It's time for Gratitudesnaps Challenge 2020!! Who knew back in 2017 that Gratitudesnaps would become a global movement that would be going on 4 years! Read the story of how Gratitudesnaps was born and listen to a special episode of the Make Learning Magical podcast where Tara Martin and I chat about gratitude and launch Gratitudesnaps Challenge 2020! Listen HERE!
The Story of Gratitudesnaps
I was having a very teary day this week when my bestie, Tara Martin, sent me a Vox saying, "Hey girl, are you ready to start up #GratitudeSnaps again?!" It was like someone applied a defibrillator to my heart to jumpstart it back into rhythm. I knew in that moment that a flood of positivity is exactly what I needed in my life. As we chatted about the details of launching our 3rd annual #GratitudeSnaps, my heart swelled with gratitude and joy. Tara is a friend who has consistently "showed up" in my life through fire and rain. Together we've celebrated, cried, cannonballed, ate ice cream, and navigated wild and roaring class 4 rapids. She has been the REALest friend a girl could ask for. Each November of gratitude has found us in a different chapter of our story and yet, it always seems to come at the perfect time. When people begin to flood the Twittersphere with an outpouring of gratitude and love, you can't help but feel the joy. I am almost giddy with excitement to announce that #GratitudeSnaps 20 is launching Sunday, November 1st! Read the story of #GratitudeSnaps below to learn how #GratitudeSnaps began! Then, join us! It will bring joy to your heart, I guarantee it!!
The Story of #GratitudeSnapsSometimes the REALness of life tackles you like a herd of massive NFL football players, and you lie helplessly dogpiled beneath them. That's pretty close to my state of mind this past week. Of course, on this particular week, I (Tara) forgot to wear my "football helmet," and I paid for it. When I get this way, I begin to hyper-reflect. If you're unsure of that term, check out my blog here that peeks into the TMM brain aka the Highly Reflective One.
As I reflected on all sorts of current TMM circumstances, I felt myself seeping into a deep, dark place. Why? Because, the mind is a powerful, complex organ. In fact, it's essentially the boss of our bodies; it controls everything! It can also wire and rewire itself based on what we feed it. For example, when I dwelt on one negative thought, it created a synapse-connection in my mind. Then, negativity doesn't stop there. You see these types of thoughts are villains in my brain. So, they ran around tempting my STRONG positive synapse-connections to give way to another negative thought, and another and another, until a massive web of negativity consumed my thought-processing compartment. I was so disappointed in myself. In fact, the result was pitiful, to say the least. Within a very short amount of time, my mind was rewired with invalidating thoughts, a sense of complete inadequacy, frustration overload and pretty much a feeling of absolute worthlessness. How did I allow this to happen? Why? It's that thing called being a REAL human. However, this is when I needed a REAL friend. So, I messaged my friend, Tisha. She's my #SoulSister! In the valley or on the mountain top, this girl has my back.
After I had rambled on for what seemed like forever, she gave me some great advice.
REAL Talk - Friend to Friend
As I was talking with Tara, I could completely relate! I said to my friend, “We all find ourselves in that place of negativity at times. I know I do! Life is hard and full of unexpected twists, turns and bumps along the way. Ya know, when I find myself in that deep, dark place it always helps to look back at all of the pivotal events that have helped shape and bring me to where I’m at today. Sometimes those events are positive, and sometimes they are negative. Regardless, they’ve added to my story and if nothing else, made me stronger. Girl, look around you, reflect on the positive that is happening in your life….so many amazing things! Reflecting on those times, allows me to shift my focus from the negative of my current circumstance to all that I have to be grateful for.”
Listening to Tisha's input grounded me (Tara) and helped me "rewire" my brain by breaking some of the newly formed negative synapse-connections and begin replacing them with hopeful ones. I realized at this moment (and voiced it to Tisha)--gratefulness is missing in my life and spirit. That's my problem! I need to look around and realize all of the wonderful things happening in my life of which I should be grateful. In other words, I need to redesign my thought process aka get back to the REAL TMM!
As I was sharing this with Tara, an idea popped into my head! “Hey, Tara! What if you kept a 30-day Gratitude Journal?! Each day you could write about one thing to be grateful for to help climb out of this negativity pit!”
Another idea hit me upside the head that perfectly fit my dear soul sister! “Tara, what about creating #GratitudeSnaps! Instead of a journal, you could take a daily pic of something you are grateful for, make a snap out of it, and then share it out via social media! This would allow you to do what you love “create digitally” AND focus on the positives in your life! Just as #BookSnaps help us connect and draw meaning from the text, #GratitudeSnaps could help connect with the positive that is in our lives in a meaningful way.”
Tara’s Take On the Idea and The Challenge
Instantly, I loved the idea. Of course, as Tisha said, it’s using what I love, my passion of creating digitally and helping me to rewire my mindset. There is so much neuroscience to explain why this works beautifully for not only adults but students (and all humans), but I’ll not bore you with all of the details. However, as educators, it's vital that we try this method of counseling. It’s more than talking to someone; it’s tapping into their passions and strengths to help them overcome. Beautifully done, Tisha. That’s REAL friendship and REAL mentoring. You’re the best!
I’m guessing I’m not the only person in the world that might benefit from finding something to be grateful for each day and snapping it out. In fact, I do not want gratitude to simply hide in my Snap Story--let’s launch this EDUforce!
PLN peeps, have something to be grateful for?
Think you might snap it out each day and share it via Twitter or other social media platforms using the hashtag #GratitudeSnaps?
It’s that easy. Let’s do this thing!
Tisha, take it away.
Ok, Tara, I’m pumped!
So here’s the challenge:
Are you ready to storm the world with a POSITIVE #GratitudeSnaps force? I (Tara) am!
Let’s begin our 30-days of #GratitudeSnaps on November 1, 2020!
The world has plenty of negativity, let’s spread gratitude! We have so much of which to be thankful.
Bring Gratitudesnaps to your School or Classroom
Curate Gratitudesnaps in your school or classroom using the Gratitudesnaps Challenge Template below. Share the link with your staff or students, or embed in your LMS. Each day, have people post their gratitudesnaps to the day's column. You can customize the Padlet options depending on the setting and age of participants. You can choose to approve posts, allow likes or comments, etc. If everyone takes part, think of how much gratitude could be collected and shared!
I fell in love with the movie "The Greatest Showman" the first time I saw it and though I have heard this song many times, for some reason when I listened to a Youtube video of Pink singing, "A Million Dreams", with her daughter Willow, the floodgates opened. This song. At this moment. Awoke something in my soul.
'Cause every night, I lie in bed
The brightest colors fill my head
A million dreams are keeping me awake
I think of what the world could be
A vision of the one I see
A million dreams is all it's gonna take
Oh, a million dreams for the world we're gonna make
-Pink, A Million Dreams, The Greatest Showman: Reimagined
When I left the culinary classroom to be a Tech Integration Specialist after 22 years of teaching, I had never loved teaching more. I was saying goodbye to a room that had made a metamorphosis into a magical place where students were immersed, empowered and ready to leave a legacy. My classroom wasn’t the only thing that went through a transformation though, I had as well. I wasn’t the teacher that four years prior was ready to call it quits and run to the comfort of a local coffee shop to perfect the art of making a latte. I was leaving because of the million magical dreams that filled my head and kept me awake at night. I knew that if my heart could be restored with joy, passion and a love for teaching and learning, it could happen for others too.
Two years and a few months later, I know it was the right decision to make. Who knew that the decision to leave the classroom to help others find joy would drop me in the middle of a global pandemic that has caused enormous disruption on our world and education as we know it. Certainly not I. Leaning into the tumultuous change isn't easy. In fact it threatens the joy, passion, and love for teaching and learning that we are all so desperately trying to hold onto. When we are forced to shake up the status quo and reimagine our teaching practice in a way that fits our current reality...it's uncomfortable...super uncomfortable. It reveals inequalities, gaping holes, and inefficiencies. We also mourn what was, and everything we loved about how things used to be. But here's the deal, we can't sit back and wait for things to go back to normal. Our kids are looking to us to bring the magic and make learning come alive. We can't waste a moment dreaming about what was, we must make the most of what is and dream about what could be.
I left the classroom to be a Tech Integration Specialist, but secretly I really wanted to be called a Joy Specialist. My heart longs to restore the joy of teaching and learning that so often gets clouded with the pressures that come with education. Joy is contagious, but it also is courageous. We have to choose it. Every day. We must decide to be intentional about choosing to find wonder, and magic in the world around us and go beyond what is comfortable to find what is best. I see how incredibly hard educators are working. There are many great obstacles that none of us ever would have imagined we'd experience in education. As if education wasn't challenging enough... add in social distancing, masks, screen time, hybrid and distance learning, Zoom, Learning Management Systems, to name a few. Each one adds a new complexity that threaten our sanity. It's easy to gravitate to the negative when it feels like everything that was comfortable has been taken away. It's painful. We're mourning. Yet, there are magical things happening in the midst of the disruption. I see it first hand as I peak into virtual classrooms and hear the stories as I chat with teachers during virtual office hours. Teaching and learning may look different right now. We may feel like first year teachers again. However, when we tune in to the positive, our perspective shifts and helps us focus on everything we love about this incredible profession. We begin to realize that our kids are looking to us to bring hope, joy, and magic to a world that seemingly has gone mad. The stress, uncertainty, and fear that threatens to suffocate our students, can be replaced with the desire to thrive and leave a legacy on this world.
What if joy became foundational to all we do? What if joy was the heartbeat of our schools? The reality is, most would love to infuse heaps of joy into their brick and click classrooms, but it seems like a futile dream. The stakes are too high, the pressure too great. What if I fail? What if the parents peeking into my Zoom classroom think I’m crazy? What if my test scores don’t improve? What if? What if? What if?
In the book 18 Minutes, author Peter Bregman shares the story of the overnight sensation, Susan Boyle. She walked onto the UK television show, Britain’s Got Talent stage to only be mocked and ridiculed. It wasn’t till the music started and she began to sing that the millions of people watching were stunned by the angelic voice coming from a seemingly ordinary person.
“There is grace in being molded by your own gifts. To allow yourself to be molded by your own gifts takes courage. You have to be willing to stand there, exposed and authentic , while the audience rolls their eyes at you and sneers, expecting failure. And then, of course, you have to fail, laugh or cry, and keep going until, one day they stop laughing and start clapping.”
-18 Minutes, Peter Bregman
When I think of every educator in our world right now. I think of courage. You are showing up every day exposed and authentic, while sometimes the audience rolls their eyes and sneers, expecting failure. And yet, you keep going, failing, succeeding, laughing, crying...because your students need you. What if we leaned into our disruption and discomfort and let joy propel us? How would that shift teaching and learning in our schools? How would that change the way our students view education and life-long learning?
DREAM IN BRIGHT COLOR
We may feel ordinary or awkward, but if we dare to dream in bright color think of the possibility! The truth is, the magic is in you. We don’t need to remain caterpillars, we can become butterflies! But, it takes courage to dream and to believe that there is more; that we don’t have to do things the way we’ve always done them. We can do better.
When I think back on my journey, I think of how, like my classroom, I’ve gone through a sort of metamorphosis as an educator by daring to dream. There were people that scoffed, snickered, and ridiculed; there still are. But once I knew that what was happening in my classroom was making a difference, I began to ignore the naysayers. There was no turning back. I stopped focusing on, “What if I fail?” and began to focus on, “What if they fly?” Right now whether we chose this journey or not, we are all in a metamorphosis. We can try to stay huddled in our cocoons, waiting for everything to go back to normal or we can embrace the transformation and prepare to fly into a world waiting to be explored.
FIND THE JOY SEEKERS AND SUNSHINE SPREADERS
I choose to find the joy seekers & sunshine spreaders; the people who inspire, challenge, and encourage me to keep going when I feel defeated. We all need people in our lives that tell us through their words and actions, “I believe in you!” Sometimes you will find that those you think are going to be your biggest cheerleaders, are the ones that let you down. Don’t let them take you down. Often times it’s their own insecurities that prevent them from finding joy in your transformation. Find your peeps and hold onto them. So grateful for those that continuously support and challenge me to keep seeking joy and following my dreams.
START DREAMING...YOU HOLD THE MAGIC!
A Million Magical dreams has become my anthem. It is the first on my running playlist every morning. Just listening to the words fills me with joy and inspires me to keep chasing after my dreams and all that I believe in. What could our schools become if we dared to reimagine them as magical places of joy? Listen to this beautiful version of 'A Million Dreams' sung by Pink and her daughter Willow and start envisioning what would happen if we dared to dream in bright color. You hold the magic!
Soon after this kindergarten photograph was taken my dad, mom, and two-year old sister pulled out of our Southern California driveway in a crew cab Chevy truck and a 30-foot trailer to begin a road trip of a lifetime. My dad, a community college professor and track and cross country coach, had taken a year long sabbatical to research national parks and the country’s best track and cross country programs. This research took our family on an adventure across the United States of America. For a five year old, this was an epic adventure. I remember crawling through the window of our Chevy cab into the carpeted camper shell of toys as we traveled down long, straight highways listening to Neil Diamond. Of course, this was back in the day where seatbelts weren’t required and playing in the camper shell was allowed! I have vivid memories of our learning adventures as we visited national parks, historical landmarks, and state capitals. I learned to love reading and how to count by playing cribbage with my dad. It was not your typical kindergarten year, but it was one full of rich and unforgettable learning experiences that will forever be etched in my mind.
My dad's detailed and carefully orchestrated road map brought us to many incredible places. However when I talk to my parents about this adventure, I realize the trip wasn’t without challenges. First of all, my mom was pregnant with my brother and had to return home early to deliver him. That is a challenge all on its own!! Inclement weather and roadblocks required them to choose alternate routes to stay safe and on course. In fact, we drove straight into the eye of a tornado and had to hide in a stranger’s cellar for safety! My mom laughed recalling a trailer cupboard that wasn’t shut properly, resulting in flour spilling throughout the kitchen and a time when she had to clang pan lids together to scare away a bear that was getting much too close to our campsite. As my parents share these experiences, I think about how different it looked from the eyes of a child. For me, these challenges were fun and part of the adventure because my parents were intentional about framing them that way. As exhausted as my mom must have felt at times experiencing pregnancy and caring for a five and two year old while on the road, she was always loving, kind, and full of joy. I have memories of our harrowing tornado encounter, but I don’t remember feeling scared. Instead I recall flashlights in the dark and making a new friend while playing with her spirograph on a patio once the storm had cleared. I don’t remember changing routes, I recall the excitement of arriving at a new destination. It truly was a road trip of a lifetime and I will forever have vivid and wonderful memories etched in my mind. How differently may I have remembered our trip if the challenges were framed in worry, fear, and uncertainty? What memories may I have missed out on if my parents decided to turn around and go home when they reached a detour or roadblock? I also find it fascinating that though my parents experienced a variety of challenges, they also said it was one of the best years of their life.
This summer has been far from typical as I have been collaborating with colleagues to chart a road map for a school year that will be unlike any other we’ve experienced in our lifetime. I'm in awe of the many educators that are spending countless and tireless hours planning for the unknown with kids as the focus. This is hard work and these are wild days! Education as we know it has been disrupted in a major way and it would be easier to list what hasn't changed than what has. However, as difficult and disruptive as our current reality is, I choose to view this surreal time as an opportunity to create transformative and unforgettable learning experiences for ALL learners. As much time and effort that has gone into creating a clear and intentionally designed road map; no doubt we will run into challenges that require us to choose alternate routes. We may hit roadblocks and circumstances that are out of our control that make us hunker down for safety for a bit. We don’t know what the future holds, but I do know this. The way we frame this school year is critical. We can paint this year with doom and gloom or as an epic adventure. Think about the kids that will be entering your virtual or brick and mortar classroom this fall. What experiences do you want to create for them? School will look different, that is a guarantee. Though, what an incredible opportunity to innovate and create unique, immersive, and empowering learning experiences for students! It is my mission to create a year that the students I serve will never forget. I want them to forever have memories etched in their mind of the 2020-21 school year being an epic road trip of a lifetime. In fact, I want those memories for all of us. How awesome would it be to look back and say, "2020-21 one of the best years of my life."
When we spiraled into May I saw the Zoom meeting squares fill with faces of frazzled, tired educators ready to get off the roller coaster. That’s when I knew I needed to kick into overdrive and come up with a plan to get us through the last month of the school year. As I looked into their worn-out faces I started to brainstorm ways to add a little energizing fun, self-care, reflection, and friendly competition into the final stretch of this wild ride we’ve been on. Those who know me can probably anticipate what’s coming. Gamified Learning!
I knew it would be tricky to create a gamified plan that tired, frazzled teachers could get excited about, but I was up for the challenge. I started thinking of missions I that would allow for creativity, collaboration, reflection, and self-care. I also wanted to make sure that there were missions that would account for the learning already done, because goodness gracious...there’s been a TON of learning!! Once I had a game plan formulated I shared it with our district superintendent and other district administrators to see what they thought. They were all in, so I decided to make it happen! I called upon my think tank (aka Flame Throwers) in my district for mission ideas and suggestions to to help fine-tune my plan. They were SO helpful!! Within days it was ready to launch! We shared it out in the district staff bulletin and I also posted it on our district staff website. To kick it off our superintendent even created a short video introduction of the challenge to generate excitement. It was awesome!
Here's the Game Plan
Theme: Create Your Own Learning Journey Staff Challenge
Goal: To engage your staff in energizing, fun, and innovative learning
Who: All district staff
Where: All missions are found on Padlet and points are tracked in a Google Spreadsheet.
When: Anytime! This challenge can last as long as you want!
What: Each week, 5 new PD missions are launched. If you choose to accept the mission you will receive experience points (XP) to level up and earn PDU's and an animated badge to display in your email signature!
Level 1: 300 XP = 3 PDU's and badge
Level 2: 600 XP = 6 PDU's and badge
Level 3: 1000 XP = 10 PDU's and badge
Create Your Own Learning Journey Staff Challenge Template
How to Design Your Challenge in Padlet
Once I approve each post in Padlet I immediately transfer the points to a leaderboard that I created in Google Spreadsheets. Thank you to LeVonda Vickery who helped add the formulas for calculating! She made it way cooler than my original spreadsheet. Click on the button below to see how the XP (experience points) are tracked. No video tutorial for this creation, because...well, this is not my specialty.
Updating Missions and Leveling Up
At the end of the week, I change the title of each mission column to "expired" and add 5 new missions in. The expired missions move to the right so the new missions show up first. I send all of the staff members that leveled up a congratulatory email with an animated badge they can download and add to their email signature and wherever else they wish. I created the badge in Canva with dimensions of 100 x 100 px, but you also could create the badges in Adobe Spark, Buncee, or other digital creation platforms. See the examples below. PDU's that are earned when leveling up are submitted at the end of the challenge.
The Possibilities are Endless!
Our challenge is still in progress, but I'm super happy with the results. It has been wonderful to see all of the learning throughout the day as the evidence is posted. I have found so many ideas as I've scrolled through the columns and read all of the reflections. Many have shared that this is just the kind of motivation they needed in the final stretch to get them to the finish line.
Though I launched this challenge for an entire K-12 district of 19 schools, you could launch this for a single school or even in your classroom. The length of the challenge could be as short as a few weeks or last an entire semester or school year. It's really up to you! You can also change the theme, personalize the missions, and add your own special twists and turns! The possibilities are endless!
Reflect on the Wild Ride
As we all raise the safety bar on our roller coaster cars in the next few weeks, I think we are all going to feel a bit dizzy as we try to process what we experienced and learned during this pandemic. There is so much to reflect on and process. Whether or not you create a challenge similar to this one for your own learning community in these final weeks, summer, or next school year, it's important to find ways to reflect and share your learning with others! We are all in this wild and crazy adventure together!
The last two months have been a blur. On a beautiful evening in early March, I was eating dinner with my daughter in Portland, Oregon when I learned that my professional development training the following day was canceled due to the developments of COVID19. It seems that each day since that evening in March we have plunged deeper and deeper into a surreal world of steep and urgent learning as we try to transition our educational practices in a world that is uncertain and rapidly changing. In the past two months we’ve left our brick and mortar buildings and have recreated our learning spaces so students can access them from anywhere. What schools across our nation have accomplished to ensure all are learning is truly remarkable. The learning has been arduous and laden with obstacles, but the true heart and soul of educators is shining brighter than ever in this time of adversity to find new ways to connect and support students in learning. As the school year comes to a close and we start anticipating what the Fall educational landscape will look like, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and discouraged. However, I’d rather choose to have a Walt Disney mindset and believe that, “It’s kind of fun to do the impossible”.
Collectively as educators we have accomplished what we would have considered impossible eight weeks ago. In this pivotal moment in our history we have the unique opportunity to push forward in this crisis to not only reimagine education; but actually make it happen. As we pull back the layers of education as we know it, we must take an honest look at the needs of all of our learners. Learning is going to look different in the days ahead, so let’s take this opportunity to make it better. As we’ve navigated this season, many discoveries have been made. Students who once felt invisible in our schools are now finding their voice in a remote learning landscape. We have developed a greater appreciation for the relationships with students and colleagues and the everyday interactions we once took for granted. Inequities in the educational system are coming into light. Whether we call this surreal world we are living in the “new normal” or “new temporary normal”, I think we are all beginning to see that as we live out this unique moment in history a new era is emerging.
In my role as a Tech Integration Specialist I’ve had a chance to support, problem solve, and collaborate with incredible educators within my district and beyond. I also have had a wonderful opportunity to chat with amazing thought leaders and educators from across the nation on my Make Learning Magical podcast. We’ve discussed the various ways they’re navigating teaching and learning during this pandemic, their hopes for the future, struggles, and magical moments. So many thoughts have been swirling around in my mind as I reflect on my learning, conversations with others, my passion for education, and how we can take this extremely challenging time in our history and reimagine what learning could potentially look like as we move forward. We no longer can remain comfortable in the way things were, we must be willing to push past what we have always known and explore new ways of teaching and learning that will better meet the needs of all learners and prepare them for a world that is constantly changing. However, as we begin this work to reimagine, we must never lose sight of our why.
I keep my “why” statement taped on my journal and in various places so it can remain visible and help me focus on what is most important in my work.
Today as I read my “why” I found myself pondering all that has changed in education in a matter of weeks. Never has my “why” been more true to my calling and purpose.
The words sprinkled throughout “my why” hold a special power. They contain the magic that made learning come to life in my classroom and I also believe they hold the magic that will make learning beyond COVID19 come to life as well, wherever that takes place. Whether students are learning in a brick and mortar school building, from home, or a combination of both, my passion and purpose is what fuels me. As I thought about this it made me think about my MAGICAL acronym:
Memorable Beginnings The saving grace in this emergency remote teaching world has been that teachers already had established relationships with their students. They were connected. Some of the teachers I talked to on my podcast taught quarter-long classes where they had either just met or hadn’t connected at all with their students face to face. I can’t imagine how difficult that would be to be thrust into remote teaching without having any prior connection with your students. Whether we begin Fall in classrooms, virtually, or in a blended situation, taking time to foster relationships and create memorable beginnings is going to be vital.
Authenticity and Agency Now more than ever we need to let our true selves shine through. This time of remote teaching has brought a whole new level of authenticity as our students have had a window into our homes; seeing our pets, our kids, and maybe even our piles of laundry. On the flip side, we have had a glimpse into our student’s worlds as well giving us a new perspective of what “home” looks like. I think this authenticity has actually been refreshing for us all and allowed us to be a little more real and relatable with our students. It has also allowed us to create authentic learning experiences. What better time to take the skills that we teach them and have them apply them in real world situations.
We have also had to consider various learning options for students to meet the diverse needs of our learners. Many districts are using choice boards (learning grids as our district calls them) to differentiate and provide multiple options for students with diverse needs. As we reimagine learning in the future, student agency is going to be increasingly important. When students have choice in how they learn and how they share, they become invested and empowered learners. What a powerful combination when we combine authenticity and agency together to provide real, relevant experiences, with an abundance of choice and voice.
Gamified Experiences I have been thinking a lot about the gamified experiences that were created in my classroom and what that would look like in a remote or blended learning environment. It excites me to think of all the possibilities for creating a storyline and game mechanics that can live in both the virtual and physical worlds. Finding ways to engage students in playful learning has never been more important.
Innovation I’m not sure that there has ever been a time in history where educators have been shoved out of their comfort zones more violently than they have during COVID19. We’ve had no choice. Like it or not, we’ve all had to learn new ways to transition to life outside of our school buildings. Granted, not all of the new ways have been better than what we did before. How could it be when we had to pivot so fast and in a crisis? However, I think most would say that growth has happened for all of us and we’ve discovered new teaching and learning strategies that will continue far beyond this pandemic. Reimagining education requires us to get uncomfortable and to keep learning and growing to find ways to address the needs of all of our learners. It may seem like education is unraveling, but think about how beautiful it will be when we knit it back together with a combination of the best of the old and new.
Creativity, Curiosity, and Collaboration The degree of creativity, collaboration, and curiosity that I have seen emerge as a result of this season has blown my mind. In education and beyond, I have seen people tapping into their creativity in unique and imaginative ways to make the most out of a difficult situation. Virtual field trips, scavenger hunts, Bitmoji classroom adventures, and Zoom cooking experiences are just a few of the learning experiences educators have shared. I have also seen a rise in curiosity. When faced with uncertainty we are continuing to research and explore new ways to solve the problems we are faced with. People across the globe are collaborating on social media platforms to share ideas and resources. Connecting virtually across districts, regions, and states on Zoom and Google Meet has become the norm. As educators begin expanding their professional networks, I think they will begin connecting their classrooms too. This time has made us realize we truly are better together. What a powerful combination when creativity, curiosity, and collaboration come together in learning.
Authentic Audience When I began providing students with an authentic audience to demonstrate their learning, it changed the learning landscape in my classroom. Students shined when they received feedback from local experts and staff members that they respected. As we think towards the future of education, providing our students with an opportunity to connect and demonstrate what they've learned to an authentic audience will be even more important. How can we expand beyond our classroom walls and connect with authors, experts, and classrooms in different parts of the world? How can we partner our students with others to collaborate, share ideas, and solve problems? How can we provide opportunities for students to create together. As we reimagine learning beyond our classroom walls we must begin thinking about how we can connect and collaborate with people of varying backgrounds and perspectives. We all need connection and unity more than ever!
Legacy This pandemic has rocked our worlds. Many have felt like first year teachers again trying to figure out how to teach in a completely different way. It’s highlighted our insecurities and fears and made us feel vulnerable. We’ve felt grief, loss, and anger because moments were taken away from us that we can’t get back. As a mom of a senior, I have felt all of those emotions in a big way. What I have had to hold onto is the fact that though moments have been stolen from me, magical moments have also been created that will last forever. I have had more meals and heart to heart conversations with my son. We've spent lots of time playing games and watching our favorite movies. Though our students have felt loss and heartbreak just as we have, this season will forever be etched in their memory. They have lived a part of history that will be talked about for years to come. No one will forget the class of 2020. We are leaving a legacy that will last forever. We have to remember as we move forward and reimagine learning for our students that we will always hold the magic. Embrace the unique and special ways you connect with students and bring that into whatever learning environment you are faced with in the Fall.
Under extreme stress and global crisis we completely shifted our teaching practice within a matter of weeks. Educators have proven that the impossible is actually quite possible. Now it's time to reimagine an educational system where MAGICAL experiences exist for ALL students! Let's reimagine the impossible.
Tech Integration Specialist in Southern Oregon and author of Make Learning Magical. I'm passionate about finding innovative ways to transform teaching and create unforgettable experiences in the classroom.