Thursday, May 28, 2015

Suzanne's Final Blog

Wow!  I can’t believe this experience has ended!  And I really wished I had utilized   the blogging piece better this year (but I was trying to keep my head above water with all of the other school obligations)!  I am so grateful to Dana for pushing me to do this (and yes, she really did need to push a bit due to my apprehension about presenting in April)!  
Dana, I have learned more this year than I have learned in any other year of teaching!  I not only learned how to utilize technology more (my professional goal), I met some amazing colleagues in the district that I will always seek out, I read some thought provoking articles that have shifted my thinking and delivery of instruction, and I have found a gear within myself to push through challenges which seem daunting!  
I honestly feel like my students were more inspired this year watching the learner in me become more confident in technology.  Thank you, Randy and Maria B., for helping with Google Classroom!  I am going to utilize it more now!  
I read the article on “Starting with Empathy” as the first tool for Back to School.  I copied a great poster from the website, and am going to share it with the school, as we are a PBIS building, and always strive to promote empathy.  I completely agree how we need to be much more intentional and explicit about teaching empathy to students.  I am going to make sure our classroom feels like a “safe space”  for learning.  I will refer to it as such early and often.  I like that there are activities to engage students in empathy with storytelling (we have Read Alouds), group activities, and problem solving.  In this process there is a third step where you need to reflect and act by identifying shared values and differences, instill courage, and enable action.  I’m excited to read more about this process and to become more proactive about promoting and producing more empathy in my classroom and in our school.  I strongly believe that my learners are more productive and supportive when they are behaving in a way that has a greater understanding of not just their own situation - but that of others in their classroom community.
Thanks again to everyone in this Inspired Writing Cohort!  I really enjoyed this experience so much!  And I am so grateful for your willingness to share your knowledge with me!  Look forward to future collaborations!

Thursday, April 30, 2015

"I Survived" the Inspired Learning Series!

Okay, so here is my April Blog!  Might as well Blog backwards while the memories are fresh!  This Blogging Slacker needs a plan - so we will start with last weekend!  
I was telling my students how nervous I was about presenting, and they all gave me the perfect solution: “Call in sick!”  I did consider this option briefly (I actually was sick), but I told them that it was, “The easy way out” and “We need to be brave during these moments.”  I was going to have storied for them on Monday, and they would be eager to hear them.
Little did I know how many times I had to find my “Brave Card.”  Let me first start by saying, I had an amazing group of women to support me that day:  Sue Setzer and Maria Banta!  What rock stars!  They were really solid in their presentations and I loved collaborating with them!  I wasn’t two minutes into presenting when a woman announced that she had changed her mind and was going to go to another presentation.  She left, and my heart sunk.  We didn’t have many people in the first place.  She came back a few minutes later “because the class she wanted “was full.”  I told her she did wonders for my self-esteem!  But she had thrown me off.  My hands were shaking - some links I had wanted to share had been recently altered by my students who hadn’t made a copy (like I had instructed them - AARGH)!  Blah, blah, blah….it all felt like a disaster - but I’m sure some points were taken away and helpful.
Then…….I guess there must have been some illicit substance in the taco bar, because I volunteered to do the DEMO SLAM!  Really?!  Me?!  Amongst the EXPERTS?!  The SAVVY ONES?!  OMG!!!  I’m tapping on the Chrome Book (I don’t even know how to navigate the mouse on a Chrome Book - YIKES)! So there I was in front of an auditorium full of people talking about Mystery Skype…’s all a blur!
The best part is that I went back to school on Monday to tell my students all about it!  They are so used to hearing all about my mishaps!  They were mortified about the lady that left (love that we have promoted empathy this year) - and I got to tell them about the lovely email from Penny Potts.  How I was dying in that auditorium, and thought I was blowing it, but she thought I did fine!  I used that as a lesson to them, that even when you feel that everything is going wrong (and that in their lifetime, it is going to happen), that they will get through it, they will survive it, and JUST MAYBE, it won’t be as awful as they think!

Thank you, Penny Potts, for gifting me more than you know that day!  My students ended up applauding my bravery, and they decided I needed to write a book about this cohort experience.  They decided since we love the “I Survived” series, that I should call my book, I Survived the Inspired Learning Series!  I love my kids - and I actually loved that experience!  It taught me a lot about myself and the great people I have learned with on this cohort!

This Slacking Blogger is Back in the Game!

I am very sorry that I have failed to keep up with my blog posts each month.  That responsibility slipped off of my radar!  I will try and make up for it by writing about each month as I recall how I was impacted by my decision to join the Cohort and how I learned to incorporate technology in my classroom.
I vividly remember Dana encouraging me to join this Cohort last year.  I was ambivalent about it for two reasons:  1.  “I was such a  novice with technology, could I possibly hang in there with all of those savvy people?”  2.  “I was terrified about presenting and told Dana about it.  She said, “We’ll see what we can work out.”  I should have realized that was code for, “You will have to present for sure!”  
I can’t begin to tell you how much Dana helped me to transform my world and my whole mindset into a more confident person when it came to technology!  She worked with me steadily every Tuesday afternoon to help me build my webpage.  I used it as my Professional Growth Goal to build an interactive webpage.  That was a huge leap for me, as in all of my previous 9 years at Centennial, I either had had nothing at all, or I had managed to load a picture of my dogs, and to write a simple blurb about myself.
Two people that really inspired me to make my webpage more interactive, were Penny Potts and Erin Gonshor.  They were so patient with me the first day I met them at the first session!  I thought they were amazing!  I couldn’t imagine a website could be utilized so much!  It really inspired me to set the bar higher for myself!  I went home and spent an entire weekend building the basic structures to get my website up and running.  Penny and Erin generously shared so many of their links with me (and I learned how important it was to give them credit on my website for that).
I decided to dedicate a weekend when I wasn’t feeling well, to stay in bed and search different schools and their websites for the best links that pertained to the curriculum that would be engaging for my students and relevant for my parents - I became a bit of a “link junkie!”  It wasn’t as good as a chocolate binge - but it was close!

Well, I have to say, this webpage has made quite a difference this year!  I used it as my weekly newsletter, and kids actually used it from home to practice some fun ways to reinforce Spelling, Math, and Reading!  Thank you, Penny, Erin, and Dana for the inspiration!  xoxo

Saturday, November 8, 2014

So here I am, four months later.  I could never have imagined how far I would have traveled in this amount of time with what I have learned from my cohort colleagues, the articles I have read, and my mentor, Dana Levesque!  What a pivotal opportunity!  This will be considered a defining moment for me in many ways.  It will remind me that even when I almost back out of something because I am feeling really sick (I had bronchitis), that there are reasons why I need to push through!  This has paid off in spades both personally and professionally!  I have been able to model for my students and teammates how I too, am a lifelong learner!  I have built a functional website that I have shared with parents from this year (and parents from the previous two years).  I have learned to Mystery Skype with two states integrating the new Geography Unit.  My students are excited to practice their learning at home, and their EEE time is meaningful in all content areas!  I am a new person!  I am so grateful for this experience!  I love to share what I know with others!  

Friday, August 8, 2014

Was Your Caffeine Worth It This Morning?! I'm Still Wondering About Mine.... I realized yesterday that "Full-Day Stamina" has clearly not set in for me yet!  What happened to mid morning nap?  And after lunch nap?  My dogs aren't used to waking up to jingling noises from my phone - they were quite disgusted with me.....Let's just say, yesterday was "an adjustment!"  So this morning, I thought I'd start it off a little more purposefully!  I got up five minutes earlier.  I put on my brand new t-shirt about teachers having superpowers, tried to sound a bit more convincing towards the dogs that it was perfectly normal to be getting up at an hour that started with "7," cranked the CD from the Boston concert "Don't Look Back" (intentional), and headed to Starbucks.

Now here is the new Cohort Team Rule:  NEVER STATE IN LINE:  "I HOPE THIS LINE MOVES A BIT FASTER SO I AM NOT LATE!"  "Why, you ask?! soon as I thought that.....the nice lady proceeded to pull the cash drawer out....a tiny bit...too...far...and..."BAM!!!!!!!" YUP!  ALL OVER THE FLOOR!  PENNIES!  NICKELS!  DIMES!  QUARTERS!  BILLS!  IN THE MATS WITH THE HOLES!  IT...WAS....AWFUL!!!!!  I....WAS....DYING!!!!!

SO....DON'T YOU DARE STATE THAT LINE!  How was your coffee moment?!

Have a  great Cohort Day!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

My Rookie Post - I've been quite "inspired!"

Okay… here I go!!!!!  I have no idea what I am doing!  I LOVE the Substitute Resource Link, so THANK YOU SO MUCH for sharing this!!!!!  I am also delighted that you turned the “Padlet Switch” on for me!  I have already thought about so many ways to use it and how my buddy Beth and I will use it to present in April! pre and post thoughts, vocab drawings for ELL's, Math thinking, main ideas, similes, "juicier words" - do you have some ideas?  If you want to jump on board with us, please do!  On another note, lunch was fabulous - I think they should have broken out the chocolate at 8:31 though :)