#DBCBookBlogs: TeamMakers

When is the last time you worked with others as a team to achieve a goal? How far back to you have to think? Are you lucky enough to be part of a terrific team right now?

I love the focus of the 81st book in the Dave Burgess Consulting, Inc line! TeamMakers: Positively Impacting the Lives of Children through District-Wide Dreaming, Collaborating, and Change is written by Laura Robb and Evan Robb. There is a clear emphasis on creating sustainable change as a district. I’m blown away by the way Laura & Evan take on this topic, which has the potential to create scapegoats for educators on every level. They address each level head on – central office administration, building administration, and teachers – and share how each of us as a role to play in the betterment of our schools for students.

TeamMakers

Some of the quotes that really resonated with me are:

“…in many classrooms technology is simply an ornament. How students learn hasn’t changed.”

“…when staff and administrators share with students dreams and personal stories about their teaching and learning lives, students feel safe to share theirs. Sharing dreams and stories builds positive relationships.”

“…risk-taking can initially raise fear and uncertainty but ultimately produce enthusiasm and courage.”

“…no one role is more valuable than another.” -Marc Ferris, EdD

I also truly enjoyed Chapter 8: Mentors and Coaches! The interludes from current educators at various levels was enlightening and terrific examples how it looks when true teamwork is happening everywhere in a district. There is so much to take away from this book, and it presents the perfect literature to create a district-wide book study! The whole idea is that we can’t make it happen unless we are willing to put in the work and create a team that has one another’s backs. We must all share a vision and a mission to move education forward in a system.

I am so blessed to work in a school system where this idea ofΒ TeamMakers is a reality. There is always room for improvement, but my school system is frequently leading the way and as a whole, we function as a pretty impressive team.

Implementation

Valuing the work of every individual in a system is vital to a team achieving its goals.

My oldest daughter plays softball, and she has played right field in every season. After playing softball for many years myself, I knew what playing “right field” meant – or so I thought I did. I jokingly said something to one of her coaches about Bailey playing right field because she was still learning and had a l.o.n.g. way to go in coordination, speed, processing the play of the game, etc. He (rightfully) put me in my place by telling me she’s in right field because we can count on her to always back up the play on first base. She’s in right field because she’s got a decent arm on her. She’s in right field because when a ball gets by her, she’ll go chase it down. Every position on the softball field is important because every position has their own role to making sure the team achieves success.

My implementation is to make sure that every person I come in contact with feels valued. Sometimes our custodians, nutrition workers, nurses, front office staff, assistants, etc feel as though they aren’t as important as the classroom teachers. In education, the focus, unfortunately, is on test scores – so unless someone is a classroom teacher in a tested subject area, it can be easy to overlook their importance to the team. Every person in the building has a purpose and a value to the overall dream. I have no idea what this will look like, but I’m going to come up with some way to help others feel valued, and continue to feel valued throughout the year.

Check out the Sneak Peek video from the authors (link here)! You can also get a free preview by visiting this websiteΒ (scroll to the bottom)!

Follow along with the conversation using #TeamMakers and be sure to pick up your copy of Laura & Evan‘s book! I believe you’ll enjoy it & it will help you look at each role with a new lens.

#DBCBookBlogs: Word Shift

Our words matter. What we say forms our character and our reputation with others. The old saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” is a lie. Words hurt. Words can also heal.

I was in a meeting yesterday as my principal reminded us that our students are listening to what we say, whether we think they are or not. She said that we need to choose our words wisely. I immediately reached into my bag and pulled out Word Shift by Joy Kirr and handed it to my assistant principal.

wordshift

Joy also wrote Shift This, the 26th book in the Dave Burgess Consulting, Inc line so I couldn’t wait to read Word Shift! With the feel of a dictionary, Joy shares words that need to be seriously reconsidered, many even eliminated, from our vocabulary. She gives us alternatives to use and her reasoning behind making these shifts in our word choice. Some of my favorites are:

Allow/Let/Permit –> Provide opportunities or Encourage

Give Up [Time] –> Invest

Have To –> Get to

Intervention . –> Next steps

Let It Go –> Soak it up

My –> Our

She also discusses practices that we need to reconsider such as behavior charts, homework, grading, assessments (that students can google the answer to), and again suggest alternatives for these practices.

Joy and I certainly see eye-to-eye on many of our philosophies and I was highlighting and writing “yaasss” beside many of these sections. Even if you grapple with some of these ideas, Joy lays it out in such a way that it makes sense how these practices or words could be harmful to our students.

For part of the implementation of Empower Our GirlsΒ by Lynmara Colon and Adam Welcome, I am focused on eliminating “guys” from my vocabulary as it is not inclusive of all students in my learning environment. I will continue this by intentionally saying “students” or “readers” when addressing a group of students. Joy gives us a list of labels that build up students and peers that I’m so excited to pull from when addressing others.

My implementation for Word Shift is to use the suggested phrases, sentences, and questions located at the end of the book purposefully this year. I love that Joy has us asking questions like, “What drives you,” “What is on your mind,” “What makes you unique,” “How can we make this more relevant to us,” etc.

My favorite quote from Joy’s second book:

“Many of these stressors are not something we can change. What we can change, however, is our focus… be in charge of our attitude.”

~Joy Kirr, Word Shift

This short book is packed with what makes Joy so awesome! Her positivity and genuine soul shines through the pages and I can’t help but imagine her class to be a place of acceptance, warmth, and love. What student wouldn’t be driven to learn that in environment? You can see a piece of Joy’s heart in a preview of the book here (scroll to the very bottom). Check out her sneak peek of the book below (or click here).

Finally, check out more of what Joy has to say by following her on Twitter at @JoyKirr and subscribing to her blog here. Check out the amazing resources in Joy’s LiveBinders here! Be sure to grab a copy of her book Word Shift, and go ahead and get a copy of Shift This while you’re at it! Both of these will move you to make intentional tweaks to your practice!

#DBCBookBlogs: Drawn to Teach

When I’m reading a book, I take it everywhere I go. Several folks have asked how I read books so quickly (especially during #DBC50Summer). This is how. The book is always with me, so if I have a spare moment or two, I grab it and read another page. Naturally, I kept Drawn to Teach by Josh Stumpenhorst with me and it got quite a bit of attention everywhere I went! I noticed that the reactions ranged widely based on the age of those giving the reaction. Students were pumped to see me reading it while adults gave me odd looks. Curious about why? Check out the cover!

drawntoteach

Check out the inside of the book in this Twitter post from Dave Burgess.

Isn’t it incredible? Trevor Guthke, the artist who created the amazing graphic novel illustrations knocked it out of the water! This awesome book is brought to readers from the IMpress label of Dave Burgess Consulting, Inc.

What Dave doesn’t tell you is the graphic novel portion is hilarious! Josh’s humor is infused throughout and I laughed out loud more than once while reading this book!

 

What’s more: the messages contained within the book are spot on! Josh shares his heart when talking about relationships, what really matters in education (hint: it’s not the test scores), motivation, innovation, technology, and reflection.

Some of my favorite quotes include:

  • “If you are going to ask for feedback, you must act on it.”
  • “…Gold stars and candy will only get us so far.”
  • “If the kids have a positive learning experience, the data will take care of itself.”
  • “Joy has value and we should encourage more of it”
  • “Learning is not a competition with others, but with yourself.”
  • “Students are motivated when they have some level of choice and agency over their learning.”

I believe my absolute favorite quote from the entire book comes from the section that allowed me to relive my time in #DBC50Summer with The Innovator’s Mindset by George Couros. Within the “Innovation” chapter, you’ll find this gem!

“Students who are not allowed to fail at an early age don’t develop the coping skills needed to navigate the bigger and more consequential failures inevitable later in life.” ~Josh Stumpenhorst

Mic. Drop.

Implementation

So… if you’ve been with me for long in these blogs, you know that many times my implementations are not as obvious as trying an idea straight from suggestions in the book. That’s the case here, as well. I already have a rather large collection of graphic novels in our media center, and students check them out all the time! Their understanding of the nuances of reading graphic novels is impressive, and I want to give them the opportunity to take their ability to read a graphic novel a step further. We’re talking consumption to creation!

Here are some awesome graphic novel/comic creators available for free (or with limited features for free) online!

You can also use sites like Canva, Google Drawings, and even use Google Slides in tile view.

I can’t wait to see what my students will create to show their mastery throughout the year using these sites. I’m so pumped to share these with the teachers I serve so they can use them as another option for students! I’m excited to see how my students will react after seeing their reactions to this book. I think they’re going to love it!

Be sure to connect with Josh on Twitter and check out his website here. You can join the conversation using #Drawn2Teach on Twitter! Get a free preview of Drawn to Teach by scrolling to the bottom of this page! You’ll see where you can purchase the book there as well! Because you’re going to want to do just that after you see for yourself how cool this book is! Enjoy!