Friday, August 31, 2012

Changing Parent Night for the Better

I'm pretty sure it's standard practice for every elementary school to have a Back to School Night where parents can come in, meet the teacher, and hear all about what their children will be doing in school. This year I decided to do something a little bit different with my presentation, and that decision led to one of the best evenings I've ever had.

In the past parent night has been much less about the kids and parents and much more about the rules, homework and curriculum. In thinking about how my philosophy has changed over the last year I knew that I needed to do something different that would help parents understand that academics are certainly important, but my biggest goal is to help their children grow and thrive as individuals. I also wanted to explain why our team was a little bit different than others, since people in small towns do talk, and I had some very special students whose stories needed to be shared.

So rather than my traditional, "Here are the rules, here's what we do in reading, here's what we do in math...." kind of schpeal, as the parents came in they had an assignment. They had a questionnaire to help me get to know them and their children a little bit better. For the first 15 minutes, they took some time and answered the following questions:

  • What is one thing I need to know about your child to help him or her be successful this year?
  • What is one goal you have for your child for fourth grade?
  • What is one thing you need from me to support your child's learning at home?
  • Is there any other important information you'd like me to know so I can better support your child here at school?
  • Would you be interested in coming to evening trainings about Daily 5 and the technology tools that we are using in the classroom?

While the parents were answering those questions I was able to walk around and personally greet each family that came in and thank them for coming. While only 11 of my students were represented (50% of my class), there were 18 adults so I was very pleased with the turnout. 

After the first 15 minutes I got started with my talk. While I did spend a bit of time with the traditional homework / rules / curriculum piece, a majority of my time was spent talking about my philosophy of education, how we are working to build community and become good people, how we use technology to meet those goals, and helping the parents who were in attendance understand the special health needs of my two students. We also spent some time looking at our class blog, our student blogs and our twitter account so parents could start getting involved right away online.

While I still feel like I talked to much, I feel much better about the content of my talking. I did what I wish my administrators would do during faculty meetings: cut out the information that could simply be posted online and focused on topics that were important to the parents. 

What made me feel so positive about the evening was the fact that the change in format allowed me to greet every family in the beginning and allowed enough free time at the end to have a short personal conversation with every parent or set of parents. Between the face to face interaction and the meaningful answers parents gave me I have already started to develop positive relationships with families so we can work together to help the kids grow throughout the year. 

One thing that I've been thinking about a lot and wrote about here is that at some point we have to stop just talking about things online and start DOING them in our classroom. This is one example of how a very small change to better match my new philosophy will continue to pay huge dividends throughout the school year. 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Lessons from Lockers

It has been a whirlwind two days of school so far, and I'm loving every minute of it. I have a wonderfully unique bunch of new friends who are definitely going to keep me on my toes, and I've already had many positive experiences with both kids and parents. While nothing is going like I had planned (does it EVER the first week of school???) it interesting to see the lessons we learn in the littlest places.

Take our lockers.

When my friend Marsha asked me how my first day was, this was my response:

Getting into an attached combination lock on our hallway lockers is hard for our 4th graders. They have to remember the combination (although we help by sticking a label in a secret spot in their agenda), they have to remember to spin to the right, then left past the number and stopping the second time, then back to the right and stopping the first time you get to the number. Geez! That's even complicated to type!

There are sighs. There is frustration. There are rattles as the latch jiggles but no locker opens. There are many whines of, "I can't do it!" "I need help!" and, my personal favorite, "Mrs. Bair, my locker is broken!" There may also have been one or two whines of, "I'm only one person guys. I will get to you as soon as I can. Keep trying or see if a friend can help!" It's a harrowing balance opening lockers without stepping on our friends who have lower lockers or slamming them in the head when the top ones finally open. At the end of the first day all but one of us, and that one wasn't me, were pretty sure that we were never going to get into our lockers.

But these lockers are something special. They are LOCKERS. You can decorate them *any way you want* and it's your space. All yours. Big kids have lockers, and each 4th grader sees this locker as their gateway to being a big kid. So those lockers that may do us in are suddenly the best teachers in the world.

  • They teach us to stop and think about what we're doing.
  • They teach us patience.
  • They teach us our left and right. 
  • They teach us how to remember things.
  • They teach us counting on a number line. 
  • They teach us patience.
  • They teach us not to give up.
  • They teach us to help others.
  • They teach us to accept help.
  • They teach us patience.
  • They teach us what it's like to feel successful when it FINALLY pops open!
  • They teach us to be even more proud when we open it ON THE FIRST TRY!!

Magically, like a light shining down from the heavens and angels singing, the lockers clicked for almost my entire class at the end of the day today. The smiles on the kids' faces were priceless, and I love high-fiving each one as they came to tell me that they were successful. They did it!

And when the kids were all gone and the hallway was quiet, I realized that the lockers proved something I've known for a while now. Kids don't need a teacher to learn. They need a meaningful task about which they care. They need something they want badly. And when they have that some amazing learning happens.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

They Said We Were the Bad Guys...

Last year my two teammates and I proposed a change for the way students were grouped in our grade level. We felt that in order to best meet students' emotional and academic needs it would be better for them to have less transitions and fewer teachers throughout the day. While it meant more work for us (we were going back to teaching all four subjects rather than just teaching two like we did during our first year at our new school), we knew that it would be better for the kids. Fewer teachers meant deeper relationships, and focusing on building relationships and creating a caring environment would, hopefully, help the students be willing to take risks and be able to recognize their strengths and develop confidence.

We met with a tremendous amount of resistance, as does anybody who introduces change, and it has made for some very challenging times. We were the bad guys. We "ruined" our happy family, we made people's lives difficult, we were crazy, we were "those 4th grade teachers." But no matter what people say or what people do, we continue to tell ourselves that it will all be worth it because it's truly going to make a difference for our students.

Today we had our "opening ceremonies" for the new school year. Following an Olympic theme our superintendent focused upon the importance of relationships: getting to know our students, building strong relationships with them, and developing positive relationships with their parents. This theme continued on through our building specific meetings. Develop positive relationships with parents. Get to know your students. Make a difference.

So we may be the bad guys. But to hear relationships become a focus made me feel like we have made a difference.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Connected Educator Month - How do I Start?

Throughout the summer I have the opportunity to participate in several webinars designed to introduce people to the importance of connected learning. Some of these are sessions scheduled specifically for Connected Educators Month while others are part of PLP's ongoing program. No matter why the sessions were scheduled, I've started to notice that there are two questions that pop up in every single discussion. Since I see these same questions on Twitter and hear them when I talk with my coworkers about the learning I'm doing online I thought it would be a good idea to talk about them a little bit.

Question One: How in the world do you get started?

Getting start is the challenging part because there is just SO MUCH STUFF out there. There are so many tools you can use, so many places you can visit, so many events you can attend that one can get overwhelmed and give up very quickly. Even I get overwhelmed sometimes by the sheer amount of possibilities out there. So where does somebody who's trying to get connected start? My answer is pick one tool, become familiar with it, see how you can grow and learn by using that tool, and then go from there.

For me that tool was Twitter. Why did I pick Twitter? Honestly? I was scared and it seemed easy. I didn't really think I would have much to say or that anybody would listen to me even if I thought I did! But what harm could I do setting up a Twitter account and following people who were knowledgeable and had great things to teach me?? By getting on Twitter and starting to follow a few people, I could hide in the shadows (lurking is what connected people call it), see how people did this whole Twitter thing, read links that I thought were interesting, and maybe send out my own Tweet. Scary, yes, but I was limited to 140 characters so it seemed much more manageable than writing a blog.

I appreciated Twitter because it gave me the courage to sharing my ideas, it connected (and continues to connect) me with a pretty incredible group of amazing teachers, and it made me realize that if I really wanted to learn and grow I needed to take the next step and starting blogging and commenting on other's blogs. 140 characters just wasn't enough! So Twitter worked for me. It may not work for you - you have to find the tool that fits you and your needs. If you think Twitter is the tool you want to use, you can get on PLP's mailing list and get a Twitter handbook. Not interested in being on the mailing list? Then Jerry Blumengarten's page might be the resource for you. Or you may find the tool that WILL work for you in Jerry's vast set of resources.

Question Two: Where do you get the time to do all of this?

While most people think that teachers work from 8 - 3:30 and have their evenings, weekends, and summers off, you and I know differently. Time is probably more precious to teachers than any other resource, and it's often challenging to see how you might fit one more thing into an extremely busy schedule. Work, planning, grading, and other job responsibilities take up more than our contracted work days. Kids, families, home responsibilities take up another large part of our day. And, every now and then, we'd all like the chance to pursue some of our own interests: exercising, cooking, gardening... insert whatever you'd like to do right here.

So how does a connected learner balance being a teacher, a learner, a family person and honoring his or her own personal interests? I go back to my first suggestion: pick one tool. Chances are that the one tool you pick to start is going to provide you with plenty to keep you busy so there's no sense overwhelming yourself.

Once you pick that one tool, start with 15 minutes a day. Maybe you check out your Twitter feed while you're eating breakfast in the morning or look at your RSS feed while you're on the treadmill. Or perhaps that show that you *thought* you loved really isn't that great any more, and you have an extra 30 minutes to spend browsing through tags in Diigo. During the summer, breakfast time is my time to see what's going on, and I often catch up in the evenings, too. When school is in session I make Saturday or Sunday morning my learning time, and squeeze in little times here and there as I can throughout the week.

My guess is that pretty soon you will start to see the value of being a connected educator, and you'll make more time in your day to add a new tool, follow more people, or get involved in more conversations. But don't think you have to be connected all of the time. Yep - you might miss something if you don't get online for a day or two or a week, but there will be just as much good stuff when you come back. And if something is THAT great, it will get passed around so you'll have a chance to see it when you do have time.

If you're just getting started as a connected educator, be prepared for an amazing journey. But don't feel like you have to gear up and climb Mt. Everest right now because that will only frustrate you and cause you to give up. Take a little bit of time each day, learn a new tool, and try one or two new things. Eventually you'll be ready to scale that mountain, and it will probably be sooner than you expected!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Another Frustrating Day of Inservice

Ahhh yes, the end of August. The time when we teachers are frantically scrambling to replace all of the things we had to put away in the middle of June so our rooms could be cleaned. The time when we are trying to figure out how to implement all of the amazing things we have learned over the summer while we connected with people from around the world.

The time when we sit through inservice or professional development days and want to stab our eyes out.


Don't get me wrong. Parts of the day, like this morning, were very enlightening. While tendious, I sat and viewed the files of all 88 students on our team via our data warehouse software (which apparently does approximately 500 reports, just not the ones we want so we do them by hand!) and identified how many students scored Advanced, Proficient, Basic and Below Basic on their third grade reading PSSA (state assessment) last year. Like I said, very tedious, but I feel like I learned some interesting things about our kids and our curriculum. For example, out of all of our students, only 12 were proficient on the anchor about figurative language. Either that was an invalid question or we're not doing a very good job teaching figurative language in third grade. I "met" a young man who completely aced the two nonfiction sections on the test and completely bombed the fiction sections. I can't wait to see if he just loves nonfiction that much, if it was the topics of the passages in the test, or what it is that makes this little guy tick. Our purpose, besides learning interesting tidbits like these two I just mentioned, was so that our "team could develop individual and team goals about how we can help our students achieve proficient levels during the next school year." For our team to be successful, a brief over view leads me to believe that focusing on summarizing both fiction and nonfiction, determining important information, making connections to text, and understanding figurative language will help our students' better understand the information they're reading.

Then I got to go and see a draft of our new progress reports. So here - spend 3 hours looking at data to see what your kids need, but here's what you're going to teach them each marking period no matter what they really need.


Maybe it's just how I define "standards based" but to me that means there is a list of standards and you say wow this child is blowing it out of the water, yep this child is right where he or she needs to be, or we're working to help this child make progress towards this standard. And then you give evidence: writing pieces, recordings of readings, demonstrations, and projects to prove why the child is where he or she is on that contiuum. I would like to do something like this. I would like to do something to involve the students, but we all have to be the same. Common assessments, common reporting.... but what if I want more???

It's sad, and it's frustrating. Education is such a big system, after days like this I wonder if there really is anything I can ever do to change it. I express my opinions and get knowing nods of, "I know, but my hands are tied," from some and eyes rolled from others who think I'm just being a squeaky wheel. But if I'm not the squeaky wheel, then who will be? Who will change things for our kids??

So today I'm frustrated and feel like an ant trying to move an 18-wheeler. But I'll keep pushing because you just never know what might happen.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

I Did It!

The other day I talked about how important it is to understand that failing or not meeting your goal may not be the best feeling, but it's part of life and part of learning and growing. They are not bad things. If you read that post, you know it was a big lesson that I needed to learn. If you made it to the end, you also know that I signed up for a crazy event (well, crazy as in, "Good grief I can't believe I'm doing this!") in order to learn that lesson.

Well, I'm here to tell you that I DID IT!! I survived!! And I want to tell you all about it because this ended up being a story about being flexible, having patience, having unexpected help, trusting people and just going with the flow. So please be patient with my little novel here.

First you need to know that I am a planner. In thinking about doing this I had already attempted to run the different parts of the running course, and I made a schedule for myself the morning to the race so I would be all ready to go.

Then Wednesday evening happened and threw a kink in my well-planned schedule.

Very often people around here, for many different reasons, think that they can cross the river without a boat or any type of life preservers. I think they believe it's possible because the Susquehanna (pronounced Suss-kwah-hanna for those of you from afar) is actually very shallow in many spots. What they don't realize is how deep it is in other spots. They also don't realize, which I just learned yesterday during the race, is that there are many places where the current swirls, pulls you in odd ways, and just plays tricks on you. Properly equipt you can safely travel up, down and across the river and enjoy the beautiful surroundings.

Sadly, three young men tried to swim across the river Wednesday evening with no protective equipment. Two of the young men were eventually rescued by passing boaters, but a third did not make it. A search and then recovery mission started Wednesday evening and continued through Friday night. I received a call Friday that because of the emergency situation we would be starting the race three hours later than expected. The planner in me had been doing all my runs earlier so I would be familiar with the conditions so that made me very nervous. But it was out of my hands so I rejoiced in the fact that I would get to sleep in 3 hours!

Saturday morning arrived, I followed my adjusted, but well planned out schedule, and I arrived for registration about 10 minutes early. The scene was very, very confusing. The kayaking company responsible for the second part of the race had been helping with the recovery mission the night before without success, but as they were setting up the course they discovered the missing swimmer. During the next three hours the authorities had to take care of their responsibilities, the family needed a chance to mourn, and the organizers of the race needed to come up with a plan to set up the kayaks when they couldn't get to either the launch location or the finish line. So, my best laid preparation plans flew out the window (as they should have) and thankfully my nerves went along with them. I talked to my friend Alan, made some new ones, and just waited until we got the word that we could board the buses to take us to the starting line.

We ended up starting the race at 12:10, much later (and hotter) than we had expected. Off we went, and it only took about a 1/2 mile until I was the last runner in the race. But it was okay. When the handy dandy lady from MapMyRun came on to tell me my first mile was up, she told me I had finished it in 13:02 - I know that doesn't sound like a great time, but for me - that was the fastest mile I have completed this whole summer. I was thrilled and kept going. I walked a bit during mile two, but I still finished that mile in 13:23! I was on a roll! WOO HOOO!

And then I came off the trail. And hit the hill. And the sun. And the proverbial wall.

My dear hubby was waiting for me at the top of the hill (which really isn't that big, but it looked like a mountain to me) with my next bottle of water, and I had never been happier to see him. He later told me he was very worried when he saw me, and he was actually expecting me to call him to come get me because I couldn't make it to the kayaks. I'm proud to say that the thought never even crossed my mind. My two choices were to be last or to quit, and the second option really wasn't even a choice.

I didn't run much after that - little pockets here and there, but the heat and my awesome first two miles took a lot out of me. I kept putting one foot in front of the other, kept sipping my water, and kept making little goals for myself. I finally ran down the last stretch and under the bridge. I had traveled 4.91 miles in 1:12:23 to reach the transition area where I changed my shoes and got ready to head out.

One of my biggest fears was being last, but I ended up finding out that being the last runner had some perks. There were four guys at the boat launch who were still cleaning up from the earlier rescue operations. As I changed my shoes and got my preserver on, they graciously carried my kayak down to the river. Then they helped me into the kayak and gave me a great shove to start the second part of my journey! I believe there may be a video on FB of this, but I haven't seen it yet.

Once I got out of the course, it was a little scary at first - like I said earlier, I didn't realize how the current swirled and pulled in some places so I wondered if I would really be able to make it all the way down to the finish line under the bridges. Rather than going back and giving up, I focused on the first set of orange flags marking my course and just paddled. There was a man on the rocks who asked if I was having fun (I said, "Maybe!") and pointed me towards the next flags and river guide. I shared that I was the last person, and he radioed that information on to the rest of the group.

As I passed the next river guide, he also asked if I was having fun, and he gave me some helpful tips for getting through the next part of the river where it got a bit rocky. I was actually enjoying the paddling even though it was more challenging than the other trips I have taken. I thanked him for his help and headed for the next flags. And this is where the cool part happened. The next guide actually got into his kayak and came to greet me. He asked me how I was doing, asked if I was having fun, and then paddled with me to help me along. He told me when to paddle hard to get over the rocks, and let me follow him through the tricky spots.

The other two guides quickly caught up with us, they provided me a big bump when I ended up getting stuck on some rocks, and two of them (sadly, I did not get their names) guided me most of the rest of the way to the finish line. As we got closer they paddled off to the side and told me that I needed to go and finish on my own - they didn't want to steal my thunder. It would have been very fitting if they had paddled with me to the end. It was their help and positive words that truly got me to the end.

I crossed the finish line where Jerry and Alan were cheering me on. My final time for the entire race was, I think, 1:59:23. I know it was 1:59:something. It may be less than that - I'm not sure if they count the transition time or not. Either way, I finished under 2 hours. I never really set myself a goal for completing the event, but I was happy to finish 5 miles with a pace of less than 15 minutes per mile, and I was very pleased to finish just a *wee little bit* under two hours.

So I did it. It was HARD, and some parts were a little scary. But I never wanted to quit, and I didn't give up. I was last, but I did it! And even though I was the one who had to actually DO it, I know that it was the support of my friends, both online and in person, the help from the wonderful kayak guides, and the help from my husband who brought me much needed water during the run and cheers at the end that got me to the finish line.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Connected Educator Month - Not Just About Learning

If you were to ask people what the best part about being a connected educator is, many would probably tell you that being connected lets you learn more than you would ever learn at your own building. There are so many great opportunities to be had online for free, it's not a shock that people talk highly about it. Take a look in any column on my twitter feed, and you'll see numerous links to tools and activities I can use in my classroom, ideas to make my life easier, blog posts to make me question what I do and how I do it, and webinars that require me to rethink my philosophy of education. Certainly the new learnings are a huge part of what it means to be a connected educator.

Just as many people, if not more (me being one of them), will tell you that while the learning is fabulous it is truly the people you meet during these exchanges that are the real cornerstone of what it means to be a connected educator. Born and raised in a small town in Pennsylvania, I now work in a slightly larger small town about an hour south of where I grew up. To say this area is.... ummm.... a bit traditional or conservative is just a bit of an understatement. My forward thinking views on just about everything don't always go over so well, but the people I have met online have encouraged me to take the things I've have learned and go for it in my classroom. Their support has been invaluable as has their willingness to listen to and validate my ideas. Equally important are those people who push back and cause me to rethink my reasoning and question if what I'm doing is really the best thing for kids.

From my little spot in Pennsylvania, I have collaborated with teachers in Ft. Worth, Texas and Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Canada. I've taken classes with people from Norway, and co-coached in an online space with a fabulous woman from Denmark! I've met a wonderful mentor who lives in Ohio, and I coached and learned about Project Based Learning (PBL) from a team of educators in Australia. I have made friends from across the United States and in all parts of Canada. Many of them are wonderful resources from whom I can learn. Some of them are friends first, people to learn from second. Sometimes, as was the case in this post, it's easier to reflect on situations through writing than by talking things out. And while I do eventually have face-to-face conversations after I've taken the time to process what I've written, some of my online friends jumped right in and provided the support I needed.

Yes, being part of Connected Educators Month does mean that you will have to opportunity to learn a tremendous amount of new information. But more importantly being a Connected Educator means you will meet a tremendous amount of amazing people who are valuable resources, and you'll make some true friends who will be there to support you not only in your educational endeavors but in your personal ones as well.

So, by the end of this month I hope you will not only be saying to yourself, "Wow! Look at all I learned!" but that you will also be saying, "Wow! Look at the incredible people I have met!"

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Learning to be a Role Model

One of the things I really try to instill in my students is self-confidence. I want them to feel as though they have the ability to try anything they want to and are capable of achieving anything under the stars. I also want them to know that failing or not meeting your goal may not be the best feeling, but it's part of life and part of learning and growing. They are not bad things.

The funny thing is that the last part there is something I struggle with terribly myself.

Well, I should clarify that. In terms of writing here or trying new things in my classroom, I'm not so afraid of failing or not meeting my goals. If nobody reads my blog posts, it's okay. My writing is more for my personal reflection, and if people want to join in and get something out of it that's just an added bonus. But there are no goals for number of hits or no sadness if I don't get comments. It just is what it is. And in my classroom with my kids, we try and fail all the time. The kids very quickly get used to me saying, "Well THAT didn't work! What do you guys think we should have done differently?" My students learn that mistakes or activities not working out are just opportunities to learn and think about a situation in a different way. It teachers us to problem solve and be flexible. And we often have some fun along the way.

It's almost like I am two different people - the teacher, writer, connected educator in me understands that things won't always work out. But in my personal life the me that is trying to get healthier doesn't quite get that. That me isn't very self-confident, and she still hasn't learned that trying and coming up short is better than not trying at all.

Teacher Me will have the chance to try something new with my class, whether is a program or a piece of technology, and she will say, "WOO HOOO!! Let's do this and see what happens!"

Personal Me will be faced with the opportunity to try a new exercise that looks challenging and she will say, "That looks cool, but I could never do it. No thanks."

Teacher Me will try a lesson, have it bomb, and say, "Hahahaha - well we're going to have to try that differently tomorrow!"

Personal Me will try a new exercise, not do so well at it and say, "Ugh. I knew I shouldn't have even tried. I'm not doing that again."

Teacher Me will set goals for personal learning or student growth. We may reach our goals or not, but we celebrate how far we have come and the growth we have made.

Personal Me will set a goal and get frustrated when it's not met. And when others try to show her how far she has come, her response typically starts with, "Yeah but...." and ends with something that negates the growth she has made.

Teacher Me tries to be positive no matter what and perseveres.

Personal Me tends to be more negative and gives lots of excuses.

It's hard to admit that there are two different sides of me, but there it is. Out in the open. I can't hide or make excuses any more. If I really want to be a good role model for my students, then I need to believe and live positively, without fear of failure, and embracing challenges in all parts of my life.

So, my first challenge is coming up next Saturday. I signed up for an event that was billed as a 4+ mile run and then a few miles of kayaking down the river. Being the novice runner that I am I knew the run part would be a challenge, but I thought I could do it. I've been practicing and was able to run from what I thought was the start to the finish!! And then I found out the actual route for the run. And discovered that what I thought 4+ meant (a little over 4) is actually going to be a little over 4.8! Eek! Personal Me immediately started screaming, "YOU CAN'T DO THIS! IT'S TOO FAR!! YOU NEED TO BACK OUT!!" As a matter of fact, she's still screaming right now.

But I'm going to try. I know that my original goal of running the whole thing will not happen, but I keep telling myself that it will be okay (and really, it will) if I have to walk some of it. I'm nervous. I'm scared. I'm worried that I'm going to be last and people will laugh at me. I'm not sure how to not feel that way. But I am sure that if I'm going to expect my kids to be risk takers, then I need to do the same. And this is the perfect way to start.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Connected Educator Month - More Than Just Talk?

This afternoon I had the distinct pleasure of participating in one of the opening panel discussions for Connected Educator Month. The discussion, Professional Learning and the Learning Profession, and the month-long forum that goes with it, will focus on how teachers are / should be taking charge of our own learning. We must see the value of continuing to be active learners, and we must take the initiative to seek and participate in our own learning. It's time that we search out what is interesting to us, what will benefit our students, and what will help us grow and learn as individuals.

But more and more, and I wrapped up the conversation with this comment today, I wonder what people are actually doing with all this talk. Are people actually going back to their schools and pushing for change beyond their classroom walls? Daniel Whitt  made a great comment. If we really want to see change, we need to be prepared because it's going to be difficult. It's going to be ugly. And bridges will burn. Believe me, I know first hand how those bridges burn. My teammates and I found out when we tried to initiate change in our building this year. It burns, and it gets ugly. But if what we're doing is right for the kids then we must go forward strongly and be prepared for the fires.

Our kids don't need more talk. They need and deserve action from us. They deserve teachers who are positive deviants (I believe that name also came from Daniel during our discussion, but I may be wrong about that) who positively push for and affect change in a slow and stubborn system.

So I ask you, if you are participating in Connected Educators Month, what are your goals? How will you take what you have learned and change what you are doing for kids? How will you make a difference in your school?