My Defining Moment #youredustory

No moment.  Let’s just put that out there.  I’ve been a teacher all my life.

My mom has old math books with my lesson plans tucked in the pages.  Lots of work, even more homework, harsh consequences.  My 10-year old teacher self ran a tight ship.

My students? Usually stuffed animals.  My younger sister wouldn’t tolerate me and my bossy teacher self for long.

Mrs. Fitzgerald, my 3rd grade teacher, was my model.  I don’t recall a lot of work or huge amounts of homework or an especially harsh woman (my translation of teaching was a bit off).    She ran centers during reading time.  I fondly remember the games we played, the special time we got to read with Mrs. Fitzgerald at the big U-shaped table and her aid, Mrs. Castenada, working with kids all over the room.

I was a talker.  I think I would have sat alone had our room had more space.  As it was, I kept my table partner completely distracted from our lessons.  We played scientist with the pencil holder at our table (contact paper around a soup can).  Two pencils allowed us to reach into our bubbling beaker to extract a very toxic eraser.

I loved school.  I loved playing school.  I was practicing for my teaching career from the start.

In fourth grade, our teacher, Mrs. Dabney, was very ill.  We had a series of substitutes who didn’t stay long.  Mr. Sylvestor was my favorite sub that year.  He was a tall, African American teacher.  That was new.  And he spoke to us as if he knew us from day 1.  As I reflect, he was probably newly credentialed.  He had an easy way about him.  Easier than the other subs whose nerves jumped off them and made the whole class jumpy.  Mr. Sylvestor wore a suit to school.  Also new.  His smile was big and infectious.  I don’t think I had a lot of teachers who smiled.  Why would a smile otherwise stick out?  When he smiled at you, you couldn’t help smile back and feel happy to be at school.

So when was my defining moment?  When did I decide to become a teacher?  Hard to say.  Let’s give 3rd grade the credit.  Mrs. Fitzgerald set the path and Mr. Sylvestor sealed the deal.  I wonder if I’ve payed that forward with any of my students?

Post #cuerockstar doldrums and a cure

Last Friday night we kicked off the CUE Rockstar Teacher Camp season with our Petaluma mini-camp.  I felt way over my head as I prepped my Pecha Kucha, shreds and two sessions.  I believe in pushing myself and embracing the discomfort of a good challenge.  #cuerockstar did not disappoint.

Pecha Kucha Slide #1

Pecha Kucha Slide #1

Tuesday I went back to work.  The high of #cuerockstar left me looking for something else, doldrums, searching for the next challenge… not 100% sure.

You know that feeling, that intangible feeling when all your neurons are firing and you’re smiling and doing good work… it probably has a name.  Synergy, flow… whatever.  That’s the feeling of #cuerockstar.

My first day’s session was on screen-casting with Snagit.  The group accomplished a lot.  The lightbulbs were flashing all over the room.  They were learning, I was learning, we were growing together for the benefit of our students.  Students were always at the center of the WHY.

Day 2 was trickier.  We tackled Sites.  Build a Google Site in 2 hours? Yep.  It was work.  For all of us.  The puzzled look and furrowed brow that begs a personal check in.  The triumph of a created page complete with content and images.  A follow up email to this group validated our work.  They are excited to cultivate this new communication opportunity for students and families.

For me, I learned a lot about adult learners.  Previous conference and training experiences didn’t provide this insight.  We were hands on, wrestling with the tools, considering the applications, making mistakes and sharing our triumphs.  Real learning.  Warts and all.  The time (2 hours) made all the difference.

I want all the teachers I work with to experience professional development to the depth of #cuerockstar.  How can I make that happen?  The frenzy of day-to-day teaching and learning at school and all the other “stuff” steals away our energy and time for adult learning.  How can I create more time and depth?

My friend Jennifer Kloczko shared, “The cure?  Make your school like rockstar everyday.”

Now there’s a concept.  How can I do that?  Time and depth are a good beginning.  Choice is key.  Focusing on what teachers actually WANT to learn.  

Why aren’t I talking about students? Student choice, depth of learning, student time… That’s another important conversation.  But our students don’t stand a chance if the adults orchestrating teaching and learning everyday aren’t nurtured too.

Another In over my head  moment.  How do I make professional learning like #cuerockstar at my school?  Thanks crew, for challenging my thinking, firing me up and motivating me to bring this experience home.

Out of the doldrums and into creativity-mode.  Time, depth, choice.  We can do this.