Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Love What You Do

Recently, family, friends, and co-workers have asked, "Are you working over break?" This seems like a loaded question. But the simple answer is yes, I am working over break.

As educators, continuous learning is our work. And if you love what you are doing, that can sometimes make it difficult to qualify it as work. So over the break, I am engaging in my own personal Genius Hour, Passion Project, Google's 20% time, or whatever title you'd like to apply. I am reading, I am writing, I am connecting, and I am playing. And I am enJOYing all of those things.

Reading - I forget where I read it, but if we (as adult educators) are asking our students to read (outside of school), shouldn't we be reading, too? Yes, we should! So I have a goal of reading five books over the break.
  • Embracing a Culture of Joy, by Dean Shareski (already finished!)
  • Reimagining Literacy through Global Collaboration, by Pernille Ripp (already finished!)
  • Your School Rocks, by Ryan McLane and Eric Lowe (already finished!)
  • Tribe, by Sebastian Junger
  • The Best Man, by Richard Peck - this is on my list because earlier this year, we had a teacher, Ali Houselog (6th gr.), who asked me to read a book and do a book review via podcast (check out her blog that contains all of her book review podcasts) to share with her students. I did this, and then donated the book that I read to the classroom. I really enjoyed doing this, and I hope that the students enjoyed it, too. So I wanted to do it again...

Blogging - I love writing; I always have. It's therapeutic, and it's a great way for people to have an insight into what I am thinking. I've got this post, and another one (Pause to Reflect, link coming...) that I am simultaneously drafting. Stay-tuned...

Connecting - I value so many people in my PLN. Over winter break, I've had extended time to reach-out to those who I learn from and with via Twitter and Voxer. These people (too many to name) are a) a primary reason for my inspiration and motivation to continue innovating, learning, and growing, AND b) a key source of my positive outlook. Thanks!

Playing - I have made time to experiment (play) with several new tools that have appealed to me.
  • #BookSnaps - what a great opportunity to engage our (especially older) students in their reading (a couple of my examples are below)
  • Stop motion videos - what a great opportunity for our students to create, summarize, and/or tell a story
    Thanks to Andrew Fenstermaker for telling me about the app to use, AND thanks to my son for engaging in this activity with me!

Monday, December 12, 2016

Our First Penguin Award

When penguins jump into the water where there are predators, one has to go first.
Or that penguin might get first dibs on all the tasty fish in the ocean. Take the risk.

"Failure is not just acceptable, it's often essential." - Randy Pausch
Inspired by the The Last Lecture, I heard about this idea - to recognize an individual for taking a risk. Admittedly, I was hesitant to do this. How were teachers going to receive this? What would it do to the culture and climate of the building when we were going to recognize and single-out one staff member with an award. Regardless, I did it anyway. I took the risk.

We want to create a culture that encourages risk taking. Where risk taking not only becomes the norm, but it is also something that is regularly recognized and celebrated. Because that's how you learn. That's how you grow. And eventually, that's how you get better.
We awarded our first ever, First Penguin Award at Van Allen Elementary School to Lisa Hildebrand (@vanallen_PE), our PE Teacher on Thursday, December 8th, 2016. Congratulations! I've used the word inaugural in this post because this is something that I plan on becoming a ritual at our school. It is something that we will do at the conclusion of each (or near the conclusion of each) trimester. Eventually, I want to be able to individually recognize ALL of our teachers for the risks that they take.

Taking risks has to be more than something that we just talk about. Taking risks has to be more than something that we just do. Taking risks has to be something that we celebrate!