Sunday, December 28, 2014

Next Steps: Social Media As A Place To Share

I am thinking about many things as the new year approaches..  One is how can I help parents experience the value and importance of using social media as a platform to connect and inspire.  So I am planning a chat inviting parents and colleagues to share how they are connected and engaged with their child and what they are doing inside and outside of their classrooms.

My first chat is scheduled for Thursday, February 5th, 7-8 PM, EST. 

My goals for this event:
1. Inspire, connect with parents to hear about how they are connecting with their child's education
2. What are the tools and platforms that parents are using with their child's teachers, schools to connect
3.  Share ideas and resources about what is working well and why

Kindergarten students using @Skype to say hello with a friend in Africa!
As an America Achieves Fellow I hope to be able to model and share the synchronous and asynchronous tools that can be used to engage families and communities in regards to the amazing learning that is happening inside and outside of classrooms.

Who and How To Participate:
1. Use #familyconnect and @AAFTP to advertise and share
2. Contacting state of Vermont leaders to help publicize and share; Linkedin, Twitter, Google +, Facebook

Sunday, November 23, 2014

My Impact Project:

My Impact Project: I am sharing and building an awareness and understanding of how technology can be used to engage, enrich and interact with families to be informed about their child's learning inside and outside of the classroom.  As I begin thinking about my actions for my work, I am also thinking about "how to" best go about building an awareness of what I am presenting doing and seeking perspective from both former and present families.
So I reached out to former and present families asking for their input.  So very grateful for all their support, I begin to collect information and impressions from immediate and past families in regards to engagement.
 I created this Google Form for former families and this Google Form for present families.  I am already finding a variety of perspectives and ideas as I continue to create and design my impact project.

Moving forward I am thinking of how I can create and design opportunities for my families to engage more in the learning that is happening inside and outside of my classroom.  After an awesome Twitter chat on Saturday morning thanks to #satchat I am thinking of possibly holding an EdCamp for parents.  This is just one idea I have as I begin to think about ways to interact with families.  

Twitter is one place where I look to share how easy it easy for me, my students and others to share, reflect, collaborate and inspire others.  Last week another class tweeted a photo of my students in a video we created about how we are making  difference.  My students were so inspired and excited to see that others were interested in what we were doing that this offered another opportunity for me to highlight how we are mentors and through our sharing, we inspire others too!  This is a wonderful thing.  I need to think more about how this type of interaction can also benefit family engagement.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

How Do I Keep My Candle Burning? My Inspiration…… Fresh Air…...

This blog post is a response to a question as an America Achieves Fellow I(along with other amazing educators) was asked by Jon Schnur, the Executive Chairman of America Achieves.

I think about all the passions I have and feel grateful…  How do I keep a balance? Open perspective? And the courage and energy to carry on….

Breathing in and out, fresh air and perspective offers energy. Being transparent, inspired and having my thinking challenged has really offered me great insights into learning and also focusing on what is important. So for me, in order for me to pursue my passions and keep fueled, I have to be well in my mind and body.  I exercise daily, sometimes twice a day and eat healthy foods.  I strive to keep balance and variety in what I do to keep physically and mentally fit. I also try to find ways to be outside in the fresh air which gives me an opportunity to catch my breath and reflect.
As an educator it is so important to be well, having total wellness gives me ways to refuel and re-energize in ways that can be routine, but also challenging.  I need to be totally present each day inside and outside of my classroom.  No grumpiness allowed in Kindergarten!  My students need me to be present cognitively and emotionally. In order for me to achieve this and yes, I mean achieve I have to make time for my passions and interests.

I feel fortunate because many of my passions and interests weave in and out of my professional interests.  The common passion in both aspects of my life is passion for learning.  Learning “how to” be well, being able to have control over things that I can change and make a difference for are very important and part of who I am.  This includes knitting, swimming, walking, hiking, and other things. I value my time with my family and friends most of all.  Many times they overlap which is wonderful.  Re energizing is all about shifting my thinking and perspective about what I am involved in and what my priorities are at this moment. Many times life takes unexpected turns and sometimes paths open up that are unexpected for inspiration, challenge and growth.
When I need to refuel I walk and breathe in as much fresh air as I can.  Drinking lots of water and exercising are the ways I get recharged and refueled.  Being overwhelmed and feeling like I am in a state of disequilibrium is where I do some of my most valuable thinking and learning because I am being challenged through ideas and perspectives that offer a new way of thinking and require a mindset that can be flexible and adapt, while also giving me permission to ask questions, observe and be curious.  Curiosity is one of the best ways I know to pursue an idea, an inquiry and explore a new perspective.

When I am asked about how I find time, I reply;”It is there, you have to plan for it, but also be open in the moment to adapt to what needs you have.”

Thursday, October 23, 2014

New York City Gathering: Rich, Engaging and Inspiring!

I have just returned from a very dynamic and inspirational gathering in New York City with other amazing and I mean amazing educators!  I am really thinking deeply about many things...

My journey began with a visit to Harvest Collegiate High School in NYC.  I had the pleasure to see John McCrann in action with his students.  I was deeply impressed with not only the level of engagement, but the almost seamless way John interacted and connected with all of his students.  The words he used were high level and rigorous as he explored triangles with his students.  Right away I was struck by how he spoke when he needed attention.  "Quiet, silent eyes on me".  The students understood this was a time for redirection and check in. Another phrase that he used that was also not only effective, but inviting and positive was "I need your silent attention". Then students would raise their hands in support of this request and support the learning idea that was being presented. I share this because it struck me how well respected he was by all of his students and the care in which they all seemed to work together.

Since I have been back in Vermont I have also been using some of the words and phrases modeled by John.  They have been successful in Kindergarten too!  So already as my fellowship begins, I have had an opportunity to see some impact in action.  I am so very grateful for this experience. I then begin to meet others, who I know are here, in this fellowship, like me, to collaborate and share their voices to make a positive impact in regards to education. 

Some big ideas for me from this experience.....

1. Collaboration is vital.  Teachers can not work in isolation.  Together our voices carry and have impact in regards to change that benefits all students.
2. The value and importance of maximizing opportunities is necessary.  As educators we need to be explicit and meaningful in all our efforts when we are engaged with our students.  They need us now, excited, supporting them 100%.
3. The urgency for knowledge about the world and the words/vocabulary we use.  All students need a rigorous learning environment.  The higher level experiences and vocabulary are important for all learners.
4. Poverty is real.  All students need high expectations.   Learning is for everyone!
5. Together as a collective, collaborative, positive and professional group we can impact change.

I am grateful for being a part of the America Achieves Fellowship.  This group is filed with inspirational educators who are passionate and engaged.  I am thinking about how we are all working collaboratively in regards to change.  Really amazing......