The Hustle

Happy Labor Day, Dear Readers! On this day where we celebrate the work of labor unions to bring good living conditions, I wanted to talk about something that has been on my mind lately. I want to talk about teachers and second jobs.

I heard this on NPR yesterday:

GARCIA-NAVARRO: We heard from Christy Faymonville this week. She lives in Green Bay, Wis. – a single mom with two kids. One’s in the Navy, graduated and was valedictorian of her class. The others, still in high school. Christy is a teacher. She teaches math. But it doesn’t pay enough. And like almost everyone who called in, she told us a story of multiple jobs.

CHRISTY FAYMONVILLE: I work retail part-time. I waitress on the weekends. And I also tutor during the week. And during spring, I coach.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: The day she spoke with us, she was also a little hoarse from cheering at a high school football game, where she was also working security. Christy’s life is packed.

FAYMONVILLE: I wake up around 5:45. Then I’ll go to school. And I’ll get out of there at 3:45. And then from there, I usually have my retail job, which starts at 5 but really, really great boss. And sometimes if I have a meeting with kids as an advisor for different clubs, I’ll say, hey, I can’t get there till 5:15 or 5:30, and that’s OK. And then I’ll work till about 9, 9:30 and then come home and see if the kids need help with homework or what laundry needs to get done kind of thing.

Christy during this interview brought up that she is not the only teacher who does this and it is more common than you think. It also brings to mind the young teacher who volunteers to coach sports or take on additional duties to make ends meet. I bring all of this up because currently, we are in a culture that celebrates the hustle. We have podcasts and websites talking about the side hustle.  In reality, I want something different for teachers because we all deserve better.

Here’s what I want for my children’s teachers:

  • White Space-Time to reflect and think about teaching and learning
  • Enough money to pay the bills including the student loan payments
  • Time and money to explore their passions

Dear Reader, as I wrote that list, I realized that it was I wanted for my own children. We can’t ask the people who are in charge of educating our children to hustle to make ends meet. We wouldn’t want it for own children.


Opportunity to Learn

I was giddy with excitement that I had organized the day, so I could attend Common Formative Assessment. The teachers I support spent the previous day learning about it. A friend found me and made sure that I had a table of people to sit with it. I had opened my favorite note-taking tool. Everything was set for a successful day. Then I received some news. Throughout this training, I tried to stay in engaged in the learning.

Then I received some news. To me, in my world, it was huge. My plan for after school care fell through. I needed to problem solve and come through with a plan pretty quickly. Throughout this training, I tried to stay in engaged in the learning, and it was challenging. By the end of the day, I learned so much and extremely exhausted.

I tell you this story because this is the story of some of the students in our classroom. On a regular basis, students come to our classroom distracted and have the desire to learn. The battle I faced all day trying to remain present with my learning was exhausting. Here are some of the things helped me stay engaged.

  • Chris Jakicic made sure that she knew her audience and adjusted the learning for the people in the room
  • The content was meaningful, and I knew that I would be using it pretty quickly.
  • I had a team around me who knew me.

Aren’t these the same thing we would want for our students, learning that is meaningful and meets us where we are in a safe environment?

Day 2: It’s about the students

I will be spending the next two and half weeks leading(learning) professional learning for various groups of educators. I realize that great PD causes the leader to learn as well as the audience. I am committing myself to pause and reflect on what I learned.

Day 2:

Session: NIET Rubric Modules

My Big Ah-has:

  • 99.9 percent of our district initiatives are aligned and pointing the same way. I get goose bumps thinking about how they interconnect.
  • Keep the goal of any professional learning: what do we want to see in classrooms. I want to see these things in my children’s classroom:
    • Students owning their learning
    • Students knowing the target and figuring out how to meet it.
    • Teachers and students learning together.
  • It’s always about the students.

Tomorrow will be another awesome day. Looking forward to being inspired by the work of so many teachers, principals, and other leaders tomorrow.

Mrs Megan Morgan1


Day1: Never Stop Growing

Today the teachers have begun to come back. I may have been singing The Boys are Back in Town this morning. We welcomed back some of our teacher leaders. I will be spending the next two and half weeks leading(learning) professional learning for various groups of educators. I realize that great PD causes the leader to learn as well as the audience. I am committing myself to pause and reflect on what I learned.

Session: George Couros


My favorite moment: When he called me out for using the giant post-it notes. We do all this work, and then we never capture the notes from them. I can do better. I had a PD planned for next week, and I am adjusting to make better and resource for teachers. I saw several great ideas on how to engage a large audience. I will

My Next Steps: I had a half day PD  planned for next week, had being the key word. My goal is to get rid of the giant post-it notes. I plan on being transparent about my new learning and how I adapted it based on my new learning. If I don’t grow and apply my learning, why should I ask others to do it.

Thanks, George Couros for pushing me to grow!



Summer Reading

The Prompt: What have you learned, or participated in, this summer that has made you a better educator and that you may (or will) apply this coming school year as you work with students and staff?

As a constant reader, this summer, as usual, I stepped away from the normal educational books. Unfortunately, I read everything like it is related to school. So Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are was no exception. I could rave on and on about the book and how we are on the verge of a social science breakthrough because of big data. Instead, I will want to point out a couple of things that will affect at our schools.

  1. Surveys are completely fallible. So many times we ask teachers, students, and parents to take surveys and treat the results as gospel truth. The best results are anonymous surveys taken in a room alone with conditions to encourage honesty. He also points out that very often teens like to mess with surveys citing an adoption study with inaccurate reporting of adoption. He suggests that we are truthful in our Google searches, but elsewhere we may not be. The big takeaway is to think about how and who you are giving surveys to.
  2.  Social Media and other companies are doing massive studies to make their product even more addictive. It fascinated me that we are constantly being tested to see which change encourages us to click, play long or stay on the app. With this in mind, we need to be cognizant of how we spend our time. We also need to make our student aware the companies doing.
  3. Do not compare our insides (Google Searches) with others outsides (social media presence).  He laid out a clear case how we are honest when we are searching, but we are framing and creating a reality on social media. This is one to that we need to discuss openly and honestly with our students. I’ve become a pro at framing pictures so you don’t see the chaos behind my children smiling faces. Teachers are not necessarily tweeting about the mundane parts of the job instead we hear about amazing successes.  

So dear readers, do not panic if you did not follow the typical summer learning plan. Learning can come from anywhere.





The Problem with TV High School

I really am not much of TV watcher, but I do love Gilmore Girls. I own them all and tend to rewatch them often. I was recently watching season three, and a particular series of scenes really agitated me. During the second half of the season, Jess starts skipping school and working instead. When he finally went to buy his prom tickets, he was sent to principal’s office. There he found out that he was not graduating and had to repeat the year again. The principal in a disdainful tone said, “You mean the nine warning slips we gave you weren’t enough? All the meetings that I tried to set up between you and your guidance counselor, between you and me that you blew off, that wasn’t warning enough?”

Obviously, this is TV, and the Jess needed to leave, but I am bugged how the school was portrayed. This is how a school should work then or now.  So below is how I view how the school would function as a Professional Learning Community.

Stars Hollow High

  • Jess’s teachers use the PLC process and notice through formative assessments that he has mastered the standards quickly. As teachers plan their lessons, they start to discuss how to extend the lesson to challenge Jess and other students.
  • During the intervention period, Jess has a wide variety of extension opportunities as well as time to read his current book.
  • The counselor knows that he was in three different schools last year and informs his teachers about the impact on academics this could cause.
  • Jess is flagged by the data system to be discussed at the next Student Intervention Team meeting because he has missed five days unexcused. The team puts in place an intervention and monitors it. He will continue to be on the agenda if the intervention is not enough.
  • The school does not allow Jess to make decisions like skipping meeting that would impact his adulthood. They stop at nothing to make sure that Jess succeeds.
  • If Jess decides to leave town to chase down his father, the school makes sure that there is a plan for credit recovery.

As I lay out how a school would function, I wonder how many Jess’s are in our schools now. Does their school believe that ALL kids can learn and their actions prove it or does their school function like the TV show?  Every student deserves the later because the consequences are dire for the student otherwise.




My daughter over a year ago developed a fear of all slides and playground equipment. It was overnight when she went from climbing and doing feats of daring to having nothing to do with the playgrounds. I am sure that this was a logical developmental milestone, but it through me for a loop because she was daring and seemed not to be afraid of anything.

I know both fear and fearlessness is what has allowed us as a species to survive and thrive. Unfortunately, fear has been the driving theme lately in our lives. I could discuss the whole politics of fear, but I am going to avoid that topic. Fear is what paralyzes us from making a change that our students so desperately need. Fear is what allows us to argue for the status quo.

I’ve come to a conclusion how to combat fear. It is knowledge, skills, and sense of competency. I saw this transformation right before my eyes. My daughter over time came to realize that had the skills and ability to climb the rock wall and slide down the biggest slide. She realized that taking the risk of getting hurt was minor compared to the fun of slide and monkey bars.

So, my dear readers, I challenge you to take that risk. Get the knowledge and skills. I promise you that it is worth it.

Fear is what paralyzes us from making a change that our students so desperately need.