Stepping out in Faith

I think for me, I have always been a passionate person. Just ask my parents 🙂 I also knew from a young age, I’d somehow be involved in education. As crazy as that sounds, I fully believe I’ve been set apart to live a life that has been different in comparison to others my age. Not for the better, just different.

I feel like my faith and passion have led me to where I am today. Two years ago, I would never think I’d be in the place I am today. It was in a meeting at school, that I decided that I was going to pursue a job in school administration. Through tears and anxiousness, I deciphered through my feelings and emotions and determined that God was calling me to take this step out in faith. Always being a planner and wanting to be constantly in control, I began my journey. Within this past year, I began my Preliminary Administrative Services Credential. I am only a few weeks out from completion of this program and am starting to begin the application process.

As I start taking steps to begin this process, I am anxious, but am so encouraged by some amazing educators out in the field. To the amazing authors of Lead Like a Pirate, Shelley Burgess and Beth Houf, your excitement and passion has helped me to keep my focus alive! Your book has provided wonderful examples of what a transparent and authentic leader looks like. I feel like these two characteristics really reach to the core of what I aim to model as a leader.

Transparency and authenticity to building up staff and students is my driving force. These two characteristics also transcend into my personal life. I know that as a leader I must continue to be vulnerable and open about my vision and purpose personally and professionally. I think that as I continue to pursue this passion I know that must be crystal clear about my priorities, vision and goals.

The main passion laid on my heart about being an administrator, is supporting teachers to teach in the 21st century. Encouraging and motivating teachers to reach their full potential has always been the aim I’ve had. Cultivating relationships with my colleagues is something that I cherish so much. They have taught me so much about myself and about obstacles that are taking place outside of my classroom. In those conversations, they gave me the motivation and support I needed to take steps I wouldn’t necessarily take. I began several journeys within this past year. Taking the chance and applying to be a Google Trainer as well as guest speaking at conferences has really allowed me to take the steps to “leading up”. It’s been a roller coaster of an experience, but I think Shelley and Beth said it best about being a leader:

“it involves grit, determination, persistence, flexibility, an element of fun, and a whole lot of heart!”. 

So as I continue on my journey, I am going to hold onto God’s plan for my life as well as continue to equip myself to be the best version of myself. Knowing that He is going to guide me where He can use me, to carry out His plan.

My motivation for writing this, is that I hope you are encouraged to take a step out in faith. To pursue passions that have been put on your heart. In the process, I hope that you aim for transparency and authenticity. I cannot wait to hear how you succeed.

Ask yourself if what you are doing today is getting your closer to where you want to be tomorrow. ~Unknown

My CUE Rockstar “Hero’s Journey”

My journey with CUE started about three years ago, when I was sent to attend National CUE. I was a kid in a candy shop. The innovative mindset that the presenters were focusing on, made me change my perspective of how I ran my classroom. I stumbled upon a booth at CUE called, CUE Rockstar. By the name, I was easily intrigued….(who wouldn’t want to be a rockstar?). After listening to the presentation, I knew I had to ask my Assistant Principal to see if he would let me go. Surprised, I was sent to my very first CUE rockstar in Manhattan Beach. I was amazed to meet some phenomenal teachers (@nowatechie @LS_Karl @Jstevens009 @JenRoberts1 @MsVictoriaOlson @CoffeeNancy) The CUE rockstar set up during these camps was much smaller and allowed for: one on one communication, hands on time, and an exciting atmosphere. Needless to say after my first rockstar, I was hooked. I knew that I wanted to attend one every summer, but I also felt this urge of, “you’re going to do this one day”. The first I was sure of, I’ve been to a rockstar camp every summer, but I was greatly unsure of the second.

My journey into presenting and leading trainings didn’t fully start until about two years ago. I would lead small sessions and discussions within my school site, but never wanted to go past that. One would say I’m pretty extroverted, however it does not come naturally to me. I have to fight my own insecurities to be outgoing. However, as I led small trainings at my site and later my district, I began to feel comfortable with my knowledge. It wasn’t until February of this year, that I discussed with my Tech Sister (my sounding board & tech best buddy) that it would be a great thing to start presenting at larger conferences, such as CUE. I initially was scared, did I have what it takes to be successful?

To my surprise, I was accepted to teach at CUE Rockstar Chico. After being accepted, I went through all the stages of emotion. The main emotion and thought that would run through my head was, “am I going to bomb this?” However, through the support of my summer school office staff, I was sent with positive words of affirmation as I left for the airport.

I tell you all of this backstory to tell you about my journey as a CUE Rockstar Faculty Member….

If you are familiar with the CUE rockstar camps you will know that there is a component called the “Shred Sessions”. If you are a camp attendee it’s the time to hear about all the fun and engaging opportunities you will experience during a faculty members session. As a presenter…it was one of the most scariest time of my life. I can be humorous and fun, but I am not a singer, dancer or performer. As I was watching my fellow faculty members rock their sessions, I was dying on the inside. When it was my turn, I went up, don’t really remember what I said, but was excited I was done with the shred. Unsure of what I said made any sense, I was ecstatic to see attendees come to my “episodes”.

The theme for this year’s CUE Rockstar camps was “A Hero’s Journey”. As I reflect on my experience as a faculty member I can see relate my story so much to a journey.

The stages of a hero’s journey are as follows:

  1. Listen for your call to adventure
  2. Accept the challenge
  3. Conquer your fear
  4. Claim the treasure you seek

The call to adventure that was presented to me was taking the step out of my comfort zone and applying to teach outside of my district. I wanted to spread my passion to other educators ready for a challenge. So once I found my adventure, I took the step and applied. Let me just say applying to speak at conferences or for things in general really takes a toll of a woman’s psyche. 🙂 I questioned everything! Even from the littlest things, such as whether or not to add a bitmoji to the slide. Overall, through the process I had an amazing support team, constantly encouraging me and reassuring me, I can do this! Then as I said before, I conquered my fear. Those “shred” sessions were the biggest hurdle. Actually teaching the “episode” was the best part! The definite treasure in my journey: being able to share and interact with teachers. Watching them learn how to do tips, tricks or redesign their lessons is so rewarding.

As I walk away from what I know was an absolute blessing, I write to tell you to find what can be your own “Hero’s Journey”. Find your adventure, accept the challenge, conquer your fear, and claim the treasure you seek. So many of you, educators and people, have so much to offer the world. We often limit ourselves to reach our full potential due to fear, doubt and insecurities. I can speak about that first hand. But seriously, you have so much to give, why not give freely. I can’t wait to hear how you are using your talents to give back.

Be the hero!

High Tech High Reflections

High Tech High. Not so tech, but sets the standard on project/problem based learning, oh so high. High Tech High is located in San Diego. It is a choice school where the students are guided by four design principles–equity, personalization, authentic work, and collaborative design.

Let’s just say, I was amazed at how a school could run when focused more on PBL and learning for education sake and not the grade. Don’t get me wrong, I think many schools focus is the same, however based on the freedom this school has, it’s just different. Public schools, where I teach, have standards that we focus on, a wider range of student needs, college prep classes we incorporate, just a completely different set up than this charter school.

However, despite the differences there is so much that I got out of it!

My 7 takeaways from High Tech High:

  1. Don’t build a project to please yourself (the teacher), but for someone or something (an audience). I feel like so often we build projects or instruct our class based on our own personal interests. But in all reality students are living in a different time, when we as teachers were in high school. We have to get out of our comfort zone and teach to students desires and interests. I think you’d be amazed of what your classroom will look like.
  1. Focus on the 3Ps: Participation, Process & Product. I think so often we as teachers can get “nitpicky” on grading. We have to grade every assignment, with a specific grade scale etc, etc, etc. Sometimes it gets mundane. I have my students do work everyday, but sometimes they don’t receive a grade for EVERY assignment. I make some assignments worth more points, due to what they lead to in the bigger picture. I know I will grade heavy in their active participation, the process and the final product.
  1. Work towards your passion. My passion in education is to prepare teachers and students to teach in the 21st century. I want them to feel empowered and make an impact with their own lives, but in the lives of others. In order for me to achieve this, I have to go outside of my comfort zone and put in work. I work almost everyday to find ways to innovate my colleagues and students. Working hard, has given me so much to be proud of and has made it possible for teachers and students to be motivated for learning.
  1. They do what I do. No fear in failure. I have to continue to promote a growth mindset in my class. I have to continue to work outside of my comfort zone and not be afraid to take a leap. Over the course of the year I failed publically and privately. I’ve shared this openly with my students so that way they can see this, there can be no fear, when aiming for new goals. You may fail and fall, but you may fly!
  1. Be explicit about why they are doing what they are doing. Teach/Coach them about what they are doing. Being open and honest with what students are doing goes a long way. Building an honest and open rapport with your students can help cultivate meaningful projects and learning. Being a constant voice of support and direction, can encourage them along the way.
  1. Publish student work. It engages students and let’s them see the value in their work. I need to be better at this! I have started digital portfolios within my classroom, however they don’t necessarily show ALL the hard work my students have put in over the course of the year. I know that the portfolios are a great way to showcase their work, but have exhibitions can also be a way to allow the community to know what my students are capable of. It was huge when one HTH teacher said, don’t just make the “trashcan” projects, make them something memorable and worth publishing!
  1. Listen to why students are not engaged. THIS IS HUGE! Many students become disengaged in content quickly. This directly ties back the my takeaway #1. Students have a voice, they have feelings emotions, desires, motivations etc., we have to listen to them. We have to then take what they say and tie it into our curriculum, somehow, someway!

Cultivating meaningful instruction is hard, but we have to be willing to put in the work. This year I tried HyperDocs for the first time, and it changed the way I instruct. My students were engaged and motivated. Their assessment scores showed a 15% improvement. My plea to my fellow educators is….take the leap, do the work, enjoy the process, build relationships with your students, and show off what they produce. It will amaze you and make your career more worthwhile.

All in all, I was encouraged to know that I’m not far off the path of what HTH is doing. This being an ideal school, I am doing a lot of what they are doing, just on a different scale. After visiting, I know that I must continue to pursue my passion, and continue to dive into the passions of my students.