Sunday, October 30, 2016

My One Thing...So Far... #GafeSummit

  (Glances around furtively to see who is watching...)

I wasn't excited about jumping in the car.
Don't get me wrong.  I love learning.
We just returned from Grand Rapids after attending the Lutheran Education Association Convocation.
We squeezed in a birthday celebration for my 12 year old.  (Bless it.  My 8 year old is still waiting.)
Conferences are coming.  A Fall Concert with my Rusty Piano Playing is coming.
And now I'm going to leave town again for the weekend for some more PD?
(Are you sensing the weight yet?)
I pack the bag and jump in the minivan with a super colleague.


A day of completely amazing learning!  All those thoughts before?  Go ahead and forget I had them.

I'm still processing Maker Space.  (A blog post is brewing...)  It was excited to have play time and try some tools out.

I loved spending time looking at Matific's resources and what they had to offer in the area of math.

I spent some time listening and watching and learning about extensions that support primary readers and writers.

The One Thing

But you guys.  Here is The One Thing that rocked my world.  You may be already fluent at this.  Go ahead and skip out if you have mastered this already.

I've been struggling with Blogging in First Grade.  You guys.   I just felt like it was taking up so much time.  I wanted to give my students an authentic voice.  But I also wanted them in the writing process, not the "Hunting and Pecking" process as they pecked out a tiny blog post.  I felt like writing was suffering because they simply weren't ready to type!

Here's the One Thing:

1  Open up a Google Doc.
2. Use the Voice Typing tool under the Tools section of the document.
3.  Allow the students to record the story they wish to tell.  (A response, an answer to a question, a story they need to share.)
4.  Install Read&Write for Google Chrome in your extensions.
5.  The students can have their writing read back to them to make sure it is correct.
6.  Publish and connect with the world!

A huge thank you to Stacy Behmer for showing us extensions that can impact our classroom instruction.  The time to use and experiment with this extension was my One Thing that is coming back with me.

What are you learning at #GAFESummit?


Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Loyalty and Faithfulness.

Link up at  We are so grateful for this community. 

What’s funny is I’m reminded of annoyances as I start to write this.  

“We’ll come see you when he’s out of town…”  (Please don’t do that…)
“The soccer game is cancelled.”  (But I was going to have the house to myself...)

I’m reading about Ruth right now.  A lot of you know passages from Ruth.  They are usually read at weddings.  

For where you go, I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge.  Your people shall be my people, and your God my God.  (1:16-17).

You know what?  Ruth is talking to her mother-in-law.  Who has lost her husband.  And two sons.  
Ruth is declaring loyalty and faithfulness when she could have turned and ran.  

What struck me here is how this declaration happened in the middle of a mess.  Ruth isn’t dancing through a bed of roses when she’s making this declaration. There are tears, there have to be.  Orpah did take the blessing to leave, so a family member has taken off.  She’s declaring her loyalty and faithfulness at some of the hardest times they have experienced together.  (I won’t even get started on the judges and the famine….)

So what’s up?  Where’s the connection?

When my family shows up unannounced (which always makes me nervous), I can declare loyalty and faithfulness.  

When my “me time” is interrupted by a not empty house, I can declare my loyalty and faithfulness.  

Maybe it needs to be to my spouse.  Maybe to my parents.  Maybe to my in-laws.  Maybe it is simply to coworkers and friends.  

I love the conviction that loyalty and faithfulness are resounding themes with Ruth.  We can be loyal and faithful to each other in the mess of life.  

Who do you look at today with loyalty and faithfulness?  


Saturday, October 1, 2016

A Few Thoughts on Status Quo and Spiritual Journeys from Kendra. :)

Before I begin, I realize this is a chance for me to tell my story.  

It might not be your story.

Our collective story is what makes us better.

My story swirls around me, especially in these past two years.  

I often wonder how that story can encourage and inspire others to journey.  

So I'm going to give it a full shot.

The story began to come out with a tweet:  

Screenshot 2016-09-28 at 7.15.45 PM.png

Look at the tweet from Mary Ann Reilly:  “Status quo is often a resting place.  Before I interfered, I’d want to honor resting.”  (Also, follow her if you don’t.  She is quietly brilliant and unassuming. Sometimes I think social media is a weird place to be.  But I always feel Something when I read and look at her work.)  It was this tweet that stopped me in my tracks and caused me to pause and reflect on everything I’ve been considering over the past 2-3 years.  

Where in education are we?  Are we constantly looking to stay a step ahead and be considered innovative, that we’ve lost sight of rest and reflection?  

In a culture of compliance and the trend to be innovative, I fear we are losing our best educators.   
Test more.  Organize your data.  Be brilliant with the spreadsheet.  Innovate and create amazing lessons that make kids want to come to school.  Really, who can be all these things all the time?  And do them well.  

The culture reminds me of a roller coaster we went on this summer as a family.  You would be riding along peacefully, and then you would be jerked to the left or right.  You’d get to the top of the hill and then fly to the bottom, only to start the climb again.  My youngest and I, not being crazy about roller coasters, left that ride feeling a little tired, bewildered and ready for a good cold drink.  I think this analogy fits for how I felt at the end of my tenure as a public educator.  

At my worst, I would sit at our kitchen table and cry.  I wasn’t good enough, I wasn’t writing enough lessons, my newsletter wasn’t like the kindergarten teacher's (words said to me), I wasn’t teaching what I knew what was best practice.  And then I’d pick myself up (or my husband would push me up) and I’d get back at it.  But I only held that frantic pace for about 3 years.  

And by the end I was burnt out.  And wounded.  All I could do was look at the pacing guide and go through the requirements.  Status quo.  But even in those moments I was rebuilding my spirit as an educator.   I just didn’t know it yet.   

Colleague support?  Yes!  But they were (and still are) working at the same frantic pace.  With meetings, and requirements, and the push to continue to innovate.  And I worry about them.  How long can they continue to push at this pace?

What I can only describe as a spiritual journey, I crashed-landed at a Lutheran Day School.  I went searching for this position almost out of spite based on what I had experienced.  (Because I love these people, I want to tell you it is definitely ministry based, not private minded.)  

And it was here that I began to rebuild a spirit inside me that I didn’t even know was there anymore.  I use music daily.  I dance in the classroom.  Today we laughed because I prayed for my 7 year old Birthday Girl to be an old, old, Granny someday.  :)  Kids were eager to show me their writing, they are tackling books, and they love science.  I have time to consider books written by experts and what they mean for my students and my teaching.

When I consider the journey I’m on, yet, I reflect on Mark 6:31.  And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.”  Even Jesus, you know, Jesus, instructed his people to rest.  

So, back to status quo and rest.  I’ve learned to observe.  Step back.  Learn the story.  Everyone has one.  Everyone.  

I’m reminded that God wants his people to rest.  He’s equipped Teachers to be who they are.  He tells them to rest.  

I’m not left with many answers.  I know that Public educators are not really being invited to do that at this time.  How do we honor the resting that takes place in some status quo, or in good frameworks in teaching?  

I’m learning Lutheran educators are better, but still not great at rest.  The ministry has to be done people.  Giddy up.  Let’s go!  Where is the rest?  It is almost a badge of honor to not to.  How do we change this mindset as Christians, who have been commanded by, you know, Jesus, to rest?  I don’t know.  

Meanwhile, if you see a teacher who seems to be caught in status quo, I would now encourage you to be gentle with them first.  Step back and see them.  See their story.  Find the rest that they need, and honor it.  Be careful about pushing them too quickly.  

Let them rest awhile.    

Joy! (And Rest!)