Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Too Close To Home

As any true Buckeye fan, I arrived at work Monday morning still on a high from Saturday’s win over our longtime rival University of Michigan (for those that don’t know -- the game went in to TWO overtimes and the final score was 27 - 30 Ohio State!)

As I was teaching I received a text message from Ohio State - “Active shooting on campus. Run, hide, fight.”  (although I no longer attend classes there I’m still on their text list.)

The texts continued to come.  As I taught my students my mind couldn’t help but to wander off to the people who I knew were on campus that day.  Were they okay?  Were the students and staff at OSU, at my alma mater, safe?  

Quick texts and check-ins from friends allowed me to be comforted.  We later learned that the university police was on the scene in less than a minute and all victims should recover.

OSU was lucky, but that hit too close to home.

This was a wake up call for me. We all need to be vigilant, aware, and prepared.  More importantly, we need to be thankful for every day and appreciative of those in our lives. Reach out today, this week, and make sure someone knows that they matter, that they have made a difference in your life. Make each day great!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Forever Thankful

There are many reasons for me to be thankful.  I am lucky to have many wonderful people in my life that make me a better educator and person.  These people need to be recognized (in more than 140 characters) for their dedication and thoughtfulness.

Allyson Apsey
Everyone needs a spark of happiness and joy in their circle, and Allyson is exactly that!  Allyson shares happiness and hope in every conversation I have with her.  She is a cheerleader of all cheerleaders.  Allyson is strong female leader and I am encouraged by her dedication to those she serves. She is a true role model and friend.

Bobby Dodd
Bobby is a true mentor.  He graciously accepted a random email from a stranger that said “would you be willing to work with a high school admin intern?” and guided me through a year of learning and growth.  I truly wouldn’t be where I am or who I am today without him.  I know I drive him crazy (still) with my questions and messages, but he will always be someone whom I look up to because he was willing to take a chance.  He was, and is, willing to take the time to make a difference in the lives of others.  Truly great educators do that.

Jon Harper
Jon has taught me that making mistakes is not only okay, but a good thing!  I am so thankful for his caring thoughts that he shares so openly through his blog.  His podcasts are extraordinary!  They allow all educators to see that we all make mistakes and we all learn and grow from them.  Jon writes and speaks from his heart, and it is truly refreshing.  Jon is truly an inspiration!

Jennifer Hogan
When I think of strong females in education my mind immediately goes to Jennifer. She is someone I know I can reach out to with questions and support.  Although I have never personally met Jennifer, I know that I will someday, because I am determined to do so. Her positive outlook, genuine kindness and heart of gold is truly something I admire.  I respect her position and desire to make women in leadership positions grow. I am honored to call Jennifer a mentor and friend.

Derek Oldfield
Derek is my #EduBrother and I am so grateful for our connection.  Derek is a passionate leader and educator.  When I think about Derek I think about a true innovator and change agent.  Derek is so dedicated to changing education in such a positive way for his students and staff. There’s not a week that goes by that Derek doesn’t push my thinking and make my desire for change even greater.  Derek is going great places, and I am glad to watch him in this journey.

Jon Wennstrom
When I think of an educator that loves his profession, loves his job and loves his students, I think of Jon.  He shows his dedication through the many pictures and stories he posts of his school.  I love how he celebrates his school and staff each week.  He truly motivates me and has been an inspiration to me and my blogging. Jon has such a positive influence on so many and is inspiring through his work.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

ALL students OUR students

As a member of the #CompelledTribe of bloggers, we were charged with the theme of Unity this month.  I thought and thought and then it came to me after watching this Ted Talk by Dr. Victor Rios.

I was moved by his words.  It’s so true, we can no longer label students as “at-risk”, we must see them as students of promise and be there for them when they are ready.  I loved the statement “Our students are like oysters.  We must be ready for them when they are ready to open up to us.”  As educators we need to educate the whole student, and sometimes it means digging a little deeper within ourselves to do so.  It’s a mindset change, and takes a huge amount of patience and understanding.  It’s hard, but if it can change even one student, then we have been successful.

As a special education teacher I’ve always believed “All Means All.”  All students within the schoolhouse should be treated as equals.  The students on IEPs, the students who are identified as gifted, as ELL, as “at-risk.”  We have to unite and work together to meet all their needs.   

Today, more than ever, we need to unite for our students.  ALL students are indeed OUR students.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Powerful Words

I was recently communicating with a parent about an upcoming IEP meeting for her child and she stated “Even if you have a few words to exchange with someone, individuals, youth as well as adults, can sense genuine concern and kindness.”  


This message really made me think about not only how we are interacting with our students, but with one another. We all are affected by words, or at times, even a lack of words or communication.  Think about how rewarding it is to be tagged in a post or have someone “like” what you have shared. It allows you to believe that someone is thinking of you and values you.  Think about how powerful “that was great”, “thank you” or a smile is to you. Even an emoji response can be a day brightener! 😊

I think back to Friday where I just wanted to end my day, go home, and start my weekend (we all have those days, right?).  The bell rang, I headed to my office and in followed one of my students.  

“Miss Pierpoint, Miss Pierpoint!  I forgot to tell you to have a great weekend this morning.”

How horrible that my thoughts were that I was going to have to put out another fire and he just wanted to wish me a great weekend. Shame on me. I am so grateful to end my day this way. You see, kindness matters and his words mattered.  This 15 year old knows that.

Words and actions DO matter. People can sense who genuinely care about them and have their best interests in mind. It’s a small “hello” message, a “thank you”, a tag in a picture, a “I’ve got your back”, a 😃.  It’s reading through blogs, books and a Twitter feed of positive messages that can make you realize how powerful words and messages can be.

In this month of being cognizant of what we're thankful for, I will reflect more on my words and of those who uplift and encourage me. I will also do my best to do the same for others.

****Follow these educators as a sampling of those who post positive, encouraging messages!****
@Teach4SpclNeeds   @smgaillard      @LennonCorey   @jon_wennstrom
@Ms_Holliman    @LaVonnaRoth        @AllysonApsey       @DavisWelcome

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Inspiration for a RECHARGE!

It’s November. The newness of the school year is wearing off, markers are drying out and summer PD seems decades ago. Daylight is getting shorter and darkness sets in sooner.  The first half of the school year is winding down, and it often seems that this is the time of year that educators start to feel the mid-year “blues”.   

It’s time to reset and recharge!  You deserve it!

I reached out to some of my role models and friends in education and asked them what they do to stay motivated through these times.  Hopefully you’ll find their advice as useful as I did!

Seek Out Positive People
When days seem tough, Jennifer Hogan (@Jennifer_Hogan) said she recharges by being around positive people. Jennifer will also seek out people who may need help and assist them.  Tia Holliman (@Ms_Holliman) agreed.  Being out of the office/classroom and around others simply keeps her grounded. Whether it’s visiting classrooms or chatting with colleagues, this time allows you to reset your mind frame.
Takeaway ~ Don’t give in to the negative feelings or surroundings.  
Seek out those who lift you up.  Better yet - lift others up!

Bobby Dodd (@bobby__dodd) shared that talking with family and like-minded friends who will provide helpful feedback and advice is important when going through times when you need to make decisions or have things on your mind. This post was actually inspired because of the people I know I can reach out to talk to during my “tough” days.  
Takeaway - Build your PLN with people like you; those who share your vision,
those who you respect and look up to, those who “have your back.”

Stay Focused On Your Goals  
Every one of us set goals whether they be personal or professional.  Jennifer Hogan stresses the importance of staying focused during these trying times.  Keep working towards the goal and don’t let setbacks derail you! At times we may have to reassess and reset goals, but never quit!  This Eric Thomas (@ericthomasbtc) clip was sent to me and helps me stay focused!  

Takeaway - Never lose sight of what’s important to you.  
Keep working towards your end goal.  Keep up the grind!

Celebrate Small Victories
Derek Oldfield (@Mr_Oldfield) feels that the best pick-me-up for him is when he is able to celebrate and acknowledge others.  Derek writes handwritten letters to staff members and students to let them know how much he appreciates them and what they are doing. Rikki McCormick Lowe (@DrRikki908) does the same with her staff!  She’ll send notes or surprise someone with candy just to let them know that she is thinking of them.  
Takeaway - Celebrate with your students and staff.  
Celebrate the small victories and show others you care and notice!

Be WITH Students
Why did you choose education as a career?  The students, right?  When times seem rough, get back to you “why” - engage with students.   Jacki Prati (@Jacki_prati) goes into her kindergarten and first grade classrooms when she needs a pick-me-up. “I just take in the magic that occurs in those rooms."  Tim McDermott (@Tim_McDermott1) agrees, being in classrooms is one of the things he enjoys most.  Whether it’s elementary or high school, or in between, being with students and talking with them is a true day brightener!
Takeaway - Take a few minutes each day to interact WITH students, not just TO them.
Go back to your “why” of becoming an educator.

Laughter is the best medicine!  We all know that - so find ways every day to connect with others; students, colleagues, your PLN, your family and LAUGH. Share a story or just reflect on the silliness of an event, but enjoy the time with others.  As Sean Gaillard (@smgaillard) said, “Laughter is the divine voice. It adds years to your life!”.  Jacki Prati loves laughing with her staff when things get too crazy!  Tia Holliman looks forward to times she can clear her mind, be around others and simply laugh!
Takeaway - Find joy in others - take time to laugh!  Live life to the fullest!

As educators it is important to stay up to date and in tune with what is going on in the field.  Both Bobby Dodd and Tim McDermott shared that they often turn to books, blogs, research and podcasts to help them reflect.  Many educators have links to wonderful blogs and podcasts through their personal sites.  Reading is a great way to grow as an educator so ask for a recommendation and be sure to share one when you can!
Takeaway - Stay current in the profession. Take time to read and reflect.

Take Time For Yourself
It’s true, we love what we do, that’s why we do it, but it important to have a personal and professional balance. Jon Harper (@jonharper70bd) stresses the importance of finding a passion and enjoying that fully - sometimes that even helps build relationships with students!  Jon also finds that it is important to keep a healthy family/work balance.  Sean Gaillard shares that his love of music keeps him going.  We all need an exit of release to be able to go to - so whether it's art, cooking, exercise or music, find something you enjoy and take some time for yourself.
Takeaway -  Educators shouldn’t feel guilty about disconnecting
and spending time with their loved ones.  We’re human too!

Almost every one of the educators I asked for input from for this blog stated the importance of self reflection!  Remember your “why” and reflect upon whether or not you're still striving and working towards this every day. Reflect on your daily/weekly practice.  What do you need to better yourself? How can you better grow your students and staff?  Be sure to highlight the positives in your journey during your reflection.  Celebrate small victories!  Encourage and motivate others - you've got this!!
Takeaway - Take the time to reflect on yourself and your practice.
Celebrate the positive and the good in your journey.

OVERALL TAKEAWAY - YOU deserve the best!  Take care of yourself.  

Follow these wonderful EduSUPERSTARS that gave their great advice and input!  
Bobby Dodd - @bobby__dodd
Sean Gaillard - @smgaillard
Jon Harper - @jonharper70bd
Jennifer Hogan - @jennifer_Hogan
Tia Holliman - @Ms_Holliman
Rikki McCormick Lowe - @DrRikki908
Tim McDermott - @Tim_McDermott1
Derek Oldfield - @Mr_Oldfield
Jacki Prati - @Jacki_prati

THANK YOU - I am beyond GRATEFUL for each of you!!!