Friday, November 22, 2013


I have a certain love for a "Good Coffee" so I justified treating myself to one on the way to school this morning. Not just a regular Cup of Joe but a nice New Grounds Mocha. New Grounds is a little shop about a mile down the road from the ILC and my wife bought me a gift card there before the new school year . Unfortunately, today was my last coffee on the card so I need to drop some hints for a stocking stuffer or hope that she reads this. Sadden by the fact that my balance is 0 now I was a bit down in spirit. However, New Grounds does not disappoint in taste or in inspiration.  When you order a coffee they place a small sticker over the opening of the lid so you do not splash out any of their valuable contents. Today's sticker is pictured below:

A nice little message to Be a Friend first. This thought stayed fresh in mind and I thought about the many areas of life the message of "B1"could fit into. A simple yet straight-to-the-point concept that hit home and had my mind racing. At this point I was driving down the road clearly not paying attention because I suddenly found myself in the middle of running a red light. Thankfully my old Jeep brakes still work and I was able to make the embarrassing move into reverse and gather myself. As I pulled into the school parking lot I just kept thinking about "B1". What if we all took the time to act on the little things in life? What if teachers focused more on the small victories and not the doom and gloom of OTES. I once read that good intentions are worthless unless acted upon. I think it was an equation that stated Intentions-Actions=Squat but Intentions+Actions=Results. At that moment I acted and came up with a small list of 15 ways that I could use the "B1" philosophy for myself (now and in the future) and thought I would share:

1.     B1 teacher that cares
2.     B1 teacher that inspires
3.     B1 teacher that challenges
4.     B1 teacher that helps a colleague
5.     B1 teacher that motivates with ideas and not discipline
6.     B1 teacher that opens doors by opening the minds of your students to the reality of their potential (limitless)
7.     B1 Administrator that builds relationships in your building
8.     B1 Administrator that invests in quality not quantity for your staff
9.     B1 Administrator that is quick to listen and slow to criticize 
10. B1 Administrator that makes it fun to fail and learn in the process....take chances
11. B1 Husband that shows empathy
12. B1 Husband that offers support
13. B1 Husband that carries the burden
14. B1 Father that is involved
15. B1 Father that loves unconditionally

This list could grow daily but I know I need to keep it simple. It may change over time or during certain seasons of life. Quick side note....a vision of mine is to one day take what I have learned in the education world and share it with as many as I can. I have a passion to help others succeed in Education and be an avid encourager, supporter, and mentor to anyone who will listen. Starting an educational consulting firm with some like-minded, ambitious educators is something I see happening. Back to the point...I think in this current state of education our society is doing a pretty poor job of making the Art of Teaching a profession. As teachers we can get a negative attitude and start pointing fingers about the lack of respect, lack of resources, lack of support, lack of funding, and so on. Listen I get it; I have more debt in student loans than most and raising a family of 4 is hard on a teacher salary. I knew it would not be lucrative in that way. I knew the reward would come in the interactions and relationships I build with my students and the impact I can make. And guess what ....I choose this. I choose to "B1". No matter where you are in life we have all made choices that have led us to this point. I think we all need to make a "B1" list and live a little simpler in the chaotic mess of life.


Friday, October 25, 2013

So, How's it going so far.....

Before I begin I want to apologize to any grammar teachers out there. I promise to do my best but it was never my strongest subject! This post will have a couple of different thoughts I am reflecting on; Schoology, experiences at the ILC, and leadership.
A look at my Schoology experience:  I am about 3 weeks into this Schoology experiment and I have already found some great uses for it. I officially have 2 courses up and runnig. My students have given me some positive feedback about their experience with it so far. They love the look of Schoology and how it operates like social media. I enjoy the ease of submission of assignments and the little reminder bar to the side to help remember due dates and what's coming up. I am using the free version as of right now and I know I am merely scratching the surface as to what the possibilities could be with this LMS. However, it is integrating into my courses they way I had envisioned it. For one the discussion forum is great. I have discovered that to reduce paper in my classroom I have started using this for my exit tickets. I simply tell the student that by the end of the class they must respond to the daily prompt on Schoology. It is a great way to get instant feedback and measure what my students take away from class. I also like the grading function on the discussion threads because I can do it all from the same screen. The dropbox submission seamlessly integrates with Google Drive and that makes adding papers and other items super easy. I need to work on expanding my personal connections and find other teachers that are using Schoology so I can build a network of resources. 

A glance at the ILC experience as of lately: One thing for sure this is a great place to flip your classroom. For those that don't know I am the instructor for the Academy EDU and Project EDU courses here. I have the best job....literally! I love the art of teaching and I am passionate about sharing that with others. I get to do this daily with students that are excited to be here and learn about a career in education. One thing for sure, I am surrounded by like minded individuals. The staff at the ILC enjoy what they are doing and are here for one purpose....the Students. At the beginning of the year the Director opened up with "Do what's best for the students!" Anytime I want to try something new I ask myself...." this what's best for the students?" It's amazing what that simple little question can do to your planning process. One of my favorite classes is Project EDU. This class is intended to be Project based and give 8th grade students a glimpse into the life of teachers. Right now they are busy creating Professional Development for teacher from a student perspective. I simply asked, if you could share one lesson with teachers to help them make their classes innovative and engaging what would it be? From there they have guided the process. I help by answering questions and being a "guide on the side." They created their own rubric for the project and spent a couple weeks researching lesson plans, goals, objectives, and assessments. For the final project they are going to video tape their lessons and create a Vimeo or YouTube channel to share with the district. 
Last but what I feel most important leadership: This may be rant so if you are not interested in that you can tune out now. As teachers we are doing a disservice by not being leaders in our classroom. You are the teacher but are you the leader? Do students feel that you truly care about how they are doing and if they are going to succeed? I have heard it all before... "That's not my job to care?"...."I just teach and they are suppose to learn"..." I give assignments they complete them". For some of us we have been stuck in a mind set that is stagnant. This experience has truly peaked my creative side (granted it's very small) and I feel I am being intentional with my efforts to truly focus on the experience for my students. I was the guy that made kids write out goals for the year. "Now give me 2 academic goals on your index cards." You know you have done that at some point in time and every year a student would ask for an example and I would rattle...." You know like I will not get below a B in school." I use to worry so much about getting to every standard and making sure that I had covered what was needed before the TEST! SMH!!! That is terrible. Who leads that fear of a TEST. As teachers we need to accept the fact the we are Agents of Change! We truly can make a difference and we have to buy into the experience first before we can ever sell it to our students. Listen, I know you need grades for a report card because every child deserves $10 bucks for an A....that may be a little low for the going rate. But, how do we get students to buy into the fact that the grade is not the most important part of the project? I am tired of hearing "tell me what I need to do to get an A!" It's how they grow in process that matters. How they learn from their mistakes and adapt so that the next time they don't repeat it. That is what means the most. Let's take a chance and fail so we all learn. We are not perfect and we can't be backed into a corner by a bunch of test and evaluation rubrics. Let's not be stifled by our limitations. I am committed to making this year different. I want to inspire my students to think for themselves and allow them to be part of the process more than ever.  Encourage them to fail and try new things. Who knows....through this process I may just become a Changed Agent myself!
Until next time! Embrace the Change!