Friday, February 27, 2015

What was the defining moment you decided to be a teacher? #YourEduStory

From an early age, I knew I wanted to teach. I had no idea what I wanted to teach, but I knew I loved instructing others. My brother can vouch for this.

Many times, I tied him up to the chair and forced math books upon him.

In third grade, I was lucky enough to join the class of a life-transforming teacher. She encouraged me to reach for the stars. It was that year, that I found my identity. I found confidence in things uniquely me. And, it is a year that I will never forget.

As the years went by, I fell more in awe of English, reading, and writing. So, it was only natural to me to choose to become an English teacher when I was a sophomore in high school.

However, what I didn't know at the time was that it was never about the subject for me. I loved English, but I loved teaching more. Therefore, after five years of teaching high school English, I switched to become a different teacher.

I can't say I ever had a defining moment that lured me into becoming a teacher. Rather, it was a series of shaping events.

As a K-12 student, I was shy. I was afraid to talk in school. I spent many of hours alone, dreading group work. However, from the outside, I was in the top of my class and a star athlete. But, I would get ill just thinking about going to school.

And, while, I had this urge to teach when I was in high school, I never thought I could do it. I knew talking in small groups was a struggle so, how could I manage talking and leading a class?

But, during my sophomore/junior year of college, I was impacted by several great teachers. Several empowered me and instilled that confidence in my abilities that my third grade teacher did. By the end of college, I was sharing my ideas. I felt bright. I felt empowered. I shined. I knew what I said was of value.

And, it was that feeling that I wanted to give to other students. I wanted to help students like myself shine. It's one of the most important things someone can do for another. And, though, my students have changed over the years, my goal is still the same - to make others shine.

Does it work all the time? No. But, it's my constant goal.

What's your defining moment?

Friday, February 20, 2015

Why I Do What I Do #YourEduStory

"People don't buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it" Simon Sinek - Why do you do what you do?

This is a great question that I wished we asked others more often - not just educators, but students. Too often we ask students to focus on a product or the WHAT, but we don't ask them the why. Why should you do this, Why is this important, Why is this relevant.

As educators, we need to ask ourselves this question often - why do I do what I do? And, we need to challenge students to focus on the whys: why do they do what they do. That is far more important than the whats.

At the end of the day, I am evaluated on what I do. However, how well I do that is greatly affected by why I do what I do. And, the answer is simple: I love it. I absolutely love teaching. I've loved it since I was a 7-year old girl, tying my brother up to the chair, and forcing him (a 4-year old) to read.

Image result for dennis the menace reading

What rubs off on others are the whys  - not necessarily the whats. Yes, I impact others because of my knowledge and understanding of various tools and strategies. However, it's the whys that capture them.

At our district, many teachers go to Capture Kids' Hearts training. And, I often see and hear teachers using technology as a substitute for the teacher. Though, I could go on and on this subject, I'll make it simple.

Technology engages kids and teachers capture kids. The is the difference between the whats and the whys. Technology is needed, but without the why, without the teacher, it does not have the same impact.

Why do I do what I do? I love to help others learn. In some ways, I enjoy facilitating that learning and, in other ways, I enjoy solving problems and coming up with new solutions. Teaching is problem solving.

Be the why to your students. Capture them.

Why do you do what you do?

Thursday, February 12, 2015

What is connected learning and WIIFM? #YourEduStory

So...I had to look up the meaning of "wiifm." Did you?

The best learning is connected. Learning on your own does not yield the same as what learning with your network does. I am as useful as my network. I know that I will never know every gadget, every new strategy, or every new idea. However, I lean on my  network to shine in the areas where I am not an expert.

Connected learning is one part learning from your network and the other part building your network. I've grown in my own learning as a result of my network. I can now help my teachers in a matter of minutes by simply "phoning a friend" or, in my terms - Google chatting, Hanging out, or "Slack"ing. My results are almost instantaneous and go beyond my own knowledge.

However, I am not of the belief that we need to define teachers' success by whether or not they are on Twitter, or have a large virtual learning network. Connected learning also includes face-to-face networks as well as implementation. I am exposed to some great teachers on a daily basis who help their students and fellow teachers grow, but they are not as connected in the 21st century meaning of the word. WE need to highlight these teachers. WE need to share their stories. WE need to learn from them.

So, my challenge each day is not falling into the "Twitter view" of teaching, but staying connected to everyday educators and everyday problems. That is being connected. It's a blend. It's moderation.

What's being connected mean to you?

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Learning in 100 words #YourEdustory

Today's #YourEdustory challenge: What is learning in 100 words or less? Now, that's a challenge.

Learning is sharing. When you share your story, you and others learn. When others share, both you and they learn. It's a wonderful cycle of sharing and learning. Learning is freedom and empowerment. When you learn, you are released into a new world of opportunities. It's like walking though the doors of Alice in Wonderland. It never ends...