#DBC50Summer 26/50: Shift This

You know the saying “It’s all downhill from here”? I just spent the last little bit in an internet time warp looking up what that meant. It’s one of those rabbit holes. There is discussion online (apparently, a LOT of discussion online) about whether this is said in positive or negative connotation. I’ll spare you the details, but I choose to see it as a cyclist who has made it over the highest hill in a race, meaning things will get easier from here on. That’s what I thought would happen when I reached halfway in #DBC50Summer. I’d reached the top of the #DBC50Summer hill and could see the “end” (waaaaayy off in the distance). It’ll be easier now that I’m halfway, right?

Things. Are. Definitely. Not. Easier.

I am continuing to be stretched and challenged as an educator to truly know my educational beliefs as I read these books published by Dave & Shelley Burgess! I’m having to be more thoughtful about creating an implementation plan for these books that is realistic and attainable, while still making big waves. (Because, you know, Pirate ships do that – Pirate Pun, check!)

Book 26 was an empowering book! I’m currently ready to run through the halls yelling to the top of my lungs that I’m making changes and I want everyone on board. I’m ready to use my word from Lead Like A Pirate and be relentless in not accepting the status quo from teachers or students that I have the pleasure of serving. Shift This by Joy Kirr was so incredible that I have actually read it TWICE since last night. With that said, just go ahead and get your copy now! Seriously, it’s that good.


Here’s a little tidbit about me. I don’t like confrontation, in any form. I very much dislike arguments. I am a people pleaser (Yes, me too, Joy!) If someone confronts me face-to-face, I typically just bow out of the conversation with the quickest escape route I can find. If I do manage to find the guts to stand my ground, it usually ends with me stumbling over my words and tears. Mine. It’s embarrassing to be honest. If the confrontation is digital, I avoid that person like the plague until it blows over (or an appropriate amount of time has passed).

This book equips me with so many options for coaching teachers, and dealing with the dismissal and pushback that will likely happen (which in my eyes feels like confrontation – remember I take everything personally even though I shouldn’t). Finding a teacher’s comfort level in making changes in their classroom is so important. Allowing teachers to be in charge of their own changes makes change seem less intimidating. That leads to a higher success rate through sustaining said change. Thanks to Joy, I now have 4 scaffolded levels of change for topics that are very near and dear to my heart. These topics include:

  • Classroom Environment
  • Classwork
  • Homework
  • Grading
  • Social Media
  • Student-Directed Learning

Each of these includes small changes that feel “safe” while making a ginormous (yes, I’m choosing to use that word) impact on student empowerment and lifelong learning. I could easily see where I was in regards to the sliding scale of shifts on each topic and could find a shift I can make in the new year to make an even greater impact. I love that Joy repeatedly states that this was not an overnight large-scale change! She mentions frequently that the changes she has implemented in her classroom are from YEARS of small changes. I also respect that Joy speaks about the next step she is going to make as well! It shows that she’s not done growing and changing, and I appreciate that so much!

This book is like taking a snapshot into Joy’s classroom, seeing it from Point E to Point L, with the understanding that the story was already in play (Point A to Point D) and it continues to evolve now (Point M to Point “Retirement”). I’m sure even at this point, Joy is making small shifts for the her school year and that’s incredibly powerful to me!

I have got to meet this lady. We share so many educational philosophies and through my first reading of the book, I spent the majority of the time standing on her soap box with her, agreeing with every passionate sentence she wrote (sometimes even agreeing out loud). I would love to sit and discuss these beliefs about student empowerment, grading, homework, etc with Joy! There would be a lot of nodding. That’s for sure!

The second time I read the book, I read it through the eyes of an instructional coach. I could literally place every teacher I work with on the sliding scales included with each topic and can see what small change could be made in the coming school year. I want the teachers to be comfortable with the changes because, as Joy says, “Whatever you do has to work for you. If you are not comfortable with something, the students won’t get out of it what you hope for them.” Through discussion and reflection (both with students and within themselves), these changes can be tweaked to meet the needs of their classrooms.

Here are some quotes that I absolutely loved from the book!




One of the things I love most about the DBC, Inc books is that the resources shared within the book, and readily available after reading the book, are abundant. Joy’s book is no different. She includes links to all kinds of goodness via tinyurl.com in her book! I’m looking forward to diving into these links even more, as I know they will provide “a-ha” moments beyond what I read (which is already impressive).

As I mentioned, I can seriously make an implementation goal for every single section within the book. For example, in regards to grading… I have the luxury of not assigning grades to students as I am the media coordinator but I do provide feedback. Joy makes me want to shift this to have students select the work they’d like to turn in for feedback. That small shift gives students choice and allows me to see their best work. I appreciate that!

The implementation goal I choose to complete is related to social media. As I read the section of the book about social media shifts: lurking, then sharing I couldn’t help but laugh out loud. Joy and I have very similar stories about our first experiences on social media. (I, too, came home from a conference and spent hours checking out the hashtag when I got home, Joy!) I have reached a point in social media where I’ve been thinking what’s next? as I already share my own content and blog and get new resources and have an amazingly supportive Professional Learning Network (PLN). Joy gives me the next step though, and it is so obvious for it to be the next step (couldn’t see the forest for the trees kind of obvious)… hand it over to the students. Give them the opportunity to blog and tweet out their own content! The best part about this… my principal and I just had a similar discussion this week in which we’ve decided to generate a social media team of students who will get the ball rolling with student-led blogging and social media. We’ll get to see the school from the eyes of our students, and we’re both so excited about what this will look like at the end of the year! The initial social media team will work out the kinks, set the parameters (with some guidance from the principal and I on policy and student safety) and teach other students how to write a blog and share on social media. This group of students will also fulfill one of the implementations from Your School Rocks, which was to create a school hashtag (we had one, but I didn’t put two and two together, so I’m sure the students hadn’t either… now the new one will be clearly stated and shared). We are allowing the students to use their voice by sharing their hashtag ideas for our school, then vote on their favorite to select one! It’s going to be awesome!

I am excited with and empowered by this book! You should visit Joy’s website which has incredible information, including the resources for the book, blogs about shift stories where teachers have shared their stories about their own small shifts leading to big changes, and podcasts with Joy including The Wired Educator. The community on Twitter uses the hashtag #ShiftThis (Be careful with that one, ha! Joy has a funny story about that!) and the chat will resume on August 21, 2018 at 8:00 pm EST! We will meet (almost) every Tuesday night after that. I have the privilege of moderating the chat on December 4, 2018 about Shifting Mindsets! True to Joy Kirr fashion, she is shifting how she moderates Twitter chats, so click here for more information about that small shift! I’m expecting it to lead to massive impacts!

As always, the flipgrid is wide open for global collaboration! Share a story about a small shift you’ve made and how it impacted your classroom. If you should need a password, use DBCSummer to access the grid. A massive thank you to Andrea Paulakovich, a superstar educator from Kansas, for sharing the genius idea to open a global collaboration space for every DBC book!

Book 27 is Unmapped Potential by Julie Hasson and Missy Lennard, the Purposeful Principals! I just purchased this book at the beginning of July, so I’m thrilled to read it for the first time! Look for the blog soon!


Ending the Blogging Hiatus

So I’m here to say I’m officially ending the blogging hiatus today!  I’ve been inspired during the Blogging session at #EdCampWake & I’m looking forward to sharing the awesome that I see and my students are doing.  Have you ever been in a funk?  It’s easy, as an educator to lose sight of your “why” in the craziness of evaluations, testing, conferences, (insert acronym here), education jargon, blah, blah, blah….

It was brought to my attention today that I’m not just neglecting to blog, but I’m neglecting to take time to reflect on my practices.  At first I was a bit offended, but then I felt more convicted.

No excuses, but here’s an explanation.  In July 2016, I was given an incredible opportunity to pilot a new position in my school system.  It formally marries the Instructional Technology Facilitator position and Library Media Coordinator position.  I am the Lead Digital Learning and Media Innovation Facilitator for my STEM magnet middle school.  I have always been at the elementary level, so being at the middle school and adapting to the differences in culture has been an adventure.  I knew no one at the school (which is saying something in my rural district), and although I’m pretty outgoing, I was terrified of rejection.  I still am in many ways.  I serve as both the digital coach and as media coordinator for my school.  It’s my district’s way of purposefully moving our media centers to the future.  And I love it!  I appreciate how purposeful it is – changing the culture and climate of the media center.

So, today – March 18, 2017 – I am committing to writing a blog a month.  Some will be reflective, some full of awesome resources, and some will be just sharing my hopes for the future for accountability…

Thank you to all the folks in the Blogging session (specifically Tom Mullaney) at #edcampwake.  Stay tuned.  Here we go again.

Why I Love Edcamp and So Will You!

I have been to several edcamps in the past year. My first edcamp was in November 2014. I was so re-energized when I left that I immediately signed up for others in my area. Edcamp is like Pringles; once I popped, I just couldn’t stop. Edcamps are like Lays; I couldn’t have just one… you get it. I love edcamp. After attending 8 edcamps in my state in just over a year, I have learned that all edcamps are the same, and all edcamps are different.

Here are 8 reasons I love edcamp and why I keep going back to edcamp after edcamp (Believe it or not, door prizes aren’t even listed! Although they are always an awesome bonus!)

1 – There is no hierarchy. When you attend an edcamp, you drop your title at the door. Whether you are a classroom teacher, a school level administrator, a director within a district, or a superintendent, you are equal at edcamp. The North Carolina Superintendent of Public Instruction, Dr. June Atkinson, attended #edcampLDR in the summer and was just as much a participant there as I was. It doesn’t matter if you run a world of 20 students or 150 schools, you are there to share ideas and find ways to make education better for all of the stakeholders.

2 – The culture is positive and inspirational. Edcamp is not a place to complain, grumble, and vent. It is a place to seek answers, share information, and grow your PLN. This isn’t to say that we sit around singing kumbaya. Instead, we have a safe place to share our failures and make new friends who help us find real solutions to our problems. After every edcamp, I feel inspired, motivated, and ready to change my students’ lives.

3 – The ideas shared are realistic. I love that edcamp isn’t about what “could” happen and what we “might” can do on Monday, but it’s about what others have already done in their classrooms and how it impacted their students. Rather than just talking about change, edcampers are actually making the change.

4 – There are no “presenters”! No one will stand up in front of the room and dictate the conversation. It is truly about sharing ideas with others in a round-table discussion. Everyone present is valued. Everyone is encourage to participate. Conversations can start with a comment, question, or idea. Anyone can start the conversation. Every person has the opportunity to contribute to the topic at hand. In addition to face-to-face conversations in the session, there are also Twitter back-channels and collaborative notes via Google Documents which are available to everyone.

5 – Participants are not just from within your own district, but from various districts and various levels of education. Test scores have the ability to make us competitive, just like scores in sports. Edcamp takes away this competition and allows us to focus on what we all agree is the most important – giving our students a quality education. We can all learn from one another’s successes and failures. I love that all levels of education are present. It really gives a larger picture of scope and sequence. By talking with teachers from middle school, high school, and secondary education, I can see where my elementary students will be in a few years and how I can better prepare them for the future.

6 – No edcamp is the same. Every single edcamp I have attended (either in person or following virtually via Twitter) has been different. The participants are what make each edcamp special. I have walked away with something new after each edcamp that has been directly applicable to my students.

7 – Edcamp is for YOU! Edcamp is always about what YOU need. If you are in a session and it is not meeting your needs, it is perfectly acceptable to quietly leave the room. I will never forget the first time the culture of edcamp became a reality for me. I was in a session that started out being exactly what I needed. Then it veered to a discussion that was not directly beneficial to me and I went back and forth about whether I should move to another session. I checked Twitter and the collaborative notes. Finally I ended up leaving the session to exchange ideas with a member of my PLN in the hallway. We made our own “session” right then and there, and even had a few other people join our discussion before moving to the next session. It’s totally okay to be selfish in your learning at edcamp.

8 – Edcamp is about growing your PLN! Your PLN is your Professional Learning Network. Meeting new people is one of my favorite parts of any edcamp. I have met outstanding educators at edcamp and have formed bonds with many of them that now extends outside of Twitter and has evolved into true friendships. Whether we meet face-to-face first and then continue our sharing on Twitter, or we “follow each other” on Twitter and then meet at edcamp, it’s always great to meet new friends at edcamp!

So – how do you get to an edcamp?

1. Find an upcoming edcamp in your area. Check out the Complete Calendar.

2. Sign up – Edcamps are free! Have your friends sign up, too!

3. Get to edcamp in time to help create the session board! It’s the best part! This is where you decide what you want to learn about. I suggest having three topics in mind. When I suggest topics I always suggest one that I feel confident in and can share information with others, one that I have no idea what I’m doing & will ask questions and take in as much information as possible, and one that I have some experience, but still have questions.

4. Take it all in. Live in the moment and enjoy the culture of edcamp! Tweet, share, collaborate, participate! When you leave, tell your friends! Take back the enthusiasm you gained and repeat as needed! I will bet you search for the next local edcamp before you leave your first.

Relive some of my edcamp experiences: #edcampwnc, #edcampldr, #edcampqc, #edcampqc 2.0, #edcampmaker, My EdCamp Addiction