Thursday, June 30, 2016

Are you a Bucket Filler?

When I taught at the elementary level we often often used Carol McCloud's book Are You a Bucket Filler with our primary students to teach kindness, respect and understanding.

As I often do, I think about children's books and how they can relate to our jobs as educators. The concept of bucket filling shouldn’t be limited to what we teach our kindergarteners.  Are we, as the teachers and leaders in schools, bucket fillers or bucket dippers?

A healthy school culture is crucial today.  Students are watching and observing everything we do and say from elementary schools to high schools.  Are we supporting each other and our students?  Are we encouraging each other as well as our students?  Are we helping each other grow?  Are we filling each other’s buckets?

The idea of bucket filling is simple.  We help, we encourage, we support.  We make sure those around us are happy and feel needed and included. Bucket dipping happens sometimes without people even knowing they’re doing it.  We have to be more cognizant of this. Our students definitely cannot see this.  Some students go home and have their buckets dipped on a continuous cycle.

As educators and leaders in buildings we need to remember our “why” of entering this field.  I’m sure we all would say it was to help students learn, grow and flourish.  As leaders, it should be to help grow the district, building and staff.  We need to focus on filling buckets, other's buckets, and make this our priority as we head into the next school year.  

Are you a bucket filler?

Friday, June 24, 2016

10 surefire ways to keep your cup of MoJo full this summer

Mojo is the moment when we do something that's purposeful, powerful, and positive and the rest of the world recognizes it.
-Marshall Goldsmith

Summertime is the perfect time to fill your cup of mojo! Here are TEN surefire ways from the Compelled Tribe to keep or get back your mojo this summer.

Exercise - @Jennifer_Hogan
I find that when I get to exercise, it keeps me motivated, energized, and confident. Exercise is a time when I can disconnect from the world and just be “inside my head.” It allows time for ideas to percolate without interruption... time that I value and appreciate. It also provides the whitespace I need as an introvert. For me, it encourages creativity and problem-solving while the endorphins are being released! Done consistently, it’s a true mojo-maker!

Connecting - @jon_wennstrom
For me, I draw energy from being around positive people. Connecting with educators during summer learning sessions, sharing and learning from others on Twitter about books we’ve read, and of course blogging and reading blogs. I’m definitely an extrovert and being around other educators helps inspire me and always leads to new ideas to implement and helps me keep my mojo!

Theater- @sandeeteach
I love Broadway musicals, plays, and other theatrical productions. It’s a way for me to escape and immerse myself in a story. One of my favorite theaters spoofs popular shows. For example, this year two of the shows will be “Indiana Bones Raiders of the Wal-Mart” and “Captain American Fork The Worst Avenger”. (American Fork is the city where I grew up.) The actors and actresses are masters of improvisation which makes for a night of laughter. Another favorite theater performs in the round which is always a delightful experience. There are beautiful theaters in downtown Salt Lake City for Broadway musicals and outdoor shows in many local communities. For a few hours, I can lose myself in another world. But upon further reflection, I always relate the experience to teaching because that’s just what teachers do. We get ideas that benefit our students from everywhere.

Find a good read, or two - @Vroom6
There are lots of ways to find joy and rejuvenate during the summer months. And, I am all about work hard, play hard. With that, one of the greatest joys I get from the summer months, and a way in which I keep my mojo running full steam ahead, is by catching up on some of that much needed reading that took a back seat during the school year. Often times the days we are in session with students and teachers are filled with more scripted reading and writing. So for me, it is the summer months that I get to find that much anticipated new release on best practices in our field. Whether striving to become a better leader, or a better learner, it is the books that I carry with me to the beach, the pool or the park that I enjoy the most.

Dream big together - @allysonapsey
When my mojo needs a pick me up, I dream about what could be for our students, but I don’t do it alone. Just like everyone else, I find myself focusing on the trees rather than the forest from time to time. When monotony sets in, I push back by collaborating with the amazing teachers I work with. I am astounded after each conversation--we feed off each other, we divide and conquer, and we multiply our creativity for the sake of our students. Through these type of conversations this year, we came up with an amazing service learning project, we started plans for a Makerspace, we piloted new
reading initiatives, we shared professional reading that has inspired us and so much more. While we are dreaming big together, we are building stronger relationships, laughing, and challenging each other.

Pause and Reflect - @KarenWoodEDU
When my mojo needs some rejuvenation, (and it sometimes does), I first take a few minutes to reflect.  I find that sometimes my initial desire to “rejuvenate my mojo” may have my efforts focussed in the wrong areas or in areas which may not be productive for educators or students in the long run.  Reflection leads to focus and clarity.  From clarity goals can be set and then the fun begins!  Once my goals are established I jump in full force and do so with collaborative efforts.  It is very important that the shared vision of success is truly understood by all.  The last strategy I feel is essential for rejuvenating mojos is time to step away from work.  I admittedly do not do this well, however I find when I can clear my head (by going to the beach, going for a walk, kayaking, swimming, or practicing yoga/meditation, etc.) I return refreshed, focussed, and ready to ramp up my mojo and the mojos of others around me.

Get into some music! - @PrincipalStager
I was a music major in college and a music educator prior to becoming a principal. Whenever I need to get my mojo back or need to decompress, I find a piano and PLAY. I play in a group at my church so I have the opportunity to play rather often. I understand not everyone has the ability to sit down and play a musical instrument, but when I don’t have a piano to play, I drive in my car or just put my headphones in and JAM! There is nothing like a great playlist of uplifting and energetic music to get your energy back and your cup overflowing! This is my sure-fire way to get back on track.

Make a “bucket list” - @jodiepierpoint
I decided to make a “bucket list” of things I wanted to accomplish within a year, but I’m finding summer is a perfect time to accomplish them.  Things such as volunteering and baking cookies for friends have been real pick me ups!  Training for a quarter marathon has led into a half, simply because I’m out with great friends chatting while I’m doing it.  I check my list all the time, call a friend, and pick an activity to do - it’s a great way to rejuvenate not only myself, but others too!

What if People” & Quiet Time - @Debralcamp

I do my best thinking when I am with people that like to say “what if”.  There is something about the words “what if” that allows walls to come down.  When discussions are lead with the words “what if” it takes away the threat of there being wrong answers and allows for brainstorming to happen in a way that doesn’t in a lot of conversations.  I find it very motivating to be pushed and pulled by other people’s thoughts and ideas.  Positive energy comes when people work together and create as a group. There is a collective product that is created as well. I find on the flip side that quiet time and reflection after being with “what if people” takes me to a space in my head where more ideas can be generated.  Revisiting and reflecting again with the same group consistently allows for new ideas to develop and to be tried. (They don’t always work but the process sure is fun and motivating.)

Balance - @Abond013
Often times when I am feeling overwhelmed, I find that I need to prioritize. It is important for educators in any role to find time to take care of themselves. We need to give students our best and that is challenging when we are running on empty. Besides exercising, traveling, and spending time with family or friends, I find that fueling my passion keeps me going. For example, if you are passionate about literacy, continue to take interest and learn more. Surround yourself with people who share your passion.

Involvement - @melsa777
In order for me to be recharged, I must remain involved and be continually learning. That may be through reading professional books, participating in Twitter chats, meeting with co-workers or attending conferences. Through conversations, attending sessions and by doing some good reading, I am able to gain knowledge from others. I gain energy from others, gain good ideas and begin the collaborative conversations needed in this educator's life. I particularly enjoy going to and presenting at conferences and meeting people I have connected with online. Begin involved motivates me to be the best educator I can be.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Just Keep Swimming

This weekend I was fortunate enough to get to spend the day with my Godson and his brother.  The plan for the day was going to the park, ice cream and Finding Dory!  DEAL!

As the boys were eating their popcorn and laughing I couldn’t help but be truly moved by this movie. You see, Dory suffers from short term memory loss and struggles to stay focused. She repeats herself and asks the same questions repeatedly. Dory, however, is the sweetest, kindest fish in the sea.  She doesn’t let life get her down - she just keeps swimming.

Dory’s friend Hank refers to himself as a “septopus”.  Hank, an octopus, lost one of his tentacles, but that doesn’t stop him. He is just as strong and competent as his eight-legged friends! He may be a grumpy guy, but his heart of gold helps and encourages Dory.
Then there’s Nemo, who was born with a deformed flapper, but swims and swims as fast as he can! He definitely doesn’t allow this to stop him or halt his joy of life.

I love that a movie can so openly celebrate both cognitive and physical differences!  Finding Dory’s characters are viewed as everyone else in the sea - their differences are seen as strengths.  The movie also has a huge focus on friendship and how friends can be your family.

As educators, are we seeing all the strengths in our students and colleagues or are we just seeing what is on the outside?  Are we asking questions? Are we engaging in conversations?
Are we making our staff our family?

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Taking Risks and Chasing Dreams - What's on Your Bucket List?

Recently a friend and I spend the morning walking and we started talking about the “Pinterest Party” she was hosting that night. Excited about what we were doing and the theme of the night, I asked her how she came up with the idea.  She said it was on her “Birthday Bucket List”.  She had decided that she was going to do 37 new activities during the year following her 37th birthday.  Amazing!

Of course, that got me thinking.  What do I want to accomplish before my next birthday?  Since my birthday was just this week, I thought it was the perfect time to start my “Birthday Bucket List”. 

Shouldn’t we all be risk takers?  Shouldn't we all go chasing after our dreams?  

Part of my “bucket list” for the year

* Go horseback riding
* Lead professional development / present at a staff meeting or EdCamp
* Complete a 10K
* Learn a new app / tech tool
* Start/Find a new job (principal!?!)
* Get a meaningful tattoo (small, and in memory of my Dad)
* Volunteer 1x per month
* Try Sushi (eeeks....)
* Surprise people with homemade cookies
* Send a care package to a soldier
* Donate toys at Christmas
* Attend a Columbus Crew Soccer Game (only sport in Ohio that I haven’t been too!)
* Host a wine tasting party
* Attend a Murder Mystery Dinner

I would love to hear what dreams others are chasing or risks you’re taking!  

Here’s to a successful trip around the sun!!