why we chose coaching and what we wanted to learn. As a result, we came up with the following questions:
I'm really looking forward to learning about what educational coaching is. I've coached sports at various levels, and I think there's a definite connection. Some of the greatest coaches in sports history were so great because they developed people, not just athletes. I leave some of my favorite Coach Wooden quotes here.
I want a job that lets me combine a few things that I love: Social Studies, technology, photography, graphic design and lesson design. Most of these things are already part of my job (maybe because I find a way to make them fit), but I could sit all day and do this.
I want to make lessons and activities that look cool - lessons that will challenge kids - lessons that they'll want to do because it doesn't look like a boring worksheet. Ideally these would be Social Studies lessons, but if I had uninhibited access to willing content expert, I'd do this for anyone.
I want to make peoples' presentations make sense and look good. Every time I see someone presenting I'm secretly judging and critiquing their presentation. Are the colors complimentary? Is everything aligned appropriately? Is it balanced? Is there a cohesive theme, and are they sticking with it? Paying attention to those meticulous little things is fun to me.
People need and want posters and flyers to promote things going on at their campus. I want to make them. I want to research the latest trends in graphic design design and teach myself how to do what professionals do.
Does this job exist in the education world?? Maybe bits and pieces here and there. But for now, this gig is pretty awesome, and there's not a whole lot that I would want to change about it. I feel like I'm living the dream.
This. All of this. This is my why. Work is where most of my life happens, and I love my work. It energizes me. I find fulfillment in what I do. My work has meaning and purpose. I have the opportunity to worship God 24-7, so I am on literally on mission 24-7. He gave me skills and passion, and when I do my job with excellence, integrity and diligence I am giving due honor back to God. There are other people out there that only I can influence. I don't live with a divide between my Sunday and Monday. Every day has MEANING, and every day on mission with God brings me great joy. I was created to work...and worship.
"When we think differently about the things that we are used to seeing daily, we can create innovative learning opportunities." - George Couros