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Monday, January 8, 2018

Frozen Commuication

This morning my middle school aged son, his brother,  and I waited over 30 minutes for the middle school bus to arrive...in 12* weather! We live on a busy county road in a rural section of our town, so not only was the temperature dangerous, but the bus stop can be as well. In the end, after three calls to transportation, I made the decision to drive him to school myself. It was one of those mornings where I think anyone would need time to recover from the disruption to a pretty tight, but efficient routine. Adding to the craziness, I was scheduled to attend training in my district, and the delay with the bus made me late (imagine walking into a packed room 15-20 minutes after the session has started).

Eventually, the training and conversations around me took my mind off of the troubles of my morning, however, as we drew closer to the end of the day, and my younger son's district was sending out notification that after school activities were cancelled, I was reminded of the chaos of the morning.

In an attempt to gain some insight from the failure in communication this morning, I decided to communicate with my son's principal via email to figure out where the break down took place. Here is the letter I wrote:

Good evening, Dr. yyyyyy,

I am writing this evening to inquire as to the communication policy the school has in place for buses that are running late in the morning and/or evening. 

This morning my son, R, waited for over 30 minutes in 12* weather for his bus (bus H) to pick him up at his bus stop. After three calls to transportation, and with no estimate for an arrival time, it was necessary for me to drive my son to school. While the delays and inconvenience experienced by my family this morning are upsetting enough, the lack of communication between the school and the affected community members is troubling. Had I not been at the stop waiting with my son, I can only imagine the anxiety he would have felt waiting, and waiting, and waiting for his bus. Compounding the issue, my husband received notifications that my son was marked absent for homeroom and first period. 

My question is two-fold, how is there a.) no communication to the community that buses are running late, especially with freezing temperatures and a bus that reportedly did not arrive to school until after period 1-2 and b.) no communication to teachers that there is a delay in buses, thus reducing confusion in the SIS system?

You are an administrator who seems quite adept at keeping the school community informed; I enjoy reading your weekly emails and follow you on Twitter. With so many methods for communication, I wonder why no information regarding this was shared with the community. 

I thank you for your time with this matter and look forward to your response.

Stacey Lindes

If you are a parent, what would you have done in my situation?
If you are an administrator, what could the school and administration done differently? How would you have handled this?
If you're reading this, what are your thoughts?
I'm sure there are sides of this that I'm not considering, clue me in.

Gotta run (I'm running late),

Monday, January 1, 2018

My One Word for 2018: Goals

Happy New Year and welcome to 2018! As is the tradition, now is the time to set your resolution(s) for the New Year. Will you work out more? Eat better? Practice personal care? Drop that 20 pounds you've had creep onto the scale and onto your hips? Or maybe your resolution will be to leave work at a reasonable time. Or spend more time with your family and kids. Or to FINALLY find work/life BALANCE.

Perhaps, like many, you have resolved to give up making resolutions and have started the practice of adopting a single word to guide you through the next 365 days. I know I have. For nearly four years my One Word was YET (this was before I knew that having One Word was a thing, and that there were some guidelines to get you started). Last year my word was BALANCE. And in 2017 I tried my best to find balance: work/life, home/school, social/family, digital/analog, connected/disconnected. I MADE more time for the things of value in my life and when I felt the scales tipping too far in one direction, I made adjustments.

As we start 2018 my One Word for the year will be...

I have had ideas about GOALS for years and 2018 will be the year that I explore the idea of goal setting (and achievement) in depth. Look for more blog posts about GOALS in the coming year, as one of my GOALS is to blog more regularly. Other GOALS for January are to habit track, run a mile a day, and hit the gym three times a week. Sounds typical for the start of a New Year, but I have a half marathon coming up in less than two months and I need to get my butt in gear (literally and figuratively). What GOALS do you have? Is there anything I can do to help?

For more information on choosing your one word, check out my blog post from last year and the official One Word site. Also check out the My One Word site for more inspiration.

What's your One Word for 2018?

Gotta run,

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

In t-issue 5 of Learning in the Loo I share a quick way to close your open tabs (CTRL + W), where I will be next Thursday (IgniteStem) and Dayci shares an app for Spanish teachers or those looking to learn Spanish (VideoEle). 

For back t-issues of Learning in the Loo, check out these links:

Sunday, April 2, 2017

#PodcastPD: Lessons Learned From the House of #EdTech

The March Madness Final is tomorrow night. I can't pretend to be interested in the tournament, but Chris Nesi always captures my attention this time of year with his yearly #EdTech Final Four. In episode 82 of The House of #EdTech, Chris shares his picks for 2017. I've used three of the final four. Oddly enough, the one that's new to me, sketchboard.io, is the one I will likely find most helpful. Enjoy Chris' other recommendations and be sure to check out the other 82 episodes (I have appeared on three episodes; let me know if you give them a listen).

For more on #PodcastPD check out these posts:

Friday, March 31, 2017

Thirty Days Later: My Journey In Creating a Writerly Life

Finally...day 30! Wohoo! I made it!

I am a BIG fan of challenges. There is something uniquely appealing in the idea of makingdoing, creating, following, practicing, and/or being for a set number of hours, days, weeks, months, etc. I enjoy the routine, the predictability, the accomplishment, the feeling of pride, and the achievement. Especially once I have accomplished the task for the day. I may not always enjoy the run, but I ALWAYS enjoy having run. I certainly don't always like writing, but I enjoy that I haven't broken the streak.

When I started this challenge on March 2nd (a day later than I had hoped), I knew I could do it. I knew it would be a challenge; that writing and posting my writing would make me feel vulnerable. I knew there would be days when I just didn't want to write (many more than I thought). I knew I would suffer from writer's block (also more times than I thought I would). But I knew I could do it! I mean, I am no stranger to challenges like this. I have completed two Whole30s, #the100dayproject (I started mine last April 1st), and trained for several half marathons, some 10Ks, and countless 5Ks. On Monday I started a new challenge, the #sketch50 (TwitterInstagram) challenge introduced to me by Amber McCormick. This is in addition to the meditation streak I have going and the 30-day writing/blog posting challenge I have assigned myself. Remember, I like a challenge.

What I've Learned

During the course of the past 30 days I have become aware of a lot of things about myself. I really do like writing. It's an amazing creative outlet that I haven't truly explored as an adult (or even as a kid). There is something magical about sitting down with a pen and a blank sheet in my notebook or sitting like a pretzel on my couch with my laptop keeping my legs warm and watching as ideas flow from my brain to my fingers to the keyboard to make letters appear on the screen.

When I get blocked, writing is a chore! The good thing about having the pressure to write daily is, you work through the pain. I posted some garbage this month, but I wrote. And that was my goal.

What Surprised Me

  • I am surprised by the number of people who interacted with my blog and with me. Your comments and tweets kept me going. Some, like the tweet about "Send It In An Email" got me thinking. 
  • I am surprised by what content you liked. Last night's Beauty and the Beast post, which was the byproduct of writer's block and an idea that has been swimming in my head for over a week, got a lot of feedback. As did "Bedtime Stories" and "I Am One Lucky Teacher".
  • I'm surprised that the more I write, the more people seem to read. I know someone is thinking, "Enough, already." Thankfully, no one has been so unkind as to say it to my face or digitally.

What's Next

So what's next? As I write my final daily blog post and think about plans to nurture my fledgling writerly life, and as I start my next daily project with the #sketch50, I am thinking about what's really next. What will I do to continue to grow and challenge myself? I know there is more. There is so much more. I am committing to posting 3 times per week here on the blog and posting daily on my Instagram account. I plan to continue weekly posts like "#PodcastPD" and "Learning In the Loo". The final post will be something a little meatier, like my "One Word for 2017". Please keep me accountable.  If you stay the course with me, there will be more to come. I am working on a new project, one that has been in my head for nearly a year and is slowly becoming something. I think you'll like it!

Thank You!!!

I thank you for coming on this journey with me. I hope I made you laugh a little, think a lot, and want to stretch your muscles and try something new. What are your next 30 days going to bring?

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Lesson As Old As Time

Same story, new spin.

Two weeks ago my grad school friends and I met for the opening weekend release of Beauty and the Beast. There was a lot of excitement surrounding the meet up, as these teacher friends and I usually only get together during school holidays and breaks (#teacherlife). There was also, simply, a lot of excitement surrounding the release of the movie. After all, it's been 26 years since Disney released the animated version of Beauty and the Beast.

I'm not 100% sure why....perhaps it was because I saw the movie with fellow teachers (and our sons), or the fact that it's been such a long time since the original, or a combination of the two, but I started thinking about how Beauty and the Beast is a tale of how we as educators need to re-invent our teaching and re-release it for a new audience.

Some would say there is nothing wrong with the original 1991 version of Beauty and the Beast. The animation was perfect. The scenery was perfect. The music was perfect. The supporting characters were perfect. Belle was perfect. The movie was perfect! How could it be improved? How do you improve perfection? I know teachers who feel this way about their teaching. They ask, "Why do I need this new... (fill in the blank), my kids have always learned with my methods. They do well on the state test."

I will never forget when a young teacher in her third year announced to me, "I am so happy to finally be teaching the same grade...now I can just look back at my lesson plans and copy/paste!" WHAT??? Hold on!!! Pump the breaks!!! You are a third year teacher and already you have lost the excitement of lesson creating? (I call it lesson creating, because, let's be honest, there is nothing exciting about lesson planning.) This teacher was too young and too new in her chosen career to be so excited about reaching into the digital filing cabinet and using old and dated lesson plans. We cannot simply take lessons out of the vault and change the date on them!

Don't get me wrong, all lessons do not need to be re-created from scratch. From year to year our standards and curriculum do not change much. Sometimes we can take an already strong framework and breathe new life into the lesson. Change the delivery method. See if there is a good place for the use of technology. Add student choice. Change the mentor text. Create new story-problem sets that include your students' names and interests. Flip a lesson. There are so many ways to rejuvenate a our teaching practices.

We need to keep in mind that each year our students change. Their interest change. Technologies change. And every now and again, our curriculum and standards will change (Next Gen Science Standards, anyone?). Change can be good. Change keeps us fresh. Change keeps us on our toes. Change keeps the moths out of the wardrobe. Create something new from the old. We need change, not for the sake of change, but because our kids deserve it!

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

My Favorite Edu Quote

My favorite quote...

Share your favorite educational quote in the comments below; I'd love to sketchnote it!