First blog post

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Anyone else feel as if they blinked and now the holiday season is upon us?  We live in a society of perpetual busyness, but how often do we stop, slow down, and thank those who support us and help us grow? Giving thanks shouldn’t be reserved for one time a year. It should be embedded into our lives daily.  We all matter and need to make leading with gratitude a priority through our words and actions. 

As I reflect on successes and challenges, there is much to be thankful for both personally and professionally.  Thankfulness can come in all forms, but today I take the time to say THANK YOU to all those experiences and individuals who have contributed to who I am today. Today, I form my thanks around one word…FAMILY. Now, we all have our own notions about family, but expand your thinking and watch how your “branches” can grow.

Family doesn’t always mean someone who is related to us. My FAMILY extends far and wide. Of course, without the love, support, and guidance of my immediate family I wouldn’t be half the individual I am today. Friends are family. Colleagues are family. Complete strangers can become family.  Family can encompass a much larger scale and with the addition of each “branch”, comes gratefulness and growth. 

  • Colleagues

These individuals support, challenge, and grow me as a learner and educator. Over my time in education, I’ve had the pleasure to work alongside some amazing and passionate people both at building and district level.  These individuals have encouraged me, stretched my thinking, and at times, pushed me outside of my comfort zone. We’ve laughed, cried, and even had some hard conversations, but ultimately they’ve made me a better educator and person for it. They’re more than just colleagues-they’re my family.

  • School Community

There’s something to be said about a strong school community.  When you see all stakeholders invested in collective efforts towards seeking and taking action on what is best for all learners, you know you have a strong school community.  I’m thankful for the opportunity to be both an educator and parent in our school community.  There are thankless and tireless efforts being done everyday to keep our school community strong.  It’s more than just a school community-it’s family.

  • Students

Yes, these individuals make up a large part of our school community, but we couldn’t do what we do without them. You’d be surprised how much I’ve learned and grown from these little minds.  Seeing the world through their perspectives is inspiring.  They’re matter of fact, speak truth, and can lift your spirits on a rough day. They’re unpredictable, yet some of the most growth-minded individuals I’ve ever seen. They look to us to support their growth as learners, love and support them unconditionally, and lead by example. They’re more than just kids-they’re family. 

  • PLN

My PLN is an ongoing evolvement of awe-inspiring individuals, some of whom I may never even meet in person.  I’ve met these individuals from friends of friends, Twitter, colleagues, and the list goes on.  My PLN expands globally and provides such a wealth of knowledge.  These connections have been invaluable to my growth as an ongoing learner. These individuals are more than just connections-they’re family.  

Although our “branches” of FAMILY may look different, they are the root of who we are as individuals.  As we enter into a time of thanks, I challenge you to lead with gratitude not only today but everyday.  How will you continue to lead with a grateful heart?

Be Somebody’s Somebody

As a new school year approaches, we experience a myriad of emotions.  For many of us, we are feeling excited, renewed, and optimistic about possibilities that await us. Our spark has been rejuvenated from a summer of flexible schedules, relaxation, and maybe even some vacationing. Although some will attest summer goes by way too quickly, nonetheless, we are ready to catch up with our colleagues and conquer new goals. 

As I’m sure most would say about their respective buildings and district, I love our school and more importantly, I love the staff, students, and families that make up our school community.  I view my colleagues within my building my second family and school is often my home away from home.  I consider myself blessed to work and grow alongside such passionate educators on a daily basis. We truly are like a family.

We, as a school, create our culture and our school identity. As I reflected on the previous and upcoming school year for our own building, I kept coming back to the same idea that, in my opinion, truly is the core of education…it’s all about RELATIONSHIPS.

Without trusting relationships, we will never progress beyond the surface level of actionable change within our schools.  It takes a village to make an impact on student learning, and it all stems back to building and fostering those relationships with all stakeholders.

“Where everybody knows your name, and they’re always glad you came.”

Lyrics taken straight from the Cheers theme song, but holds so much meaning and truth behind the words. Our job is a collective effort and while there are highs and lows throughout a school year, there is a sense of comfort knowing the people you surround yourself with all share the vision and goals for your school community. We want to work where everybody knows our name, so to speak.

As we, as educators, head back into our respective schools and classrooms for the upcoming school year, I would challenge you to focus in on the heart of relationships with your students and colleagues. They will provide your foundation to support the building blocks of learning and achievement.

How will you be somebody’s somebody this year? 

Embracing a Work In Progress

Hello, it’s me…

I’m an ongoing learner, plain and simple. This past school year presented so many opportunities for me to grow alongside my colleagues (which I hope to elaborate further on in future posts).  This isn’t to say we didn’t have our fair share of highs and some lows, but we grew and most importantly, we grew together!

To say I’ve been on a blogging hiatus is an understatement.  At first glance, it appears I’ve been absent from my blog for some time,  but this isn’t to say that my learning stopped. This isn’t to say that there aren’t several posts still currently in DRAFT mode from months ago as well as new ideas currently swirling just waiting for the green light to post. This isn’t to say that my learning will cease to continue moving forward. What it is saying is that I’m ready to dust off the keyboard and get back into business with new goals and aspirations for both my colleagues and myself as we continue our growth together.

Some background…

Simply stated, I like to write.  OK, actually I LOVE to write! While I was in the classroom, my students used blogging as a means of connecting their writing with an authentic audience, but it also gave them a sense of empowerment and purpose within their writing. It amazed me to watch excitement flourish as each student found their writing voice.

After stepping into my role as an instructional coach, that same excitement that I had seen in my students led me to seeking my own writing voice.  For me, blogging has served as a means of reflection as an educator but over time, has also served as a possibility of instilling empowerment and inspiration to others.  My goal and my “why” is that I use one of my passions to not only provide insights into instructional coaching, but to also inspire others to see themselves as ongoing learners who can always grow.

In what ways do you embrace being a work in progress?

Every Week Matters

Time.  Time relates to so much in our lives from day-to-day interactions to the monumental picture of life itself.  It all revolves around time.  Speaking of time, regardless of the time that has passed since my last post, I couldn’t wait to dust off my blog tonight and jump back in with a post that I was inspired by earlier this morning from @pastorstevepoe.  

Did you know that the average number of weeks a parent will have with their child from birth to graduation is a mere 936 weeks?  936 weeks?!  While that may seem like more than enough to many, as a parent myself, that number seemed shockingly low.

Infographic credit: @NorthviewCarmel

As you can see from the infographic above, 936 weeks seems like an incredible gift as time continues to pass as a child gets older and older.  Wow! Talk about perspective!  The more I thought about the gift of time not only with my own children, the more I started thinking and reflecting about the students in our classrooms and the value of their time spent with educators during their years of schooling.  

The following is my own creation of an infographic as it relates to a child’s education: 
Created using Piktochart

Ironically enough, the TOTAL amount of time a child spends in school grades K-12 equates approximately to only about 8 or 9 years of a child’s life as seen in the first infographic.  Powerful message, isn’t it?  

As educators, how are we choosing to spend the time that we have with our students each and every day?  When thinking about the role of the elementary school years, it becomes even more apparent about how crucial these weeks are in laying the foundational blocks in a child’s learning.  

As we think about our instruction, are we using our time wisely with our students?  When we begin with an end goal in mind for our students not only now but in the future, we are able to use every minute of time in our classrooms as a gift and opportunity rather than as a burden that often leaves us falling victims to content “coverage”.  Each teacher’s 36 weeks with a student could either push them  36 weeks closer to that end goal or 36 weeks farther away.  

In the end, every day and every week matters with our students.  The time we get with them now all contributes to that magical number of 468…468 amazing weeks of opportunity and promise.  An educator’s influence is inevitable and substantial on a student regardless of their age or grade level.

How will you choose to spend your 36 weeks?  

Change Your Words, Change Your Mindset

What are things a flower needs to thrive and grow?  We know when we give a flower things like water, air, and sunlight,  it will grow because we are giving it things it needs. However, what happens if we don’t give a flower things it needs?  It will no longer grow and will stop thriving.  Our brains work in many similar ways.  This was just one of the analogies I used when sharing the message of maintaining a growth mindset with our students recently.

Throughout the month of September, I had the opportunity to visit every K-5 classroom in our building and model a lesson to our students about a growth vs. fixed mindset.  This concept was first introduced to our staff at the beginning of the year by our principal (@phaney10) and assistant principal (@MBRileyNCE).  Further inspiration came from psychologist and author, Carol Dweck, and her book, Mindset.  I felt the impact this message had on myself both personally and professionally, so I knew what I wanted to do as we kicked off the school year…share the power of our words!  Not only is maintaining a growth mindset imperative to us as educators, it should also resonate deeply within each and every one of our students. 

“In a fixed mindset, people believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits. They spend their time documenting their intelligence or talent instead of developing them. They also believe that talent alone creates success—without effort. They’re wrong.”~ Carol Dweck

“In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment. Virtually all great people have had these qualities”~Carol Dweck

I loved the ability to differentiate my lessons dependent upon the grade level I was teaching; however, despite the activity or age of the student, the message remained constant, consistent, and more importantly, powerful! The ideas and conversations from our five-year-old students were just as insightful and impactful to those of our ten-year-old students.  Some of the books that I shared with classrooms are seen below.

One of my favorite activities was when I played choose a side with each class towards the end of our lesson.  One side of the room represented a fixed mindset, while the other side of the room represented a growth mindset.  Students started in the center of the classroom and chose their side depending on the phrase I said.  We started with phrases such as, “I’ll never be as smart as him” (fixed mindset) to “I made a mistake, but what can I do to improve next time?” (growth mindset).  The one phrase that split the room in almost EVERY single classroom was the phrase “It’s good enough”.  While I loved seeing the differing of opinions as students stood on either side of the room intently wondering if they were “right”, what I loved even more were the rationales given for why they were standing on the chosen side.  Should our work ever be good enough?  It was amazing to see the shift when I added “It’s good enough, BUT what could I do to make it EVEN better?”-Ah-ha! Transition emerged from what was thought by some to be a growth mindset to the realization that they were actually in a fixed mindset before adding a few more words.  It’s a perfect example of how a growth mindset can impact our instruction each and every day.

Going along with the power of our words, I shared one word with all students that I hope they will continue to reiterate with themselves this year and every year going forward in their own educational journeys.  The power of the word…YET!  Do we all face challenges?  Sure.  Are there things that are difficult for us? Of course.  That being said, if we are keeping a growth mindset, then we must continue to acknowledge and emphasize that just because we can’t do it now, we just can’t do it YET! All students set goals for themselves in their learning and what they would do to keep a growth mindset with their “yet” challenge.

Asking questions, making mistakes, taking risks, taking on challenges, practice/applying strategies, giving/accepting feedback…just a few of the things students, teachers, staff, and administrators encounter on a day-to-day basis.  We all have various roles within our building, but at the end of the day, we all share the same end goal which helps make our school “team” even stronger…

Foster the growth mindset, squander the fixed mindset. 


Heading to a screen near you NOW!

Calling all you educational blog lovers! Introducing the scoop on the scenes behind the scenes at Noble Crossing from the perspective of a fellow tiger herself. The students, teachers, and staff make this elementary school the unforgettable place that it has become, and I feel blessed every day to have called this my school home since Noble Crossing first opened its doors eight years ago.  

TRUST= Tigers Reaching Unprecedented Success Together, so join me as I blog about my home away from home and all of its wonderful people within it.  We celebrate our successes and reflect in our struggles, but at the end of the day, it is our school culture that we have collectively established and we couldn’t be prouder.  It’s going to be a fun ride!