Saturday, February 13, 2016

Fully Functioning and the Quest for the Meaning of Life

Fully Functioning Human Being 
and the quest for the meaning of life.

In this little trip of education, I have taken a path down Educational Psychology. In this trek we talk about many of the greats; Maslow, Locke, Erikson, Bloom. All of these names have so much to say about the way we teach, motivate, and demonstrate. In the quest for an A, I am always looking for a different voice saying more. I have landed on Scott Barry Kauffman. You should read his stuff. He is a modern day Ed Psyc guy that, in my opinion, is evolving the way we should approach education.

Due to insane back problems that lead to surgery 2 weeks ago, I had to drop my semester and "rest". But my dedicated readers know, that really doesn't "happen". I am always looking into this, trying out that...helping to plan another edcamp. I just love being involved.

Well, a tweet from Kauffman caught my eye this morning. He linked an article that he had read...
I wasn't even through the first paragraph when I saw another name we study, Karl Rogers. I yeall out to my husband the line in the article about the "fully functioning person" and the conversation took off.

Sidebar - Travis' grandfather passed away last weekend. He man was amazing. He was literally into all of the things we read about in how American developed through the 30's to today. He life is like an action-adventure meets romantic comedy then what ever the hell genre The Notebook is...the bawl your eyes out genre. None-the-less, Trav and I have been talking for a week now about the natural things of life and death that follow an event like this.

So in the conversation about fully functioning person, we quickly moved past the day to day Special Education life skills type stuff and onto the word fully. The idea of fully ran onto things like a fully invested wife, fully engaged mother, fully aware educator, fully dedicated to, I was immediately exhausted by all of the things I was fully trying to be. And then all of a sudden was made to feel (in my own head) inadequate. I started thinking what does it mean to be a fully invested wife? Could I do more? A fully engaged mom...could I do more? A fully aware educator...Tyler Bridges would tell you I have a ways to go ;-). How can we get more fully functioning than we are. Then of course you start hinging about making goals and setting check points. I want to______ by ______.

So the question is...think hard here.
1. What is it you want; what will make you live to be a more fully functioning person?
2. Will there be checkpoints?
3. When are your deadlines? 3 yrs? 5 yrs?  
4. What is the end game? What to you think will come of it?

Friday, February 12, 2016

Mentor and Mentee Relationship Goals

I’ve mentored quite a few people in the last couple years. These mentees either know they’re in over their head and know they need help. Or they didn't realize they were sinking because the ice burg hit three weeks ago. No matter which category my new friends fall into, they have no idea what to ask me so they could start the process of change.

In a mentoring relationship, it’s generally the responsibility of the mentee to take the initiative–not the mentor’s. In my current role (there are three of us), we are trying to stay proactive in our approach to leading this year. All Epic Charter Schools first year teachers have one of the three of us to connect with, learn the ropes, and grab tips and tricks for their approach to everything. A sounding board if nothing else to all thing Epic and EDU. Our non-first-years, get the opportunity (their choice) for monthly meet-ups to new tools and approaches to education. We basically do the research for them so the teachers can remain focused on the students. 
If you have ever been in this situation, here are a few questions I try to ask when someone needs help finding a way to progress. 

3 questions to ask your mentee:

1. What are you working on right now? It doesn’t matter the person is seeking your guidance on finessing a lesson to deliver over Causes of the Revolutionary War or figuring out the classroom management for this student or this class.  This question helps them focus and prioritize their time and processes.
2. What are your next steps? The very act of asking will get them thinking about how to move forward. Goal making with scheduled completion should be setup (if possible) at this point. Having an endpoint to a goal, whether we have a "do-gooder, hop to the task right now" person, or a procrastinator (can you tell which I might be?) allows for a conclusion. This is also when I might follow-up. 
3. How can I help? Whether needing a crucial tip to hook the students or the right contact to another person that can help - feedback on their strategies or just confirmation they’re heading in the right direction is necessary for growth of this relationship. 
If you’re the one seeking guidance from a mentor, it’s easy to turn these questions around.

Three things to discuss with your mentor:

1. Here’s what I’m working on right now. Tell them where your gaze is resting and where your priorities lie at the moment, what your big picture looks like and where you see them and yourself in it.
2. These are my next steps. What current projects are you giving the most attention? What’s your plan for moving forward? How have you decided to deploy your resources–time, money, energy–to accomplish these things. Have you set a timeline for yourself on when to make things things happen?
3. Where can you help? Let your mentor know if you are looking for encouragement, or critical feedback? Do you want them to introduce you to someone who can help your career, or review your proposal/lesson/task before submitting it to your boss? Do you need granular advice about making it through the school day or school year? 
Sidebar - Don't quit unless you absolutely suck. We need to #makeOKgreatEDU find a mentor for your certification, job title, etc. We can help you with a particular task even if outside or your district. People like Anne Beck from OU, Vanessa Perez from Clinton PS, Anthony Purcell from Stillwater PS, Scott Haselwood Doc candidate at OSU, and myself have all discussed cross district professional development. DM any of us on The Twitter. 
Don’t let a mentoring relationship get stuck because you don’t know how to move forward. If you’re feeling stuck try asking yourself or your mentor these 3 simple questions. If your mentor sucks...try to find another that fits your style. BUT FOR THE LOVE, please do not let this relationship become a negativity perpetuator. If you are getting advice, please TRY to put into action. Do not come up with excuses as to why it will not work. Do not play the blame game. You never know what will work until you have given it a try. What will you lose? Another day? 

Saturday, February 6, 2016

5,4,3,2,1 - A bloggers challenge

Alright, I have been tagged to be apart of the 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 Challenge. Originally posted by Anthony. I think that Scott, who called me out, probably looked at my recent post history - the fan that he is - and desired to read more of my off the cuff - lacking the educational background - too many commas, 'cuz that's actually the way I speak - style of writing. 
Sidebar - I have thought about deleting this whole blog many times due to the fact I am not a writer. I'm a conversationalist
 I’m sure that’s it. But alas, here goes...

What has been your ONE biggest struggle during this school year?
  1. This school year in particular I have struggled with my ever changing job title/description. The year started out like last year, but I was sinking. I have a teaching background but my current job which I had become very good at, had evolved over the last two years into a largely systems background. The biggest struggle was wanting to know everything about everything when it came to our curriculum options - I like that, and that was very good at it - but It was not teaching, it was not my passion. I am happy to say that mid-year I have been asked to change job titles into professional development. I cannot tell you how excited I am and my struggle is waning now everyday.  And I still get to know everything about everything. :-)
Share TWO accomplishments that you are proud of from this school year.
  1. Most of you know that my school is different from most. We are a public, virtual, blended charter. Got that? I can go into all the ways to defend that to you nay-sayers, but that’s another post and a past post...keep reading. My daughters are students at Epic, they are with me everyday all day while I get to do my job. They are watching me do my work and also plan the EdCamps on the side. The oldest likes to pretend regularly to be like me. She has recently said that when she grows up, she would like to plan EdCamps just like me. She is a 3rd grader and now has a Voxer account with her friends and is planning all kinds of things from a vet club to lemonade stands. So. Proud.
  2. This one is kind of cheesy, and probably won’t mean much to anyone...I inherited the ownership and upkeep of a database built in Google Sheets that was a train wreck. It was started by someone who, God love her, just didn’t know the capabilities of Google and all the Googley tools out there. I took this thing that she was sharing as like 45 sheets at a time, built it into itself - Have I lost you yet - and am finishing it. Still has a little ways to go. It is now a fully functioning Wiki, and can be shared as one link and is fully operational. It shows each of our 15 curriculum options and where they hit and miss the Oklahoma standards, And the teachers now once they get the hang of using it, will have little guess work when it comes to re-teaching standards and filling gaps. I know, it’s a dorky accomplishment and I probably lost half of you, but you should see the thing.   
What are THREE things that you wish to accomplish before the end of the school year?
  1. Finish the Wiki.
  2. For my new job - find the best way possible to teach 200 teachers across the state of Oklahoma, virtually, while building a connected culture for our teachers. In B&M schools, you can breathe in the culture of a school when you walk through the doors. I have been to some of your schools over the last year…...I want to build a culture so that when we come together as a whole school our 4 to 5 times a year, you can feel the excitement in the room. Our last PD days, which I had a part in the planning process, were a huge jump in this direction. I won’t bore you with the details, but our teachers were very pumped at this event.
    Rick Cobb and Jun Kim - Last year at EdCamp OKC - Your South Moore was beautiful and your student volunteers were inspired. Rob Miller - Your school on my visit had me missing walls with all the high 5-ing we did. Kim Bearden and Ron Clark - There are no words to express the culture you have built in your school that set your teachers apart from the pack.

  3. Find a way for my daughter Tatum to help in the organizing of EdCamp Global as we start the planning process for the June event later this month. I expect to see your faces you can wear your pj’s and attend from home.

Give FOUR reasons why you remain in education in today’s rough culture.
  1. Serving our kids - I think we can do more.
  2. Helping students become self engaged learners and researchers.
  3. The connections that I have made over the year via Twitter and Edcamps and now Voxer.
  4. Knowing that I make a difference in the lives of kids everyday everyday.
Which FIVE people do you hope will take the challenge of answering these questions?
  1. Noah Geisel - @SenorG - A teacher of the year educator from Denver CO, whom I have met through Twitter. His work the badge systems and  I find intriguing. Tagging him might be a stretch
  2. George Couros - @gcouros - Probably need no intro, but first Edublogger I started reading and retweeting. The busiest man on Earth. Tagging him might be a stretch
  3. Scott Barry Kauffman - @sbkaufman - genius of an educator, who has inspired much of what I write about in grad school. His work in individuals, their motivations and their differences is what my school is all about. Tagging him might be a stretch
  4. Yolanda Merriman - @Yymerri - who is probably one of the brightest actual friends I have
  5. Travis Barnes -@tbarnes211 -My husband, who typically is overlooked because he is so quiet, but who has the point of view that is always more meaningful and existential than mine.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Edcamp Global Classrooms - 3 Takeaways

EdCamp Global Classrooms 2016


At Oklahoma's DoE summer conference, Engage Ok, I had the pleasure of co-hosting a session titled, Periscope, Voxer and Twitter Oh My. I made a Voxer group during that session to show the impact that a statewide PLN could make on education. Some of you are still a part of that group and still shout-out every once in a while. But another someone found the link out on the Twittersphere and asked to join this group. There Jamie Donally and I made a real edu-connection. She started going on and on about a new type of EdCamp she was planning and I of course love having anything to do with EdCamps. I offered to help in any way and she took me up on it.

Things learned:

1. I thought statewide connections were awesome, but I had no clue what national and global connections could be. The core group of educators that had a hand in planning this EdCamp Global Classrooms were from Texas, DC, Florida, Ontario, and Australia. I had a quick question yesterday about Google something...and within seconds had 2 different answers from people that teach these things in their states and districts. I thought I was clever enough - my one job in this whole interaction was to come up with 24 separate but equally as awesome hourly challenges to ask our participants from around the globe to take on, challenge themselves, and play around with their kids in an environment where failing was ok. That was hard! I couldn't expect people to be apart of all 24 hours, but who would I give a less fun experience to? The answer is nobody. All people tuning in at any given hour of the day had to have a great time. This is what made the task so difficult. Relying on the genius people I surrounded myself with allowed this task to be fun when bouncing my ideas off of others.

2. If I want to Evolve, I need to get INVOLVED. In a conversation with Hadley Ferguson at Edcamp Online last year we talked about EdCamp 2.0. What is next with Edcamps. We talked about badges systems and other ways to take the idea of EdCamp to the next level, especially for people who had been to 10+ EdCamps. Nothing came from this meeting in a formal notion, but it did help me think about my own EdCamping in a different way. Since that discussion, I have attended EdCamps in 4 other states, sat quietly at an Edcamp to get more rather than think I can give all the time, was apart of the planning committee for the largest live EdCamp  event to date, and have now helped plan a virtual/global Edcamp. There was no other way for me to get involved than to ask to be involved. I am not done, I plan to attend an Edcamp in every state as work lends to me schedule.

3. Be the village Idiot. Ok, I know that I set myself up for that one, but I had no clue how much I could learn from others. In my own circles, at my own school, I tend to have "the ideas" and "the answers" when it comes to how to teach a lesson or concept that might be out of the box. But opening myself up and allowing myself to be the dumbest person in the Voxer room, has broadened my horizons even more. Ya'll should see some of the names in education in this ECGC Voxer group. I am conspiring with the best of the best here and learning SO much. Seriously, check out the organizers of this event. FOLLOW THEM ON TWITTER. It is OK to not know it all. But if you haven't already, start making connections via Twitter, Voxer or Periscope outside of what and who you currently know. In June there will be another opportunity to get involved in another Global EdCamp. Keep an eye out HERE.

It will be hard to top an event with over 600 classrooms in 60 different countries participating, but I am up for the challenge to try. Will you join me?

Watch our Wrap up here: Watch This Video