Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Ready, Set, Take a few breaths....

Spring Break. What a great opportunity for a pause and a time to quickly reflect on how to end the year strong and make the most out of the last weeks we have with our students. And then #coronavirus changes all of those plans.

I don't know about you, but I have THOROUGHLY enjoyed some of the memes I've seen out there... This one *might* be my favorite!!

Humor is definitely the way I handle tough situations. We are in a tough situation right now. We have worked so hard with our students all year, and now we have to be away from them for a few weeks with all of the uncertainty that surrounds us. By nature, we are a profession of planners. Spring Break is one of those times that we relax and unwind, all the while still making plans in the back of our heads for the weeks ahead at school.

So many of our teachers have already gone into planning mode because it's what we know and it's what we do. Planning helps us have control over a situation that is anything but normal. Planning helps us feel connected to our students, because in the end, that's who we do all of our work for (yes, I ended that sentence with a preposition)!

To all my fellow planners, I see you. I hear you. And I'm asking you to take a pause in your thoughts. There are so many aspects to the work we are about to do; so much is changing and so much is unknown. Like Mrs. Dowdy said, we have been planning at the district level for learning opportunities for our students in these uncertain times. We will not start with learning on Monday, March 23. Teachers will be given time to take care of what they need to AFTER Spring Break. No decisions have been made about what that time/space looks like yet because of the ever-changing restrictions. We will continue to make the best decisions for our students, families and staff.

Here's what comforts me and guides me through the days: We are #TeamHays - we work hard and support each other EVERY day for ALL of our students. This new challenge will be no different. We will walk together through these new times, supporting our students, families and fellow staff members to the best of our abilities. You will be supported throughout this journey. We will all learn and grow, as uncomfortable as it may be, and we will come out stronger than before. We will take care of each other and lend a helping hand whenever possible, from a safe distance of course ;)

Monday, March 19, 2018

Race to the finish!

Today is an exciting day. We have just spent a week resting our brains from all things school. Today starts our last lap around the track, so to speak. I am finding it hard to believe that we have already spent 3/4 of our year in school already. There are many hurdles that we will face in the next 11 weeks. Many of them involve the various state exams our students are taking. Those do not measure all that our students are capable of achieving.

Each day we are given is an opportunity to work and improve; create and collaborate; fail and restart anew. The true learning process. Sometimes it isn't until we fail that we realize what we were doing didn't work.

Here we go!

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Productive Struggle

What a great morning today has been! (I'm only being half sarcastic there). My son woke up not feeling the very best, but off to school he went, as did I. I've been working with our counseling department to transfer their website over to the fabulous new Google Sites (can I even still call it new? It's been out for a while now!)

Anyway, one of the things we were trying to do is embed their Twitter feed on the website. Not having a direct way to do that, I consulted my best friend, Google. I stumbled upon this video and this article when researching how to create a widget that would work. 

Now for the purpose of this post. "Productive Struggle" is a term I have seen recently on a few of my favorite educational websites. I completely understand what the reference means and experienced this hardcore this morning. The video I found this morning truly made it look simple as 1-2-3. Thinking I could follow the instructions without consulting the video again, I started on my copy-paste-a-thon without thinking twice. I got to the end, and my widget didn't work at all, not in test mode or on the site. 

So, I consulted the article again, and after a few attempts, I realized I hadn't named my index appropriately. So I changed that and saved everything. It worked when I ran the test mode (YEAH!), but not when I embedded it on the site (BOOO!). 

So, I consulted the article a few times more and saved the script a new way, which WORKED!!! I was so excited that after many failed attempts, my efforts paid off. What a great feeling! I had to go share with my colleague I was so excited. 

This feeling is what I want for my students and teachers. I want them to try and try and try again, until it works and they feel accomplished. I'm not going to lie, it was frustrating. I feel fairly comfortable taking risks to further my knowledge when it comes to technology. I'll follow an HTML script, even though I don't necessarily understand everything I'm reading or doing. So that frustration happened on the third or fourth attempt at creating this widget. We have to have a bit of grit and perseverance when learning something new. Otherwise, we might not be successful. 

I am reminded of a phrase from my favorite Country radio morning show, Bobby Bones. "Fight. Grind. Repeat." That is what this new buzzword "productive struggle" is all about. Not giving up when the struggle is real. Fighting to find a way to make "it" work. Then, doing that all over again with the next new learning. 

Friday, November 10, 2017

Google Cardboard for the win!

I'm fortunate to work at a school that has so many tools for students to use. One of those fabulous tech tools is Google Cardboard. I haven't had a lot of experience with virtual reality but took a few minutes to explore today. WHOA!!!! The possibilities with this tool are amazing. We have a group of history teachers who have them reserved in the next week, and I'm going to have to pop in that lesson to hear what the students have to say about it. I'm in that first stage of awe right now, and can't wait to see how we can literally and figuratively expand our horizons with Google Cardboard.

Monday, November 6, 2017


Two heads are better than one. This morning I was fortunate to work with my Blended Learning guru colleague, Tracy, in a 5th-grade Bilingual class. The teacher invited us to teach the collaborative tool, Google Slides, in preparation for an assignment in a few weeks. The students were working on creating a postcard showcasing their hometown. Most had never used Slides before, and all had used Docs before.

Tracy had created a how-to video for each of the parts that they needed to follow in order to create their portion of the assignment. Most of the students were able to watch the video and then proceed with the task at hand. A few students needed a little more individualized instruction from their video learning. Since I was not the one delivering instruction, I was able to meet the needs of those students who had questions.

Some students wanted to go down a path searching for the address of the famous person they were inviting to their town! I was able to quickly redirect them to the task at hand. We did split the partners into specific roles, but I could see where students would be able to select that for themselves in a few projects.

After our first round of students, we quickly debriefed and tried a small adjustment to the flow of our instruction which went much better the second time around. We are well on our path to creating independent learners and thinkers. #geauxteageaux #blendedyall

Thursday, November 2, 2017


On a recent visit to Sonic for lunch (ignore my goals post from the beginning of the year), I was greeted with my lunch with a singing delivery. I had heard the Sonic employee greeting another customer before he got to me. This guy approached his work with exuberance and joie de vivre. What could be seen as an everyday task of delivering food to cars was elevated to another level. So much so that I want to go back there!! 

We often don't have many choices in our work. This is one area I can strive to always keep at a high level! There are days where I could let my lack of sleep or level of stress affect my overall attitude and approach to my work. However, my choice to approach my work with a positive attitude will continue to make any place I work a good place to be! 

Enjoy the energy from the fish market! It's infectious :) 

Friday, October 27, 2017

Measuring Effectiveness

I am all about data. I love to analyze, organize and synthesize information. When asked about how do I measure my effectiveness, I immediately think about the criteria in which my work is measured. Some would say the number of times I am requested for help. Some would say the ability for someone to use what we have worked on without me would be effective.

Without a standard criteria of what makes me effective, I'll create my own. I will measure my effectiveness in a few different ways. After a visit with a teacher, I will follow up with them to see how the work we did is going. If they are able to complete the work without any other assistance, I would consider that effective. If they have more questions because what we did has caused them to think deeper about the subject, I would also consider that effective.

We do collect data on the number of times that we are requested by teachers as well as the data we put in for those times where we aren't requested officially. I have not been very dutiful in putting those "other" times in my log. I have collaborated with my colleague to try a new strategy for documenting my time.

As we have been reassigned to campuses, I have made it a point to make it out to each campus for a visit with the Instructional Coaches, the librarian and the Principal, if they are available. That face time is crucial to improving collaboration. I have seen a few more teachers because I have been available on their campus. The most common saying is "Oh! I'm glad you're here! I had a question for you!"

Ultimately, there isn't one method that will measure effectiveness. It will be the overall picture of the data presented.