This week I hit the ground running. It began with a 6 hour drive home from an amazing experience at FallCUE on Monday that led directly into the second half of a work day and the pace didn’t stop as the week progressed. Waking up this morning, I felt like I had run into a brick wall. All I could think of was, “Thank Goodness It’s Friday! With a latte’ in hand, I walked into my first meeting of the day with a smile, but secretly desiring to crawl back in bed and start my weekend early. I’m so glad I didn’t follow through with my tired inclinations, because today was one to remember. A perfect reminder of all that I’m so grateful for and the things that I value so much as an educator. As I was reflecting on this marvelous day, a friend said, “you need to write a blog post about this day so you can remember it on the ones that are more difficult.” I knew immediately that this was exactly what I needed to do, and how serendipitous that this magical day falls so beautifully into my MAGICAL acronym…
Authenticity and Agency
Creativity, Collaboration, and Curiosity
My culinary adventures in my district began at South Medford High School. After 13 years as a culinary teacher, this year I transitioned to a new role as a Tech Integration Specialist. After being part of a school culture for that long, it’s hard to leave. You develop relationships with colleagues and students that help shape who you are as an educator and they become a part of a school family. So many memories have accumulated over the years and returning to SMHS will always feel like coming back home. My day started with a meeting in my former high school library chatting about edtech with people I love. This warm, collaborative space is so welcoming and inviting. Teacher librarian, Jennifer McKenzie, and media tech, Gigi Michaels, intentionally create a special space where everyone can gather and feel safe and accepted. They always have beautiful displays and even brought in a piano this year for students and staff to express themselves musically throughout the day. It feels like your walking into Nordstroms. My heart filled with gratitude for this school and the people I hold dear to my heart. It is wonderful to know that I can still collaborate with this amazing group of educators and now be able to support them and their work in my new role. As I was leaving I ran into many former students that I miss so much. It was so wonderful to see them and hear how their new year was going.
Authenticity, Agency, and Authentic Audience
The next stop of the morning was at one of our district’s elementary schools. A 5th grade class had invited me in to talk about my journey to becoming a Dave Burgess Consulting, Inc author. How cool is that?! I really had no idea what to expect, so as I walked into the room I was overwhelmed by the warm welcome I received. These kids made me feel like a celebrity the moment I walked in the door. Within seconds of sharing about my love for writing and my journey to becoming an author, hands shot up in the air. These kids were full of curiosity about writing and what it meant to share your story. There were so many questions in fact, I had a hard time figuring out who to call on next. Their questions were so insightful!
“What inspired you to write your story?”
“Do you ever have a difficult time organizing your ideas and thoughts? How do you sort them all out?”
“What were your favorite books to read as a kid?”
Their curiosity blew my mind! I was absolutely overwhelmed by the enthusiasm of these young writers. It was such a pleasure to share from my heart about my writing adventures and empower them to write their stories as well. Seeing their little eyes twinkle with excitement and possibility was a reminder as to how important our stories are to share. As the teacher told the class our time was coming to a close, a half dozen hands went into the air hoping to sneak in a few last questions. “Has our teacher read your book?” When I told them I had brought one today for her the class loudly cheered. How precious is that?! Then, the last question took me by complete surprise and filled my eyes with tears! “Can I get your autograph?” When I answered, “Of course!” the room filled with chatter as additional kids echoed, “Could I get an autograph too?” As I said my goodbyes, students started gathering around for hugs and autographs on little slips of notebook paper. One kid even asked me to sign his shirt. I’m pretty sure at this point some tears slipped out as I was overcome by emotion. We never know the impact our story may have on another’s journey, we need to share it!
Gamification and Innovation
As I was leaving this amazing experience, I peaked in the door of another teacher that is one of the Spark Starters on our district's Innovation Team. I was overjoyed to see that her kids were all on Flipgrid creating video reflections of a book that they had just read in class. This teacher had just recently been introduced to Flipgrid and I was so impressed that she was already using this new digital tool in her classroom. I loved the energy in the room and how immersed these kids were in learning!
As I was walking around something on the wall made me do a double take! She had a display that showed all of her game mechanics for the Amazing Race. I had just shared last week how I had gamified my culinary class with an Amazing Race theme and she had already designed a game framework and launched it in her classroom! I was so impressed by the courage of this teacher. She didn’t hesitate to take a few risks and face an uncertain outcome in hopes of creating unforgettable experiences for her students. It’s so easy to gravitate towards the comfortable and predictable rather than challenge ourselves to try something that could potentially be new and better. She shared with me that the launch hadn’t been perfect, but by jumping in she was quickly able to iterate as needed as her students experienced it. This is innovation in action!
Creativity, Collaboration, and Curiosity
My next stop of the day was at the elementary school my own two kids attended. I absolutely love this school and how they nurtured my children through their younger years. In fact, as I was walking onto campus a flood of nostalgia came over me as I remembered all the wonderful and special memories that took place on this campus.
From the moment I walked into the classroom of the Spark Starter that I was visiting, I knew it held a special magic. She had completely transformed her classroom into Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory and was dressed up in costume herself to match the theme! It was amazing! As we chatted she explained all of the immersive learning activities and challenges she had created that all tied into the theme and standards! Creativity, collaboration, and curiosity all working in beautiful harmony to create unforgettable experiences for students. Her passion, enthusiasm, and joy radiated from her and I knew without a doubt her students felt it too because it’s contagious! When we are on fire for teaching, our students become on fire for learning! Becky Vanduker is a must follow! She is continually transforming her space into a magical place of unforgettable learning!
As I was soaking up all the magic of this incredible classroom, a former student of mine that was visiting popped his head in the door! I am pretty sure I squealed or screamed with excitement! This kid that I remembered so well, now an adult, is in his second year as an elementary teacher in Northern Oregon! As he shared about his classroom and teaching experience, my heart filled with pride. It was not that many years ago he was my student and now he had a classroom of his own making a difference in the lives of kids.
As he left the classroom, a former teacher of my children entered the room. His own child had been in my culinary classes throughout high school and held a special place in my heart. He was a kid that didn’t particularly like school. He was a very talented, creative and “out of the box” thinker who didn’t fit into the traditional school mold. I remember telling him, “You are going to do amazing things one day, I just know it.” As this teacher began sharing about his son, my eyes began to fill with tears. Not only is this former student of mine doing well, he is thriving! He is now a very successful entrepreneur who is living his dream. His next words made my heart melt into puddles. They went something like this….“Thank you for believing in my son and his potential. Your belief empowered him and helped him believe in himself. You made an impact on his life.” I was speechless. We all leave footprints on our students lives. When we take the time to really get to know our students, love them, and believe in them it makes an impact whether we ever see the outcome or not. These interactions were a special reminder today that what we do matters A LOT. We daily are impacting lives in a profound way. We are leaving a legacy and empowering others to leave a legacy as well. That is magical!
Watch with Glittering Eyes
Days like this help me remember how grateful I am for the opportunity to live out my passion everyday and impact the lives around me in a positive way. There is magic all around us if we remember to watch with glittering eyes. I would have missed out on today's secrets if I would have stayed in bed and started my weekend early. I'm so glad I experienced the magic of today.
Co-Written with my girl, Tara Martin @TaraMartinEDU
The #GratitudeSnaps Challenge is as easy as 1-2-3.
Focus each day on one thing for which you are grateful. It could be a thing, a person, a feeling; it’s personal to you.
Educators, students, community members...anyone who would like to participate is more than welcome. The more positivity we can flood the world with, the better.
Create a GratitudeSnap by connecting it to something positive in your life. Add pics, text, anything you choose.
Take a picture with your phone and share why this image makes you grateful. You can use any picture app to create your #GratitudeSnaps. (We will be using SnapChat.)
Click here for a quick 3-minute video to show you the basics of Snapchat. (Just create#GratitudeSnaps instead of #BookSnaps.)
Click this link for many apps used to make #BookSnaps, which can easily convert to #GratitudeSnaps.
Post it to Twitter including #GratitudeSnaps & tag us @TaraMartin EDU and @tishrich.
Let’s begin our 22-days of #GratitudeSnaps on Nov 1st, 2018. It will last until Thanksgiving, November, 22nd. You're welcome to keep it going; there is certainly no "time frame" on being grateful.
The world has plenty of negativity, let’s spread a grateful attitude! We have so much of which to be thankful.
Journal of Snaps
If you’d like to follow Tisha’s 30-day #GratitudeSnaps Challenge, click the Padlet below.
Okay, so I’m a cryer. To all that know me, you can verify this as truth. I will agree that I am a highly sensitive, emotional soul, that wears my heart on my sleeve. Though there have been many times in my life (even recently) that I have wished I could trade those traits in for another two that were a little easier to live with, it is part of what makes me who I am. I own it.
I have come to appreciate the rare qualities these traits possess and I have come to find, contrary to popular belief, there is a powerful strength that comes with them as well. Many people associate sensitivity and emotions with fragility and weakness, but I have found the opposite to be true.
The sensitive person has a fierce inner strength that allows them to weather life’s storms with incredible tenacity for a variety of reasons. Being sensitive is hard. We feel deeply. We love deeply. We fall hard. When you feel this level of emotion throughout your life, you develop a special resolve. Each life experience is woven into an intricate web of strength that can’t easily be broken.
While some people are fearful of exhibiting emotion in public, the sensitive person embraces it. We’ve had a lifetime of experience crying, so why hide it. We acknowledge and comprehend our emotion giving us the courage to let the tears flow in front of others. This ability to express emotion allows us to not only stand strong, but thrive in the face of adversity. When you understand your emotions and what drives them, you develop a strong sense of self and confidence that allows you to lead and inspire others. This self awareness allows us to be honest with ourselves and others as well as learn and develop our unique skills throughout life’s experiences.
The sensitive person is good at putting ourselves in others’ shoes. We listen for understanding and without judgement. We are authentic and open-minded valuing differing perspectives. Because we have a highly developed intuition we are able to better understand what is happening in any given situation. In an emotional moment our view may be cloudy, but after the clouds move away our view becomes crystal clear and we are able to handle the issues at hand. Additionally, the sensitive person understands the strengths and weaknesses we possess and are less critical of others. This is a powerful leadership trait gives the sensitive person special abilities to collaborate and communicate with others effectively.
People who cry easily, often laugh easily too. Though negative emotions are felt easily, so are the positive ones. The sensitive person tends to be spreaders of positivity and encouragement because those feelings are much more enjoyable to experience than those of negativity and discouragement. We don’t take ourselves too seriously. We are able to laugh at our mistakes which allows us to keep things in perspective. We love spreading joy, not sadness.
Don’t underestimate the strength of the sensitive soul.
We are sensitive, but we are strong.
We are fierce, passionate, and purposeful.
We are fighters.
We are overcomers.
We love with all of our being.
In my last post, I shared how I've launched an Innovation Team made up of "Spark Starters" from each school in our district. I am incredibly excited about this magical team and the sparks that are already being ignited.
Building meaningful relationships from the beginning is really important to me. It was always a priority as a teacher, and I know it must be a priority in this role as well. Being the only Tech Integration Specialist in my district, I have a lot of area to cover since my Spark Starters are from 19 different schools covering a wide area. A dear friend and colleague of mine, Jenni Jones @jennijonestech, was chatting with me the other night about how we needed to collect our "greatest success" moments this year with all the new adventures we are beginning. That's when my friend Jenni had an idea to create a jar to collect them that we can reflect back on. I loved this idea so much that another lightbulb moment happened! What if I create jars for each of the "Spark Starters" to collect "Daily Spark" moments?! I could deliver them when I visit each of them this month at their schools!
DAILY SPARK JAR ASSEMBLY
With a plan developing in my head, my colleague and I hurried off to Walmart on the hunt for a few items for our jars:
Now for assembly. I cut the cardstock using a paper cutter into small rectangles and tied 30 pieces together with twine. I wrote a message on cardstock with the following instructions:
If I was to do this again, I would type out these instructions and then print them to save time. Live and learn. On one side of the tags, I wrote "Daily Sparks" and on the other side I wrote a quote:
To put them together, I placed the cardstock bundle, pen, and instructions in each (threw in a Make Learning Magical sticker too). I screwed on the lid and tied the tag around the top with twine.
DAILY SPARK JAR READY FOR DELIVERY!
The best part of this process was delivering them! I absolutely loved the adventure of driving to schools and finding each Spark Starter's classroom. It was a wonderful way to see them in their element and in many cases meet them for the first time. They were so sweet and appreciative and it brought so much joy to my heart to be able to give this gift of love and appreciation for accepting my invitation to be on our Innovation Team! I can’t wait for these jars to fill with “spark moments” as we ignite innovation this year!
For the first time in 22 years I am starting the school year without a classroom or students. I've experienced a myriad of emotions throughout this transition, but what gets me fired up about my new role as Tech Integration Specialist is the opportunity to ignite innovation in my district. The past four years have been a whirlwind for me and the most epic adventure as I've embraced innovation and discovered how it can open up amazing possibilities for growth and student learning. My journey has been so transformational that I can't help but share my passion for making learning magical with others.
CALLING ALL SPARK STARTERS!
One of the very first things I did as Tech Integration Specialist happened 3 months before my new role officially started. After sharing my plan for igniting innovation in our district with my administrator, I asked for 10 minutes at our district's last Admin Council meeting of the year to share my vision and ask for their assistance. I handed out a card to each principal with room for them to write two educators in their school that they would consider to be a "Spark Starter". I told them I wasn't looking for the most tech savvy, but rather someone who had the following attributes:
The Courageous-takes leaps in their learning.
The Encouraging-Builds up those around them.
The Sunshine Spreaders-Lights up a room with positivity.
The Innovators-Likes to create new ideas or ways of doing things.
This team of "Spark Starters" will meet monthly after school for 1 1/2 hours for a fun-engaging time of learning and collaboration. I will also be visiting each "Spark Starter" monthly in their classrooms to help support them with the innovative things they are doing. My vision is that having "sparks" in each school will ignite other sparks and soon we will have a district on fire for innovation.
RALLYING THE TROOPS!
Once I collected the cards, I sent out an email the next day with an invite to all of the identified "Spark Starters" to join our Innovation Team with a link to fill out a Google Form. It was the last day of the school year, so I knew I may not get a ton of responses, but wanted it to at least go out before we went into summer.
We have 19 schools in our district, so I sent out approximately 38 invites. I had about one quarter of those invited onto the team respond, so I sent out the email invite again in August before school started followed by a personal phone call a week later to all those who I had not heard from. The phone calls took about 3 hours, but were so worth it. I was able to share my passion and make a personal connection with each one. Additionally, I was able to personally invite them to our half hour Innovation Team Meet & Greet during inservice week.
Out of 38 invites, I am starting out a team of 30 excited Spark Starters with at least one representative from each school in our district! We had an amazing kick-off and now I can't wait to see what sparks of innovation are ignited this school year!
Our innovation adventures have just begun!
Tech Integration Specialist in Southern Oregon, passionate about finding innovative ways to make learning MAGICAL for students!