Saturday, January 28, 2017


As an instructional coach on the technology team, I spend my time supporting teachers with professional development, PLCs (professional learning community), and as a thinking partner either one on one or small group. Twitter, blogs, and Instagram are other formats I use to connect with, learn from, and support educators. As a coach, mindset is incredibly important to consider with each person I encounter. Just as a teacher with students, the educators I get to work with all have various experiences, schema, and mindsets. When I am questioned or challenged with educators, I have to redirect them to feel safe, build trust, and take a risk with a growth mindset using ‘yet’. I have to carefully consider all of this as I work with others. This is a challenge for me as I am building relationships with teachers at eleven elementary campuses in our district. Not only do I have to consider their individual mindsets, but I also have to constantly check my own mindset. Being new to this role after 18 years in the classroom, there are days I am filled with doubt. I have to intentionally rethink and choose to redirect my thoughts. I know they chose me for this job for a reason. I know I am capable of this job and it is my passion. So when I get off track, it is up to me to get back on track. Therefore, mindset is extremely important in several aspects of my job as an instructional coach.

To promote learning about mindset, I created a HyperDoc. A HyperDoc is a Google Doc used to provide resources for learners to seek information at their own pace while documenting their learning. I use these with teachers by forcing a copy so they have the resources and their notes in their Google Folder at all times. In this case, their notes are not for me but for themselves. Our team uses HyperDocs to model for teachers how they can be used in their classrooms. Within my HyperDoc, I have included videos, reading, and areas for note taking or directions to take notes, as well as images, opportunities to reflect, and ways to connect.

Mindset HyperDoc or

In addition to using the mindset HyperDoc, I can continue to support teachers by promoting the power of ‘yet’. I can encourage growth mindset for teachers by encouraging them to set goals, provide opportunities for teachers to track their growth, and reflect. In PLCs, I can promote growth mindset for students with teachers as well. We can work together to think of ways to promote growth mindset with students and in the learning environment. One of my passions is coding and computer science. Coding is a great opportunity for students to practice ‘yet’ by debugging codes and persevering to find a solution through collaboration. Another of my passions is Student Voice. After PLCs, I ask teachers to complete a Teacher Voice survey so they have an opportunity to share their voice plus I can gain input to provide better support. I hope this models for teachers how they can use Student Voice to hear their students, build trust, and understand obstacles students encounter in order to promote a growth mindset in the classroom.

A growth mindset is necessary for me these days, especially. Working full time in a new position with two children that are active in sports while my husband travels is a lot to juggle, but I am also completing Action Research, a Principal Practicum, and graduate school classes. I am fortunate to have a supportive family but parts of my life have had to take less priority during this time. There are days I feel discouraged for not being able to do what I feel I need to do, so I have to remember this is temporary and find the motivation to persevere. I read the mindset book a few years ago but this refresher is coming at a very good time for me. I find the four steps to be very helpful as I am over the halfway mark with grad school and need a little confidence boost. By reminding myself of the four steps, I can redirect my thoughts to work toward successful growth and learning.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Seesaw Ambassador

I am a Seesaw Ambassador!
I learned about Seesaw late last spring and was excited to test it out in my classroom. I began following @Seesaw on Twitter, Facebook, and joined a Facebook Group to learn more. Now as an Instructional Technology Coach, I have the opportunity to see Seesaw in action in multiple classrooms at a variety of grade levels as well as provide Seesaw as a tool for teachers to offer in the classroom. My goals as an Ambassador for Seesaw are to learn more about integrating Seesaw to amplify student learning, provide support for educators to purposefully use Seesaw to connect their students and families, promote ideas for using Seesaw, and connect classes to share their learning beyond the four walls of their classroom. I'm looking forward to learning more, connecting with others through this opportunity, and sharing ideas I gain from this experience.

Seesaw empowers students and engages families by providing a platform for students to share their learning by uploading a picture or video, then adding text, labels, and voice. Teachers can connect classrooms to promote collaboration and communication beyond the classroom. Students can post questions and comment on each other's work. Parents can view their children's work to promote discussion at home of skills and learning.

If you would like to know more about Seesaw, go to my Ambassador page or just ask. If you are not local, search for a Seesaw Ambassador near you. I enjoy attending Seesaw's 'PD in Your PJs' - I can view these webinars live or they send a recording to watch at a time that works best for me. Webinars last from 10 minutes to an hour, depending on the topic.

Already using Seesaw? Check out a trial of Seesaw Plus by scanning here:

How do you connect your students with each other, their families, and other students?

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

#OneWord 2017

A new year is a new opportunity. Right? - I always think of something I read somewhere that asks why we wait until Monday or the first of the month to start again on a diet or exercise or another goal. Funny how it feels like a new slate at the beginning of something, whether it is the day, week, month, or year. However, we have the opportunity to make that choice at any time. That is what I learned last year with my #OneWord for 2016: CHOOSE.

A new year provides a new opportunity for direction, as well. A new school year is one of my favorites - a blank spiral notebook, sharp pencils, full sets of markers and crayons in each box that haven't been dumped yet, pens filled with ink. Fresh, new, untouched... yet. However, it all has a purpose and is led by that sense of direction. All it takes is focus and perspective to drive you toward your next level. If that is learning, action, behavior, decisions, whatever - that is what I felt drove my #OneWord for 2015: PURPOSE.
So here I am... digging deep to find the #OneWord for 2017 that speaks to me. With two years of purpose and choices driving my every move - I feel I need to really enjoy the results of the decisions I've made intentionally and be present. With busy boys in sports, grad school, a new position at work, a husband that travels for his job - I am stretched and spinning most days. I find I do not have time to shop, watch a movie, exercise, chat with friends, or read a book (that isn't related to grad school or work). I depend on my house cleaning ladies. I am the person that brings plates and napkins to the potluck. My kids are buying their lunches or making their own. I celebrate online grocery orders and hot Starbucks skinny vanilla lattes. I'm the mom at practice that appears uninterested and unengaged but is working on a grad school project using my mobil hotspot while keeping on eye on my child from the car or the bleachers. Please don't judge me. I'm doing my best. I'm thankful I get to chat with my kids in the car during the drive. Pinterest projects? Not right now. As everything just presses on, I get caught up and lost in all the demands and need to remember to just be.
So true. It is my choice to be happy. Nobody else can make that choice for me.
I have the power to allow or deny how someone else will make me feel.
As an educator, I completely agree there is not enough time to teach ALL THE THINGS so we attempt to fit in learning at every moment of every day. Yet I am one that felt in class, sometimes we just need to be. When we stand in the hallway, waiting - no need to drill facts, just be. Take a breath, think for a moment, relax and reset.
(This was completely validated in my Shadow a Student Challenge - being a student is exhausting!)
Presume positive intent. Always.
You don't know someone's story. And everyone has a story.
Even children. They are people, too.
As a mom, my boys are often wanting to be entertained - on a device, talking, singing, watching TV, or throwing a ball. For example, standing in line at the store -
BOYS: Can we have candy? Can we go look at toys? What are we doing next? Can I have your phone? etc.
ME: Um, no. Practice patience. Just. Be.
What a relief. Sometimes I need permission.
Be me.
While learning more about coaching in my role as Instructional Coach, we identify skills, learn the reason for those skills, then practice. One such skill is listening to someone in a conversation. Sure, I thought, I am a great listener! However, as I began the exercise, the facilitator stopped us and asked what we were thinking about and I realized I was trying to solve the problem or remember key ideas or I was trying to decide what I would say next. I WASN'T listening! Ohmygosh. I was so mad at myself. I realized then I have a lot to learn and began to really reconsider how my even my strengths have room for growth.

I heard the song 'The One and Only'
the other day on my 90's station.
New perspective on that song.
In my new role, I am emerging from the place of 'I don't know what I don't know' to finding my groove and better understanding my role. After spending months of trying to be like others or filling someone else's shoes, I realize they hired me. I am enough. I am not someone else. I need to be me.

Then it occurred to me. When Christmas Break arrived, grad school was on a FOUR week break (YES!!!!) and work was on a two week break. I was thrilled to be home with my boys, catch up with some friends, watch weeks of DVRed shows, see movies, read a book, enjoy the sunny Texas 'winter' weather, do chores around the house that have piled up since summer. Yet, there I was almost filled with anxiety because I had NOTHING TO DO yet time to do everything. And I hear myself saying 'Just be.'

Do you see it coming? Surely by now you must know what my word is. BE.

Be lazy.
Be a Mom. (even if it is the Most Okayest Mom)
Be a good wife.
Be a daughter.
Be joyful.

Be thankful.
Be sad.
Be optimistic.
Be a mentor.
Be an inspiration.
Be a leader.
Be a learner.
Be passionate.
Be irritated.
Be content - grab the book, get another cup of coffee, snuggle up, escape.
Be a friend - reach out to those I love that I miss and haven't seen due to buzy-ness.
Be present - unplug, enjoy, soak it all up
Be real.
Be me.


And a little funny...
This. THIS is how I should enjoy a holiday!

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Dot Day

On September 15, over 5 million participants will celebrate the 7th annual Dot Day from all over the world. Dot Day is an opportunity to connect your students, promote creativity, and build a positive classroom environment.

Based on the story by Peter H. Reynolds, The Dot, students find the author's hope is to inspire others to express themselves creatively and "make your mark" on the world around you. Dot Day began in 2009 on September 15th when a teacher by the name of Terry Shay shared The Dot with students. What started as a small, creative idea has grown to be a worldwide, collaborative event - the exact idea The Dot celebrates. FableVision and Peter H. Reynolds continue this tradition by inviting others to join in. The mission of FableVision is to support educators to inspire creativity, collaboration, communication, critical thinking and compassion in students. 

After you register to participate, you will receive a free planning guide to assist you. The level at which you participate is flexible to meet the needs of your classroom. You could choose to read the book, have a conversation about the characters and the story, and create your own dot. Or, you could further enrich the experience by Skyping with other classrooms, connection with others on social media such as Twitter or Facebook, or view the LiveStream to celebrate with Discovery Education on September 13. 

Participating in Skype, viewing LiveStream, connecting with #DotDay on Twitter, and viewing augmented reality are options for integrating technology to enhance your students' learning experience. By selecting these options, educators are providing engaging opportunities for learning that are not possible without technology.
Quiver app - AR
Students can design a dot and watch it come to life using augmented reality. Students will create their own dot design using the downloadable page, then use the Quiver app to make their 2D dot appear 3D.

Other Ideas:
*Wear Dots (and provide dot stickers so all students can participate)
*'Dot Up' (Circle Up) - use a sentence stem "I will make my mark by __ ."
*Dot Search - take a Dot Walk and search for dots/circles inside and outside; document with photos and create a PicCollage to save in a class Google Slide so all can view
*Connect with another class using Padlet to share Dot Day creations
*Create a Dot Plot after forming a question and collecting data. Share your results with your peers.
*Reflect on how you will make your mark on your blog
*Read The Dot to reading buddies and partner up to make a Buddy Dot to display

Additional Ideas:
Dot Activities

The Dot Q&A from Peter H. Reynolds 
Search Pinterest for Dot Day ideas
Facebook International Dot Day for teacher connections, ideas, and resources
Another book to discover from Peter H. Reynolds is Ish. This is a great story about focusing on the process, not the product, and embracing a growth mindset. If your class is unable to participate in Dot Day on September 15th, consider having 'Dot Day-ish' on a day that is more suitable. 



#OneWord 2016 Reflection

Wow! Time flies and I had not realized it has been SO long since I wrote a blog post. So many things happening that I had to prioritize and this outlet lost the battle. That is totally unfortunate, however, since I find that expressing my thoughts and reflecting are extremely powerful.

This school year I am incredibly thankful for my new position. I accepted a role as Instructional Technology Coach in our district! I cannot put into words how exciting this change is for me. Not only am I able to continue to learn about purposeful technology integration, I have a greater platform to work with educators, develop ideas, and build capacity. It feels like a perfect fit for me and I am really enjoying it. Of course, the transition has brought many challenges and feelings out that I didn't expect - having been on one campus with basically the same core people for sixteen years was harder to leave than I ever imagined. Those people are my second family and we grew up together during our early adult years. Several of us are close friends - attended weddings, welcomed new babies, mourned lives lost, raised our babies together, and had each other. We were our own village and I miss them all very much! This barely scratches the surface of how this change has impacted my boys - new school, new friends, new sports teams. Yet I knew it was time to choose something new. I absolutely LOVE teaching and miss students so much; however, I was ready to share my passion beyond the classroom, campus, my PLN... and it was a hard choice!

Over the course of last school year, I felt led to do more. I enjoyed my campus, loved my students and parents, enjoyed my coworkers... but I was hungry to learn and grow. My district provides opportunities for growth and leadership, and I was fortunate to learn from those and gain experience. My campus empowered us to seek leadership opportunities and I did what I could to explore different roles and push forward. The area I live in provides multiple learning opportunities and I attended what I could to grow, connect, and learn. However, I still wanted more. After lots and lots... and lots of discussion with my family plus many lists of pros and cons I decided to return to grad school and get my master's degree. This may seem like a small decision to some but I never would have guessed I would want to pursue higher learning as a teacher all these years. I felt fed from my campus, district, and region - yet recently, I needed more. Plus, even harder was the decision to make the time commitment. I knew it would take time from my family, my friends, and especially my boys - working mom guilt is hard enough, but could I handle the pressure when adding in work plus school? We decided it was beneficial for my career, my desire for new learning, and a good example for my boys to see both their parents seek continuous learning as adults.

Last year my #OneWord was CHOOSE, which I wrote about here. That was no joke and the perfect word for my year. Mid-way through the year, I did a self-assessment and wrote here about my #OneWord at that point. As a part of a school assignment and also part of identifying who I am in my new role, I created a vision statement for myself:

I strive to be a change agent* by empowering others, building relationships, connecting, collaborating, and inspiring others to grow from where they are.

As I reflect on my year in 2016 - so many choice and such a year of change for me and my family. Some areas I chose to move in a new direction: new job, new schools for the boys, grad school, new baseball teams for the boys, new car. Some areas I chose to lose priority: time for exercise, time for friends, time for me. This has had an impact on my well-being as I need friends, exercise, time for myself; but all in all I feel I balanced it all to the best of my abilities. As I work to select my #OneWord for 2017, I think of how I can learn from my #OneWord focus the last few years and select a great word to empower myself to truly enjoy the decisions I make with no regrets, looking forward and being present in each moment.

What. A. Year!