Creating Opportunity #EDAD688

I feel strongly about using Twitter for professional growth.  Each day, I run across dozens of great ideas shared by amazing educators across the world.  Being involved with Twitter really has changed me professionally.

Every now and again, someone will share something short and to the point (which is the point of Twitter) that really changes my thinking about teaching and learning and what I can do to help improve learning experiences for students.

This quote made me have one of those moments:

Screenshot 2014-01-24 18.33.13

This quote really resonated with me in two ways.  First, this quote is something I’m realizing more and more the older I get:  If you have an idea, go for it.  It may be a risk, but isn’t it riskier to never know what might have happened if you didn’t try?

Second, and more importantly, this quote made me begin to think of how we can teach the kids we work with how they might be able to create the very opportunities they are waiting around for.  How many of our students are secretly wanting to start some sort of club?  How many are wanting to do a big project, but need more likeminded folks to help out?  What could we share with students to help them get going on their own big idea?

I’ve just started thinking about how I might help students advocate for opportunities.  Right now I have more questions than answers, but I might just start listening a little more closer to what kids are asking for to see how I might help them get there.

In Case of Emergency, Read This Book #EDAD688

I originally posted this story to HZN165. It’s one of my favorite stories from teaching, so I wanted to share it here, too.

Helping Kids Through A Bad Day

This afternoon, I was running 10 minutes behind the time I was supposed to be working with some students on responding to their reading through writing.  I had made a commitment earlier in the week not to let anything stop me from meeting with these students since that kept happening.

As I was getting nearer to the classroom (walking at a pace that is probably not allowable in an elementary school), I saw a student outside of her classroom showing signs of being frustrated.  Now, it’s not unusual for this child to get upset easily.  That’s just who she is.  So, against what I wanted to do, I stopped and asked, “Is everything okay?”

She blurted out her frustration and said, “I’m going somewhere else,” and headed down the hallway.

That’s usually not a good sign.  Not just for this kid.  For any kid.

I followed her and tried to get her to tell me where she was going, but all she said was, “I need to get outta here.”

At this point, I wasn’t quite sure what to do next.  I was worried that talking about what happened would upset her even more.  It turns out, a few kids in her class were reminding her not to use so much lip gloss in that kid-reminding-another-kid-sort-of-way (think poor choice of words and a negative tone of voice).

So I turned to the emergency, never-fail, guaranteed to make a kid laugh book, The Blue Day Book for Kids: A Lesson in Cheering Yourself Up, by Bradley Trevor Greive.  

I told her I have the perfect book for you.  She was interested and wanted to see what I was carrying on about.

It worked.

She loved relating to the different examples of blue days (and the funny pictures of animals, of course).

So if you ever find yourself in a situation where your child is too upset to think about anything but being upset, I highly recommend bringing out The Blue Day Book For Kids.

It works like a charm.

How do you know?

Two years ago, my principal and I were walking down the hallway, chatting about the day somehow the conversation moved to how I thought I needed to start grad school.

“Administration?” she asked with a smile.

No way,” I said without hesitation.

I’m sure I could have been a little more sensitive and said “maybe” instead of dismissing the idea completely, but it was something I had never considered. At the time, I had only been teaching for 4 years. I was very focused on improving my teaching and thought that focusing my grad school work on teaching and learning would be something I would enjoy. Administration wasn’t even in the picture.

But in that moment with my principal, a seed was planted. I started to wonder if leadership was a path I should take. Over the summer, a building leadership opportunity came my way. If I took it, it would mean less time in the classroom and more time working with small groups of students, working with teachers, analyzing data and coordinating testing. So, I did a quick pro and con list and decided to go for it.

I’m finishing up my second year in this position that I was fortunate enough to get, and I can firmly say that I’m glad I am going down this path. Leadership is a new found passion and interest. I’m one year into my educational administration program and I will be starting my principal internship this fall.  I would have never guessed I am where I am two years ago.  So, how did I come to realize building my leadership skills was the path I wanted to take?

  • I started following blogs and folks on Twitter that focused on educational leadership.
  • I reflected on what I am passionate about (student learning, innovative teaching, and building relationship) and made a plan for blending that into a leadership style.
  • I exercise and develop my leadership vision by speaking up and sharing my thoughts more.
  • I listen more and ask lots of questions.
  • I do want I can to remove roadblocks for students and teachers so they can act on their goals and passions.

All of this continues to help me know that this is what I want to do moving forward.  It gives me energy and the successes are addictive.  Honestly, I’ve realized that we are all leaders in our own right. Students, teachers, and parents are all leaders in moving a school’s progress forward.  I just needed time to look inward at myself and figure out just how far I wanted to take this path.

If you are wondering if developing your leadership is something you might be interested in doing, here are a couple of links to blogs that helped me realize building my leadership skills was the right path to take for me:

A “To-Be” List for Aspiring Leaders by Angela Maiers

Leaders Should Be Learners (video) by George Couros

Are You A Teacher-Leader? at Getting Smart

6 SIgns of a Natural Leader at SmartBlogs