How many gyms do you drive by each day that you currently pay for, paid for in the past, and never used more than ten times? Gym owners love January. It seems as if we are all looking to lose weight every year at this time. I bet Romaine lettuce stock will be at an all time high. We hear the same comments in our houses, faculty rooms, and in our lofty resolutions. After the holidays, I will start. When I get back to work on January 2nd, I am starting a strict diet. I am just going to drink water and not eat the cookies in the main office. I still have five months before I will be at the beach.
For many, these comments have to do with our concern with how others perceive us. I think that is why these resolutions rarely become accomplished actions. We become secondary to some other primary reason for the annual goal. What if our resolution focused on one word that aided the leaky parts of ourselves? If we bandaged these leaks, we could impact others at a heightened level, right? It is with this goal in mind, that my #oneword for 2019 is STRETCH. This year, I am going to STRETCH…
My PLN. The most important aspect of our work is our commitment to growth. We must continue to improve our practice every single day (if not hourly). Through following passionate and accomplished educators, I am able to reflect on what I do and make immediate changes to ensure the needs of all students are met. This year, I am going to stretch my PLN to include voices from people outside of the education field. We have so much to learn about leadership and this can be achieved through following the work of leaders of many different organizations. My PLN doesn’t reflect this diversity. I have to do this better because my followers will benefit. It was Bill Brennan’s quote that struck me the day before I got on Twitter. In speaking about his networked intelligence and connection with a man noted as a top five management thinker in the world, Bill shared, “If I am learning from Don Tapscott, who is Don Tapscott learning from? I am drafting off that learning.” I will find my Don Tapscotts.
My impact at the elementary level. I had the amazing opportunity to spend time in Kelly Donohue’s kindergarten class the Friday before the break. With the help of Karen Gilligan, Kelly planned an awesome coding lesson for her kindergarten students. I quickly invited myself in to assist. On the drive to North Side that morning, I ran through a pre-mortem strategy in my mind. I do this often when trying something new. Thanks to Don Gately for sharing this approach when we planned the first EdCamp Long Island in 2014. What if the students won’t be able to code a gingerbread man? What will happen if students don’t understand directions? What if I shot above the rim when I strongly asserted that kindergarten students can code on kidOYO? The post-success reality: What if…I wasn’t needed because the students ROCKED and owned their own?! The 20 minutes in this classroom reminded me that we need to stretch our expectations of what students can do with technology as early as kindergarten. We need to get them connected. The best part is that Kelly’s students partnered with 4th grade mentors from Kelly Powers’ class. The fourth grade students moved their kinder friends from gingerbread men to maze code on kidOYO. As Bonnie McClelland once taught us, students are techie because they are not afraid to click. Our youngest students are not afraid to click. We sometimes are. I can’t wait to stretch myself in 2019 and lift technology with our elementary learners. Be present. Not visible.
My office. I am rarely in my office. In fact, the week before the break, Joan Anderson, our World Languages Chair, stopped in and said, “I have never seen you in here this much.” People notice active leadership. Those who know me know that I love being “in the building” and spending time with teachers. I aim to build connections and relationships with all staff members. Culture can be built and destroyed every minute in a school. With this in mind, when I do have time that can be spent in my physical office, I am going to stretch its walls. Although thanks to Colette Hardy, my office has the coolest wall I have seen (below). The beauty of technology is that I can grab my Chromebook and sit in open spaces and work. Three target spaces come to mind. I absolutely adore libraries (and librarians). The personality in a library’s space is like no other. I will seek a table for my office. Find space in hallways for my office. Find space closer to students for my office. Stretch connections. Stretch relationships. Stretch my leadership.
Learning beyond the classroom walls. We do a fantastic job with Global Read Aloud, World Read Aloud, Google Hangouts with authors, etc. What if we put more focus on connecting with students across the country/world outside of these major events? Why can’t it be a regular strategy in our teaching and learning? If we are reading a book with an interesting setting, why not connect with students who live there? Connect with students who live in parts of the country/world of the history we are learning in class? Our Chromebooks have cameras (most have two now), our flat panels are perfect displays, and through Twitter, we can find partners in less than five minutes? Let’s stretch our learners’ connections. We can easily break down walls with a camera, an Internet connection, and a willing teacher leading the collaboration. I started a Buncee collaboration that didn’t get off the ground yet. I am going to stretch this goal in 2019. Let’s start creating Buncee boards, filming FlipGrid videos, constructing Padlets of ideas, and achieve true global learning. Why not?
I am ready to stretch myself in these areas in 2019 while I drink water, not eat cookies, eat salad, get ready for Punta Cana….