Model Schools 2019: Be The Best You Can Be

The theme for the Model Schools Conference was ACT FOR IMPACT. As I sat there listening to keynotes and sitting in sessions I was overwhelmed with the prominent thought of, “am I still impacting my babies?” 

When I was a teacher I could easily see the impact I had on my babies. In my role as an administrator, I don’t feel or see the impact I’m making. Many of the conversations I had over the last few months, have been centralized around this specific topic. People have been asking if I am ready to move on to my new role. My reply is immediately, yes, however often include that I felt like I was unable to impact my site in ways I feel like I have made a difference. 

I sat in the last keynote, Be The Best You Can Be by Simon Sinek. And whoa, was my mind blown. His keynote focused on 5 characteristics/components that leaders should have as they ACT FOR IMPACT and lead students. Prior to listing the 5, he stated that in order to lead, we as individuals must be the best version of ourselves and specifically pointing out that our job is not about competition or the end game. He then began to distinguish that people can fall under two categories when it comes to their viewpoint of their impact: finite or infinite.

He described finite people as people who find their sense of worth and value in self gratification. They want to be the best and receive all the accolades for themselves. They are looking out for themselves, as opposed to the team they are part of.

He then described infinite people as people who find their sense of worth and value in contributing their efforts for the greater good. They don’t seek immediate gratification, but rather look at the bigger picture. Their small efforts and contributions, allow for the group to succeed and in turn directly impact everyone involved. 

In order for leaders to succeed, Sinek stated that leaders must have the following components:

1. Just cause. 

In order to have success, there must be a just cause. We have to have a reason…you can call this the “why”. What’s the reason behind it? Why are we doing it? When that is established our desire to work towards this “just cause” requires our utmost sacrifice. That sacrifice must supercede your own interest. It’s not about winning and there is no such thing as best. It makes your work feel worth it. 

2. Trusting Teams. 

Simon posed the following questions: Do you love your job? Do you feel like you can be yourself based on the environment you get to work? How do we create an environment where people can work at their natural best? When we don’t have that, we have people who are lying, hiding and faking. How are we treating our staff? Our number one goal is to allow people to work at their natural best. They don’t have to put on a show. They get to come to a place that allows them to be themselves. They feel safe to take risks and to try new things. They feel like they are supported and can grow. 

3. Worthy rival.  

What is a worthy rival? Another player in the game that show us our weaknesses or areas of growth. When you are comparing yourself to other people, it doesn’t tell you about them, it’s about you and what you need to reflect on. Instead of being angry at them, go in with the approach of, what are they teaching me? How can I be grateful for them? They help make us better, without them we would not be able to grow into a better leader. Remember our only true competitor is yourself. 

4. Flexible. Capacity for existential flexibility. 

Do you have a just cause and trusting team? The willingness to walk away from something based on the just cause. Are you ready to blow it up if it doesn’t have a worthy just cause? What if your team is not trustworthy? Are you brave enough to blow it up or walk away?

5. Courage to lead. 

It is so easy to play the finite game than the infinite game. But you have to adjust your mindset. Do you have the mentality of it’s just my job now, and it will be someone’s else’s problem in the future? We get one choice. Your choice should be, “I’m gonna be the best I can be and I’m gonna leave this place in a better way than I found it.” Most importantly the mindset should be when helping a just cause is, “I’m gonna help and build other people up”. 

As I sit here reflecting on this powerful keynote. I was able to pick out parts of my life where I could see my “finite” mindset. Definitely not something to be proud of, but still true nonetheless. Thankfully, I have been blessed with some wonderful people. So many of them possess these 5 components and have taught me to think outside of myself and current moment. They have challenged me to look at the bigger picture.

So now I challenge you….

Do you have a “finite” or “infinite” mindset. Be honest.

Do you have your “just cause”? Is it clear for your team? Do others find it worthy?

Are you leading a team that is built on trust? Are they able to work at their natural capacity?

Do you have a worthy rival? Someone that is better than you? Someone that has characteristics you aspire to attribute?

Do you have a flexible mindset? Are you willing to change things if they are not working?

Do you have the courage to lead? Do you have the right mindset?

Most importantly….

How can you impact the team around you?

So how can I still impact my babies? I can continue to reflect upon my practice. I can reassess where I’m at and continue to work towards a better future for them. I know deep down they deserve it and so do the people I work for. Feeling or seeing the impact, doesn’t matter to me anymore. Doing the best job I can and being the best version of myself to those around me, is everything.

I urge that as you continue on this journey of “being the best you can be”, you continue to take time to reflect upon where you are. There may come a time where you may need to reassess the “just cause”. There should not be an “end game” spot on the radar, but merely continual reflection and growth.

I believe you can best the best version of yourself. You’ve got what it takes. I cannot wait to see it.

SEL Alternative for Student Discipline

Social emotional learning is the “buzzword” in education in regards to classroom behavior and student discipline. According to CASEL, SEL is defined as, “the process through which children and adults understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions”. If you’ve been involved in education at any point in your life, you would hopefully recognize that this “buzzword” is welcoming to the modern day classroom.

My time as a K-12 student was drastically different than what exists today. Looking back to the early 2000s we didn’t have cell phones & social media (to name a few) as daily distractions. Even reflecting on my first years as a teacher in 2007, it’s vastly different. Students have different pressures and have grown up in a different world. Therefore, the way we educate and discipline them, has to be different.

I’ve been blessed to work in the Discipline Office for the last two years as a Vice Principal. Much of the first year was very standard in regards to student discipline. I would have to assign consequences that were pretty black and white. I would counsel students as much as I could, however, it didn’t feel like we as a school were supporting them as best we could. At the end of the school year we evaluated our student discipline data and we found that our area of growth was in regards to Education Code 48900a1, fighting. So, upon the encouragement of my Principal, we (Cabinet & Cohort of Teachers) set out to develop a school wide SEL alternative to help support students in regards to this specific behavior. We rolled out our SEL plan at the beginning of the 2018-2019 school year. Here is what we came up with:

CRASH (Conflict Resolution And Social Help)

It consisted of 3 Tiers to allow for progressive discipline, if the behavior continued.

Tier 1 & 2 included 7 units that focused on managing emotions, setting goals, showing empathy, building positive relationships and making responsible decisions. The difference between the two was the duration of the tier. If a student was placed in Tier 1, they would attend and once complete, they would be able to exit the program. If a student was placed in Tier 2, they would have to attend a mandatory five days. Tier 3 would result in a Home Suspension.

The units for Tier 1 were as followed:

1. Safety

Assignments:  Write down 3 things at school that make you feel the most safe/valued/appreciated.  That gets sent to the office. Now write a letter to the person at school who makes you feel the most safe/valued/appreciated and how you are going to try to follow their example and makes others feel safe/valued/appreciated.  They would speak with a cabinet member about the 3 good things they wrote. Students may choose which cabinet member to call to see if they can meet with one of their choice once they have finished their 3 note.

Parent communication:  Compose text to your parent/guardian.    Explain the program you are in. Get approval from Program Coordinator.  Once it is approved the students sends the text to their parent. If the student or parent does not have a cell phone they must use letter format instead.  The text must include: What the program is about? How is it going to help them? What they are going to do in the future to prevent ever getting into another school fight.  The Program Coordinator takes a screenshot of the text and prints it.

2. Accountability

Assignments & Parent communication:  Students must write an email in Google Docs to:  1.) Program Coordinator, 2.) Their parent. 3.) Their favorite teacher.  The email document must include: “Confession” (Explaining what they did that placed them into CRASH).  “Owning it” (clearly explaining what happened and why it was the student’s fault. Taking full responsibility for what they did).  “Change” (Explaining what they are going to do different to avoid going back to CRASH). If the parent does not have an email address the Program Coordinator will make another copy of the document and have it mailed home.

3. Social Help from the Good Guys

Assignments:  Complete EdPuzzle videos (provided by our District Police Department). Student then completed a 5 year and 20 year reflection of where they would be if they continued in the same behavior pattern.

Communication:  Students completed a Google Survey to reflect upon the EdPuzzle Videos.  Students who complete are offered a school police sticker.

4. Anger Management

Assignments:  Students must read over the menu 10 techniques for managing anger.  They must pick 3 that they feel best suit them. Come to the office and speak with a cabinet member about how they can use those 3 strategies to avoid issues in the future.

Parent Communication:  Student must write a text to their parent/guardian explaining the 3 new strategies to deal with anger that they learned that day.  They must show the text to the Program Coordinator and they takes a screenshot of the text and prints it before the student sends it.  If the student or parent does not have a cell phone they will use a letter instead.

5. Conflict Resolution

Assignments: Students would read information about Conflict Resolution and then complete a quiz to see how well they mastered the curriculum.

Parent Communication:  Student was then sent to counseling (with the student they fought if at all possible) to meet with a Counselor or School Psychologist about the Conflict that resulted in them being in the program.

6. Social Skills (with WEB–Where Everyone Belongs)

Assignments and Peer Communication:  

  1. Listen to WEB presentation
  2. Break into small groups (if the student you fought is in CRASH they are in your group)
  3. Create a poster “Where everyone belongs”(Social Skills).
  4. Present it to CRASH staff.
  5. The group goes out and puts the poster up for other students to benefit from it.

7. Goal Setting, Giving Back to the School & Checking Out

Info & Assignments: Students would fill out a goal form for the next six months. Students then spent at least 1hr of the day helping one of the following (student’s choice):  Librarian, Custodian or Classroom Teacher. If students would rather not help any of those staff members they must create a poster which could be hung around campus to help kids avoid conflict and fighting.  Students then sent to check-out with the admin who suspended them. The Admin will tear up the suspension, change it to CRASH, congratulate them and send them back to CRASH to finish the day.

Parent Communication:  When everything is complete the student and the Program Coordinator will call the parent on the phone and let them know they have completed the program and will return to normal classes the next day.

Tier 2 took each step and required the student to reflect upon it more, or dive deeper into curriculum.

Our administration team had several opportunities this year to share our program with other schools within our district. What we learned from our training, that it is not a one size fits all. In order for your school site to reap the benefits, the program has to be specifically targeted to your students.

Please use this template to help you navigate your SEL Plan:


Our percentages of fighting was down by 68%. We found that many students who went through the program were one-timers. A small percentage of students went through both Tiers of the program. Overall, upon reflecting on our SEL plan, we found it effective and worthwhile. We were left with contemplating how we can create other SEL programs to meet other Education Codes.

As you begin this journey, I urge you to make sure you have all stakeholders on board. By gaining input from all stakeholders, it will help drive your program. Keep students at the forefront of all decision making, and you’re bound to reap the benefits.

If you’d like to submit your plan to the Form provided below, I’d love to see what you are doing at your school site.

Go BIG, or go home?

Do you find yourself to be in an situation where you have opportunities for growth? The next step? That is where I am finding myself. A great step to be at, but all the more, making me feel excited and anxious about what is to come. Over the past week I’ve been reflecting on my journey and my future. It looks a little different now, than it did a couple years ago.

For those of you who don’t know, I was part of the Route 91 shooting. Needless to say that experience shook me to my core. Going through that experience has made me have to rebuild on parts of myself that were once so strong. For example, my fearlessness and drive looks a little different. Within the last three months, so many people have spoken into my life. I started feeling like I was “getting back” to where I once was. I find myself excited about presenting again to other educators, stepping out of my comfort zone, and being stretched. Another source of inspiration has been the author, Rachel Hollis. I’ve read both her books, Girl Wash Your Face and Girl, Stop Apologizing. From her books, I have gained perspective, belief and direction.

An excerpt from Girl, Stop Apologizing states this:

“If I could tell you anything, if I could convince you to believe it, it’s that you were made for more. You were made to have the dreams you’re afraid of having. You were made to do the things you don’t think you’re qualified for. You were made to be a leader. You were made to contribute. You were made to make changes for good, both in your local community and the world at large. You were made to be more than you are today and–this is the important part–your version of more might not look like my more, or hers.”

Girl, Stop Apologizing by Rachel Hollis

This excerpt made me pause for awhile. It reminded me that I am made for more. I’m made to contribute my passions and talents, that the Lord has blessed me with. AND SO ARE YOU. I write this blog post to not only allow me to reflect and put it down on paper (or my google doc), but to encourage those of you who need it. I feel like so often we get stuck, we limit ourselves, we stay complacent, and we diminish our dreams due to fear. I’m here to remind you along with Rachel Hollis, that the world needs YOU. We need your talents, strengths, weaknesses, triumphs, etc., to help shape and mold our local community and the world at large.

Another great point that Rachel Hollis brings up, is the idea of “comparison” as you carry out your dream. We have to remember that we all bring something to the table. What we bring may be more than others, but it’s never better, it’s just different. In the past, I’ve struggled with comparing my life, my talents, my passions to those I’ve interacted with. It robbed me at times and limited my ability to share with those who needed it. So I encourage you as you step out and live out your dream, to not get burdened or discouraged by the thief of comparison.

I’m sure as you read this you are either on fire to set out to accomplish your dreams or you are still struggling with taking the first step. The fact that you are even thinking about it, means you are a driven person. So you have two options according to Hollis, “Go big or go home?” She then concludes, “I never go home.”

Listen, I cannot emphasize enough how much of a struggle stepping out of my comfort zone has been over the course of my life and most recently within these past two years. But what I received from stepping out of my comfort zone can never be measured. The Lord has used me and taught me some valuable life lessons. Allow Him to use you to accomplish the dreams He has for your life, as well as your own.

So here I go, taking more bold steps to accomplishing my dreams and hopefully impacting those around me. I’ll keep you posted…

My theme for the year: Service

Background photo created by jannoon028 – www.freepik.com

So it’s March and I’m barely coming up with my theme for the year. Many educators around the world come up a word that they are focusing on for the year. Unlike them, my year didn’t start off with this huge epiphany. Through conversations and interactions with my colleagues, friends and family….I was able to fully grasp my goal for the year, SERVICE.

From an educator viewpoint, one would think that I would serve my teachers and students all year round. Yes that is true, but it’s a little more in depth than that. I have been a huge advocate for helping students and teachers to be successful in the 21st century by utilizing technology.

So I decided to embark on a journey. I decided to cultivate a training for my classified staff called: Become a GooRu. What it consists of, is a program designed to teach them on how to use G Suite Apps for Education. I love teaching people how simple technology can make their lives. In doing this, I want to teach the classified staff the basics to help make their daily tasks easier. From just introducing this training it spiraled into training other administrators and hopefully into training students on a grander scale.

I wrote in a blog about 8 months ago that I wanted to get back to my passion. The passion of spreading technology. So here I am ready for the journey ahead.

The other main aspect of my life, my Health & Wellness Coaching side. This is actually a newer venture. One that I started because I knew I was not balancing my work-life situation. I was 90% work and 10% life. Let’s be honest, I was faking it while making it. I was achieving goals, hitting deadlines, but was getting so discouraged with how I felt physically and it was taking an emotional toll on me.

So I decided that I would sign up as a coach, to not only get a discount, but had the ability to later help serve others. Fast forward 8 months and I’m able to help 4 other women. I was able to give them the tools I’ve used to help me drop 25lbs, 2 pant sizes and give them tools for a healthier life. Serving them has been great, it’s given me a different purpose that I am passionate about. Allowing people to know their worth and strive to be the best they can be, daily.

Im looking forward to the rest of 2019 and seeing how God is going to use me in both of these roles.

As many in the education world are either approaching Spring Break or have had it…I ask you to make sure you take the time to reflect on the past three months and set goals for the rest of the year.

I can’t wait to see what you do!

MSC 2018: Teach like lives depend on it!

As I sit and reflect upon my experience at the Model Schools Conference, a phrase from the conference comes to mind, “attitude of gratitude”. This phrase came from Tyrone Howard’s keynote, which was very enlightening. Every session and keynote I sat in, allowed me to gain some powerful insights.

Here are the top 3:

  1. Blended Learning: “A great place of blended learning is where you can transition from old to new school. It’s not one or the other.”

I have been in education for 11 years (10 as a Teacher, 1 as a Vice Principal). I can count several new initiatives and “re-brands” to statewide testing. As time has progressed, technology has become the forefront of the education world. When I was in the classroom, I know that I was guilty of sometimes using technology before clearly defining my objectives. I was all for technology within my lessons, but I never lost sight of “old” school initiatives. As I sat in Wes Kieschnick’s keynote, he was talking about a BOLD (Blended & Old) approach and turning it into: Blended & Online Lesson Design. Using this structure within lesson design, will give our students the opportunity to be ready for the 21st century careers.

I know that many educators are blazing forward following new technology initiatives and weaving it creatively into their lessons, while others are still staying in their comfort zone with their “old” school lessons.

My plea to the trailblazers:

  1. Don’t lose sight of the objective within your lesson with technology. Make sure you follow Wes’ instructional design: OUTCOMES → STRATEGIES → TOOLS: (technology) → PLAN: What gets planned gets done → RIGOR & RELEVANCE: is it any good?
  2. Help your “old” school friends out. SHARE! SHARE! SHARE!

My plea to my “old” school friends:

  1. Take the leap into the digital age! Be an example to your students by stepping out of your comfort zone.
  2. Ask for help! Your colleagues and your students would LOVE to show you!

Finally, something that resonated with me as I listened to Kieschnick’s energetic keynote:

“Learning is King, Growth is Queen. “Cool” is the court jester. The jester is technology. And the jester has value, but don’t put him in charge of the kingdom.”

As educators we have the power to educate students. With that powerful statement, we need to make sure we do everything we can to ensure they are ready for the future.

  1. Teach like lives depend on it!

I sat in awe of Tyrone Howards keynote. His main focus was EQUITY. In order to bridge the gap and allow for equity, educators need to understand poverty, race & racism and mental health. Two of the three aspects resonated with me as being a major concern and need in our classrooms today: Race/Racism & Mental Health.

A mistake that Howard stated that many educators and society makes today, is that we say “we don’t see people’s color, we just see them as human”. A great approach to take, however that is doing a disservice to minority students in today’s classrooms. He continued to state that by taking this bad approach, we use microaggressions in our classrooms. Microaggressions are brief everyday exchanges that convey denigrating messages often unintentional and unconsciously delivered in the form of subtle snubs, dismissive looks, gestures and tones.

We as educators often want to show sympathy to our students, but we need to focus on empathy. We need to focus on how our students are feeling, and allow them to use who they are to drive their learning and experiences.

The second part was the focus on mental health. So much of my job as a Vice Principal is addressing students’ behavior. Much of what I do is trying to focus on the root of the issue and understand why students are behaving the way they are. Howard’s keynote focused on recognizing that discipline stems from the students social emotional upbringing and trauma experiences. Much of the SEL and trauma stays with students for a long time. In that, we must allow our students to receive help they need in order to minimize these behaviors as well as to teach them how to behave.

Many of the conversations I have had with colleagues over the last year has focused on building SEL into our classrooms. I am excited to see how our implementation of our new SEL plan will influence our students lives. (I will be sharing this in future blogs).

  1. Teaching the Hidden Curriculum.

Most teachers today focus on Assessments (Meeting Standards) and Technology, but we forget the most important component: Social Emotional Learning. Times have changed. I can remember my first few years as an educator and can recall few issues I’ve had in regards to behavioral issues. Now, I think of stories I have heard from teachers and other educators and notice the high increase of behavioral issues that fill our classrooms today. In Bill Daggett’s keynote, he emphasized that we need to ensure we are focusing on building up the social emotional aspect of our students by teaching them non-cognitive skills (not limited to):

Responsibility
Contemplation
Initiative
Perseverance
Optimism
Courage
Respect
Compassion
Adaptability
Honesty
Trustworthiness
Loyalty

I think a strong movement that needs to enter into the classroom is, less focus on the standards/technology and more focus on teaching our students these skills. PBL and technology lead to teaching our students this, but we must go a step further and get to know our students. We need to know what makes them tick, what they like, what past experiences they have gone through in order to make the much needed change in our classrooms.

This topic right here, is what I am so passionate about. I miss being in the classroom because of this specific aspect. My students were (and will always be) my babies. I invested so much of my life into them, getting to know about them and watching them develop these non-cognitive skills filled me with so much joy.

My plea to all educators, is to make sure you take 5 minutes a day to make connections with your babies. How we talk to them and what we talk to them about is what makes the difference. Once we have a safe classroom environment we can then pick back up on PBL, technology and assessments.

Year One. Growing.

Year One.

As I started this blog, I tried to think of one word to describe my year, it all came down to the word: growing. This last year has been a whirlwind to say the least. The eagerness of starting the job and all that it entailed, was so exciting during the first month. I do not think I actually remember my first month, except for sitting in the AP or Principal’s office asking a zillion questions. Through their graciousness and help from my wonderful secretaries, the first month was complete.

Then reality struck….literally.

October 1st, changed everything. That weekend I was out with one of my best friends and her family enjoying the Route 91 concert. We were singing to Jason Aldean…then bullets came flying overhead. As my best friend and I were seeking shelter, I was hit by ricochet from a bullet. At that point, I checked my emotions and new it was time to either stay and die from the bullets that were flying around me or time to find shelter. As my best friend and I hid in a storage container I could hear the devastation that was happening outside. We then began to find a place to lay while we waited for our fate. I was stunned and couldn’t function much, as I was standing there a girl begged for me to lay down because gunfire was piercing through the storage container. Seconds after I laid down, a bullet flew overhead in the direct location where I was standing bursting through cans of beer. There I was, laying soaked full of beer. I made the conscious decision to call my mom, no answer. I then decided it would be in my best interest to call the cops and let them know of the situation. After that, I tried my mom again. She answered. I told her I loved her. Making that contact with her was everything to me. After that, I was at peace. Whatever God had in mind, I was ready.  

God had different plans for me in that storage container. He allowed me to trust Him 100% with my life. (Don’t get me wrong I still struggle) The gunfire ceased. My best friend and I didn’t know if it was over or if it was a trick. Either way, we knew we needed to leave. After running by wounded victims, we ran for safety. As we ran, we ran into her dad and a random guy who came to look for us. The rest of the night was a blur as well as the next three months.

I don’t really remember the first semester and my job. I tried so desperately to get back to my life in blogging and technology. It was a struggle. I had to call and cancel speaking engagements (sorry CUE!). I completed my daily tasks, went through the motions, but part of me was missing.

It wasn’t until Christmas break, that I snapped out of it.

The way I looked at life, was completely different. I am so thankful for the job that I have. I am blessed to work with students on a daily basis and hopefully instill love, care, concern and build a positive rapport. Dealing with middle school students can be challenging, but I sincerely love this age because they are being molded into who they are going to be in the future. They are generally curious and fascinated with learning and experiencing a new world outside of elementary school. I hope that as I continue in my position, I will get to encourage and motivate future students to find their inner worth and see how they can impact the world.

I don’t know why the gunman did what he did. All I know, is that I am put in a position to help cultivate young leaders and allow them to see that they matter. What they do with their life and how they treat people is going to be how people remember them. I want them to know that they matter and their actions greatly influence others around them.

As I reflect on second semester, I find that I built great relationships with staff, got my feet wet in various avenues, but most importantly I grew leaps and bounds in regards to my emotions. I tend to be the person who wears their emotions on their sleeve. Now this can be a good thing, but can also be bad given the location and audience. This job has stretched me in keeping my “poker face” if you will. I can only count on 1 hand where I had an emotional breakdown this year (yay!). This is huge! With this new job comes so much responsibility, but also the ability to be a strong leader. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think expressing your emotions (crying etc.) is bad, but for me not breaking down is the best way I can do my job. I owe a lot of my growth to my parents and family, but significantly to my Principal and Assistant Principal. Their support, encouragement and advice throughout the year allowed me to grow the way I have.

As I look forward to next year, I have set forth 5 goals for myself:

  1. Go back to my passion: Educating staff and students in technology.

This is high on priority list. Teaching staff and students tech has been my life for the past five years. When it abruptly stopped, I lost a sense of who I am as and Educator. Bringing this back into my wheelhouse will help me stay grounded as an Educator and to never lose sight as an administrator.

  1. Develop a program to help support up and coming Educators

I want to build up future teachers. I hate hearing about teachers leaving the field of Education because they “didn’t know what to expect” or the fact that they didn’t have a solid foundation before entering. I want cultivate their passion for teaching at a young age and help pave a way for their future.

  1. Sign up to present at least 1 conference

I have presented at CADA, CUE Rockstar and EdTech in years past. Due to my life changing experience as I previously mentioned this has gone on hiatus. I want to get back out there and continue to share my passion and excitement for education.

  1. Support 5 “discipline” students by doing weekly, monthly check-ins.

Building rapport with students is one of the most important aspects any Educator can do to help support a positive environment. This by far is one of the greatest joys I have in engaging with students. I want to help support them to gain a healthy perspective of who they are and how they can be world changers.

  1. Classroom visits….

Prying myself away from endless paperwork is tough. I want teachers to know I care about what they are doing in the classroom, because I do! I want to make it a strong point that I increase the amount of classroom visits I do daily/weekly/monthly! I care and genuinely want to see the crafted and unique lesson plans that teachers spend hours working on.

Creating GIFs via Screencastify

 

Hello Education World!

It’s been awhile! I apologize for my absence. My world was joyfully transformed by becoming an Administrator and also completely devastated as I went through a life and death encounter. It’s been a crazy five months, but I am finally finding stability to get back to what I am so passionate about.

So what I would like to share with you today is on GIFs. I know you see the hilarious ones that come up on your text messages and Twitter apps,  but have you ever thought about using them for the classroom?

When I was in the classroom, I would use GIFs at least once a week to help show my students a new technology tool. I never had enough time to get through what I wanted to do in class, so I would record GIFs and plug them into a Slides Presentation. That way my students could watch at their leisure and get to know what program/tool we would be using the next day.

There are so many other ways for GIFs to be used in the classroom. One thing I wished I would have done in my classroom would have been to create tutorials on how students could access information such as how/where to find missing work or work while they were absent. I’m sure if you have students like I did, they would ask the #1 question, “did we do anything yesterday, while I was gone?” Often, I’m sure you quick to reply with something snappy or think to yourself how many times have I gone over this. To help prevent you from continued frustration using GIFs to show students where to go and how to do it is powerful.

Here is my tutorial on how to Create GIFs via Screencastify.

I’m sure there are others ways you Educators are using GIFs. If so, please share!

Google Classroom: Streamline Your Workflow

While in the classroom, Google Classroom was a saving grace for me in regards to streamlining my workflow. At the start of the school year, I was unsure as to how long I was going to be in the classroom, so I wanted to schedule and store assignments all in one place. Being able to pre-schedule assignments and have them easily accessible to the new transitioning teacher, made my time easier.

Last year, I loved being able to pre-schedule all the HyperDoc components for a unit ahead of time. My prep period was no longer used for getting ready for the next day, but rather planning for future units and new activities I could do with my students.

Upon conversations with other teachers, I have found that they were often discouraged with the tedious aspect of grading while using Google Classroom. Many would argue that they would have to open so many tabs. However, I was able to show them some tips and tricks to using Google Drive and it’s preview options to grade as opposed to opening individual tabs.

Through my conversations, I wanted to put together some valuable information that new educators and veterans could use to help streamline their everyday usage of Classroom. Please take the time to preview this presentation. If there is anything I can add, please let me know. I’d love to hear your feedback and include more ways to help other educators around the world.

A New Chapter: Transitioning from Teacher to Administrator

It has been about two weeks since I was named Vice Principal. I really have not been able to fully wrap my head around the news.

The realization has not felt real yet due to the fact that I was in limbo of starting my administrative job. I started this school year as a teacher. Being able to welcome over 150 bright shiny faces was such a unique experience. Starting a new school year with students, and knowing I wouldn’t stay the full year, was very hard for me. I enjoy building relationships with my students every year. However, due to the circumstances of this year, I knew I had to view these connections differently. Luckily, my replacement came within the beginning of the second week. It was hard for me to say goodbye to my students, but I knew I was leaving them in great hands.

Leaving my job on the last day was extremely hard. I was fortunate enough to open up the school as well as work to help create a powerful culture on campus. My role at this site consisted of various duties. To no longer have those roles, was hard to wrap my head around. (I’m not going to lie, having more time to think and enjoy life has been nice, but I felt like I lost a part of who I am.) After getting over that realization, I had to say goodbye to the wonderful office staff I had worked with over the past 8 years (some even longer). Driving to the gym that day, was full of tears, hope and excitement.

Walking into my job on day one, felt like an out of body experience. My new secretary and another secretary that works within my area, surprised me and decorated my office. They made me a huge welcome sign, blew up tons of balloons, as well as made me a super yummy pie. I was so shocked. Their thoughtfulness and sincerity was extremely touching. Day 1 was full of planning, understanding my role, meeting new staff and students, and job shadowing. Needless to say, it was overwhelming.

My first week was a lot of getting my feet wet and understanding that my role as an educator is vastly different. Although I am a teacher at my core, my day to day schedule no longer set by class period bells. Often, I am working on two things at once, juggling new issues,  and never fully knowing what time it is. I know that this new role is going to stretch me more than I have ever been before. With that being said, I am thankful that God has placed me where I am at, doing what I am doing.

The vision/purpose of the school site and leadership team, is uniquely refreshing. Being able to enter into a schools’ whose vision aligns with mine, is truly remarkable. I cannot wait to add to it in any way I can, as well as learn as much as I can.

As I look forward to the future, I see a year full of new experiences, new relationships, new lessons about life, new roles, and pretty much anything else my new chapter has in store.

Google Keep

Do you have countless post-its scattered about your desk? Do you keep important information in your calendar, in notebooks or random pieces of paper?

Do you often forget what list you made notes on? Do you often forget your list of things to do on your desk at home? at work?

Want an easy way to solve this problem? The solution: Google Keep!

Google Keep is a great way to take your notes and organize them according to content. Due to the versatility of Keep, you are able to write notes using the web based program via your computer (Chromebook, MacBook, laptop etc), as well the Google Keep app on your mobile device.

Being able to quickly jot down notes or items I need to complete in one program, has been a godsend. I no longer have several lists going in several different locations. We as educators have so much going on, Keep allows a little sanity.

Here is a snapshot of the desktop version of my Google Keep:

My phone app using Google Keep looks like this:

Organization and visual appeal are huge for me. I am a visual learner and remember things based on sight (color/font/location) etc. So being able to spruce up my Google Keep notes, is a fantastic addition to the overall functionality of the program.

Thank God for Twitter. I was able to read about Meredith Akers unique way of adding headers to your notes. In her blog post she shares out FREE templates that you can use to create headers that fit your style. She has free Google Drawing templates to create headers by using images or based on color.

Due to the busyness that this new school year will bring, I highly recommend giving Keep a try.

Blessings and well wishes as you start this new school year!