It was August of 2006. I was shopping in the produce section of the grocery store when I received a call from a vice principal at a local high school asking if I’d be interested in applying for a half-time Career & Technical Education/Family & Consumer Science position teaching culinary arts and interior design. I will never forget that moment because it had taken me completely by surprise. Five years prior, I had taught high school Family and Consumer Science in San Diego, but had decided to stay-at-home with our daughter, two at the time, when we made the move to Oregon. Our son was born a year later and I settled into life at home with our littles. I was content and hadn’t been thinking at all about going back to teaching, but something was beckoning me to pursue this call. My son had just started preschool, I would be teaching two subject areas I loved alongside my own high school Family & Consumer Science teacher, and I would still have flexibility to help in my children's classrooms. The weeks that followed were a whirlwind as I accepted the job and was swept back into the world of public education.
I'm so glad I decided to take that leap into the unknown. The past seventeen years serving in my district have been the most challenging and rewarding years of my life. I have taught thousands of amazing students, led both our CTE department and a small school within our high school, and transitioned to a district role as both a Tech Integration Specialist and Student Engagement & Professional Development Specialist. I've grown exponentially as an educator and leader as I’ve collaborated with incredible colleagues and have been led by amazing administrators that have mentored and supported me.
In two weeks, I'll be turning in my keys and my badge. My email and Google Drive will disappear. I’m stepping out of public education into a world of educational consulting that is uncertain. I’ve resigned. I don’t know why that word sounds so negative to me. Every time I hear it I cringe a little. I am not leaving because I’m unhappy…not even a little bit. I’m leaving because something is tugging at my heart much like it did that day in 2006 when I was in the produce aisle. There are people beyond my district that I need to serve. There are passions I’ve yet to pursue. There are dreams I need to chase. Is it scary? Absolutely. Am I sad. For sure. I’ve invested my whole heart into each school and district role that I’ve served. I’ve partnered with incredible educators and leaders that center their work around what’s best for kids. I’m a completely different educator than the one who ran out of a grocery store on an August afternoon to pursue something new. However, the last ten years have taught me that outside of my comfort zone is where the magic happens. Every leap I’ve taken has brought me to new learning, new opportunities, and more magic than I could have ever imagined. I know that this leap will be no different. If I take the risk, I will find magic on the other side.
To every colleague I've had the honor to work and collaborate with, to every school and district leader that saw something in me that I didn't, thank you from the bottom of my heart. I will forever be grateful to all of you for believing in me, supporting me, and helping me grow into the educational leader I am today. It has truly been an honor to serve with you. It has been an incredible journey rich with memories that I'll always hold dear to my heart. It's hard to say goodbye, yet, suddenly I know..."It's time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings" -Meister Eckhart
I recently had a 2 hour layover in the Seattle/Tacoma airport; one of my favorites because of the awesome food, live music, and the cutest little gift shop to browse in. I was perusing the jewelry in one of the many cases when a silver necklace caught my eye. It had two little bars hanging from a chain. The words were hard to make out, but when I put on my reading glasses I saw two little words etched in each.
No risk. No magic.
Woah. If any four words in the English language could sum up my last 8 years, it is those. I was hit with a burst of emotion as so many memories of the risks I’ve taken began swirling in my head.
First time trying a new edtech tool in my classroom
First edtech conference
First time hosting a Twitter chat
First time flying alone
First time presenting at a conference
First blog post
First published book
First podcast episode
...the list goes on
Each leap has been both terrifying and exhilarating, and none were executed perfectly; not even close. However, none of them will be my last. I tried another edtech tool. I flew alone to another edtech conference. I hosted another Twitter chat. I wrote another blog. I recorded another podcast episode. I presented another keynote. And, I would love to publish another book. With each consecutive leap, I've jumped a little higher, became a little braver, and further refined my skills. And, you know what? The next time wasn’t as scary. In fact, each risk led to...
More opportunities to leap
More people to learn from
More people to impact
I admit there have been times that I have let my fear and insecurities almost convince me that I wasn't worthy or capable. There have even been stretches where I've let other's people's negativity and doubt, cloud my thinking and temporarily steal my joy. However, over time pushing past what was comfortable into the unknown has helped me to realize my own strengths and passions, discover truths about myself that I would have never known, and become more of who I was made to be.
As I look back on 2022, I am overwhelmed with gratitude for all the risks I've said yes to that have led to incredible adventures around the globe, amazing new friendships, and magical opportunities.
As I peer around the corner at 2023, I see a whole calendar year of adventure and dreams that are waiting for me. What adventures are around the corner for you? What dreams are waiting for you to pursue? What opportunities can you say yes to? What friendships are waiting to be developed?
And, yes. I bought the necklace and have worn it almost every day since. Will you say yes to the risk? You never know what magic awaits.
It's time for our 6th annual #GratitudeSnaps Challenge! 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 2022 is launching Tuesday, November 1st!
Listen to Tara Martin and I share the #GratitudeSnaps origin story on the Make Learning Magical Podcast and read our original blog post! Then, join us! It will bring joy to your heart, I guarantee it!!
We are also excited to share new custom Canva templates that you and your students can use to create and curate your #GratitudeSnaps! Click on the buttons below for the template and a video tutorial!
Co-Written with, 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.
Post it to Twitter including #GratitudeSnaps & tag us @TaraMartin EDU and @tishrich.
Let’s begin our 24-days of #GratitudeSnaps on Tuesday, Nov 1st, 2022. It will last until Thanksgiving, November, 24th. 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.
Engaging in daily activity has become imperative to my mental, physical, and emotional wellness over the past 3 years. I love to either run or attend CrossFit classes at my local gym on average of 5-6 days a week. However, life happens… rain, Covid, quarantine, after-work commitments, cold weather, travel, and sometimes plans shift and I have to come up with a plan C. The challenge for me, as it probably is for most, is motivation and accessibility. Not everyone has the equipment or space to work out at home, and even if you did, it’s sometimes difficult to know where to start or what to do. I have found these 3 gamified workouts to be an easy and fun way to get a fantastic workout that is extremely customizable and mobile!
I was at Target recently and found this awesome 12-sided foam die for $3! Each side has a different exercise. Ie. 10 burpees, 25 crunches, 10 squats, etc.
If you can’t find this 12-sided die, I also found this version at Amazon, for $8.88. Alternatively, you could buy a 4-sided dry erase die at Dollar Store or on Amazon and write a different exercise and rep amount on each side. You could write wild on one side, if you wish to add some chance!
Deck of Cards Workout
I learned this game from my amazing CrossFit instructor, Michelle Abbott, from Crossfit The Den in Medford, Oregon. All you need is a deck of cards and a piece of paper or small whiteboard to write down the movements. You will need to choose one exercise for each of the suits in the deck (hearts, diamonds, spades, clubs). If you don't have equipment, choose exercises that only require bodyweight. Ie. squats, sit ups, push-ups, alternate lunges (L/R=1), jumping jacks, etc. Each number in the deck represents the number of repetitions you will complete of that movement. Aces = 11, royals = 10, and jokers are wild. When you draw a joker you can complete any of the 4 movements, or choose something entirely different.
1. Start the timer and turn over the first card in the deck.
2. Complete the corresponding exercise and reps.
3. Draw a new card and repeat until you have completed all the cards in the deck.
This typically takes about 30 minutes, but you could set the timer, and see how many cards you can complete before time is up! This is fun to do as a partner workout too.
Tabata on a Roll
A four-minute tabata workout, is comprised of 20-seconds of exercise at 100% effort, followed by 10-second of rest for a total of eight rounds. This is another great workout that you can take anywhere. I use an online Tabata Timer that does all the interval counting for you. To add a gamified twist, roll the 12-sided workout die (or a 4-sided dry erase die) for each of the 8 rounds to determine the movement.
When we can add a little chance to our workouts, it can make it just a bit more fun! I'd love to hear your ideas for gamified twists on your favorite workout! Reply or share on Twitter or Instagram using the #MLmagical hashtag!
Over the course of a week I noticed many of my friends on social media were posting a perplexing grid of squares in yellow, grey, and green with a secret number code. The more I saw it, the more intrigued I became. I couldn't figure out what it was that was filling my Twitter feed, but I was intrigued!
By the seventh day, I couldn't take being in the dark any longer...I had to know! After a little Google research, I had solved the mystery and discovered the daily web-based game, Wordle. The instructions were simple and in a matter of minutes, I had joined millions of others in guessing the word of the day. It has now become a morning tradition to play a game of Wordle along with my morning coffee. This is why I love it, and also why I think it has become so popular so fast.
Curiosity is what drew me in from the start. I wanted to know what these green and yellow grids were all about. I kept watching them fill my Twitter feed until I couldn't take it anymore. I had to know!!
Curiosity is a powerful force! How can we create classroom experiences that elicit wonder & intrigue? Create a little mystery around the learning and you will find your student's interest in your content soars!
Just as my curiosity was sparked by seeing the grids appear in my Twitter feed, I also felt like I was missing out on something special. There was a community of people that knew what the secret code meant and I wanted to be a part of it. Also, every day everyone in the world playing gets the same word. So when you share out your grid on social media, everyone is comparing your daily stats to their own. It gives everyone a sense of camaraderie to know the experience is shared.
Common experiences bond us and make us feel like we belong. When we create a sense of community in our classrooms, students feel like they are part of a family. Incorporate shared experiences that make all students feel a sense of belonging and you will find that your classroom will become a very special community of learners that grow together.
When I talk to other Wordle players, I am often asked, "How do you pick your first word?". Some pick at random, some have the same they use every time. Regardless, every player develops a strategy for what word will be entered first in hopes to increase the probability that the word will be guessed in the fewest amount of tries.
When we strategize, we are critically thinking about the game and what is going to generate the best outcome. When we teach students to strategize, we are helping them develop important skills that will empower them as learners.
Regardless of the strategy you use to select your first word, there is still an element of chance involved. You may select a word that just happens to include 3 or more of the correct letters, or you may strike out and not get any letters correct at all. This levels the playing field knowing that even the most strategic and skilled wordsmith, may have an unlucky day.
When we incorporate some elements of chance into learning, it adds agency and fun. Add a gamified twist to a lesson by adding dice or a spinning wheel and student engagement will soar!
No matter how much you love playing Wordle, you only get one shot a day. This increases the stakes a bit, knowing that the daily word puzzle will only be available to figure out once. One chance to play; one chance to share with the world. The good news is, there is always tomorrow.
It's a lesson in supply and demand. When items are limited, we are much more interested in them and their value is at a premium. What if we created exciting learning experiences in our classroom that are only available for a "limited time"? How much more interested would students be in the learning?
The directions were short, full of visual graphics, and easy to understand. I was playing within a few minutes. If the directions were difficult to understand or too lengthy, I may have decided to pass no matter how curious I was. See the actual directions from the Wordle site below.
Finding ways to make learning intuitive for students is so important. Break down instructions into its simplest form, add pictures, and keep it short. This can make all the difference in how confident and comfortable students feel approaching the learning.
Wordle is accessible on any web-based platform, and it's free. Enough said!
Equitable access is critical in learning. Do all our students have access to the experience we create for them? Making sure every student has an equal opportunity to learn and access the tools we give them is vital. If students can access the learning in class, but not all have an opportunity to access it from home, it creates an unfair learning environment for our students. Being mindful of this when we create our lessons, is so important.
Wordle-inspired version for the Classroom
Like any game that I play, I am always trying to figure out a way to bring it into learning. I have created a template in Canva that you can play in any classroom. See the video below to learn how to play.
Wordle & Pico Fermi Bagel-Inspired Canva Templates
Below I have shared two different game templates to use with your students. The first one is the Wordle-Inspired Canva template. The second one is very similar, but you play with numbers instead of words! The directions for each are in the first slide of the template. Simply click on the button below and you will have your very own template to use with your students!
WORDLE-STYLE GAME NOW ON FLIPPITY TOO!
Have fun and share out your ideas on Twitter and tag me: @tishrich!
Student Engagement & PD Specialist in Southern Oregon, Canva Learning Consultant, Canva Education Creator, and author of Make Learning Magical. I'm passionate about finding innovative ways to transform teaching and create unforgettable experiences in the classroom.