Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Where have you gone now? Where did you go?

I must say that I never thought I would find such a great support system on a social media platform. These past few weeks have been very trying both on a professional and personal level. Some have questioned my desire to grow, while others have ridiculed my passion for learning.

I am grateful to everyone that has shared their journey with me. You have motivated and uplifted me when I needed it most. If you have ever questioned the power of a strong Professional Learning Network, learn from my experience: grow your #PLN! They will enlighten you, make you smile, and get you through the rough patches in life.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Confessions of a Newbie Coach: Everything Came Crumbling Down!

"One of those days!" 

                     "What does that even mean?"

Oh you know, nothing seems to go your way. Your good ideas seem to be washed down the drain. What you thought would be a hit, barely gets a reaction. Past experiences hinder forward movement. Someone's actions create an internal storm that just makes everything you've worked so hard to cultivate violently come crumbling down. 

Meanwhile, you... well.... you feel like eating a pint of ice cream. 

Did I stumble? Ummmm, I think it was more like I fell down three flights of stairs type of thing! While I didn't go get that pint of ice cream, I did have some Halloween candy instead! 

Seriously though, I didn't let the outcomes of this week keep me down. I had a pep talk with someone I admire, I went online did some research on things that make my heart content, created my #CelebrateMonday newsletter, and went home to enjoy the evening with my daughters. 

Today, I got up just as excited as I have been these past few weeks and attended another #EdCamp. I once again feel balanced and all is good in my universe. As I reflect on the events of this week, I realize that this is all part of the process. 
In order to grow, you must experience failure. If you take the time to go over the reasons why things didn't go according to plan, to look at possible alternatives, to learn from your mistakes, you'll grow as both an individual and a professional. 

How Can Teachers Fail Forward:

That's a great question! The trick to #failingfoward is taking risks! Don't worry about the what ifs! If you have an idea, execute it! If it doesn't work, tweak it! Last year, our district got these amazing new Smart TVs for our classrooms. I had no idea how to operate the device, let alone, effectively utilize it to enhance instruction. I didn't let the fear of letting my students know this stop me from using it. I looked at them and said "Dudes and Dudettes (that's my term of endearment for them), WE are going to learn to use the TV as part of our reading block instruction. Are you with me?" Needless to say, the kids were extremely excited to help me with this new learning experience. 

Was it difficult? Totally! I botched a couple of lessons because I managed to zoom into everything so many times. And, I can't tell you the number of times I forgot to use the overlay to be able to write. I didn't quit using the Smart TV though. I learned through trial and error. The cool thing about the whole process is that the children became my roadmap. They reminded me to push that button and to click on that link. Learning to use the Smart TV became a fun and interactive WHOLE group process. We all worked together.

So teachers, administrators, educators remembering that you are not alone is key. Engage your students, colleagues, partners in the learning process. Ask for help, clarification, and support when things are not clear. Find your tribe and rely on them. 

Failing forward builds character and courage.  It creates the resiliency necessary to persevere in difficult and uncomfortable situations. This is why they say that "all things are difficult before they are easy." I believe in myself and my ability to share my passion for educating with others. I can fall twenty times, but I will always get back up.

I am looking forward to next week! 

Peace and love, 

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Personal Reflection on Laying the Foundation for Innovation #IMMOOC Week 3

As stated in my last post, I erroneously equated innovation with only the use of technology.  I now comprehend that while technology can be a component of innovation, being an innovative leader requires much more than the inclusion of Smart TVs, learning websites, tablets and PCs.

I like the info graphic George Courus created (included above) as it visually demonstrates the necessary components for creating a strong foundation that supports innovation and innovative leadership.

My commitment to learning has led me to spend the last few months preparing for my new role in education. I have read, discussed, and asked many questions that have led me to this point. As I write this blog, I have been an instructional coach for exactly six weeks. I must admit that it hasn't all been peaches and cream. I have learned valuable lessons about leadership, commitment, priorities and loyalty.

I am learning to rely on my strengths and knowledge to support those I have the pleasure to coach. However, I am not afraid to admit when I am uncertain of an answer or when I am not familiar with a subject. I believe that by demonstrating the fact that I may not have all the answers but am willing to research and locate them, I am modeling that we are all learners and that learning is power.

Over the last few weeks, I have learned to put myself out there. At times it has been a little scary. I wondered what others would think of my ideas. I feared the "talk and the chatter" that comes with things that are different. I have since overcome my fear. Sharing my ideas is part of being an innovative leader.

So what happens if one of my ideas doesn't cut it? I used to be afraid of failure. That is no longer the case. I've since learned the term "failing forward". The idea is simple: there is always something to learn from your mistakes.  This whole way of looking at failures is derived from John Maxwell, author of "Failing Forward: Turning Mistakes into Stepping Stones". Since I adopted this way of looking at failure, I am not afraid to take innovative risks. If they are duds, I revisit, make it better, and try again! I view failures as opportunities for growth.

Lastly, by taking innovative risks and sharing my ideas, I believe that I am working toward establishing a culture of collaboration and that I am creating meaningful learning experiences for my colleagues. While I know that it takes time to build relationships and establish trust, I am very happy with the feedback I have received from those I have worked with. In the beginning, I was hesitant and worried that I may not live up to their standards, but that's because I failed to realize that my success is contingent upon our collaborative work. Together we achieve success. That is the beauty of coaching!

Peace and love,