My One Word 2018

My word for 2018 is innovation.  In the fall of 2017, I decided that I wanted to try something new each month.  I wanted to have the experience of doing something that would put me out of my comfort zone.  So, my idea to use innovation to frame my goals for 2018 was born.  I also thought about using the idea of innovation to serve for inspiration of how I can handle regular things in my daily life a little differently.  Why not try new approaches to things and see what happens.  I had heard about people having new experiences after a major event happened in life.  I decided that I could start in the new year.  In the fall I started talking with Nichole, a colleague of mine who brainstormed a few creative ideas with me.  She often talked about how much she enjoyed Yoga, and I had always wanted to try a class out (but, yet was honestly terrified about going- since I had no experience), so my trial of doing a new scary thing was born.  Before taking on a major project, I was excited about seeing if the experience was what I really wanted.  

At the end of November, Nichole gave me the schedule to the yoga classes downtown and told me how to go about attending the first class.  She also mentioned she would go with me when I attended my first class so I would not be quite so nervous.  

I remember being so excited, yet so nervous about how the class would go.  During the first 10 minutes of class, I felt weird and was concerned that I did not fit in.  Plus, I really wanted to like Yoga.  But, I was not sure that I did.  Although, I am glad that the class was an hour in length.  About halfway through the class, I remember thinking, “I love this, and I could see myself going back.  It is honestly the best tech, mind and body detox, and I have never felt more relaxed.”  It truly was like nothing I had ever experienced before.  Since my first class I ended up buying more classes and I go weekly now.  

pexels-photo-374632My sister in law and mother in law, and a few friends also frequently attend class with me, which is really fun!  I am so glad that I gave it a try, and have since realized that it is the perfect cross training for me as a runner, and will greatly help improve my work and life balance . Now, after only a month in a half, I cannot imagine my life without yoga.  I am still contemplating what new adventure I will take on in January!  

Day 5 Remembering Your Dream to Teach

There is value in looking back to that first moment when you realized that you be a teacher.  Here are some of the prompts to consider as you do that:

Describe in some detail when you first knew you wanted to be a teacher.  Growing up with two teachers as parents, it was a career I thought a lot about. Early on, I was able to gain numerous teaching experiences in after school programs and within our church.  It always felt natural.  No matter what state in life I was in, the profession always felt like home.  I do remember the exact moment when I realized that I was choosing education over nursing.  Even when I thought about nursing, I thought about how I could teach other nurses.

What appealed to you most about the job of being a teacher?  When you realized you wanted to teach, did you imagine yourself in the job  If so, describe how you saw yourself.  I remember my first summer after college, when I was applied for teaching jobs.  I could not wait to get a job!  I had all kinds of ideas about the units I would teach, the little things I could do to make learning more fun, and how I would organize the year.  I also remember the moment when I loaded up my car with my “teaching things”.  I was so excited and overwhelmed at the same time.  My first job came in August, and I had little time to prepare.  I was going to be a varsity coach as well as advise the Journalism staff (Yearbook and Newspaper).  It was a tough start, but as  the year progressed, I was able to figure out how to bring balance to my day.  I suppose, this is was not exactly what imagined.  But, I was truly fortunate to have a job, so I knew I could figure it out.  Early in my career, I thought teaching would slow down as I got older, and I would have a lot more time.  However, as someone who is always looking to try new technology sites, and read new literature, I am finding that, along with working with my own kids at home:  I am busier than ever! But, it is a good and challenging busy!  And I love it.

Do you agree teaching is a calling, and if so, what does that mean to you?  Teaching is a calling.  It is a lot of time and commitment to not be invested in it beyond a paycheck.  When the “why” is in place, and a job somehow feels like you are coming home;  you know that it is more than a job.


Day 4: Trying Something New

Today’s prompt has me trying a new program.  I tried  Picfont and really liked it! It was a lot of fun, and pretty easy to use.

I took one of the phrases that I used from day 3, and illustrated it. This is a great exercise for students to visualize text.  I also like the idea of using Google Draw in order to complete the same objective.



Day 3 Thoughts Worth Sharing

Thoughts and words about wisdom, insights and sayings that you have learned regarding teaching a learning.  The first part of today’s writing is to list some advice or wisdom that has been gained as a result of being a teacher.

Step 1: First write down some of the ideas and then try to word them concisely.   The following are a few quotes that I really love.  I post these around my classroom and say several of them on a regular basis.  

*You can do anything, but not everything.—David Allen
*You can afford anything, but not everything.-Paula Pant
*You must be the change you wish to see in the world.—Gandhi

*You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take  —Wayne Gretzky

*If you are on time, you are late.

*Don’t just sit there. Let’s get started.

*What are you beginning to do right now?

*The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands but seeing with new eyes. —Marcel Proust

*Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.—Will Rogers


After working through this exercise, I started to notice a few different things.  There are certain quotes and comments that resonate with me, and others that do not. I am sure that this is the same for my students.  It is important to say a number of different things, because certain words and phrases will click and really stick with students.  I am still able to remember some of the things that teachers or coaches said to me growing up.  It is important that I carefully choose the words that I am going to use as well as the context and emotion connected with them.  One thing I am going to do to have a quote a week and really start talking about it, and applying it throughout the week.   I think the lasting message is important.  It would be interesting to have students investigate the quote of the week and use Google Draw or another technology to find a picture to illustrate it and make it more visual.


Day 2- Making Time to Reflect

According to Petty, reflection is the act pondering questions deeply.  He says, “Ask good questions and you get good reflection.  This leads to deep learning and discovery.”  

I like how the author says we should consider the pace of our work and the amount of time that is normally taken for reflection.  

How often do you reflect on your life and your work? In the past, sadly, too much of my reflection has taken place in my head, and not really been written down.  One thing I typically do, is just process the actual day or the lesson I taught and how it went.  I would like to improve the quality of the questions I am asking myself, to dig deeper and really analyze my teaching and the materials used for students to demonstrate learning.  By forcing myself to ask some of the tougher questions, and less obvious ones, I may uncover some of the themes in my methods as a teacher.  Perhaps I can consider what my lessons and assignments say about me as a learner, and what type of learning I am asking my students to demonstrate.  I am interested in  what story  I am trying to tell with the students in my classroom.

What are some of the questions you could ask students to get them to discover important things such as their purpose or what they hope to get from their time in school?  I found a copy of The  40 Reflection Questions  These questions will help me to generate a few good ones to regularly ask.  I really like how the questions are broken down into different categories.  I really appreciate how the author used “Backward, inward, outward and forward-looking” categories  in order to organize the questions.  One of the questions, that would be really good for students to answer would be, “Did I do my work the way other people did theirs?  In what ways did I do it differently?  Or, If you were the teacher, which comments would you make on this project/ assignment?” “In what ways were the standards or objectives met?”

I love the inward looking question, “What does this assignment tell about you as a learner?”  With this question, I like the idea of further extending it to a few of the backward looking questions that ask, “What story are you telling with this project?  What will people be able to learn about you?”

What steps can you take to incorporate more reflection in your personal life and your classroom?  One thing I have started doing in order to reflect on the books that I am reading, is to post some of the book covers to Twitter and Instagram.  I like sharing what I am reading.  I also write my Grandma a weekly letter where I tell her about what is happening in my life, but also the books I am reading.  I share the essence of the different books with her, and it somehow feels like a reflection;  like I am continuing a legacy by talking about the books I read.  

I also write a one sentence journal each day.  I like to incorporate on the margin which books I am currently reading at the time to add to later reflection of my year.  As I reflect on my writing today, one thing I need to improve in order  to frame my reflection, is the questions that I am asking.  Lastly, I like this link about Personal Reflection Questions.  I love the questions that ask about what my priorities are right now, and if I am living in the past, present or future right now.  And lastly since we are moving in two weeks, I love the questions, “What is your ideal home like?  How can you take the steps to achieve your ideal home?”  Clearly this list of 101 personal reflection questions will get me started and keep me thinking for a long time.


31 Days of Teaching Like an Artist Day 1

product_thumbnail 31 Days from now, I will have written 31 blogs!  This is exciting since my goal for blog posts this year is 52!  I have written two so far, and it is March.  So, it is time.

This year at the 2017 Macul Conference, I won a prize! I was privileged to be in an amazing session, and won Mike Petty’s Teaching Like an Artist book. After being hooked on the first entry of a 31 day challenge with journal and reflection prompts, I decided this this book would be exactly what I needed to get me blogging every day!

So here it is.  Day 1.

Finding your Passion. First, start by listing your three favorite movies.  After much deliberation, here they are.  This honestly took about a day to figure out! This is based on Michael Hyatt’s work.

  1.  Notting Hill
  2. The Family Man
  3. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

What common thread runs through them? Figuring out a common thread between all three movies provided to be a challenging task.  I realized that I like the fact that each of these stories are about a journey.  The protagonist goes through so many different challenges throughout the movie.  It does take them a while to even figure out that they are on a journey in the first place.  I love that once they get a goal in mind, and realize what they are looking to accomplish, nothing will stand in their way.  I love the raw story. I love that they are attacked to the simple life, and focus on relationships.  I love seeing a character take a risk.  Maybe these are all things that I am hoping come true for me.  These movies also bring up some of my favorite things.  London, friendship, books, being a mom, writing, and travel.

What do you think that indicates about your passion?  I am a sucker for a good story. I like to hear about people’s lives.  I like the process in something. I like seeing growth.  I am attacked to  the idea of really living life, and  enjoying the present. I love the challenge, and making things my own. I like seeing a story as a work of art. I like seeing someone or myself work through challenges.

If you think this helped to clarify your passion, state your passion in a sentence. One sentence is tough.  So, I might revise it as I think about it. I might also look at a list of themes from literature to see if anything sticks out.

I crave a story filled with challenges. (This is a working passion).  3/20

Would this activity be useful with any students or classes that you are teaching?  If so, describe how you might use it.  Are there ways that you could modify it, basing it on students’ favorite songs or books, for example?  I like this activity.  It was tough to look at three movies, rather than just one or two.  I can see using this in the classroom. I might start with my 8th graders for a journalism class activity.  I am not sure if I would use the word passion. That seems like of heavy for a middle school student.  I like the idea of using books too. I could easily come up with books that were my favorite, but I struggled with wondering if there was a reason it was a movie (more fiction oriented). I know that if I did books, I would most likely  have a few non fiction thrown in.  I do like the idea of  song lyrics too! That is kind of a neat way of thinking about a topic too.  However, the songs I like seem to change over the years. I do think students would like songs.  Maybe rather than just passion, I would have students look at learning about themselves.