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.


Positive Feedback

In my previous post, I discussed the first few pages of Quiet Leadership.  Again this book has continued to amaze me.  The section that really spoke to me is that leaders focus on accentuating the positive.  He discussed how much time the majority of us spend being rough on ourselves and beating ourselves up. Even more telling is the fact that the majority of people the majority of the time do not react positively to negative feedback. David Rock even suggests that we only probably get five minutes of positive feedback a year.

What really struck me was the science behind how our inner voice can prevent us from doing our best.  Every person needs positive feedback to help allow our mind to quiet the fear and self-doubt so we can have our best performance.  I fell in love with these questions and am pondering how to adapt them in my work.

  • What did you do well and what did you discover about yourself as a result?
  • What were the highlights of this project and what did you learn?
  • What went well and would you like to talk about how to do more of this?
  • What did you do well and what impact do you this had on everyone else?

The reason I love this is because as my own worst critic and really don’t need help to reflecting on the mistakes.   I need someone to help me focus on positives and help drive me to repeat the things that work.

My reading habits are unique and I tend to read about 3-5 different books at a time.  During this time, one of my other books is Feminist Fight Club by Jessica Bennett.  Her part two really spoke to me.  She discussed how so many women have a constant deluge of negative self-talk and how we may sabotage ourselves in the work place.  We down play our successes by humble bragging,shifting credit to others or feeling like an impostor.

I bring this up because as educators we are helping to create the inner voice of our students. We need to help create the habits of positive self-talk and celebrating  successes.  We also need to model habits that we would want our students to have  It is time for us to own our success and focus on creating more successes.  As leaders in school, it is important make sure that we are giving our teachers continuous positive feedback to help teachers become even greater.

I am challenging myself to start giving more specific positive feedback to others and to myself.  It’s time to create a revolution of positive feedback.

It's time to start a revolution of positive feedback.

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.




Lately, it seems like that word has been front in center in my work life.  I could also argue that it is also in private life, but I will focus on how it impact teaching.

Last week, we shared an article with our teacher leaders about the SCARF model of motivation by David Rock.  As we were talking about all of them, the A for Autonomy stuck with me.  It brought how the work world has changed and how team work is valued in the business world.  Also at EdCampIowa we had a session on Autonomy vs Systems of Learning.  I think this topic will continue to bubble to the surface because of the public vision of teaching.

Think about it.  How many teaching movies can you name? Now mark out the ones where it is a lone charismatic teacher against the system.  Do you have any left?  I didn’t have any on my list.  Think about the not so recent past of the narrative of one room school house.  This lone teacher narrative is the one society portrays.

On the other hand, the other narrative that can come out is that the teacher needs to be controlled and the curriculum needs to be teacher proofed.  Just read some of the headlines around the country.

Both of these narratives do more harm than good.  I propose that it is time for a shift.  We need each other to be the best teacher we can be.  In his article, David Rock suggested that people will give up their some of their autonomy because they receive other rewards.  I will give up my some of my  autonomy to work with other teachers.  I know that I will gain status because my work will improve and gain a sense of community because I worked others.   All in all it is time for Hollywood to make a movie about a school that comes together to help all students learn.

Hero of the Month

On Thursday evening, I drive my son to soccer.  It’s becoming my favorite day of the week because of the conversations we have.  For example this week’s topic was First Friday.  He discussed all of the ins and outs what happens.  Then the conversation drifted to who would be the Hero of the Month.  He discussed that the hero got to eat pancakes, have their photo taken and have the whole school  hear about how good they are.  My son in a sad voice said, “I hope I am the Hero.”   I replied, “I hope you are too, bud.”  After that I asked how do you get to be the Hero.  My son just said you have to be really good.  I also prompted him to ask his teacher what could he do to be the Hero.    He replied,  “I wouldn’t want to do that it might take away from a friend who was working hard too.”

I bring this up because I became nervous about my role in these moments in the car of other parents.  Did they have the same reaction I did or did they blow it off?  Consider these questions:

  • Are your teachers using the same standard for selecting the students?
  • Can your students articulate how they can achieve this award?
  • Do students who do not achieve this award given feedback?

I would have never considered how the award impacts the other students.  It is important to highlight outstanding students, but we need to be sure that the answer is Yes to the questions above.

So Friday has come and gone.  My Little Man was not the Hero of the Month, but he is the Hero of our House.