NCCE 2018

What a fantastic week of learning and connecting in Seattle at NCCE 2018!! As I was telling my friends earlier this week, I’ve changed my mindset when it comes to going to conferences and it is definitely paying off. I have stopped going to conferences to learn new things and started going to learn MORE about what I’m already doing. When planning my week this week, I picked the sessions and workshops that I attended by first searching for members in my PLN and looking to see what they were offering. My friends Traci Piltz, Ann Brucker, and Sylvia Duckworth were offering some fantastic sessions on things that I’m already implementing in the classroom like Classkick, Badging/Gamification, and Sketchnoting. It’s amazing to see how others are using the same things in their classrooms. I love picking up new ideas, tips and tricks that I can use next week without having to roll out an entirely new app or concept. Normally after conferences I feel overwhelmed with all of the new things I want to try in the classroom. But this time instead of feeling overwhelmed, I feel inspired and excited to take what I’m already doing to the next level!

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Lemonade for Sale!

IMG_0918I’ve been a third grade teacher for 10 years now. As I look back on my years of teaching, I think about the many changes and improvements I’ve made. Some years more than others, some units more than others. This year as I was preparing to teach a unit on economics in ELA and math, I thought about how I have done it in the past. We have designed new inventions, read about businesses and even created commercials for our inventions. It was great, but as I was reading “The Wild Card” by Hope and Wade King, I was inspired to start imagining how I could take something I’ve done for years and kick it up a notch. How can I take my own interests and creativity and go all out for my students?

One of the stories we read during the unit is called “Lemons and Lemonade” which lends itself perfectly to some Lemonade Stand project based learning. Not knowing where to start, I Googled “Lemonade Stand projects” and came up with links to Pinterest and Teachers Pay Teachers. I found a fantastic Lemonade Stand PBL on Teachers Pay Teachers which you can find here: Lemonade Stand. I really liked what she had and used many parts to help me design and create a project that was specific to my students. I also wanted my students to be creating a lemonade stand business to sell to investors instead of just selling lemonade.

When I introduced the project to my students, they were incredibly excited! I decided to have them choose their own groups of three for the project. We talked at length about our strengths and what we can bring to a group. We talked about choosing partners who have complimentary strengths and students that they can get along with. Once they chose, I could tell that a little over half of my class actually listened and made good choices and the other half did not. In the end, I’m glad that I let them choose. The ones who chose wisely did a great job and the ones who didn’t got a bit of a natural consequence for their choice. I will admit, I LOVE when my students experience natural consequences…and learn something from them!

Once the students were in groups, they developed their business name and logo on a piece of paper. Then using one of the pages in the above Lemonade Stand PBL pack, they started drawing out a plan of what their model stand would look like. That same day during math we spent time looking at the supplies needed to run a lemonade stand, the cost involved, and the amount needed to get our businesses up and running.

The next day they had to draw the model of the stand and label what they were planning to use to build it. Knowing that we would be building our stands the next day, my students asked if they were allowed to bring in their own materials. Not knowing how it would work out, I said yes and hoped for the best. When my students came in the next day I was shocked to see all kinds of supplies!

I set out a bunch of random supplies from my own cupboard, gave them very few instructions, then let them loose. It was a noisy and productive day in our classroom! Some students got to work right away having planned everything out the day before and agreed on their plan of action. Others had a more difficult time getting started. They either couldn’t agree on what/how they were going to build or they just didn’t know where to start. Eventually everyone was able to build something that first day. I had only intended on having them spend the one day building, but after reflecting on the difficulty some of them had, I decided to have them revisit their stands and make changes and adjustments to it the next day. I also had them include any iterations on the drawing of their stands as well.

This extra day of building actually gave me a fantastic opportunity to sit down with each group individually and look at their supply list. I helped them to copy it to their financialIMG_1505 plan and got to have conversations with them about adding other products to their stands in order to be competitive. We talked about cost and capital, setting prices and profit. It was so much more valuable to have these discussions in small groups where we were able to talk directly about the items their individual teams were selling and how their decisions would affect their businesses.

The next week we started working on our posters. We talked about the design of our posters, what makes a good business name, and why a simple but bold logo is important. Students worked together to draw a smaller version of their poster on construction paper before getting a piece of poster board for their final product. This team did a particularly great job naming their business and designing their logo!

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As kind of an after thought, I decided to have my students “buy” and factor in the cost of supplies to build their stands as well. I wanted them to have a complete business plan for IMG_1498 2investors when they came in. I also wanted investors to see the total capital it would take for each business to get started and be able to invest in a complete package. So, we spent math that day deciding upon materials and calculating the cost of building our lemonade stands… assuming that we build them ourselves and don’t have to pay for labor!

Students were given a folder with their team’s name on it to keep their work in as we went through the process. From start to finish, our lemonade stands took 8 days during both ELA and Math to complete and present.

On the last day it was time to present to our investors! Staff from my school, administrators, and board members were invited to come to our classroom to be our investors. I created a rubric using much of the rubric I had found in the Lemonade Stand PBL pack I linked to in the first paragraph. This rubric gave investors an idea of what toScreen Shot 2018-01-26 at 7.44.36 PM look for in our businesses and presentations. When investors walked in, they got a clipboard with a rubric and $60 (4-$10 and 1-$20 to disseminate how they choose). As a class we discussed what it looked like to be professional. We talked about and practiced shaking hands and introducing ourselves before investors came in. We also rearranged the classroom so that all stands were in a circle around the room and investors had plenty of room to walk from one to the next.

Investors had about 45 minutes to come in whenever they had some time, look at the lemonade stand models and posters, and ask the business owners questions about their business. I was so grateful for such a willing staff who took time out of their lunches and busy days to come and support my students! The kids were so excited to share their work with past teachers, future teachers, IA’s and even our principal! It’s funny but I learned that teachers do not make the best investors! There were 9 groups and each investor only got a total of 6 bills to hand out. Many teachers came back asking for more money to invest but I had to turn them away! “But they all did such a great job!” they said but…I still denied them. 🙂

When the investors left, teams were able to count up their investments and find out if their business was fully funded or if they are still in need of money to get started. In the end, our team with the most investment received 100XP each (as part of our gamified classroom) and had more money than they needed for their business to get off the ground! We ended the day with a glass of lemonade and a toast to all of our hard work!! IMG_0916

UPDATE: Here is a link to my Google Drive with any images or docs/sheets that I created for this project. Feel free to use any or all! https://drive.google.com/file/d/1KL_iyMxs36fpzjYhdfTEv9u_0rhf_6D2/view?usp=sharing

92 Days of #EduSnaps Later…

I had no idea how far my idea would go when I came up with #EduSnaps last summer. I knew that personally I needed a new and more consistent way of reflecting and that I needed to make a change but I was not expecting how deeply it would change me as an educator. Almost 100 days later I have learned so many things about myself both as a person and as an educator through my commitment to these daily reflections.

 

  • I can actually decide to do something and stick with it. I tend to have a short attention span for things. Especially when it’s something that does not have meaning to me or I cannot see good use for it in my classroom (or life). EduSnaps has proven to not only keep my attention but be extremely meaningful to me and my classroom. One of the driving forces has been the community that is growing around #EduSnaps on twitter and the members of my PLN who look forward to my snaps as I look forward to theirs everyday.
  • Consistency increases the efficacy of my reflections. Before I started EduSnapping, my reflections were mainly in my head. If I reflected through blogging, journaling, or in conversation, it varied in quality and consistency. Over summer, winter, and spring break I would pick up my writing or blogging only to lose it again when school started and life got hectic. Although I appreciate and value the conversations I have with other educators, occasionally I found that I wouldn’t be as introspective as I would like as the time would be cut short or we would move on to chatting about something else. Through the last 90 days I have not only been able to reflect on my day but on previous days watching my journey and telling my story as I go. With consistency I have been able to reflect on my reflections (I call it meta-reflection)  and further their effect on myself and my classroom.
  • Reflecting increases my creativity and ability to innovate. Asking myself how I can make my lessons better on a daily basis has helped me to become more creative and innovative in my lesson design. As an elementary teacher, I don’t have the opportunity to teach a lesson multiple times in one day or a week. Before going back to get my masters, I worked in a middle school and I loved how my lesson would develop as the day went on. First period would sometimes be a mess but then I would reflect and adjust only to make my lesson better in second period. At the elementary level, it can sometimes be a full year before I teach the same lesson again. Through daily reflection, I’ve been better able to take what I have learned or ideas I have had and transfer them to other lessons throughout. It has increased my creativity in the classroom and encouraged innovation in many areas of my life not just education.
  • Social Reflections benefit myself and others. To be honest I was hesitant at first to put myself out there and reflect publicly. It is a scary thing to put your struggles and pitfalls out there for others to see. I knew the that it would be beneficial to do so and yet it was still difficult. As the days went by, however, it got easier and easier to be real. When I struggled my PLN was there to help me get back up. They gave me ideas and feedback in times when I was stuck. And they celebrated with me when things went well. Sharing our reflections, through both struggles and celebrations, we can let others know that they are not alone, give them encouragement, and become more effective in the work we do.
  • Telling my story. “Stories can become the fuel to innovation in education.” ~George Couros. I have heard the call to telling my story over and over again. In fact, recently I was listening to Dave Burgess on the StartEdUp podcast and he said that it is, “our moral imperative to share our stories.” I’ve seen it over and over again through the amazing manifestos written by fantastic educators and the power of sharing on Twitter. I’ve seen how others have shared their stories through their videos or blogs and have tried to make myself fit into those molds. To be honest it felt like sticking a square peg in a round hole. Those ways just were not working for me…I wasn’t being authentic to my story. When I started #EduSnaps, I had only intended it to be a quick, visual, social way to reflect. But now as I look back it has been so much more than that. It has been my story. Told one day at a time. One victory, one struggle, one laugh….telling my story, my way.

 

Check out all 92 days of my #EduSnaps here:

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Recharge Your Reflections using #EduSnaps on Twitter! https://twitter.com/search?q=edusnaps&src=typd

#EduSnaps through the year
Please consider voting for my session “Recharge Your Reflections!” and sending #EduSnaps to ISTE 2018! https://conference.iste.org/2018/crowdsource/proposal_detail.php?sessionid=111109019 

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Stop Dragging Dead Bodies

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I’ve been a go-getter in professional development for many years now. I love getting my hands on blogs, webinars, classes, books, anything that will help me to be the best teacher that I can be for my students. I think one of the best parts of our job is that not only do we get to work with kids but we get to learn and share that learning with others. A few years ago, I found myself really getting excited about sharing what I have learned with my colleagues. I started sharing at local conferences and did sessions during our back to school week. That sharing grew into being what our district calls an EdTech Teacher Leader. Basically what that means is that I get to share what I have learned and what I’m doing in my classroom with other educators in our district. I was thrilled about this opportunity. I could not wait to tell everyone who would listen about all of the amazing things happening in my classroom.

At first, teachers listened excited to find out what they could do with the newly purchased iPads we had in our classrooms. This lasted for about 6 months and then many started to taper off. Some stayed. I think mostly because they liked me and wanted to support me. But most got bogged down by the day to day and went back to their classrooms to do the few tricks they learned along with everything else they’ve been asked to do.

As teacher leaders we have explored many avenues to reach our educator learners but time after time we would find that we were putting in a lot of effort with few if any people showing up. This summer we sat down and came up with a plan to revamp our entire approach to our EdTech PD. With not all administrators fully on board and time being ever fleeting, we decided to take our PD online and make our face to face time very flexible and personalized to the educators who show up in order to better value their time and ours.

We are currently only two weeks in so I can’t say that it is a success or not yet. But I just can’t shake this feeling I get when other educators don’t get as excited about teaching and learning as I do. It’s really a difficult feeling to describe. Maybe a mix of disappointment, sadness, loneliness, and…..a yearning. A yearning for others to come on this fantastic journey with me. I just can’t shake it.

Today as I was chatting with my friend Tisha (@tishrich) at a local meeting about this exact thing, I started to think about my journey into the educator I am today. I remember the days (only 3 short years ago) when I was not active on twitter. I remember when the last time I had read a professional book was years before when I was in college. I had to make a change in order to become the learner, collaborator, and connector I am today. I Dragging the bodieshad to stop carrying the baggage of the old way that I did things before I could pick up something new. I had to to stop dragging the dead bodies of lack luster teaching and learning behind me so that I could take on the innovative practices in front of me.

This was such a breakthrough for me. I really hadn’t thought that far back in my journey to really get that perspective. And that’s what my PD plan really needs. I need to step back with my teachers and help them to take things off their plate before I can ask them to take things on. I need to help them find the things that are time wasters and joy suckers.  Then teach them how to leverage technology to free up their time and energy for the amazing and innovative things happening in education today. 

 

What I Learn from Learning

Have you learned something new lately? You probably have. You learn something new everyday, right? As an educator I have learned so much from being connected on Twitter and reading books like “Kids Deserve It” and “Lead Like a Pirate”. I value the learning that comes from these amazing resources but the information I gain is not the only value that comes from these opportunities to learn. Every time I learn something new, I have a chance to learn more about myself as a learner. As an educator this information is invaluable. When I know what kind of learner I am, I can become more aware of the type of teacher I tend to be. It makes it easier for me to put myself in my students shoes as learners and design lessons that will better meet their needs.

I absolutely love the winter holiday break each year not only because it is a nice time to relax and spend time with family but I also get enough time to pick up something new. I’m truly a learner at heart and take as much time as I can to learn on a regular basis but taking on a new endeavor is just not possible during the normal hustle of school. During break this year I decided that I was going to learn how to crochet a hat. I’ve known how to do a basic single crochet since I was young but that’s all the further I ever got. I tend to have a short attention span for things and as such have a box in my closet of half made scarves with their attached balls of yarn. So when I got out my crochet hook and yarn, my husband rolled his eyes at me and laughed. What half made thing would I make this IMG_0626year? If you know me at all, that comment did nothing to deter me. In fact, it made me even more determined than I was when I began. This endeavor was not going to end up half done in that box!

I didn’t grow up in the age of YouTube so my use of YouTube as a tool to learn new things is not as natural as it is for some of my younger friends. When I want to learn something new, YouTube is not my natural go-to so it amazes me every time I am there to learn. You would not believe the amount of people who have videos just on how to crochet!! It’s fantastic but also a little frustrating. Again with the lack of patience kicking in, I did not want to spend forever digging through hundreds of crocheting videos. This is where my search skills came in handy. I knew exactly what I wanted, that it needed to be basic, and I wanted it to be done by someone who had a lot of followers so I knew there was a better chance that it would be good.

IMG_0619After a lot of watching and rewatching, I learned how to do two new different crochet stitches and successfully completed two hats! During the process of creating the first one, I realized about halfway through that I had messed up a stitch somewhere. I had a choice: unravel back to where I messed up…if I can find it OR keep going and hope that I can fix it. In the spirit of impatience and not wanting to get discouraged, I powered through and made it work ending up with a hat that fit my daughter perfectly! (I would have loved to post a cute pic of her with the hat on but…..she’s four…..and was not wanting to cooperate…but, here is the finished hat!)

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So what have I learned about myself as a learner? I’m determined, I need visual not just auditory instructions, I am very kinesthetic and learn way more from doing. I am also a very impatient learner. I don’t like spending a ton of time discovering things. I want to learn how to do it and have a product to show for it. Now that I know this about myself, what next? As I go forward creating and designing learning experiences in my classroom, I will need to be intentional about allowing time for discovery and processing. I need to remember to write down the process and not just say it or show it. I also need to be more patient when it takes students longer to get started or to complete their finished project. Things that I may not be as aware of because it is not my style but may be very important to many of my students and how successful they will be or feel that they are in my classroom. 

 

Recharge your Reflections

#EduSnaps through the yearNew Years is just one of those times of the year that lends itself to reflection. So…what better time to recharge your reflective practice than January? This past August I finally devised a way to reflect in a way that was sustainable, social, and not time consuming. I called them #EduSnaps. You can read my post about how #EduSnaps came to be here: #EduSnaps Challenge! Since then I have spent 75 days reflecting in this manner and it has changed my life, my teaching, and my mental space. Here are some of my favs:

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As we jump into the new year, it’s a great opportunity for us to recharge our reflections. Reflective practice is essential to innovation, creativity, growth, learning, and as a whole our profession. So why not reflect and grow together? Join the Recharge your Reflections 30 day challenge starting January 1st! Check out this video for more info and learn how to create an #EduSnaps on Snapchat!

**Special thanks to Tara Martin the creator of #BookSnaps and Tisha Richmond co-creator of #GratitudeSnaps who were a huge INSPIRATION for #EduSnaps! I highly recommend checking out Tara’s site for more info on #BookSnaps and creating snaps here: http://www.tarammartin.com/ I would also highly recommend following Tisha’s blog as well here: https://www.tisharichmond.com/ 

My #OneWord2018

Holy cow! Choosing one word for 2018 sounds like an easy task when in reality it is not. At least it hasn’t been for me. Last year after seeing the post about One Word from a fnothing-great-was-ever-achieved-without-enthusiasmriend in my PLN, I chose Enthusiasm as my #OneWord2017. Itwas an obvious choice for me at the time and totally perfect for this past year. But this last week as I saw tweetafter tweet with other educator’s one words, I started to reflect on this past year and look forward to the future. I had expected my one word to hit me in the face like last year’s did but this year made me dig a bit deeper than that.

I think the main reason I struggled with it so much this past week is because I am currently in a reflection and decision period. Lately I’ve really been trying to figure out my voice. What is my story? What do I have to share with the education world? What is the essence of my contribution to education? In answering these questions, I’ve had to be extremely reflective and prayerful. After a few days I finally landed on one word: INSPIRE! But it’s not just about inspiring others or finding inspiration, it was so much more than that. So after being encouraged by my amazing PLN, I made my own rules and created an acronym! Without further ado, here is my #OneWord2018: INSPIRE

IMG_1334I: Inspirit- I LOVE this word! It means to encourage and enliven others

N: Network- THE best thing that has happened to me as an educator is being connected. I want to continue to journey as a connected educator and encourage others to do so as well.

S: Synergize- One of my FAV Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey that basically means “the habit of creative cooperation”

P: Passionate- I am nothing if not a passionate educator and I love sharing my passion for education with others.

I: Innovate- Innovation is an opportunity to grow and sharing that innovation with others inspires them to be innovative as well.

R: Reflect- One of my biggest goals these past few months has been to be more consistently reflective while sharing those reflections with others….#EduSnaps!

E: Empower- Empower my students and others by unleashing voice and choice in the classroom and in leading professional development.

Watch out 2018, it’s gonna be quite the year!

Math Timeout

TIMEOUT

A few weeks ago I came to the realization that the way I was teaching math just wasn’t working the way I wanted it to. One of my goals for this year is to provide my students with better and more individualized feedback. I was finding enough time to meet with each of my students every day to give feedback on their work, but I was teaching with more direct instruction than I would have liked. I was also losing too many students during instruction. Which caused me to start giving more instruction than feedback in my 1:1 talks with students because they weren’t paying attention when I was teaching. Another issue I found was that I wasn’t doing the engaging project based math projects that I usually do. I started leaning too heavily on the curriculum and math stopped being fun for me.

RED FLAG!

That was the moment when I knew I had to do something! If it’s not fun for me, it’s not fun for them. So I went home and started brainstorming. Last year I had used a form of a math workshop to get more small group time in with a group of students who were really struggling in math. I used my structure from last year to create one that I thought would work for this year with the amount of time we now have allotted. The next day I came in and explained to my students that the way we were structuring our math time just was not working. I showed them the plan and told them that after a day or two of trying the new plan, I wanted them to tell me how they thought it was going. The first day was pretty rough which I had expected. It’s always difficult for students to learn new procedures and schedules.

HALF TIME

The second day went better but still didn’t feel right. At the end of that day, I sat my students down and asked them what they had thought went well and 

Student Voice

what needed to be improved. They really liked the time that they were getting to spend with me in a small group. They told me they felt that getting more individualized time really helped them to better understand the concepts. However, they did not feel like they were given enough time for their independent practice and peer tutoring. I was half expecting them to tell me that they wanted more time playing the math games on their iPad, so I was surprised to get such honest feedback! It was amazing to have this real conversation with my students and give them a voice in our math time. It just goes to show that when you trust your students enough to truly have a voice in the classroom, they will take it seriously and come up with innovative and valuable ideas.

THIRD QUARTER

That night I went home and redesigned our math workshop again. As I was working on our new schedule, I was reminded of a webinar by Seesaw on Design Thinking that we had watched the week before during CS Ed Week. (You can find this webinar here: Design Thinking Webinar https://youtu.be/Y6wdlakcM2E) In an effort to connect the process that we were going through and what we had learned just one week prior, I searched through my pictures I had taken that day and found their slide explaining the steps in Design Thinking.IMG_0322

BRINGING IT HOME- FOURTH QUARTER

When my students came back in from recess the next day and got ready for math, they were greeted with this slide on the board. We then had one of the greatest discussions on design thinking and how it can be used in so many areas of life, not just computer science. Light bulbs were going on everywhere and students were so engaged in the conversation! It was a way better use of time than the math lesson I had previously planned that day. For me it was a reminder to take those teachable moments and run with them instead of plowing ahead with my own plans. I’d call that a win!!

GAME OVER…OR MAYBE NOT…

Student Voice 2

After that day our new math workshop schedule was running smoothly and the best part was that my students were committed to making it work because they had a say in how it was created. That’s not to say that the game is over. It’s far from over. At some point in the near future, we will come across another problem we need to solve together. But this time we will be far better prepared to tackle it!

 

The “Buddy” Effect

IMG_3138Is it just me or is anyone else ready for the elf to go back to the North Pole already? My kiddos are 3 and 6 and they LOVE their elf on the shelf, Buddy. He showed up on December 1st and goes back to the North Pole on December 24th, thank goodness! At first my husband and I were having fun putting him in different places and different positions, then watching the kids find him in the morning. But…we are running out of ideas and have now made our kids cry more than once. One time Buddy took my son’s piggy bank, opened it, and had change all over the place. We thought it was hilarious, butIMG_5448 my son did not. We also found it funny to take my daughter’s dress up jewelry and dress up Buddy. Needless to say, this was grounds for a full scale break down by my daughter the next morning.

The elf hasn’t been all bad. It has solved our problem of getting my son out of bed in the morning! He is such a bear in the morning. Plus, he has a bunk bed so it’s close to impossible to literally drag him out of bed. One mention of Buddy the elf though and he pops out of bed in a flash! He just loves searching for Buddy and finding out what he’s been up to. It has been so nice not to have to drag him out of bed the last few weeks! He’s been especially tired and grumpy with all of the events and things going on so this has been a fantastic reprieve. I’ve also had fun looking up new and

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fun things to do with Buddy after the kiddos go to bed.

One night as I was standing on my kitchen counter hanging up a garland as a zip line, I started thinking about how I could take the “Buddy Effect” and apply it in the classroom. What am I offering my students everyday that gets them out of bed and excited to come to school? What can I do that builds anticipation for my students every morning? One of the biggest motivators for my students is our game. I have gamified my classroom and I will never ever look back. My students get so excited to find out what is happening in our game today. Will there be a side mission launched? Will they level up and get a new privilege that day? Will there be an opportunity to shoot hoops for XP? There are infinite possibilities when you gamify your classroom. The only limit is your own imagination! (Read more about how I have gamified my classroom here: Gamify Any Lesson, Class or Curriculum)

Creating anticipation in the classroom is one of my favorite things to do! I love to give them little clues or “brain homework” to think about before we start a new unit. I also love making trailers or teaser videos and then hiding the QR code in the classroom for students to find. But it doesn’t have to be that complex to build anticipation. A simple clue or some kind of prop is enough to get them interested and wanting to find out what’s going to happen next! For more ideas on how to create anticipation in the classroom, I would highly recommend reading Teach Like a Pirate by Dave Burgess!

The Buddy Effect in the classroom can have incredible long lasting results. It makes my

IMG_0253heart happy when parents tell me that their kids are excited to come to school. But, it can be wearing to keep up the pace and continue making school exciting for EVERY student in my classroom. Building relationships with my students is the first step in making this task more achievable. When I know my students, I can tailor the motivators to better reach individual students. I also find that knowing w

 

here to look for inspiration keeps me going even when my own motivation wanes. Looking for ideas on Pinterest, in blogs, and on Twitter means that I don’t always have to be the one creating ideas from scratch. I can take the ideas of others and adjust them to fit my classroom as needed. When I put in just a little extra effort to create the Buddy Effect in my classroom every day, my lessons are more engaging and my students are on board for anything!

 

 

The Perfectionism Masquerade

Is there such a thing as being too passionate? We all see it in the sports fan who dresses up make up and all for games, live posts about it on social media, and then, when their team loses, you can’t even be near them for days after. We see it in the people who are seriously passionate about politics, fashion, or even their job. But what happens when you are too passionate about education? Is it possible to be too passionate about education?

I’ve totally been there, poured my heart and soul into every part of education I possibly could. I thought that by putting all I have into every little piece, I would somehow be making education better for my students and my school. Oh boy was I wrong! By trying to be passionate about every facet of education, I took away from the one true reason I am there: my students!! I am and will always be extremely passionate about educating my students and giving them the best experience in school that I possibly can. With that said, that does not mean that I necessarily have to be passionate about every little thing that goes into education as a whole. I used to think that in order to be passionate about my students, I had to be on every committee, volunteer to take on extra responsibilities, and take on the political powers that be. I was determined to be passionate about all things education and…..I failed miserably. THANK GOODNESS!

Quote 2I came to the conclusion that what I thought was passion was actually my own perfectionism. I let my own personal need to be perfect in my job, to get accolades for being on committees, and be number one get in the way of what I was doing for my students. I was allowing my perfectionism to keep me up late obsessing over little particulars that had no impact on my students’ success and more impact on my own need to have things in order or have them done a certain way. Not only did my perfectionism take my focus off my students but slowly it started to burn me out. I was overworking myself, I was tired, and I was not feeling the joy that comes from connecting with students and digging into learning.

Being burned out is not a great place to be, but luckily for me I didn’t get so bad that I left the profession altogether. Which, by the way, happens all too often these days. I was taking my passion for educating my students and spreading it extremely thin. What I really needed was to take inventory:

What are my strengths?

What are the strengths of others around me?

What really lights my soul on fire and what are the things I do just because I’ve always done it or I need them to be perfect?
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Once I started to reflect, I recognized my need for others; their passions, strengths, and interests. I started to embrace my imperfections and learn from them instead of always trying to hide them. I have learned so much in the last few months as I have been more and more transparent with my students and the learning process I go through. It has been eye opening to see that when I release the pressure of perfection on myself it not only allows me to grow but others to grow around me.