Monday, September 30, 2019


"Who are your EduHeroes?" The question was asked.  Who has made an important impression on me that has affected the course of my educational life in some form or fashion?  I could go for the easy answer and give the names of several authors whose books I have read, whose Keynote speeches have inspired me, but can I honestly say that they have had the deepest impression on me?

Everyone leaves fingerprints wherever they go. Doors, phones, tables, chairs.  But have you ever thought that you leave fingerprints on people, as well?  Maybe not an actual fingerprint that can be dusted like you see on crime movies, but a fingerprint just the same.  The smiles, words, interactions, and relationships that we have with other people on a daily basis leave an impression even if we are not aware of it!

A smile for a teacher that might be having a hard day, a hug for a student that is needing a comforting touch, a note of encouragement for a coworker that is having personal struggles, a suggestion to try something that they haven't tried before, a listening ear for a friend that needs to get their words out so that they can think clearly.  These are the fingerprints that can leave the biggest impression when shared on a regular basis.  The deepest impressions become bonds that can continue to support and uplift even after the initial contact is no longer present.

The EduHeroes that have left their imprint on my educational life include people like Carol Gunnels (@gunnels5G) who encouraged me to get on Twitter for Professional Development.  Although originally hesitant, I made the leap and soon made connections through Twitter chats.  The contacts that I had on Twitter helped me grow my professional reading library, learn about educational conferences and Edcamps, and extend my learning to Voxer!

I joined a Voxer book study on The Four O'Clock Faculty by Rich Czyz (@RACzyz) led by Matthew Larson (@mlarson_nj) and Ricardo Garcia (@rokstar19).  The connections that I made through this book study were so incredible that at the end of the book study, no one wanted to leave! I talk on a daily basis with educators from all across the United States, from all levels of teaching (classroom, coach, specialists, administrators).  Hearing the perspectives of others encourages me to examine my own beliefs, understandings, and my Why. This group, the #4OCFpln, has become, in a sense, a family. 

This family has not only bonded together to encourage, grow, and support each other, but we have also made an effort to share our beliefs and our learning with others on Twitter, Voxer, Instagram, Periscope, Facebook, etc.  Some of us had an opportunity to share our story with others at #ISTE19 in Philadelphia this past summer.

So when people ask me who are my EduHeroes, I would say they are the people that have made an indelible imprint on my educational life. Their fingerprints on my life have brought me to the path I am on today as a connected educator. And for that I am truly grateful!

Who has left their fingerprint on you?

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Student Voice Deserves to Be Heard

It has been a goal of mine to move toward a more student centered classroom.  A room where students have more voice and choice.  A room where they feel the freedom to speak their mind and be taken seriously.

Many of the 3rd-5th students that come to me for Reading Intervention a couple of times a week are already at the point in their school career that they act like they don't care, because it is easier than admitting that they don't know, or that they need help.  They feel defeated and they compensate by being a distraction to the teacher and other students so that no one will notice what they consider to be a weakness.  These students need their voices to be heard just as much as the other students that seem to be more successful.

One of the students on my class list this year has already been particularly challenging for our school staff.  I prepared for him by having a personal chat with him before my classes began meeting.  I asked him, "What do you want me to know about you?"  I gave him the opportunity to share about himself and his personal challenges.  He made me aware of how he demonstrates his anger and some of his coping mechanisms.  We agreed on a plan of action if his anger became an issue, and I came away feeling great about the conversation.

What was not addressed was his tendency to talk over others, interrupt, and make negative comments which was evident in the very first class period he attended.  I have several students with those same tendencies and it makes teaching very challenging.  Keeping in mind that I want to give students more voice and choice, I plan on putting the ball in their court.  I will put the problem out there for them to discuss and come up with a solution.  If the solution comes from them, they will have more ownership in the implementation.  I plan on having prepared questions to prime the pump of discussion, like:

How can your voice be heard?
What kind of response is helpful to you?
How can we learn from each other?

Whatever the outcome of the discussion, there are a few things that I want my students to understand this year:

You are important to me.
Your voice deserves to be heard.