Wednesday, April 13, 2016

"Do you ever sleep?": The Quest for the "Golden Nugget" of Learning

I have a firm belief that as a learning leader it is my responsibility to set the tone and model professional growth whether it be leading professional learning sessions, researching, blogging, participating in Twitter chats, or just following the work of education "rock stars" for the betterment of myself, others, and especially my students. At times, my thirst for learning is so present that my colleagues and staff often ask,"do you ever sleep?" as I have a habit of sending emails and retweets at all hours.  I find that when a "golden nugget" of knowledge is discovered that it energizes me to share it with someone else to light a spark and plant an idea. With this in mind, there are several focused initiatives that my team and I will be exploring to implement in the upcoming year that will definitely stretch our professional growth and bring about some uncomfortable conversations.

"The days you are most uncomfortable are the days you learn the most about yourself." 
-Mary L. Bean

I will be venturing into the realm of leading my team on the journey of rebranding, reinvigorating, and redesigning high school through Learner Active Technology-Infused Classrooms. This has lead to the beginning stages of courageous conversations revolving around educational philosophy and mindset to grow personally/professionally with staff and myself. I foresee tears, jeers, celebration, excitement, invigoration, and several "off the ledge" talks because as Nancy Sulla says,"learning is hard; you must be willing to fail; you must "do" it… you don't absorb learning; you actively construct it."

I plan to chart this process of professional growth, self discovery, and reflective learning by capturing our journey through the ConnectED to Learning Blog, in hopes that our story might be someone else's "golden nugget." Stay tuned… exciting things are happening!

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Splash! Jumping into Learning Head First By Joining the Tribe

BE MORE DOG - Take the RISK to see & do things differently!

Well, I did it! I have come to the conclusion that it's time to take this risk. I can no longer passively sit on the side, watch the action swim by while I read, reflect, and apply others' practices and ideas in my own professional life. I've thought about taking the plunge for a long time but wasn't compelled to have my voice heard until I attended NASSP Ignite '16 this past February. I was honored to experience Jennifer Hogan and Craig Vroom's presentation on "Bravely Blogging…" Their theme "Be More Dog," really resonated with me. I've included the video below (and plan to use it with my staff).

I was instantly inspired and made the decision that it was my responsibility to break out of "ruts" and look for positive change opportunities. I am the only one that can take ownership and control of my own learning, a principle that I have preached to my students, teachers, colleagues and even own children for some time.  It was up to me, although scary and out of my ordinary, I jumped in head first by sharing my reflections on leading, learning and life this past week by publishing my first post on my new blog, ConnectEd to Learning!  This experience has been quite cathartic and amazingly enough as I have shared this commitment to my own growth with others, they have been immensely supportive. So, not only did I begin my blogging journey but I decided to hold my breath and take my learning a step further by applying to be a blogger for Compelled Tribe, a group of dedicated educational professionals that write, read, and share so collectively everyone grows.  I'm proud to say that I am one of the newest tribe members. Through this exciting experience, I look forward to "being fearless in the pursuit of what sets my soul on fire"… being that passionate educator who leads, learns, and makes a difference in the lives of others!

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Back to High School Taking the Shadow A Student Challenge

I had the opportunity to participate in a national event on Friday called Shadow a Student Challenge through School Retool connected with Stanford University. I took this challenge in order to gain a empathy for our students and a better understanding of how I can lead our school. I selected an 11th grader in our medical academy named Joslin because of the diversity of her schedule and her daily experience. I wasn't sure what I was in for as I had not been in the role of a high school student for almost 20 years. 

Throughout the day, I had several key learnings. I was comforted as to the positive relationships that I experienced between the staff and students as well as the respectful rapport from student to student. There was a definite sense of a supportive and respectful classroom community.
Joslin and Derek support each other by practicing for their upcoming Pre-Calculus Test.

In every class period, students wanted to go beyond the worksheet by having their thoughts and ideas be heard through dialogue, analysis, and debate. They wanted to be challenged, involved, and connected to their learning. I realized that we must show them how to use the devices (cell phones, iPads, etc.) that they are literally connected to in order to learn, investigate, and communicate with others. Whether it was a mock counseling session in Mr. Chittum's Psychology 2 class or learning to properly put on gloves based on a medical or surgical asepsis, students were most successful when immersed in hands on, real world lessons that they could collaboratively apply. I also noticed that when accountable to others the students did not want to let their peers down.

Joslin and I practice the appropriate way to put gloves on for surgery in Health Science class.

At times, there was some apprehension from the students and I (especially in Pre-Calculus class), thank you Mr. Marsh for not making me take the Pre-Calc quiz. However, the support from peers and the teacher prior to the quiz really helped to build confidence. I heard several students leaving the class expressing their feelings of greatness!
Ms. Miller, Joslin & I pose with the skeleton in Medical Interventions class.

In 6th period, I was assigned a one-pager summary in Medical Interventions about chemotherapy to research and share in a carousel debrief. I had to use my critical reading strategies, creativity, and think about something I had background knowledge with in a different way.

I truly appreciated Joslin's insights and patience with me in navigating the day as a high school student. As I asked the students throughout the day, "what do you like best about our school?," time and time again they stated, "Ridgewood gives us a lot of supports, options for learning, and the people really care."

When I returned to my office after the last bell, I had a message waiting from a Tampa Bay Times reporter wanting to follow my journey as a student for the day. My experience is featured in the article, "On Shadow a Student Day, it's the Principals turn to learn."

The Shadow A Student Challenge was a very reflective and rewarding experience for me. I am very thankful to have participated and look forward to learning about other experiences. I look forward to continuing the journey on how to facilitate connectivity in learning task and engagement through building GRIT in all learners!