Vaccinated #SOL21 #Day12

I have never been so excited to get a shot as I was today.
Watching the nurse prep the needle. Waiting for injection.
Knowing that one day a new normal may come to fruition.
Not sure if I’ll ever be comfortable in super large crowds again.
Will I ever go to a concert? To wine fest? To a bar? To… you name the place with lots of people?
Will I always want to wear a mask when in the store or in large groups? Maybe.

Yet I’m happy because this means I can hug again soon. I can see my family more. Perhaps have in person meetings again.
Will things change? Yes – we’ve learned a lot so it won’t be like it was a year ago. It will always be different.
But that may be a good thing, right?

Sometimes the bad has to happen for the good to rise. Sometimes we need to feel pain to then find joy. Sometimes we hit rock bottom in order to soar.
Life circumstances happen. They teach us so much. And we move onward.

Yet with all of this I was never so happy to get a shot

Friday, already? #SOL21 #Day11

Question, Really, Question Mark, Doubt

Tomorrow is Friday already, really?

Can we please add more time to the day?
No?

How about more time to the week?
Not possible?

Well what about carving out more time for thinking at least?
When you ask?
That’s what I’m asking you – when?

How do we get it all done?
How do we meet all the demands?
How do we choose what is priority?

What? You have to do it all?
How is that even possible?

What if we actually focused on the essential aspects?
What if we actually slowed down to move forward?
What if we actually leaned into discomfort, sat with it, and then made changes?
What if we actually listened to others more?

How do we not just move through the motions but move with intention, purpose and love in all that we do – including the decisions we make?

Yes – tomorrow is Friday and look what has been accomplished this week already!

I’m addicted… #SOL21 #Day10

I have to admit that I am addicted. I’m addicted to closing the circles on my Apple watch. I’m that person that will walk in circles to close the rings. The good news is that not only am I addicted to closing my circles but I’m addicted to the things that help me close my circles because those same things help me release stress and keep my sanity. I’m addicted to running and working out. I love everything about it. I may be tired when I roll out of bed at 4am but by the time I’ve finished my run, I am ready to conquer the day. This morning routine brings me joy. I’m good with this addiction.

What’s the Cost? #SOL21 #Day9

boy writing

IREAD-3 is a state assessment given to third grade students to measure foundational reading standards. It is high stakes. Though I personally think that giving a high stakes assessment during a Pandemic ignores the realities of what our kids and families are facing during this time, we are giving the test because we have to.

I admit, every bit of me cringed knowing that we had to ask families who had made a choice for their child to stay home and learn online this year for a variety of reasons, to come into a building and test.

I spent the majority of the last week and a half working through arrangements, talking with parents, collaborating with others, and checking on space so that we could complete two mornings of testing. Every minute I put toward logistical planning takes away from the strategic planning and work that helps move a district forward.

The same will happen for ILEARN. And I know that we have teams of people at both the building level and at the district level that will sacrifice time to think about what’s important to work through the logistics of testing. The hours taken away from concentrating on teaching and learning to plan for actual administration is disheartening.

And though it is disheartening, I loved every moment of our testing today. Why? Because I spent two mornings with amazing and wonderful third grade learners who came in like champs to take their test. The first day there was some trepidation; the second day brought more confidence. But both days, students were able to see their online teacher IN PERSON and that was priceless! One girl shared with me that she went home and clapped and jumped up and down that she was so excited to meet her teacher. A first grade student who was in the car with a third grade sibling saw her online teacher and said, “You are REAL” – the kids seeing their teachers put a smile on my face.

What can I say, just being with kids put a smile on my face. From the student who stopped in his tracks and said I forgot something (his iPad – pretty important for test taking) to the student who asked for a charger right away to the student who taught me you can swipe down on an iPad to access the numbers… all brought me joy today.

So though I was not excited about testing during a Pandemic, I was reminded why we do the work we do as I met each student and talked with their family members. And now that the two days are over I reflect on those that made it possible: The administrator of the building we used; the custodian; the SRO; the secretary; the three teachers who administered the test; the data and assessment coordinator, the director of learning, and the 8 people from our cabinet who came to help with drop off and pick up. I am so appreciative of all these people because I recognize that all of them were taken away from their projects to be with us and serve. And though everyone was happy to help, it kept them from doing other work that benefits children.

Sometimes we don’t have a choice, so we do the best we can to make it happen yet it is always at a cost. I have to wonder… is this cost considered as those not working directly with children are making decisions for schools and districts?

It’s the 14th annual Slice of Life Story Challenge!
Head on over to Two Writing Teachers
and see what the rest of this year’s slicers are up to!

This time last year… #SOL21 #Day 8

red and white UNKs restaurant

This time last year we had no clue that the world would close down.

This time last year I finished teaching my Xtreme Hip Hop class packed with people.

This time last year I came home, went to bed, & expected to do what I had always done the next day.

This time last year I was still visiting my family.

This time last year, life was still the normal that I knew.

Who knew that this time last year would feel so distant from what we know now.

Who knew that this time last year would be such a blur.

Who knew that we would still be here, a year later, wondering when it will end.

Who knew? This time last year…

It’s the 14th annual Slice of Life Story Challenge!
Head on over to Two Writing Teachers
and see what the rest of this year’s slicers are up to!

Why live here? #SOL21 #Day7

I love this time of year, when it starts to warm up and we can get outside more. Sometimes I wonder why we still live in Indiana – why not somewhere warmer? But then I’m reminded that we do love the seasons (minus winter) and we would miss the fall and spring if we were somewhere else.

So, when the sun starts to shine more, I start to think about how to incorporate more time outside into my day. Today was a day that I was working a lot – staring at the computer to check things off my long list. After a few hours, I decided to take a walk outside – get some sunlight and some exercise before sitting back down at the computer again.

I came inside refreshed and ready to complete more tasks on my list. I’m thankful to live in Indiana today but, ask me next December if I feel the same way.

It’s the 14th annual Slice of Life Story Challenge!
Head on over to Two Writing Teachers
and see what the rest of this year’s slicers are up to!

Reflexivity Impacts Learning – Start Within… #SOL21 #Day6

Today I was thinking about a session I attend last year by Dr. Erica Buchanan-Rivera during the Leading Equity Summit, she stated, “When do you decide that someones life matters enough for you to move with a sense of urgency?” Wow. As educators we have a profound impact on the learners we serve. We play a huge role in the ways they build an identity of self. We cannot take this responsibility lightly. Therefore, we must search inward (which will be hard, challenging and uncomfortable) to make instructional moves as educators that value each learner in front of us. We have an incredible responsibility to be responsive and to learn how our actions affect the young humans in our classroom. This means there is not an easy answer. There is not a program that will do it for us. This means we have to constantly be learners. We have the responsibility to…

INVESTIGATE OUR OWN IDENTITY: Our background, how we were raised, the values we learned, and the history we were taught has shaped who we are. It is important to recognize this as well as confront our own biases (we all have them) so we can interrogate the ways we respond to actions we take. In addition, we must understand how our race and ethnic backgrounds have shaped us and the affordances given to us based on the ways that we identify (race, culture, sexuality, socio economic status, etc).

RECOGNIZE THERE IS NOT JUST ONE WAY TO DO SOMETHING: Every time Cornelius Minor visits our district, he always explains what he shares as this is “a” way, not “the” way – and that is powerful when thinking about teaching and learning. Often, in education, we talk in binaries – either this or that – yet that is detrimental to the learning process. It is not an either/or – it is what decision is best at this moment in order to reach each learners’ needs. We have standards, units of study, scope and sequence, assessments, and more that give us information to follow yet how we implement that work is based on what our children need. We should consider moving away from asking which way is the “right way” or the “best way” to asking “what will work best in this situation with this child?” Being flexible in our thinking in how we serve children in core instruction is vital.

ACTIVELY BE CURIOUS: A good friend of mine would encourage me to always think about what is “fixed” and what is “flexible” within curriculum. I’ve added a couple more “F” words to this and one of those is the word “filter.” As educators, we are consumers of research yet we have to be critical consumers of what is written and the why behind it. A critical consumer filters what is read and asks questions to determine what aligns with the work currently being done and what can be learned from the reading and how that meets the needs of the students we serve. It also means that you may not believe everything you read and that’s okay. The goal is to question and learn and then make decisions that will work for your kids. I encourage everyone to do their own research.

HAVE FIDELITY TO THE CHILD: Yep, this is the 4th “F” word – it is not fidelity to the program it is fidelity to the child. A program does not meet every child’s needs – the teacher is the number one indicator for success of a child in the classroom.  Don’t fall into the program trap – one size does not fit all. Do develop your knowledge base in the content that you teach and continue to learn from research. Read a lot. Take notes. Grapple with ideas. Teaching and learning is hard work. It is also messy. When learning is packaged in a scripted program it does know the children in front of you, their stories, or the context in which each child lives. The beauty of teaching is using resources to meet the needs of kids but not rely on a single resource to meet all needs of all children. This is the art of teaching.

UNDERSTAND PRACTICES THAT ARE TIMELESS: A few practices are just so darn good that they will surpass the fads that come and go in education, the shiny objects that enter in quickly and leave. These practices fall under the umbrella of responsive teaching and they are… 

  • Conversation/Talk 
  • Assessment
  • Feedback
  • Conferring
  • Small Group Instruction
  • Questioning
  • Cognitive Challenge

I could spend hours sharing about each of these but the important thing is that we recognize that these practices are what withstand the test of time – these practices allow us to know our learners well and respond to them in a way that moves them forward. And this is our goal – moving learners forward in their learning while recognizing that learning is messy. These pedagogical practices create conditions for learning of content to take place – so an educator who understands how to teach reading, how to teach writing, how to teach math, how to teach science, how to teach social studies, how to teach art, how to teach music… (you get the point) can do so in structures and with instructional moves that provide space and time for this to happen. We have to recognize that there is a science to teaching and an art of teaching. It is not one or the other – it is both. 

Looking within ourselves, reflecting, grappling with ideas, and making shifts in our thinking is how we grow both personally and professionally. I have always said that if I ever stop learning, then it is time for me to leave the profession. Learning is central to teaching and being reflexive is key. So as you push through your day, make thousands of decisions at school and at home, carve out time to learn even if just 15-30 minutes of the day. Make it a part of your daily schedule. And yes, I believe this strongly but don’t always do it so I am writing this reminder for me just as much as I am writing it for you. 

It’s the 14th annual Slice of Life Story Challenge!
Head on over to Two Writing Teachers
and see what the rest of this year’s slicers are up to!

Bedtime

black alarm clock at 10:10 on white wooden table near table

In my 20’s I went to bed around 2-3am…

In my 30’s that changed to 11pm-12am…

In my 40’s I’m lucky to stay up to 10pm…

Tonight… it’s past my bedtime and I’m barely making the deadline for the #SOL entry today. Yet knowing I committed to writing every day this month and taking part in this challenge I knew I had to pull my computer out to make it happen.
So here, I write, past my bedtime knowing that tomorrow morning will come soon and another day will begin. Ending my day with writing is starting to become a habit even though my eyes are droopy and tired. Thankful for this nudge into writing and glad to join this community. I now need to be better at reading what others are writing (but I am always so tired when I sit down to write) yet planning to spend time this weekend losing myself in others words.

Now, it’s time for bed.

There is no normal

Do What You Love text

I’m an educator. I love working with kids. I love working with adults. I have a passion for facilitating conversations and asking questions that help people consider how we might better serve our kids. I enjoy systems thinking. I fell in love with education but that is not all that I do…

I’m a fitness coach and instructor. I am obsessed with working out. It gives me energy to sustain my lifestyle – to work as an educator and to be a wife, daughter, sister, aunt, and friend. I love to share what I do and motivate others in their health journey. I fell in love with fitness but that is not all I do…

I’m an advocate for equity and inclusion. I believe we need to work toward breaking down barriers and honoring the lives and voices of others. That we need to make space for others to share their stories and tell their truth. We need to work toward eliminating systemic racism. I believe in helping others learn and grow in order to do this work – that it doesn’t happen overnight – it happens through conversation. I fell in love with advocating for others but that is not all I do…

I look at these three areas of passion for me and I think, “I don’t fit the mold of what an administrator should be.” What administrator also teaches fitness classes while facilitating a podcast series and trying to write everyday? This does not align with what society says administrators do. This is not normal.

Yet, it has taken me years to recognize that there is no normal. That this may not be the image I had in my head of what someone in my role does, yet it is the image that I am creating because I am following my areas of passion. I am taking time to do the things I love and the one thing they all have in common is helping others.

So… yes I am a curriculum director who strives to motivate others – at work or in the workout room. And yes, a curriculum director can also be an a fitness instructor and while doing all of that can advocate for equity in the spaces she resides.

Stop painting a picture of what life “should” be like and paint the picture of what life is like for you. Take “should” out of your vocabulary. Be you. Find joy in your passion. Make it happen.

Good bye Binary Thinking

Binary thinking.

This OR That. Yes OR No. Right OR Wrong. Black OR White. Blue OR Red.

All of these simplify life, ignoring the nuances and complexity of the world we live in.

Binary thinking.

Narrow minded. Limited perspective. Short sighted. Not flexible.

All of these are barriers to opening up a world we never even knew existed.

Binary thinking.

Problematic. Scary. Dangerous.

All of these feelings cause us to hide from the possibilities.

Binary thinking.

Serves no one well. Be open to the myriad of ideas. Be curious and learn.

Good bye binary thinking… open up to the world and love the grey!