Reality Generally Wins

Although I just posted today, I can’t help but think things happen for a reason!  As I picked up my new book, Fierce Conversations, I begin to read about REALITY.  What a follow up to my earlier post!  I was so worried about getting away from my goals…I really just need to come to terms with REALITY happens and it generally wins.

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While participating in two Twitter chats this morning, one might say “You got a REALITY check!”  Things have changed.  The world has changed.  I have changed.  Teachers have changed.  Students most definitely have changed.  Stuff happens.  Just when I think I have a good handle on REALITY someone comes along and keeps it moving.  Teachers, parents, students, central office administration, state requirements, national requirements (the list could go on)…keep my grasp of REALITY just at my fingertips!

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My point is REALITY keeps changing so why not take advantage of these opportunities!  Yes, that’s right opportunities!

Let’s face it… REALITY generally wins so suck it up buttercup.

Quit trying to control it because you can’t control REALITY. 

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Just a Little Tweak

After Sunday morning chats with the Tweeps of #hacklearning and #sunchat, I knew I needed to reflect on my #observeme goals I have posted outside of my office door.  Once school starts, it’s very easy to forget the goals you have set forth for yourself, so I believe we all need time to stop, reflect, and give things just a little tweak.

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Is student learning at the forefront of my conversations, actions, & activities?

Are conversations centered around appreciation, student learning, collaboration, teacher voice, support, and reflection?

How are teaching and learning seen as a priority by being visible?

 

Tough question as I think back to the conversations I have with my teachers.  After PGP (professional growth plan) meetings, my conversations with teachers one on one were far and few between.  This is mostly due to that dreaded word…time.  My priorities of being in classrooms came first, but I seemed to lack the conversation after the observation unless the teacher needed the support.  Saying this out loud helps me to affirm those conversations must take place.  They must take place in order to move student learning forward.  Meanwhile, I sometimes forget to have those conversations with the teachers who are doing a phenomenal job of moving student learning forward.  All teachers need reflective feedback, not just the ones who need the support.  I find myself just leaving them a short sentence or two, but I believe they need the face to face affirmation to let them know you have noticed.  I mean who doesn’t like to know they are doing a good job?  Time to tweak the conversations…

Let’s tweak the way we observe teachers…Each of our teachers has their own goals posted outside their classroom doors.  Some have the #observeme hashtag…some created their own #mydoorisalwaysopen.  Are we observing each other each week…well of course not, but we are making strong attempts.  The leadership team has been on one learning walk this semester and devised a plan for teachers to observe one another.  Instead of having a PLC meeting one week, teachers would choose a time during that week to observe someone who had similar goals.  At the following PLC, teachers would be given time to share and reflect upon their observation with their peers.  Teachers completed a learning walk form to provide evidence of their observation.  Can’t wait for the conversations surrounding student learning!

Just a Little Tweak…

ME.  I noticed today I needed to “tweak” myself.

Tweak the way I reflect (blog for my reflection).

Tweak the time devoted to reflect, learn, and grow (kind of got in a rut).

Setting an alarm today to give me time to tweak each week to be better than the last.

Do you give yourself just a little tweak every now and again?

 

 

Don’t Let the Days Go By

On the day after the kids’ and teachers’ last day, our Superintendent asked…”What is your personal growth plan? Where are you now? What can we do to get you there?”  At first, I thought…REALLY kids and teachers just left the building YESTERDAY!!  My frame of mind is still finishing the school year, and he is asking me where I want to go next!  I couldn’t wrap my brain around it, but what do I do…write it down in my everything notebook!  Days went by with those questions staring at me in the face! I let several days go by before I said enough is enough!  And then I found the day…The day I read Lead Like a Pirate!  I came to the chapter that SCREAMED at me!!!

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If you were to ask any part of my tribe, they will say that I LOVE to talk!! I can talk about anything with anyone at anytime.  Although this is very true of me, I reflected upon asking myself if student learning was at the forefront of my conversations, actions, and activities.  After reading about ANCHOR conversations written by Beth Houf and Shelley Burgess, I had a lightbulb moment!  I needed to focus on conversations centered around appreciation, impact on student learning, collaboration, teacher voice, support, and reflection.

WARNING: I needed CONVERSATIONS about what’s BEST for KIDS!

CAUTION: This will not be easy.  You will need accountability partners.  You will need to reflect.  You will need to EMBRACE the goal. So…You will need to set GOALS.

goals that…

  • are valued
  • push me
  • are visible to all
  • make me reflect on ME
  • teach me to be a better ME
  • show my vulnerability
  • tell my tribe I want to be better for them
  • focus on KIDS
  • keep me learning
  • are a challenge
  • are achievable

If you are reading this, then you have just become my ACCOUNTABILITY PARTNER! Keep me focused on what I need to embrace to get better at having these fierce conversations with my tribe and ALWAYS put KIDS first!!

Posted outside my office and soon down the hallways!

#ObserveMe- Bohler

The Best is YET TO COME

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Today is the day!  My mountain is waiting, so here goes the climb to the top!  Today is the day I start blogging thanks to my Twitter PLN (professional learning network). Last night, I participated in a Twitter chat hosted by moderators Connie Hamilton and Bethany Hill. (Follow them on Twitter or their blogs…You will Learn ALOT!)

You can even view the entire Twitter chat just by clicking here. Now, you may ask why I would put all this in my first blog!  Well, I want to record where it all started for me. This has been my foundation for starting a blog.  The insights of many other bloggers have helped me know where to start, what to blog about, what a blog should look like, and making plans to blog.

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So, where do I even begin…I begin with following 10 habits of bloggers that win! (See visual below).  It is extremely important to me that I give credit where credit is due.  I want to make sure to cite and hyperlink everything that I “borrow” from others in my PLN.  Social media is an important part of getting my voice heard by others, so I want to share on Facebook, Twitter, Voxer, and other media outlets.  I will continue to use my PLN to grow in my blogging and use them as my accountability partners for pushing me forward in my own learning.

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A big part of blogging is getting those thoughts on paper!  My mind races so much all day long while I am working that I sometimes forget what I am thinking about!  Does that make sense??  I have purchased these writing journals for me to begin writing down my thoughts. Started last night after the Twitter chat. This journal will help me tell my story and share it with my PLN through my blog.  It will become my connection to the world outside of Sheridan!

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The best part of being part of the world outside of Sheridan is being able to share with the people who also have ambitious plans, meaningful purposes, and big goals.  My PLN will continue to grow and with that I will continue to learn!  There are so many people who out there who have the same passion as I do about our KIDS.  I look forward to making this journey with each and everyone of them.

Now on to more blogging…

Our Hope for Tomorrow

IMG_1665Easter Sunday at church our pastor said, “They are our hope for tomorrow.” (talking to and about our kids during children’s church)   What a powerful statement for us all to take a step back and truly reflect upon.  Hope.  A feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.  What is our expectation?  What is our desire?  What certain thing do we expect and desire?  Those are questions we should ask daily about our kids.  What is our hope for our kids?

Influenced by my recent reading of “Lead Like a Pirate” by Shelley Burgess and Beth Houf.

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I hope…there is a passion.  When kids see how passionate we are about being at school with them, everyone wins!   Kids will work harder when they see that you care (and teachers will too)! It is our passion that pushes us to be better, to be inspired, to be empowered, and to serve those around us.  “Our passions are what drives us!” (Shelley and Beth)

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I hope…there is action.  A few months ago, I had a mission to get out of my office and be more visible in the classrooms so I could be connected with my kids and teachers.  I became intentional about my schedule by prioritizing what was the most important…Our Kids. We need to be part of the game not on the sidelines coaching the game!

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I hope…there are relationships.  Building trust helps to build strong relationships. Every decision made during the school day determines the kind of relationships within the school culture.  Relationships in a school culture are built on trust and commitment to a common goal.  If we are all part of the same team, we all win!

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I hope…there are questions and answers.  Throughout the school year, we continuously ask questions to reflect and find answers on how to make each day better for our kids and teachers.  Our goals, strategies, and plans should all reflect on how the decision moves student learning forward.  We must ask ourselves why, how, and what!

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I hope…there is change.  A growth mindset is BIG in education. In order for our kids to be the hope of tomorrow, change must happen.  We must be willing to take risks and make mistakes but more importantly, let our kids see that it is ok!

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I hope…there is enthusiasm.  Bring it Everyday. I tell my staff (especially office staff) that if I’m not smiling then we can worry!  I can honestly say in two years…I’ve only not smiled once!  I had one teacher catch me not smiling and she said: “You’re not smiling?”  I quickly realized I wasn’t!  Kids can (and should) FUN while learning!

My hope is we all have the desire for our kids to be OUR FUTURE.  

Spring Break of Firsts!

Spring Break.  A time to relax, reflect and re-energize to finish the school year strong!

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Family First.  We did a first as a family and went “tent” camping without water, electricity, and wouldn’t you know no reception!  We (all three of us) slept in a 10 person! Yes, my daughter needed a 10 person tent.  We learned a lot together in those three days! We learned to cook over an open fire, keep the raccoons away at night, and enjoy each other without interruptions! We went on a walking hike, fought raccoons all night, attempted to fish, and sat by the fire.  It was a relaxing and much need time together as a family. We are better today at camping than yesterday.

My First National Conference. I’ve been to many conferences during my years in education, but I’ve never been to a National Conference! IMG_1587I went to so many amazing sessions on how to grow and lead as a lead learner.  Talk about being on fire!! From Danny Steele’s “A BluePrint for Awesomeness” to LaVonna Roth’s “Ignite Your Shine,” I came back being inspired to serve, inspire, and empower all those around me.  More importantly, I learned to take it slow when I got back to school.  In a session by Jill Thompson and Lisa Already, they demonstrated how we as teachers sometimes pour in so much information to our students they can’t remember it all.  I sat in that session thinking of how leaders do the same thing to teachers, so here goes…take my time…introduce slowly.  Make it meaningful, purposeful, and have the why ready for teachers to understand their new learning.

 I’m better today than yesterday!

Not only did I attend amazing sessions, but I met the most amazing educators face to face!  I participated in a “live” twitter chat with #leadupchat early Saturday morning!

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Compelled Tribe Members (Debbie Campbell and Jennifer Hogan), Lisa Dabbs, Leslie Kinnard, Michelle Hill, Danny Steele, Beth Houf, Neil Gupta, Dave and Shelley Burgess

The Power of How We Learn

Sitting in a very inspiring and motivating session at ASCD, I couldn’t help but think of how the session information could directly be related to teachers.

How Youth Learn: Ned’s GR8 8 (check it out here) It’s centered around providing for Kids!

My connections...

I feel OK. As leaders, it is our responsibility to make sure the teachers feel ok when in the middle of their learning.  Snacks are always a must and make sure plenty of breaks are provided throughout.  Maybe even a GoNoodle or fun activity to get everyone excited about the day! 

It Matters. Adult learning (what we like to call professional development) should matter to the teachers. It must be relevant and meaningful.  Teachers should have a voice in the learning with individualized learning plans.  This is a huge barrier to teacher learning.  If we expect teachers to do it for students, shouldn’t we provide that expectation for teachers?

It’s Active. Again, we expect for teachers to provide hands-on engaging lessons for our students. Is our adult learning active or engaging? Or are we going old school with the presenter doing all the talking?  

It stretches me. Learning should be challenging for all.  It should push us to be better and inspire us to take risks!

I have a coach. Professional development shouldn’t be the days in the summer where you learn it all.  That just doesn’t happen! We as leaders need to be the coach on the sideline who is inspiring, motivating, and encouraging teachers through their implementation of their new learning.  

I have to use it. It must be directly applied to the teacher’s classroom either with their instructional practices or their students.  It can provide immediate evidence of student learning.

I think back on it. Reflection…do we give teachers time to reflect back on their learning to see how they are going to use it in their classrooms or with their students.  They need the opportunity to plan and see how they will use the new learning.

I plan my next steps. This is part of the reflection and collaboration.  What steps will I take as a teacher with my colleagues to use my new learning to help move student learning forward?  

Is this how we are teaching teachers? Our expectations for teachers in the classroom for students should mirror our expectations as leaders!

Thank you to Jill Thompson and Lisa Allred for your amazing session!