Posted in being a better colleague, Being a better teacher

true love

#WoWWmoment

WORKING ON WHAT WORKS
These ideas have not emerged out of the ether. My thinking about this approach stems from a program for the classroom, based on Solution-focused Brief Therapy, called Working on What Works (WOWW) developed by Insoo Kim Berg and Lee Shilts. In a nutshell, the program calls on students and teachers to notice and articulate specific actions that contribute to the success of an intervention. Students learn to observe, name and compliment the behaviors that have been identified as positive and nurturing.
Two factors come together in this approach which turn out to be especially effective in building classroom confidence and community: First is a focus on strengths—in individual student behaviors, in the class group, in the observable results. The second piece is an emphasis on student input and feedback on their own progress individually and as a group. Taken together, while Working on What Works, students and teachers learn to keep their eyes and ears open for the good stuff: compliments, celebrations, breakthroughs, perseverance and how to share that news with each other. This video provides an example of the program in practice.

Noticing the Good Stuff– a guest Cult of Pedagogy post by Sheri Spelic

Someone gave me feedback last spring that I was ‘slightly negative’ during an interview. Dang. And it was my dream job, too. There may be some truth in that, although another colleague thought I was great. But in fairness, sometimes what others perceive as negativity is my internal dialogue of problem/solution pragmatism. Often I see there is a puzzle or problem and then work through possible solutions. Educators who are eternally optimistic are a joy to know, I just don’t seek them out for problem-solving sessions. But it is time for me to flip to see the positive first–and those moments are like glitter in the room–messy, everywhere, but really shiny and magical.

Life and events can be disappointing and discouraging, so it takes the wise words of one another to recognize and empathize the struggles, and then take action. There is so much to love about this post–please read it, internalize it, and make it happen. Off to write notes for students.

What are some of your #WOWWmoments in your classroom? I challenge you to tweet or post one a week, heck– one a day–I feel better already!

Posted in being a better colleague, Being a better teacher, Best Practices, Reading, Reading Strategies, Relationship Building, Research, Writing

protecting readers

Once upon a time, there was a little girl who loved to read. Her mother read her books. When baby sisters came along she read books to herself. Her dad would take her to the library. Her teacher suggested books to her, including Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret when she was in fourth grade. It became her anthem into adolescence. She read Harriet the Spy three times, long before there was a movie adaptation. She learned that some books were too cold, some too hot, but most just right, all without someone telling her. No context clues. No five fingers. No color-coded levels or reading logs. Nothing was forbidden or taboo. When her great-grandmother gave her The Secret Garden, she used her own judgment to put it aside until she connected with it a year or so later. She would read anything and everything. Stories and information fueled her imagination.

My apologies for using third-person point of view: I needed to get outside my own head for a while and look at the bigger landscape. What a pure joy, to develop and cultivate a reading life before it was a “thing.” Of my current 90 students, I have one girl who tears through my #ProjectLit books as if they’re a bag of Takis. She is a reader. She tested far and away the highest ‘level’ IRLA from the American Reading Company can test. She is proud of her reading and her intelligence, as well she should be. Meeting her mother at conferences I thanked her, and her mother said they read at home.

Now another 8th-grade girl said she doesn’t need to read The Hate U Give because she already saw the movie. She said this in a defensive, snotty tone, challenging me to push back on this notion. I didn’t try. And please don’t misunderstand: I am not critical of her: she’s a teenage girl who doesn’t see the value in spending time with the book, with the author’s prose and structure and doesn’t want to think beyond that. She saw the movie, and that’s enough.

(heartbreaking)

 

So we’ve had years of reading logs, and accountable talk, and for what? Now I’m in a district that uses a program called IRLA from the American Reading Company that says it doesn’t level readers, only books. When a representative from the company visited my room, she wanted to demonstrate the program with a student, and I chose a young girl who’s been reading anything scary I have in my classroom library. She was reading Through The Woods. The rep look at her computer screen leveled this book, and immediately told the student the book wasn’t at her level, “she was an orange level” and to go get an orange book. My student did what she was told.

That is a true story.

And what is also true is after the rep and group left my room, I went into damage control. I told her to never, ever worry about what level she or a book is in terms of what she wants to read. Read and talk about whatever she wants.

But I am left with my own accountability for using this program with students, and my evaluation is based on how much growth students show over this year. It’s on my TPEP evaluation goals, which my administrator crafted. I didn’t have a say in what my goals were or should be. Okay. This is the reality thousands of teachers face in schools across the country. I have the screenshots. We are required to teach and use instructional time for this program. The research I’ve done is dominated by the American Reading Company, so it’s difficult to find independent data. I am a solution-oriented person: if this is what I am required to use, then I will also tap into my professional expertise (by reading Donalyn Miller, Kylene Beers, Kelly Gallagher, et al) and make it work. Fortunately, Cult of Pedagogy addressed this issue: What are the best ways to use leveled texts?

And now, for those in the back: READERS ARE NOT LEVELS. BOOKS ARE.

1. LEVELING READERS INSTEAD OF BOOKS

One of the biggest mistakes Serravallo sees is labeling students by text levels. “Levels are meant for books, not for kids,” she explains. “There’s really no point in time when a kid is just a level, just one. There’s a real range, and it depends on a lot of other factors.”

Please: protect your readers. And be transparent about how and why you’re protecting them. You are fighting for their love of reading, but they need to learn how to do this, too, and advocate for their reading lives. 

I’m returning to my Burning Questions unit soon. Not sure I ever stop, actually. Time to flip the script on reading instruction and give authentic and honest hope in our agency.

 

Postscript:

_3__Kris_Hill_-_I_am_sure_there_will_be_people_-_parents_and_teachers___

 

Classroom Library Tip Jar

Please donate so I can replenish my classroom library.

$5.00

Posted in being a better colleague, Being a better teacher, Uncategorized

Three more for the road…

Spring break is over today, and while it was magnificent in many delightful ways, I’m fighting off the “Sunday” feeling. If I were choosing an overarching theme for this year it would be “Contradictions & Paradoxes: The Professional Dilemmas of Mrs. Love.” Wait, that’s a title, not a thematic description.

Oh well. Whatever.

The featured image of our district’s calendar says there are ten more weeks of school. “Normally” I would be ending the voyage, the journey with my ELA students by argumentative writing, onto memoir, and bowing out by saying, “See? I told you that would go fast!” and they would look at me in amazement at my sorcery and augur skills.

But I’m teaching semester classes this year, and it’s a bit disorienting. I have to make connections faster, and it doesn’t give a lot of time to build history and the ‘inside jokes’ but we’re doing all right. I can’t shake this feeling that other teachers are passing me by, and I’m still bogged down by unimaginative and muddied conversations.

There are some ideas I want to capture, though, three big ones from readings:

I. This is a long article from KQED/Mindshift, but worth the read.

How Do You Know When A Teaching Strategy Is Most Effective? John Hattie Has An Idea

A Model of Learning
From: https://www.nature.com/articles/npjscilearn201613/figures/1

Here is my warning*:

Too often educators apply an incredible concept and then try to truncate it and make it fool-proof. Paradoxically, this ends of doing more long-term harm to students and teachers.

myth

Examples:

Grit.

Growth Mindset.

Learning Styles.

And maybe Hattie’s Success Criteria:

For Hattie, most learning rests on student understanding of the success criteria for a learning task. Hattie calls this a “prelearning phase” because if students don’t understand what it will take to be successful, they often act blindly and without motivation. He says that students who are taught the success criteria are more strategic in their choice of learning strategies, and thus more likely to encounter the thrill of success that will lead to reinvestment in learning.

Success Criteria are magnificent as assessments. As Hattie states, it’s a pre-learning phase, which means pre-assessment. They are an ASSESSMENT. Repeat: AN ASSESSMENT. They are not guarantees of learning the first time. If they were, then a computer could write them and score students, and they’d all receive 100% every time. That sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? For some administrators, writing the success criteria is tantamount to its first name only: Success. But the second part, Criteria, is where the learning and teaching happen.

They can be used as:

  1. A student’s self-assessment
  2. A teacher’s assessment and information on instructional steps
  3. A means to articulate a goal or process
  4. A reflective tool: see Caitlin Tucker’s work: http://catlintucker.com/2018/04/ongoing-self-assessments/ (I have years’ worth of student self-assessment and reflective pieces, but this is really good, too. Share and adapt!)

“Too often students may know the learning intention, but do not [know] how the teacher is going to judge their performance, or how the teacher knows when or whether students have been successful,” Hattie and Donoghue write in their article. When students understand how they will be evaluated they can also self-evaluate more effectively, a metacognitive skill that can help students become more independent learners.

How students gain initial content knowledge that they can then manipulate has long been a discussion among educators. Some argue students need to learn basic information before they can begin to use it. Others say students will learn information when it is critical to a problem or project they are trying to understand.

The Hattie/Donoghue learning model dives into that discussion, describing learning strategies that work best at the surface level, and those that help consolidate surface learning, as well as those that develop deep learning and work to consolidate deep learning. Lastly, Hattie and Donoghue deal with the idea of transfer, which broadly means being able to identify similarities and differences between problems and effectively apply previous learning to new situations.”

I have often wondered if our overemphasis on Learning Targets and Success Criteria stunt students’ true growth, that if they can parrot what they are, many students remain stuck at the surface level of learning. This is Hattie and Donohugh’s caution to us, and we should take heed. If the learning isn’t transferrable, then it’s not learning.

II. Jackie Gerstein Fills My Teacher Heart With Joy:

Just read it.

https://usergeneratededucation.wordpress.com/2018/04/15/educators-as-active-listeners/

III. Cult of Pedagogy to the rescue (again)

4 Ways Microsoft is Making Learning More Accessible

Since we are a Microsoft-centric district, I shared this with the staff, too, and more importantly, will be sharing it with students.

 

P.S. And someday, I dream of this level of collaboration and professional growth:

Be The Change

but for now, I’ll just keep on keeping on.

 

*Warning is too strong. How about one of these?

 

auguring, augury, forecasting, foretelling,predicting, prediction, premonition,presaging, prognosticating, prophecy (alsoprophesy), prophesying;

 

apprising,informing, notification, notifying, tip-off;

advice, counsel, guidance,recommendation, suggestion, tip;

announcement, declaration

Posted in Summer Series of Saves

Saving Summer: Just what I needed…

https://www.cultofpedagogy.com/concept-attainment/

This seems like a fancy way to do “one of these things is not like the other” but hey, if calling it a ed-psych term like Concept Attainment Strategy makes something cool palatable, then by all means! What a cool idea when I use images in lessons, this idea will really help when teaching theme. Good stuff: saving!

 

 

Posted in being a better colleague, Being a better teacher, Big Questions, Design Thinking

"Fear less, build more."

This post is dedicated to my crazy teacher friends who try everything they can to help our students, even at the expense of their colleagues’ goodwill. Based on a recent email thread, we’re all trying so hard, but we’re trying too hard alone.

That has to change.

Do you have departmental/content issues? Does the history department turn up their noses at the math teachers or is the elective crew treated like a tertiary annoyance? Supporting our colleagues is more than bringing in a few shoeboxes and glue sticks. It requires deep, drilled-down communication and understanding, and allows for every department to support and connect with one another. Of course, an administration is an integral part of an overall vision: communicating to staff may require multiple messages, reminders, little check-ins of how the vision is progressing once the vision has been shared. It doesn’t mean lockstep. It doesn’t mean one size fits all. It doesn’t mean one ring to rule them all, either. Throw that garbage in the fires of Mordor and carry on, Samwise.

It does mean that departments are talking to one another, and know an overall vision of the school Like other PBL projects before, the Zombie unit was the 8th grade ELA department’s attempt, and we learned a lot. We have some refinement to do, and it was clear based on all of us whose students had more time to dig in, whose students had someone helping with hands-on skills, and whose had lipstick “infection” marks on their faces and played tag (cough).

When everything is important, everything becomes jammed up: think of a school day more like well-run traffic and flow engineering, or flocking science: when kids can move with a flexible, responsive schedule, or when a big PBL project is being conducted, perhaps that is the day when there is a shift in time; better yet, they can go to each class and work and consider through that lens.

(Students are trying to avoid predators, after all–aka going to class.)

It’s going to require some brave teachers and administration to put aside egos and come to solutions that are best for students. We have the skill sets and the drive to do something like what Emily Pilloton does with her girls. We need to include all, however. I am wondering if we have the will. 

Can we build this together?

https://www.edutopia.org/article/changing-who-gets-make-world-tom-berger

Girls’ Garage’s slogan, “Fear Less, Build More” is an appropriate anthem for our times.

http://girlsgarage.org/

 

 

Posted in Being a better teacher, Reading, Reading Road Trip News, Summer, Units of Study

Because….books.

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FCultofPedagogy%2Fposts%2F1778388335511614&width=500

Love this idea from Cult (and am jealous of her cute little hair flippy-do)! To my ELA local peeps–if you have ideas about books we can share with a middle level/YA book club, I think we should do some home-grown discussions. One of our issues is the…

BOOK ROOM!

So…how about we take some time, meet over appetizers and beverages, and figure out just what do we have, what digital resources we have, how to get audio books, etc. for our students? Our best brains work better together, and mapping out what our students need and want (even if they don’t know it yet) would be invaluable. Consider yourself tagged!

 

Posted in Being a better teacher, Best Practices, Grading Practices

Grades gone wild…

The Keys @k.c.love

Cult of Pedagogy turned my attention to this fantastic post by Arthur Chiaravalli, “Teachers Going Gradeless.” 

Gratitude for my PLN for helping me stay fresh, excited and wise: things have been tricky at my school recently, and while we’re on spring break I am determined to relax, dangit. Refresh, Renew. All that good stuff. People are worried about me (turns out middle school girls and boys think I’m crying when I am having a hot flash–thanks, menopause). I was beginning to get a little worried about myself: have I taught them enough? Is testing going to be okay? Will the boy who won’t allow me to help him be a better reader be okay? Will that girl who has given up on herself understand that we won’t give up on her?

Perhaps this may be the simple answer to those complex, emotional questions: as we strive to allow for our students to be independent, the most obvious path is the timeless practice of self-assessment. Their emotional responses to learned helplessness and inner-dialogue of shame may be cooled by simply allowing them the space that they are in more control than they believe. 

Things on teachers’ minds must be washed and dried before break ends–otherwise, it’s not a break. So just in the nick of time here are some ideas about having students self-assess. Chiaravelli draws from the great minds of pedagogy:

Drawing on the research of Ruth Butler, Dylan Wiliam, John Hattie, Daniel Pink, Carol Dweck, Alfie Kohn, Linda McNeil, Linda Mabry, Maja Wilson and countless others, we are teachers who are convinced that teaching and learning can be better when we grade less.

For some of us, the word gradeless means to grade less, that is, limiting the impact of grades within the context of current constraints. Some are just trying to get away from toxic assessment and grading practices, like assessments with no opportunity to redo or retake or zeroes on the mathematically disproportionate 100-point scale.

Okay, cool. I have always allowed for redos, and never marked things down for being late, etc. Okay. Instincts without research don’t mean anything – so he provides the research.

What my grading practices are now:
  1. Non-negotiable assignments:
    • Weekly Vocabulary worth 50 points
      • If they don’t turn it in, it goes in zero and missing in Skyward.
      • They have one to two weeks to turn it in and receive full points. I never mark down work simply for being late, and never have.
      • Positive: Once they see they are in control of their non-negotiables and have choice and flexibility,  they get in a routine of learning and diving into new words.
      • Negative: Students still don’t understand that the zero, which is horrible but the only way they and their parents pay attention or get a notification, can be easily remedied by doing the work. I will ask other students in the class who have turned things in late and subsequently turn them in, and their grade changes, to share that with the class. In addition, I still need to track students down.
  2. Grading every two weeks as required.
  3. Grading assessments (especially the Common Formative Assessments created by our ELA PLC 8th grade as ‘no count.’
How are they evolving:
  1. I created a unit/module in Canvas called “Top Ten Things” for ELA. Its intended purpose allows for student flexibility: if they are done with something, they can explore ten lessons in a ‘flipped’ way.
    • Positive: Students who seek them out enjoy doing them as “extra credit.”
    • Allows for self-exploration and questions– great opportunity for metacognition and independent work.
    • Negative: Students have been confused — understandable. These absolutely require my guidance, and that’s fine. Another issue is students requiring more guidance than time allows. After the break this is something I will address.
  2. Provided a ‘create your own rubric lesson’ in the fall: this is a concept I plan on bringing back this spring after the break.
  3. Allowing students to assess student work—now that there is student work to share based on current projects!
Next level:
  1. Paraphrasing and crafting metrics and rubrics based on CCSS, standardized assessments (from the OSPI/SBA)
  2. Crafting choice projects/burning questions metrics based on CCSS
  3. Crafting and self-assessing on both low stakes and high stakes assignments they create and produce.
  4. Continuing to provide curriculum maps to students — visible checklists to help guide them.
Clarifying goals:

https://prezi.com/embed/1ellu5vq58bz/?bgcolor=ffffff&lock_to_path=0&autoplay=0&autohide_ctrls=0&landing_data=bHVZZmNaNDBIWnNjdEVENDRhZDFNZGNIUE43MHdLNWpsdFJLb2ZHanI0U2g5eFhjcE1ZRk9mSnJGSTNTVDV1eGlnPT0&landing_sign=ZFtrE6VaHccCxJZ8g4gkuFBLqF1sRzL0VePLAE8soME

The second finding comes from John Hattie (2012) whose synthesis of 800 meta-studies showed that student self-assessment/self-grading topped the list of educational interventions with the highest effect size. By teaching students how to accurately self-assess based on clear criteria, teachers empower them to become “self-regulated learners” able to monitor, regulate, and guide their own learning. The reason students never develop these traits is that our monopoly on assessment, feedback, and grading has trained students to adopt an attitude of total passivity in the learning process.

Let us all “grade less” so students can learn more. Just like in any creative pursuit, the linear qualities of rubrics do not have to constrain, but to guide.

PS Not sure where I found this:

This could be a good approach to student-created rubrics.

Update:

http://alicekeeler.com/2017/06/22/youre-human-not-assess-like-robot/

 

Posted in Technology

Information overload.

Copyright Learning Fundamentals
Copyright Learning Fundamentals

 

In a recent story on NPR, ‘Information Overload and the Tricky Art of Single-Tasking,’ there is a link to an Infomagical challenge–making information overload disappear. My relationship analogy with technology feels that the more tech I have/use, my lungs have de-evolved from breathing air to turning into gills. I am so submerged in this soup I don’t even know I’m swimming in it anymore. My focus is fractured to the point I may need to take drastic, heat-pressure methods to reform my brain cells into more granite-like thinking. Even this post is tough to write: I installed Grammarly, and it’s constantly green/red lighting my typing, editing as I go:

"No, I don't mean girls. I mean gills."
“No, I don’t mean girls. I mean gills.”

Chasing the purple dragon of ‘the perfect app’ is like lassoing a bubble. There’s always something new, shiny, and fleeting. In this post, I shall attempt to currate some old and new favorites. Some of these items are the equivalent to Russian nesting dolls– stacked inside one another.

Stopping the Noise:

Freedom– if you need time to turn off those ‘quick check-ins’ to Facebook, etc. install Freedom. It was recommended to be by a ‘real writer’ – someone who’s published multiple titles.

Big Lists:

Cult of Pedagogy’s post:

WriteAbout, Google Cardboard, Versal, Noisli, Formative, and Periscope.

I have used John’s WriteAbout, and have made attempts to get other teachers/district to use it too, but there have been obstacles. We are on overload right now, methinks. Maybe I’ll try again, because last year was crowded with others agendas.

As far as Versal goes, we are piloting Canvas, and have used e-learning. Personally I prefer UX designs like Versal or Edmodo better, but it any online platform seems fine.

Trying Out:

  • Screenshot–app for iphones and ipads — annotate, etc. screen shots
  • Screenchomp
  • AURASMA
  • Chomp–very silly–just entertaining

  • Talkboard–going to try this and record lessons
  • Gaia GPS/Topo Maps–cool way to look at maps

Already Love:

Student brought me food.
Student brought me food.

  • Word Swag- -makes pretty little posters from your photos
  • Snapseed–easy photo editing tools
  • Voila–easy screen recordings for lessons/flipped classroom
  • Dark Sky–well designed interface for the weather
  • Sky Guide–feel like you’re floating through the universe. I get vertigo when I point it at the ground and realize there’s only the earth between me and the universe.

Who am I kidding? I’m not qualified to curate diddly-squat at the moment. During this time, not only do I have Grammarly spying on me, but the laundry is on repeat wrinkle-guard, I’ve read 5 articles on the supreme court issue and new appointee, hit the like button on a few Facebook posts, changed to jammie pants (it’s mid-winter break), watched Principal Gerry videos, sent one email, and thought about “all the stuff I have to/want to do” over break.

Sigh. Maybe it’s time I take the Infomagical challenge, too. I did go to a good, solid old-fashtion art supply store the other day near the UW campus when we met our older son for lunch. It was like going through a time machine for me. I did end up with a box of goodies to take back to the classroom, but even creative-crafty stuff requires focus:

IMG_2234
Annotated with Screenshots

 

And of course, who doesn’t need a plague mask?

IMG_2233

Maybe that’s what we need: plague masks filled with herbs to keep us focused on single thoughts, doing them well and mindfully. Let me go find some paints, brushes, and oh look a text…

…time to use one of my 12 list making apps and start checking stuff off.

Ultimately, what is all this used for? To keep me engaged as well as develop engaging instruction–that’s it. If it doesn’t suit those purposes, perhaps it’s time to tech-purge.

Posted in Being a better teacher, Best Practices, Big Questions

The core.

core of apple

 

Whereby I confess my most egregious professional sins and meditate, lighting candles to Grant, Wiggins, and Burke, in order to get my head back on right. And a favor: please do not make assumptions about where I’m going with this, and be honest with yourself–it is a rare human who’s never experienced a pang of professional jealousy, or ‘me-too-itis.’ 

This may be my new favorite teacher-writer: http://www.cultofpedagogy.com

And yes, she takes a great headshot. 

Dang, I am jealous. Straight up. Confessing. Green monster. Yuck.

But…this is when I get things moving forward again.

Jennifer Gonzalez writes the blog, Cult of Pedagogy and I’m having one of those ‘where has this been all my life?’ moments. Writes posts that I wish I had written, says the difficult things I wish I was brave enough to discuss. But now I’m going to lay it out on the table – one of her posts resonated so deeply for me this year, it is a mental grout of my brain tiles. (Oof- that is a horrible metaphor. Sorry. Told you I was off my game.) In her article, Gut-Level Teacher Reflection, she asks five intense questions that dig deeply into our constructs of what and who we are. 

1. Look around your classroom (or picture it in your mind). What parts of the room make you feel tense, anxious, or exhausted? What parts make you feel calm, happy, or proud?

2. Open up your plan book (or spreadsheet, or wherever you keep your lesson plans from the year) and just start browsing, paying attention to how you’re feeling as your eyes meet certain events. What days and weeks give you a lift when you see them, a feeling of pride or satisfaction? Which ones make you feel disappointed, irritated or embarrassed?

3. Take a look at your student roster. What do you feel when you see each name? Which names make you feel relaxed, satisfied and proud, which ones make your chest tighten with regret, and which ones make your stomach tense?

4. Mentally travel from classroom to classroom, picturing each teacher in the building. What are your feelings as you approach each one? Which coworkers give you a generally positive feeling, which ones are neutral, and which ones make you feel nervous, angry, or annoyed?

5. Look at the following professional practice “buzzwords.” As you read each one, do you have positive, negative, or mixed feelings? What other words have you heard a lot this year that give you a strong feeling one way or the other?

  • technology
  • differentiation
  • data
  • research-based strategies
  • Common Core
  • higher-level thinking
  • flip

Okay, let’s see: No. 1 – yes, my room needs some deep purging. I can do that. I may even go in this afternoon. Many best laid plans of conferencing areas, writing nooks, and comfortable reading and discussion areas fell by the wayside.

No. 2: With the directives I was given this year I learned some tough lessons. Be careful of other’s visions if the vision is embedded in negativity. Never again will I miss the subtext of someone who is inherently a doomsayer and offers little or no insight or collaborative, positive steps forward. I know and have proven I know time and again what engages students, how to embed purpose, relevance, and authentic self-esteem in constructing knowledge.

Moving on.

No. 3: What causes me anxiety is when I know, with clarity and dismay, that many of my students don’t receive the services they require, even though I pound loudly at the admin door. There is a lot of rhetoric, but not much action, and occasionally I feel I end up mocked for my efforts to try to get children real and true help. Recognizing this is one of my core values serves my efforts to continue to make as many connections with parents as possible. That’s the only way when leadership isn’t available.

No. 4: Ah, coworkers. Yes, there is one or two that cause me anxiety, but overall, my colleagues are amazing, supportive, intelligent and wise, and I know they feel the same about me. I only feel anxiety when I think I’m being compared unfairly to a new rock star on the block, and not being seen for who I am. This, to me, is one of the sins of administration –playing favorites. It was said to me, “Why don’t you teach like so and so? ” this year. That is the mark of a dysfunctional leader.

No. 5: Buzzwords? Not a problem.

There is another fuzzy-monster I need to squash. I have been honored to know John Spencer for approximately 6 or 7 years in a virtual collegial dialogue. He recently announced he’s leaving the classroom to become a professor, a trajectory I thought I might be able to do years ago.

Here’s the thing: he is amazing, creative, and has gotten out there and made it happen. He created lectures, presentations, blogs, websites, books: created and produced his dreams with the love of his family and friends. That is how it’s supposed to work. Now I am doing some hard thinking about my own trajectory, and what I want, need, and where I can provide the greatest service for students with my strengths. 

What derails us, and how do we get back on track? Well, perhaps, for me, when I am not brave or honest, or forgive myself, with grace, when life events take precedence over the perfectly-planned lesson or the standing ovation observation. I give a lot of myself to my husband, sons, and students. I am greatly looking forward to this summer when I can nourish my own creativity and purge the unnecessary or cumbersome. Funny, ‘cumbersome’ does not come in the form of too much paper or outdated files, but in emotions: it’s time to clean up any residual mental mold, and be proud and happy I know such wonderful colleagues, and they know me. 

ripe red apple with green leaf isolated on white

To summer!

PS Next post: my reading list…