Thursday, August 24, 2017

A Glimpse into My Twitter PLN

Learning, Sharing & Growing Together

Dear Readers,

I would never have imagined the connections I would make via Twitter. It has completely changed my life and I do not say that lightly. I have found, over the past few years, summer is an amazing time to make new connections and strengthen old as we participate in book studies, chats and conversation. Here are a few people, out of many, that I am thankful to know. You inspire me, you support me, you brighten my day!

@Mr_U79: You are an amazing teacher. Your blog pulls at my heart strings, the relationships you build with your students is magical! I am honored to follow your flash-mob journey each year. Hopefully I will have front row seats one year!

@mjjohnson1216: Meredith, thank you for asking me to join you on the #BookCampPd journey. It is an absolutely pleasure and delight to collaborate with you. 

@EmilyfranESL: Emily, you are so positive and I love seeing your tweets go through my feed. You always capture the positive moments and share them with the rest of us. Your passion is contagious. 

@PaulOneill1972: Paul, you challenge me daily with the #PLN365 Question of the Day. There have been times where the answer comes easily and others where I really need to reflect and think! It was a pleasure having the opportunity to moderate #PLN365. I look forward to more challenging questions!

@tishrich: Tisha, you are an absolute joy to know! Just looking at your happy face makes me smile. I just adore the #XPLAP community. You are patient and and welcome anyone regardless of prior background knowledge. I learn so much from you. I look forward to our GHO later this fall!

@ElemCoach: Elaine, it has been an absolute pleasure getting to know you through #BookCampPd. Your positive energy is contagious! I look forward to learning from you and connecting this school year!

@D4Griffin3: Dennis, it was a pleasure meeting you through the #InPraiseDuFour book study. I enjoyed your insights and contributions every week. It is a pleasure learning from you. I look forward to connecting this school year!

@_KELewis: You are an absolute joy to know! I am so excited to connect again this school year. Your GHO with my students at the end of the year was amazing! I am looking forward to future collaborations!

@tolbertplant: Michelle, I am always excited to connect with other Middle School ELA teachers! I have enjoyed the conversations we have had so far. I look forward to further discussions this school year. Maybe we can figure out this student blogging thing together!

@historycomics: Tim, I love seeing how you incorporate Graphic Novels and Comic Books into your instruction. It is a genre I am not super familiar with, yet like to provide my students with many text options. I look forward to continuing to learn from you! 

These are just a few of the amazing individuals I have the honor to interact with and learn from. Thank you for being part of my PLN! May you all have a wonderful start to the new year!


Sunday, August 20, 2017

Collaboration: Analysis, Perspective, Celebration

Lucy & Miley

Dear Readers,

I am fortunate to be staying at a friend's house to watch their two precious pups while they are on their family vacation. Lucy, a sixth month old chocolate lab, happens to live next door to her sister, Miley. They truly are best friends. 


They play together, cause mischief together and just make me laugh out loud. I was watching them the other day as a ball fell into the pool. It reminded me of teams.

1. Analyzing the Situation: What Should We Do?

So many times we see a problem and want to jump in and solve it as quickly as possible. When we see that ball floating in the pool, sometimes it's better to sit back and patiently consider our options. Do we jump in after it? Do we wait for it to come to us? Do we walk away and forget it? It helps to look at the big picture when faced with decisions we must make. It can also be easy to make a decision without consulting others. A true collaborator sits beside his/her teammate(s) and waits. They approach the problem together. 

2. Change Your Perspective: Do We Need to Look at this From a Different Angle?

Sometimes it helps to look at different perspectives. Perhaps someone sees something that we do not. Looking at a problem from a different angle can provide many possibilities and opportunities! It doesn't mean we jump in just yet, we still patiently consider the options. If I look through a different lens can I see the solution coming closer? How do I communicate to my team that I see an answer to the problem? How do I gain trust and respect so my team will share in my discovery with me?

3. Come Together: Problem Solve as a Team and Share in the Celebration


When we have a plan, it is important to implement it as a team. Considering all the options, what would make the most sense? How can we all benefit? Does it propel us toward our vision, mission, goals, etc? Sometimes we have to listen, process and consider taking someone else's idea because it is the best one. One of the most important stages of the journey is celebrating! Celebrate small and big successes!

May you all have amazing collaborative teams to go back to this year!

Teresa (Lucy & Miley)

Saturday, August 12, 2017

I Was Never Told.........

"Well behaved Women Seldom Make History." ~Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

Dear Readers,

Yesterday I visited the National Women's Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls, NY. It was an incredibly powerful and moving experience that I have been reflecting on today.

These are just a few of the incredible women I found myself surrounded by.

From there, I went to Elizabeth Cady Stanton's home. 

After that, I went to the Wesleyan Church where the first demands for Women's Rights was held. It was a powerful experience to be in that room where so many gathered so long ago.

The Declaration of Sentiments was etched into a never ending waterfall outside.

One of my favorite moments was visiting the statue of the "chance encounter" between Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton.

I was able to see the newspaper when Susan B. Anthony was arrested in Rochester, NY for trying to vote.

I have been reflecting today on my experience. 

I was never told:
  • I had to get married.
  • I could not get divorced.
  • I could not own property.
  • I could not go to college.
  • I could not vote.
  • I could not be a lawyer.....a doctor......a astronaut......
  • I had to wear certain clothing.
  • I could not wear make-up.
  • I could not join the military.
  • I could not practice the religion of my choice.
  • I could not learn to read.....write.....speak.......
  • I could not be a nurse......a journalist......a politician.

This was a powerful display at the visitor center that caused me to stop and reflect.

I was never told:
  • I could not play with dolls.
  • I could not play with trucks.
  • I could not like pink.
  • I could not like blue.
  • I could not play with Barbies.
  • I could not play with action figures.

This display in a local store also moved me.

I was never told:
  • You cannot marry a man if that is who you love.
  • "I could not find an appropriate card for you and your husband to be."
  • People close to me would be victims of violence and prejudice based on who they love.
  • How lucky I was to be born into the "right body" and feel comfortable in my own skin.
  • That people close to me would be told they would not make "good parents" because of who they chose to spend their lives with.
  • People I love and care about would be judged because of who they love. 
  • I would be scared for people I love and care about. 

"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." ~ Mya Angelou

"The best protection any woman can courage." ~ Elizabeth Cady Stanton


Wednesday, August 2, 2017

#LEADLAP Blog Challenge: 5 Commitments

I Commit To....

Dear Readers,

As I was scrolling through my Twitter feed, I stopped at a tweet by @burgess_shelley. 

I decided to take the challenge! I am looking at what I can implement as a classroom leader. I am committing to:

1. Dong the "Top Three" Activity: Making connections and building relationships is the heart of my classroom. I am always looking for new ways for students and I to get to know each other. I love the idea of using the "Top Three" activity throughout the year using ideas such as movies, books, characters, sports, music, games, etc. 
  • Example: Ms. Gross' Top Three Movies (The King's Speech, The Impossible, Eat Pray Love) Common Theme: Our Journey, Perseverance 
2. Using Social Media: I am always looking for ways to tell our classroom story. Last year, I created a classroom Twitter page. My students really enjoyed getting to know people around the world. However, I never really found my momentum with it. This year, I would like to utilize it more for the students to tell our story. I also would like to expand it to all my classes. 

3. Story Telling: People connect through stories. I frequently use stories to building relationships or to complement my instruction. Last year I attempted to implement daily writing for the first 5 minutes of class. Students were supposed to write about something that happened in their lives. I want to be more cognizant of sharing our stories and building our writing lives together.

4. Rest like a PIRATE: Middle school students have so much going on in their lives developmentally, socially, academically, etc. They are going through so many changes at lightening speed. In conversations I have had with them in the past, I have found very few of them actually take time for themselves to rest, relax and recharge. This year I would like to make a more conscious effort to not only talk about what stresses them out, but how to handle that stress and take time to rest. We have to give students skills and strategies to handle "life" as well as academics.

5. ANCHOR Conversations: The ANCHORS are probably my favorite take-away from the book. I have been implementing them for a couple of years now. However, I have thought about new ways to incorporate them into our classroom. Last year, I started allowing students to teach the class. I would like to continue that practice heading into this year. After students taught, I asked the rest of the class to write ANCHORS to them telling them what they did well. Here are a few initial thoughts:
  • A=Appreciation (we have been using these on a regular basis)
  • N=Notice (student teachers, group work)
  • C=Collaborative Discussions (prompts for working together)
  • H=Honor Voice and Choice (class, group, partner decisions)
  • O=Offer Support (peer and teacher conferencing)
  • R=Reflection (this is my professional goal for the year)
My plan is to make an anchor chart of the ANCHORS and integrate them into our classroom routines and instruction.

Final Thoughts:

I highly recommend this book to anyone who considers themselves a leader whether in a district, building or classroom. Shelley and Beth are transparent and authentic. They share their journey with you.....the highs and lows.....the ups and downs.....the triumphs and learning. They sincerely look at leadership in an innovative way. Thank you both for sharing your journey with us!