Sunday, December 31, 2017

One Word 2018 Way Maker

I am not going to write the words, "I am going to be honest with you" because I am always honest about things even when it is uncomfortable.  I am sitting here staring at the screen and trying to find the words to write. It used to come so easy to blog to write for work, about work or about pedagogy. It is not that I don't write any more.  I do. I fill up a journal a month and it has nothing to do with work and all to do with life.

My life does not revolve around my work. It used to. It is easy to do that. That is where the burn out comes in for me. So, I had to slow down.  A lot. My children and my life was slipping by and I needed to just hold on to what matters more. My family. There is a lot I had to start saying no to and I did so with no regrets. It felt and still feels great.

This post is going to be short and it is about my faith walk not school. My one word is Way Maker. I know it is two, but with a hashtag it becomes one and I am going with that.  It was selected by my heart in mid December. I am stepping out on that word believing that God will be a way maker in my life in a supernatural way this year and in the lives of my family. I believe that the road traveled with the Way Maker is a road of deep joy and abiding audacious faith. The kind of faith that asks the sun to stand still like in Joshua 10 in the Old Testament. That is my year and that is why that is my word.

The real Kimberly, not the social media Kimberly needs it. We often, myself included, fight battles unknown by others, but known by God.  I believe God will make a way because he is the Way Maker.

The hopes and dreams I carry for myself and for my family are BIG and I believe God will make a way because he is the Way Maker.

As much as I wish that this word had everything to do with education, it does not.  It is life. It is my very beautiful life!

I picked up a book from Roxane Battle called Pockets of Joy which has deeply resonated with my spirit. We share a very similar life path and it is interesting to see my life put down in words, someone else's words that could have very well been mine.  We could be soul sisters. Like her, my life has been about that of becoming, the process of becoming and the different stages of becoming that we are in. Like her, I have a deep love for the life of the butterfly and the lessons learned therein. Like her, I have spent most of my life except for 2.5 years being a person of faith who is also a hard working, divorced, single mom in a public position. Like her, I have learned the secret of "Counting it all JOY" as the scriptures teach us, but it has been a process that gets reviewed by my spirit all the time. I think counting it all joy is a lot like forgiveness and you have to remember to dwell in joy not sorrows and you need to remind yourself of this often. I challenge you to pick up the book for yourself by clicking here.

Happy New Year friends! May your one word carry you through all the hills and valleys.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Personalized Learning & Guided Science

I am so proud of the learners in Room 144. They are achieving great things. Owning your own learning journey is VERY hard, but day by day the students are doing their best. If you haven't read my previous blog post, here it is . I do have a very small group of learners who need more direct instruction, but they still participate in the Input / Output activities, just a bit differently. Even that has a growth mindset behind it.

Classrooms need to be learner focused, not teacher driven. That doesn't mean that the teacher, or as I like to call us, the lead learner has no voice, it is just diminished. Less of us allows for the student's voice to elevate. When student's voices are elevated, I firmly believe that learning is elevated.

That does mean that things need to look different. You can't have personalized learning and keep the traditional classroom set up. You also can't have personalized learning without any movement and without any play time.
I have found that the 5E Model helps guide how I plan. This a Backwards Design Model for planning out lessons. The 5E's accomplish the following:

Hook/grab student interest
ExploreActivity to explore concept
ExplainDirect instruction of concept
ElaborateExtend and apply learning to new situation
EvaluateUse of formative & summative assessments

I have also found that it is easy to take what I already had done before and assess it based on which elements were Input and which elements were Output.

The beginning of the year looked so different as of course it should, but slowly I  let go and guided the students through all the little parts. The guiding force in it all had to be discussions upon discussions about how to learn regardless of content, then how to prove what students have learned. With flexible seating, we had to learn how to sit, where to sit and how to learn where we sit (or stand as I have standing tables). We had to learn to advocate for our individual learning by minimizing distractions of classmates.

As the school year progressed, various elements started to be released slowly to the hands of the students. When it got challenging (and when it will get challenging again,) I pulled them back in with reteaching skills of how to learn becomes vital.

I was able to meet George Couros awhile ago. His book the Innovator's Mindset helped me to set my heart and mind on course for what I had to change as a lead learner so that students can learn in today's classroom.
It was not easy to shift, there was a lot I needed to let go so that I could do the right thing. Picking up my dear friend Joy Kirr's book Shift This reminded that it is all in gradual changes. Success is built in slow, guided steps.

So take heart. If you are still wondering how to shift your classroom, please contact any of us. We'd love to help you or point you to someone in your neck of the woods who you could reach out to. If you are new to Twitter, follow us and we will surely connect you with people that will uplift you, coach you.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Middle School Personalized Learning

If you have heard the buzz words Personalized Learning once, you have heard it a million-trillion times and you could probably be a rich person.

It is easy to gloss over the overused phrase and let it settle like a dandelion seed in the wind and continue on with the old model of doing school. Let's admit, it was easier doing it that way especially when you still remember the ditto machine on the counter in the staff work room.

However,  glossing over it or blowing on the seeds will not make it go away. Embracing it and making it work for yourself as much as for the students is vital.

This came a bit easier for me because I had been used to doing Daily 5 Guided Reading and BUILD (Daily 5 Guided Math) for a long time now. However, I don't want to diminish all the work I have to do to behind the scenes. When I moved into Science, I needed something like what I was used to using before,  but I didn't want to just dismiss this all to the wide world of isolated learning, because I am not designing robots. I wanted students to work collaboratively together as well as have both tech and non tech elements.

A trimester has almost gone by since I have started with Guided Science. You have to start off in little chunks. It is so vital to have learning bites for students and not give them the whole thing all at once. We are ready to move on to the next level which allows for more freedom for the students to navigate their learning journey.

There are some elements that are must-dos as well as elements that have choice.

It is easy to not know where to start if you are not used to doing a Daily 5 Guided Program. It can all seem so overwhelming.  So, let's break that down in chunks for ourselves.

1) Design activities within the learning outcomes that are differentiated and create a list of ways that learning can be inputted and learning can be outputted. I want to thank Chris Kesler for all his help in designing elements of our day, because he is a wizard and I would not have thought of turning to him for Science, but because we collaborated through Geniushour, it seemed like a great call and it was. I called this INPUT and OUTPUT.

2) Design a way for students to track their learning.

3) Design a way for you as the lead learner of the classroom to track their learning.

The last element of it all is assessment and within that, do your best to have modifications.

Here is what we are using. It wasn't what they first received in September because routines needed to be established, but they are now ready for the wonderful world of learning and I hope they find joy in doing so.

I am not doing this because it is a district initiative, (note my district's video below)  but because it is the right thing to do for the students and it is a joy to watch them learn!

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Geniushour & Mattering Matters

There are people still ask me why I am so passionate about #geniushour. There are people who don't understand why the roll out of it and its implementation is vital to the heart of the child. Why is the investment of class time in something that develops the curiosity of a child more important than testing, not just when the child is with you in the elementary years but onward into middle school and high school? 

A child needs to know that they matter and if they don't feel like they matter at home and they don't feel like they matter at school, then they are lost in this world. 

Geniushour speaks over that void, that dark abyss that some students carry with them. Geniushour speaks into the heart of mattering. Making mattering the agenda, year after year grows strong children both at home and at school. It is putting their needs first. 

School cannot fix the entire void, it can't speak into the depths of despair that some children's hearts are at, but geniushour can in many ways, tap into to the fight that is in their minds of negative self talk and say, someone thought I mattered, it might be the one thing that saves them. 

It might not. A child may have been told that they are a genius and that the whole blessed Earth is worthy of them, but the all the chaos and noise from other places takes over their minds. 

That is when sadness falls like a heavy dark blanket. 

Tonight I and my former staff from School for All Seasons mourn the death of our past student, when he turned off his own light to his life. Life and thoughts caught up to him in a deep overwhelming wave. 

We don't know. We just don't. So, speak life through #geniushour again and again. 

We must make mattering the agenda. Love, Kimberly

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Be Brave, Take Risks and Find Your Heartbeat Again

In June I left a job I loved to pursue a job invitation at a different school not in the district that was presented to be deeply related to my passion of technology. I started work with hopes and dreams, just like I had done in all the years I had previously taught since 1994. However, it was not much into the first week when I knew something was wrong. Going to #edcampMSP and spending time with like-minded friends confirmed on my heart that I was not imagining things. As much as I tried to fix what I could and change myself to adapt to the new school, I could not and in December of 2016, I took a risk and quit my job post. It was the Sunday evening just before TIES2016 when I pressed send, and I was thankful because I had two days off due to presenting at and attending the conference and thankful that I could be with friends at that time.

I was sad. I was sad that I left my friends at the school where I used to work and I wondered for all those months how I could have made such a grave misstep. I was sad that I came home crying almost every day from the new job and it was effecting my mindset and home life. I was sad that my working at that school didn't work out and in order to save my soul from crushing any further, I needed to look elsewhere. 

I learned a great deal about myself in those short months, but what I learned the most was that just like how not every student fits every school, not every teacher does 


That was a freeing thought and it gave me hope.

After trying to figure out many scenarios, I started working as a full time sub at the school around the corner from my house, one mile away. I have worked each day with no days off and working many areas, but with most of my time spent in Special Ed--ASD and STEM. I knew that it was a right choice beyond a shadow of a doubt. Throughout this time, I was able to date a school, date the staff, date the system for what will be just over 5 months. I was able to understand the infrastructure, the how and why of policies and dynamics and fall in love with the heartbeat of the school as well as recover from my earlier experience of frustration and fall in love with teaching.

Did you ever consider that schools have their own heartbeat? They have a pulse of their own and my heart, and as a person of faith, the heart of my creator must beat in unity with the heartbeat of the school. Finding that heartbeat is essential and when it is found, and when the blood is moving and it is fluid and when there is oxygen flowing through the blood, you have found magic.

As usual, the magic was by stepping away from the shore, and being willing to make enormous changes. I was terrified, but that didn't hold me back from not trying. I was scared. You should read my journal, but if you did you would see how the hand of God led me to resign, led me to rethink and led me to the right place where my heartbeat for education matches the administration and the staff. My faith is important to me. Each moment was unmistakably and supernaturally planned for me and unfolded in front of me like a gift from God for taking a gigantic risk. I wanted to just say thank you to those who stood in the gap with me including my friends and family who continuously reminded me why I teach and why it is still a worthy profession. Also at that time, two people came out with a book that was new and published by Dave Burgess PublishingThat book was Escaping The School Leader's Dunk Tank and I found in them a friendship and found in them comfort in knowing that I was not alone, nor was I completely out of my mind. Thank you Rick Jetter and Rebecca Coda.

I am happy to tell you that there is a good ending to this, that taking a risk was worth it all. I am happy to tell you that I will be in a space I love and I cannot wait for fall to start. Had I not taken the risk, I would be ever so lost and fallen out of love with my passion for teaching and learning. It was a bumpy road of emotions, but mostly living my faith out loud.

Maybe you too are wondering about something in your life and wondering if you should make a change, press pause and listen to your heartbeat and lean in to hear the heartbeat of your Creator and answers will come when they need to. I promise.

Love, Kimberly

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Merchant of Hope

Merchant of Hope
There are many wonderful things that I enjoy about education, but one of them that always rises to the top is being a merchant of hope. Hope is the heart of compassion which teachers and administrators need to navigate the waters of people and situations in our schools. Hope is found in the middle of the storms at work, not the shoreline on either end where the storm has subsided. Hope arises on the capsizing waves not the white foam found on the shoreline that tickles your toes. Hope is found in the darkness of a situation before the promised light comes. It is found in the hallways as we are faced with many doors of decisions to make as we ponder which to choose. Hope is the greatest gift, asset or treasure we can give out. Hope is being part of the solution, not the problem. It doesn’t solve the problem, but it whispers to you that it can be solved. Being a merchant of hope has to be part of the school culture.

As a teacher, staff member or an administrator, it is vital to be a merchant of hope. That doesn’t mean that we live in an alternative reality where everything is always awesome because we know that it is not, but we know that it does mean that we are not paralyzed by fear because we have hope. We might find ourselves in spaces where our heart is broken in raw and relevant ways though we have done everything possible to make mattering the agenda. We all have sat behind a closed door with our head between our knees from time to time, gathering our spirits again to open the door to hope. Hope is what we give and what we need & breeds successful schools.

We can do this by honoring the stories that people want to tell by authentically listening and by creating spaces for that speaking and listening to flourish. I myself find that geniushour and teaching students to harness the power of hope through speaking & listening skills as they prepare to give TED Talks of their own creates a learning legacy because I am letting students know that they are born for significance. I do this with intentionality as I remind them that their purpose is wrapped up in both their passions and their compassion and to give hope to others.
Hope is a gift received as well as a gift returned to the world.

Future of Life Institute

I approach all the students as little seeds. I partner with the parents and the school to plant seeds and nurture the seeds so that it will grow. I am only given so much time to help the seed grow, but in that time I must water it well and give it needed nutrients. Those nutrients give it strength to push through the dark, cold soil into the sunlight with hopes of becoming something more than just a seed and being part of that becoming is my honor.

Hope in our classroom or school says:
I accept you.
I love you.
I appreciate you.
I see you.
I support you.
I respect you.
I will protect you.
I believe in you and you can do this.

In fact, hope even goes farther. Hope says to the students, families and staff, HOLD ON! I will row my boat out to the middle of the lake where you are. Hope says you can get in the boat with me or I will get in the boat with you. It even offers to tether the two boats together to continue moving forward. Hope throws you a life-preserver. Hope helps airlift you out. Hope makes way for extraordinary change because hope takes risks together.

Illuminate with hope. Let it fly around our workspaces like fireflies free at night, the tiniest bits of light pushing through the dark and in that moment when we can’t catch our breath, hope comes in and fills our lungs and turns our heads finally just when we least expected it. Schools that thrive, have hope found in their hallways, offices and classrooms. Anything is possible when we are a merchant of hope and create this culture at school.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

For The Love of TLAP #LoveTeaching

Several years ago (I thought it was 4, but it was 5!) I came across the book Teach Like A Pirate  the world of Dave Burgess, then #TLAP & it saved me. #TLAP was new and fresh as a chat and the book was taking up the education world like a storm.

I was perishing in a silo and unconnected. Not that I was a wreck, not exactly. I was feeling like I was trying out new ideas but in that, I was alone. Sometimes, when you are alone it makes you feel like what you are doing and your innovation does not matter. 

I had a boss who gave us an iPad. It was new to us. I really didn't know what to do with it and I had heard of Twitter, but not Twitter for educational use and I had no idea that there was a whole tribe of people just like me waiting for me on the other side. I joined Twitter. That was all it took.

It was much like that scene in Schindler's List with all the people coming over the hill of people that he had rescued and saved. I was saved. Do you remember it? The whole movie had been filmed in black and white until the hill scene with all these people, everyone touched because of Oskar Schindler and the movie broke out in color.

I came across a tribe of people. That tribe of people were reading this new up and coming book called Teach Like A Pirate and it was as if we were drinking water for our parched throats with words and ideas that filled a page, with words that lifted weighted hearts like mine that were born to fly. Just around the same time, #TLAP started. We were world changers, education hackers & dreamers and lovers of learning. We were passionate about students, the art and science of education. We were coming alive in a safe space.
Casting Crowns: Thrive

Everything can change when you open a new book, and the words pour into you. This is a great week to celebrate the teachers in your children's lives. It is #LoveTeaching week. If you are drowning in status quo or feel like you are stuck in a rut or a silo, that is not a space designed for you. We have a noble profession. You were born to thrive, not survive. So,
pick up the book here! 

If you love a a teacher, the classroom, the administration at your children's schools or at your own where you work , then buy them the book. If you think that there could be growth in those spaces of learning, then buy them the book.

In this life, we need to look for the gateways that open up hope and Teach Like A Pirate is a great way to start. It will lead you to all the books that Dave and Shelley Burgess have birthed so that we might as educators be able to speak life back into our classrooms. Tell them I sent you over and tell them Dave did too.

So why do I #LoveTeaching? Well, because of all of this! All this and one GREAT book!

 Great collaboration & PLN including our Minnesota #mnlead

 Laughing at the everyday joys

 Touching hearts/reaching minds

 Food in lounge

Ever so thankful to you Dave. 
Ever so thankful.