Your Teaching Career May Be Defined By Who You Hang With

I recently came across this quote from Chris Emdin and I could not agree more with this perspective.  It comes from his book “For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood… and the Rest of Y’all Too: Reality Pedagogy and Urban Education“.

Take a second to read the featured image again…

I cannot agree more with this view.  For me when I reflect on this quote I never had more fun teaching when I was working with a team who was invested, dedicated, and having a blast.  The positive energy that I felt, even through the tough times, kept us all strong and we never lost sight of the end goals.

Think about the time when you were on the other side.  You worked with that teacher who did their job, but teaching was just that… a JOB.  How about the colleague who is a BLAST to be around outside of work but when within the walls of the school they have a negative attitude, no patience for their students, and always seem to provide a negative comment about something that is happening in the school.  Another personality is someone else on the team loved teaching, kids, and was a solid educator but they resisted change and transforming their classroom.

This type of behavior is addicting.  At first you might roll your eyes, shake your head, laugh with them because they are being funny.  The danger here is that this is addictive and WORDS HAVE POWER.  More power than most of us will ever give them credit for and eventually you will go from shaking your head to participating in the act.

Once you start down the path of negativity it can be hard to control and maintain.  It is unfair to expect that we all can avoid tripping up and needing an opportunity to vent, share disappointments, and just clear our minds of frustration.  It is how you move forward form that moment that counts.  Does this becoming a daily occurrence?  Do you start to take your frustrations home with you?  Do you take some of these frustrations to social media?

Some of you might be reading this and thinking that the teachers you hang with do not influence your impact.  I can appreciate that, you want to defend the people you hang with.  If this is you then my first thought is that this quote might be more true for you than you think.  Maybe one or a couple of the teachers on your team have the potential to be cancerous to the entire group OR maybe you can just see and feel that this might be happening at your campus.  What do you do?  Well if your career depends on it, and according to the quote from Chris it might, please take a second to think and reflect on what is best for your mindset.  This is crucial because your mindset will directly effect your students mindset and being anything but positive, kind, and empathetic, to me, is unacceptable.  If you are not then you might just miss out on a chance to “Flip a Kid”.  


Building Leaders

The National Association of Elementary School Principals recently published a great post from Sandra A. Trach on building leaders and investing in leadership.

The article, “Building Leaders“, highlights the role of the assistant principal and does a great job discussing how much they support the principal, staff, and the overall foundation of the school.  I love this quote that they highlighted:

“Assistant principals “lead from the middle” of the school, which allows them to work at a meaningful intersection of administration and leadership, and among faculty, staff, students, and parents. Assistant principals are key relationship-builders, becoming a bridge between the principal and faculty and staff, and aiding in the trust and transparency necessary for a successful school culture.” – Christopher Colwell in Impact: How Assistant Principals Can Be High Performing Leaders.

This is so true!  Often in this process I believe then their skill sets may not continue to grow in order for them to make the shift from the Assistant Principal to the Principal.  The post goes on to highlight the right strategy to bring principals along, tools for growth,  and highlights why investing in assistant principals is definitely worth it!

Reading this article I just LOVE the emphasis on leadership and investing in our people.  So much in education revolves around investing in our students (which obviously is a worthwhile investment) we also have to think about everyone else on the campus.  Investing in our staff to ensure that their voice is heard, they are supported, satisfied, have the resources that they need to be successful are all part of establishing strong school culture.

If your not sure, put out a survey to assess your leadership.  One of my favorite people to follow on twitter in the blogging world, Amber Teamann, did and was surprised by the results. (“MyBad” Podcast by Jon Harper has the story here)  Now she had two options, you know what they are, but she took the high road and now she has transformed her leadership.

So what if you are feeling like you do not do the best job?  I would instantly turn my attention to Lead Like a Pirate by Shelley Burgess and Beth Houf.  Not only is it a fun themed book that can easily transfer to your school, they provide real life examples of how to turn your school around.  You will be able to take lessons form their book and instantly start insert them into your leadership tomorrow.  They also joined my podcast Perspectives in Education (listen here) to discuss leadership and their book.  “We want to create schools where kids are knocking down the doors to get in but we also need to create schools where staff are knocking down the doors to get in.” – Shelley Burgess.

Well how do we do that?  I love this quote from Beth Houf that came from the podcast,  “We throw around the phrase whats best for kids a lot, we (Shelley and I) feel like our influence on doing whats best for kids relies solely on how we inspire and motivate and support the adults in our buildings.  If we do that, then the teachers and other educators can truly make an impact.”  She hits the nail on the head.

So back to my question from before, do you support your staff, encourage them, listen to their needs, and provide them all the resources they need to grow?

How To Weave Growth Mindset Into School Culture

This is a great post from Katrina Schwartz via Mind Shift.

I enjoyed this post because it discusses a real world scenario.  It highlights Adilene Rodriguez who is a senior at Arroyo High School in San Lorenzo, California.  She highlights and talks about her time in high school and how one of her teachers, Jim Clark, educated her on the growth mindset and helped her to grow and believe in herself.

This story is one that could be shared with students all around the world so that they can see the power of the growth mindset.  This is one of my favorite topics in education to discuss so if your interested in more, check out my posts on the growth mindset.

Happy reading!!

Featured image is borrowed from the article.

Don’t forget…relationships should include parents too! What do parents want from a principal?

I recently participated in #IMMOOC (Innovators Mindset Massive Online Book Course with hundreds of ed enthusiasts.  Today my featured post comes from one of the educators that I had to privilege to encounter.   Her name is Amber Teaman and she is principal of Whitt Elementary in Wylie ISD in Wylie, Texas.

Her post is fantastic and one of my all-time favorites!

In it she discusses what she would want her parents to know about her, her passion for education, and her passion to help their students be successful.  Before she releases these 5 heartfelt ideas she has one of her parents highlight the parent perspective.  What a parent would want from their principal.   Before I give away the details-take 10 minutes and read it now.  You will not be disappointed!


Should high school be more like the real world? These innovators think so

The USA Today recently shared a great post called “Should high school be more like the real world? These innovators think so“.  It highlights the work of Powderhouse Studios.

Here is part of the introduction:

“The high school, set to open in a repurposed former school building in Somerville, Mass., next year, won’t have grade levels or traditional classes. Instead, students will be immersed in interdisciplinary projects that tap into their interests and ambitions. They’ll divide their days between seminars and project-based work, meeting with faculty for guidance regularly. And students will go to school year-round from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m., taking vacations based on their families’ schedules. Classrooms, lectures and lesson plans – the things traditional schools are built on – won’t be a big part of daily life at Powderhouse.

In short, Powderhouse will look more like a workplace than a high school.”

This piece is so powerful that it is a MUST READ.  These educators are taking innovation to the next step and taking a HUGE risk.   They are taking #placebaseded and #makerspaces to the next level.  I can’t wait to read about and see how successful this school is.  I believe they are on an amazing track for success.

Helping Struggling Students Build a Growth Mindset

The growth mindset is one of my favorite topics to read about because to me, under the hood of the lies love, empathy, and relationships.  I originally read and sharing this post on twitter and it got lots on interest so I wanted to make sure if was part of our library!

Dr. Donna Wilson and Marcus Conyers write a great post called “Helping Struggling Students Build a Growth Mindset” that was shared on Edutopia.

Here is an excerpt from the post:

“Now we turn to the benefits of helping students who find school difficult maintain a positive mindset as they persist in the sometimes hard work required for learning. When failures mount, it’s easy to give up. A positive mindset focuses on the gains that are possible when students persevere through learning challenges. Here are five strategies to help struggling students develop a growth mindset.”

For me this reminds me of a previous post where I talked about Dr. Robert Brooks. He is a psychologist on the faculty of Harvard Medical School and an established author.   He discusses the mindset needed to deal effectively with students.

Enjoy and remember – its always about the kids and providing them a positive environment where they feel loved, supported, and cared for is the LEAST that we could do as educators.

The featured image is borrowed from the article on Edutopia.


TEDx Talk – I’m 17

“A world of creative collaboration between adults and students” – Kate Simonds

Have you ever sat down with a student and they express some very powerful feelings and you respond with, “Your only _____ (a kid, 17, a child, in high school, middle school, etc.) , you don’t understand”

I know I have and the funny thing is I remember being told that when I was young and I did not take to it nicely, yet still, I did it to my students.  “Treat others as you wish to be treated” applies to not just current, real world scenarios but also to experiences that we have already gone through.

Take 13 minutes and 38 seconds to watch Kate Simonds provide a TEDx talk in Boise, Idaho and it might change your perspective.  She blew me away.  You can feel her passion, the anxiety of being a teenager on such a big stage, and she absolutely kills it!!

Hats off to you Kate!  I hope to get you on my podcast, Perspectives in Education soon because your perspective is important and needs to be recycled through the ed world!

Featured image is borrowed from Idaho News

The 100 Best Children’s Books of All Time

In honor of the great Dr. Seuss and his birthday, I wanted to share with you Time Magazine’s list of The 100 Best Children’s Books of All Time.

Top 5:

  1. Where the Wild Things Are
  2. The Snowy Day
  3. Goodnight Moon
  4. Blueberries For Sal
  5. Little Bear

As a parent to 3 young girls I know the value of reading to them and still find myself struggling to make time.  Some days it is easy but most are HARD!  I was really good at it with my first daughter but have gotten worse over time.  How many of you experience this?

Well today is our day to change.  Today, I am making a pledge to be better and try harder to make sure that I set time aside each day to read to my children.  Who’s with me!?



How to Develop Mindsets for Compassion and Caring in Students

Katrina Schwartz’s article discusses talks about the importance of developing mindsets for compassion and caring in students.

The article discusses the experiences of Dr. Robert Brooks.  He is a psychologist on the faculty of Harvard Medical School and an established author.  Dr. Brooks started his career as a principal at a school with severely disturbed and troubled students.  Within a few months he was worn down and did not look forward to going to work each day.  He discusses the mindset needed to deal effectively with students.  Here are a few quotes highlighted from the article, check it out for more details!

“We have to start with the assumption that everything you do in the classroom can have a major impact on a child’s life.”

“Once you say a kid is unmotivated or doesn’t care, you’re already reflecting a mindset in which you’re blaming the child, whether you mean to or not.”

The Best Day of My Post Teaching Career

Do you have a job, profession, or a career?

I was a teacher for the better part of decade.  I worked countless hours while always hearing from my friends “You’re a teacher, you get summers off, you have it made!”

Well they were right.  I did have it made.  I got to impact young adults lives on a daily basis.  On the other hand, they cannot comprehend for 1 second the hectic, crazy life of working in a school!  You have to be on your game 100% of the time and the majority of that time, your efforts will go unnoticed and unappreciated.

Many people have a hard time understanding the life of a teacher, aide, principal, or other administrator because unless they have “made it” they might not experience the same hectic lifestyle.  I have since left the teaching world to work in ed software and today, finally, almost 2 and a half years later, I had the best day of my post teaching career.

Don’t get me wrong.  I have had great days over the past 2 1/2 years in sales and I love what I do BUT today, I had the chance to do a podcast recording with Jon Bergmann and interview Tyler Tarver for an upcoming podcast in the same day!

Most of you have probably heard of Jon Bergmann or Flipped Learning before so it is obvious what an accomplishment it is to connect with him and I learned today that he is much more than just the man who helped coin “Flipped Learning”.  He has dedicated his career to making it a “thing” by putting together an amazing team that researches, supports, and developing their vision and they are making a global impact.  It is his CAREER and not his job.

Tyler Tarver on the other hand, is an inspiration to me because we both took similar paths into education.  We went to college to study history, became teachers, but found our niche in mathematics.  Tyler has since moved on to create Tarver Academy.  It is an amazing resource for ALL teachers looking to engage their students in learning that is driven by video content.  Tyler wears so many hats at his district that he should have a part time job at Lids but still finds time to fulfill his career by developing content for Tarver Academy and write a book.

So back to my original question: Do you have a job, profession, or career?

I am quickly learning what it means to have a career vs a job or profession.  It is NOT what it is made to be in high school – your future path in college and beyond – it is LOVING what you do and finding yourself willing to work overtime for FUN.  Careers are a once in a life time opportunity to make a difference and fulfill your dreams.  I have been experiencing those feelings, dream come true feelings, for about a year now.  I am blessed to have a manager that supports and motivates me while also mentoring me through the ups and downs of having a job.

Today I got to create a podcast episode with Jon, then interview Tyler, but most importantly, I got to connect them so that they can engage and learn from each other.  That one thing is what made this the best day of my post ed career.  Talking with them today was simply a privilege but I found great satisfaction in introducing them to one another and praying that they find a way to strengthen both of their impacts in education.  They both have taken their job/profession and transformed it into their career.  They work countless hours on their craft, building their brand, and establishing their footprint on education.

Isn’t that what so much of education is about in the end?  Strengthening your relationship with others in education, learning from those experiences, but then paying it forward by implementing those findings or connecting people that have the same vision?

I got to experience BOTH of those today.  I love my job/profession and with days like this, recently getting published on Edsurge, and collaborating with others… I am achieving my dream.  I finally have a CAREER and not just a JOB.