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.

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!