Dear New Teacher

This is my response to the final DCSD Blogs challenge: Advice for new teachers.  A huge shout out to Liz Mastalio for organizing this challenge.  

Dear New Teacher,

You have entered a noble career, and I am glad you joined us.  We have been waiting for you. No one will teach just like you. You will reach a student that none of us could. You will come up with your original ideas.

I encourage you to find a tribe of diverse teachers that inspire and push you to grow. Twitter is a great starting point to help you find that tribe. Create systems that help you learn because it is our job to be the lead learner in your classroom.

People will tilt the head and tell you how noble of you to be a teacher. They will also say how nice it must be to have summers off. At dinner parties, you will have to describe how not all schools are broken. It will be worth it when you see your students succeed.

Please realize that parents are sending their hopes and dreams. Treat each student as if they are your own child.

I won’t lie all days will not be sunshine and roses. To support you on the hard days, create a habit gratitude. When we become thankful, we find that rain brings rainbows. Spend time lifting up others because it will lift you up as well.

Again, I am so glad you decided to teach.  We need you.


A Veteran Teacher


All Mistakes are not Equal

This week’s DCSD Blogs prompt was to talk about a mistake I made this week.  I have been chewing on it all week.  I automatically thought that my post would be similar to this one I wrote a few years ago; instead, the world turned my head differently.

I poked my head to into #BMoreedchat on Wednesday and followed a conversation about mistakes and the types of mistakes. (Thanks for the invite Jon Harper.)  This article clearly explains the four types including stretch and sloppy mistakes. The first thing I realized that I treat every mistake as a high-stakes mistake when in reality my mistakes fall all over the board.  When I treat every mistake the same, I don’t give myself the opportunity to learn from all mistakes. If you have been a faithful reader of mine, you probably can imagine my response if every mistake is high-stakes.

During the next few weeks, I am going to try this response to my mistakes. First, take a deep breath and then categorize the mistake.  If I make a stretch mistake or Aha-moment mistake, I will work on celebrating and learning from them.  If not, I will not panic, and I will work more on being intentional. I will be realistic about how many mistakes are really high-stakes. I cannot be the risk taker I want to be if I cannot correctly categorize my missteps. Also, do I want others to treat all of their mistakes the same? I need to help model these skills for others including my own children.

Seasons (#DCSDBlogs Prompt 2)


This is my response to the #DCSDBlogs week two prompt: Teachers Learning from Teachers.

When I heard this prompt, I started to think about all the useful advice I had been given throughout my teaching career such as read your contract and have detailed procedures for turning in work. I could categorize most of the advice as technical, helping me do the act of teaching better. I have one piece of advice that transformed my career and my life.

This piece of advice was given to me about eight years ago. I was pregnant with my first child and very anxious about how I could keep up my workload and be the mom I wanted to be. I was in my tenth year of teaching and I would be the first one to admit I did not understand work-life balance. Carol calmly told me that careers have seasons and it can look different as your life changes. As I ended that school year, I stepped down as the sponsor of Science Olympiad and began to simplify my life to prepare for my little man.

Over the following couple of years at my school, I learned what it meant to be on a team. When my son was sick and I had been up all night, my colleagues helped me with sub plans. When we scheduled meetings during the day, we kept in mind my other obligations. Just because I was the last person to arrive because of day care arrangements did not mean that I was not prepared or giving it my all. I began to really understand the difference between must-dos and nice to dos. I took care of the must-dos first and then began the nice to dos.

Of course, the seasons change as I stepped into more leadership roles. For example, when I became a Master Teacher in my district, I found in the beginning that lack of balance came racing back. I stayed calm because I knew that this was a season of learning and a new season would come soon enough.

As time continued, I shared this wise advice as people struggled with the work-life balance. Thank you, Carol, for that sage advice.

What it Takes to Change

This is in response to the prompt: Write a post about how you used your time during spring break to become a better educator.

During spring break, I came to my own realization about change. The experiences really crystalized what is required for change.

I spent a large part of my spring break at my parent’s house. I stopped at a sausage store that I remembered more as a candy store as a kid. I can remember running to Stoysich and quickly buying candy before the bus left. When I walked in, I noticed that the meat counter had stayed the same, but the huge collection of candy had disappeared. I was a little upset. How dare they change?  So, what if it is over 20 years ago. The logical side of me knew it does not make sense to have a huge candy aisle when the nearby school had closed awhile ago. I quickly accepted it and moved on.

My second experience with change began a few years ago. My husband was reviewing something I wrote and said, “Oh, you are putting two spaces after a period?” I being the wise one said, “Of course, that ‘s the rule.”  My sweet husband tried to explain to me that the rule has changed.” During the following years, I proudly continued to add the second space believing that I was fighting the fight against the downfall of society. Fast forward to the Friday before Spring Break, I mention this to one of my colleagues and we were in agreement about the double space. Then this article about the double space appeared in my Facebook feed. I shared it and mentioned that this was something I was thinking about. One of my friends shared Jennifer Gonzalez’s post about the two space thing. After chewing it over, I decided it was time to change my habit and do it correctly.

Why two different responses to a change in the world?  I’ve come to realize the following things:

  • It’s easy to accept change when you doesn’t impact you. The change in the sausage store was sad, but it does not impact me day to day like the spacing does. Breaking this habit is taking time and a commitment from me.
  • The mind has to be willing to accept the facts. My husband and I have had these discussions about my double spacing for years. He explained the exact same thing these articles said. I wasn’t ready to adopt this change. This doesn’t mean that my husband wasted his breath for the last few years on this topic. It laid the groundwork for the change.
  • Be prepared that rational logical people fight change. I am not proud that it took this long to make a change. I know am more aware of my own blind spots because of this experience.

NOTE: I am work in progress, so I am still finding and replacing my double spaces. Excitingly, the number continues to decrease.



One Good Thing

This blog post is my response to the #DCSDBlogs challenge prompt: One Good Thing. Read more about the challenge here. The week has only begun so I reserve the right to change my one good thing. 

As I have previously posted, Friday was an amazing day. One of the powerful pieces was that I kept thinking I wish ____ was there. I was just talking about this with _____. What was even more exciting was the fact that size and variety of people I wished were with me. So dear readers, I thought I’d celebrate my PLN with a few quotes from that day!  -weekly menu-

Thank you dear readers and my PLN for always traveling with me.

BONUS: Here’s a pep talk about a pep talk.

Be the band you want to hear

Be the band you want to hear.

This is a line that I heard yesterday at the Wonder Workshop. This line has really resonated with me. Before I attempt to dig into that line, I want to talk about a string I feel has pulled me along this year.

  • First-I chose my #oneword-Matter
  • Second-My small faith read Mama Bear Manifesto and had the author(my dear neighbor) come talk to us. The chapter about doing the work that you can and don’t be someone else spoke to me. On the way home, I asked Leslie if see wanted to come with me to Wonder Workshop.
  • Third-I had the pleasure of Glennon Doyle Melton speak. She spoke about the power of being present and sitting with the pain. We need to not to press the Easy button to try to avoid it.
  • Finally-Leslie and I arrived at the Wonder Workshop where I met face to face two of my favorite educators, Karen and Allyson. If the day was only talking to these three wonderful women, I would have been thrilled. It was so much more.

As I read this line, I think about it in terms of my creation in the world. I need to write the blog I would want to read. I need to create a PD that excites me. I should create things that have value and meaning to me. It goes back to something that I heard Glennon say at her event.It is easy to be liked, but it is hard to be loved. When I create likable things, I am not necessarily pouring my heart into it and yet creations that are loved have my heart in it and they matter.

I just looked at my notes near that quote is are these 3 lines:

  • Work is love made visible.
  • We want to be wowed.
  • We want to care.

As I read these three statements, I think of a Facebook comment about one of my creations. She said, “Thanks for pouring your heart into this labor of love.”  It wasn’t as powerful as it is now. It also means that someone out there is waiting to be read, see or hear my creation and be wowed or prompted to care. This puts an enormous responsibility on me to show up and create.

The other line that I think all of us needs to hear is:

Be who you needed when you were younger.

Throughout the whole day, I could not stop and think my own children. Every time he described wonder, I remember another moment with my children or times in the classroom. As an educator, I am committing to seeing the wonder of learning. As a parent, I commit to enjoying the moments of wonder with them.

Thank you, Brad Montague, for creating a space for inspiration to take flight. Thank you, Allyson, for the invitation. Thank you, Karen, for hopping on the plane and showing up. Thank you, Leslie, for saying yes to something you usually say no to.


Advice: Is it useful?

My current read is giving me so much to think about.  The book is Quiet Leadership by David Rock.  He is also the author who inspired by previous post.  I am only 18 pages in and I have some action steps because it.  Join me in this journey as learn with this book.

The image below really spoke to me because my district is in the process of implementing the PLC process and have spent time talking about mission, visions and values.  I know some people are like “move on already,” but this image really gets to why we need to think about what lies underneath the surface.  Also if you focus on the results, you ignore all the other things, you won’t get anywhere because it is only the tip.


Another big take away is that no two brains are exactly alike.  It explains my frustration when I share space (physical or virtual) that needs to be organized.  So often, it takes me longer to find something because I have to figure out how the person was thinking when the put something somewhere.

Our environment literally shapes the physical nature of the our brains; therefore our brains are already quite different to each other’s at birth.

He therefore suggest that advice is useless because we are telling people what we do and it does not what they would do.  Below are two of my favorite quotes about this:

Highly successful, intelligent people are blind to the fact that they are trying to do make connections for people, assuming their brains are similar enough for this to work.

Doing the thinking for other people is not just a waste of our own energy; it also gets in the way of other people working out the right answers.

What does this mean for me in my role? What are my next steps?

I am going to work on not giving advice as if they are me. I want to ask questions to prompt thinking and let others make their own connections.  I am going to be observant as I work in reflective conversation with others.  Are they making connections?  Are they doing the thinking?

The other section I read was about how our brain uses experiences to hard wire our brain and these hard wires drive our perception.   I think this is important.  As leaders, we can change a person perception because it is his/her reality.  This hard wiring is double edged sword.  It allows us understand the information rich world with without being overwhelmed, but also allows us to defend our mental model against overwhelming evidence of the contrary.

Here’s a gem from that section:

Perhaps you have noticed that when we are for an idea we are more likely to allow tenuous links to become fact, and when we are against an idea we see even strong evidence as irrelevant.

So I could draw some connections for you, but remember I am letting others think and  draw their own connections.