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.

Changing your Sheets….one sheet at a time!

Are you constantly using spreadsheets to create, organize and modify data?

Based on my background I use data for practically everything! I house all my student information, assessment results, survey results, budget sheets, calendars, list of staff members information….the list goes on and on!

I know that the classified staff (clerical staff) at my site uses spreadsheets for purchase orders, staff information, budget sheets etc. etc. etc.

I wanted to share out my information and knowledge of Google Sheets. Please use my slide deck to gain some insight on ways you can change your Google Sheets…one sheet at a time!


Here is the link to my slide deck

If you have any critiques, helpful tips I could possibly add or questions, please email me at: msjenn106@gmail.com.

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 road to becoming a Google Trainer!

I’m a Google Trainer! Shut the front door!

For me, this is a MAJOR accomplishment!

I have wanted to become a Google Trainer, since I heard about it way back at my first CUE conference in 2014. I watched several presenters display their badges and wondered…what the does that mean? Of course I listened to what they had to say, but I was curious about what a Google Certified Educator was and what did it mean to be a Trainer?

A little background on me. I love helping people! I love teaching not only in the classroom, but with everyday stuff! I can remember when I worked for In-N-Out Burger. I was passionate about that job! Some may think it’s only burgers and fries, but for me it was so much more. I was able to work with ridiculously amazing people, and learn what it meant to perform well under pressure and produce a great product. I grew exponentially working at In-N-Out for the five years I was there. During my experience there, I was approached from many Managers about becoming a In-N-Out Trainer. I thought about it. The one thing that made me not do it, was the fact that I didn’t want to smell like hamburgers the rest of my life. HA! However, the thought of becoming a trainer intrigued me, greatly. Again, I love to help people and I always want to teach people to be better.

Okay, so knowing I love the “trainer” position. I started in my journey of becoming a Google Certified Educator. Within the past year, I have built relationships with some technology gurus in my district. One in particular, has encouraged me, motivated me and inspired me to pursue my journey. Without her, I would not be where I am today. (TY) In February, I passed my Level 1 and 2. It wasn’t until spring break that I was able to sit down and apply for Google Trainer.

The application process was challenging and time consuming, but altogether fun! I was excited to build my video, list of trainings and fill out my case study. Learning and growing are deep passions that continue to propel me into not becoming stagnant. Once I submitted my application, I was anxious and nervous. Well that is an understatement. I freaked out! All the negative talk played in my head. Not letting it get the best of me, I prayed and laid it at Jesus’ feet.

April 18th I walked in from lunch and opened my Gmail. To my surprise, I read my acceptance email!!!!

Shut the front door! One of my Vice Principal’s was sitting in front of me and was looking at the weird expressions on my face. I was so excited I ran to my other administrators to share my good news. To accomplish something I have wanted for three years, was so encouraging! Praise God, hard work pays off! I’ve worked toward this goal slowly for three years.

So now that I have this title, now what? I am so passionate about building other educators up! So many of the people I work with doing amazing things with Google and technology in their classroom. Why not spread the word about having other teachers become Google Certified Educators and Google Trainers. Due to my experience it inspired me to create my weekly Tech Tip to showcase these trainings.

Link to School Staff about becoming Google Certified Teachers and Trainers.

Now, please understand I did not go for the Training position, for the badge. Initially it may have been to build my resume, but now that I understand the full meaning of a Google Trainer, I am blessed to be one.

I went for what it means to be a Google Trainer.

I want to help other educators instill passion and knowledge among their students. I want to ensure that every stakeholder in education has the opportunity to grow in their use of technology and empower other people.

I encourage you if you are not a Google Certified Educator or Trainer, try. You never know who else you can inspire.

5 THINGS

Upon attending CUE this weekend, I sprang to Twitter once it was over to hear of all the stories and experiences that everyone else had. As I was scrolling I saw @msventurino’s blog about 5 things. It inspired me create my own 5 things blog. So here it goes:

5 Takeaways from #cue17
1. Give credit where credit is due, you can re-tweak it but give credit.
This has been a mantra I’ve repeated in my head over and over again! I believe it goes back to my moral compass, one that seems to unwaver. People work REALLY hard. They dedicate and sacrifice their time to produce great lesson plans, innovative ideas, and ways to better our students. I know it is an unknown thing, where teachers “steal” from each other, but it is vital that we don’t lose our integrity in the movement. One session that I attend by Kristen Berg @mrsqueenberg, she said, “give credit where credit is due, you can re-tweak it but give credit”. Preach it sister!
2. Not using technology is not an option anymore.
Another powerful statement that was said by @mrsqueenberg was that, “not using technology is not an option anymore”. I totally agree with this! Some form of technology must be used. It often is a touchy subject. Many educators I know are using innovative apps and programs to allow students to be creative and guide their thinking, while others are still teaching like it’s 1950? We as educators must empower our students with the tools necessary to prepare them for success outside of high school. They need to be able to communicate, be creative, critically think and collaborate with others. I don’t know how that occurs if students are being talked to during direct instruction?
3. I have to do a Breakout EDU
This session was packed and the room was hot! So I’m not going to lie, I left! All I know is that I NEED to do a Breakout EDU session with my kids. I know various educators that do these constantly in their classrooms and have such great feedback from their students. It’s going to happen….
4. I have to create a Hyperdoc through Google Sites.
I’m pretty sure Blendopoly was a Hyperdoc on steroids! First and foremost TY @TrPatel20 @GMMoon1. The planning for your session was completely evident. Blendopoly was an interactive game via Google Sites. It greatly reminded me of Hyperdocs due to the fact that it required the participant to perform various tasks in order to move on. It allowed the participant to move at their own pace. I loved the streamline that Google Sites created for the process. Definitely going to increase my “game” with this activity.
5. @KristyAndre2 and @LaurenMStein led a powerful session.
Kristy and Lauren….A+ on your presentation. You ladies knocked it outta the park! Your energy was great, but your examples were what I was amazed at. The main thing I took away was the fact that you had elementary students doing some AMAZING things. All students are capable of accomplishing greatness if they are given the opportunity. You ladies gave me a sense of hope. I have taken a lot of steps outside my “zone” this year, and your presentation gave me the continued motivation to keep fighting the good fight. 

“Provide uncommon experiences for your student and they will reward you with an uncommon effort and attitude” Dave Burgess

5 Future Education Goals
1. Apply for an Administrative position: I am on the verge of finishing my PASC and could not be more excited! The possibilities are endless! I am eager and excited to see what the future holds! 
2. Become a Google Trainer & Google Innovator: I am going to finish my Google Trainer App this time! I am, I am, I am! Then I am going to start thinking about what I can do for GI.
3. Present at GAFE: I have applied once, but I am going to continue to refine my presentations and continue to pursue being a presenter at a GAFE conference.
4. Present at CUE (National Conference): My tech buddy Meagan and I have decided to present together! She is a teacher at a middle school, while I am a teacher at a high school. I think that if we put our ideas, tech skills and excitement together, we could potentially create a presentation worthy of the CUE conference. Looking forward to 2018!
5. Go to ISTE: This has been on my list for three years. It’s going to happen! I’ll see you in Chicago in 2018!

5 Talents I wish I had
1. Being a writer: I am a science teacher. I did poorly in grammar, punctuation and anything related to English. I wish I had the ability to allow thoughts to flow freely from my brain and create something worth reading. Unfortunately, it’s a work in progress.
2. The ability to say no!: It’s something I’m working on. I just want to help everyone! I’m finding though that this year, I have lost the “me” time that is so vital in my life. I know it’s only a season, so I look forward to Summer and next year to incorporate more of this. Although, I know that I will still continue to serve others.
3. The ability to function on no sleep: I need at least 7 hours of sleep in order to function. Coffee helps, but if I have less than that, let’s just say it’s not a well functioning day. I admire other teachers who run on 2-3 hours and still do amazing work.
4. To speak another language: My parents are both bilingual. I, however, am not! That is one of the biggest regrets I have. I know that as I continue to grow as an educator, this is a talent I wish to acquire.
5. Rapping: I really wish that I could rap! A strange talent, but one I want to accomplish! I think that my students would appreciate it and it could potentially add to my content delivery. 

5 Books on my To-Be-Read List
1. Dive Into Inquiry by Trevor MacKenzie
2. Blended by Horn and Staker
3. Lead like a Pirate by Burgess and Houf
4. Courageous Edventures by Jennie Magiera
5. Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carolyn Dweck

5 Things I’m going to Implement in my classroom for the last quarter
1. Breakout edu
2. Build a Hyperdoc for AP Bio
3. Use GoFormative
4. Try FlipGrid for review for AP Bio
5. Use a project as a Summative test rather than multiple choice ?s