#DBCBookBlogs: Balance Like A Pirate

I was intimidated when I started this book. I know I’m imbalanced; I can feel it. I think you can feel it too, when you’re out of balance. If not, take some time to listen to your body.

My shoulders and neck are stiff. My head hurts. I’m not sleeping well. I eat more junk food. My house becomes cluttered. My kids argue with one another and I become very short-tempered. I find myself planning for the next day rather than the next week. Have you been there? Of course you have. If you’ve not, you’re lying. Yep – I just called you out.

We’re educators; imbalance is a way of life. Thankfully, Jessica Cabeen, Jessica Johnson, and Sarah Johnson share their stories in the third Lead Like a Pirate guide book, Balance Like A Pirate.

I knew going into this book that it would be conviction central, and sure enough… I’m riddled with guilt right now. Jessica-squared (this is really how I remember them) and Sarah share stories of their own imbalances, which help with the guilt. They assure us that we will never be at a mathematical balance, where we are exhibiting a 50-50 relationship balance between work and home. In fact, the authors contend that there aren’t only two areas in which to focus. There are four. These are as follows:

  • Personal – Who are you? Outside of your job, what titles do you hold?
  • Positional – What is your role at your job? What pays the bills?
  • Professional – How do you continue to grow and learn your job?
  • Passions – What gets you out of bed?

I took time while reading to dive into these quadrants and define them in my own life. There are some excellent activities the authors share to help us think through where we currently are in our balance, and where each piece of ourselves fits in the quadrants.

Personally, I am a wife, mother, caregiver of a child with Type 1 Diabetes and high functioning autism, daughter, sister, aunt, granddaughter, niece, cousin, Christian, nursery worker, and friend. Positionally, I am a digital learning coach and a media coordinator. I work with teachers and students in my school, as well as partnering with administration to bring about meaningful and sustainable change in our school. I also lead district and state level professional development. I serve on our ISTE state affiliate board of directors and am a Future Ready Thought Leader in Instructional Coaching. Professionally, I read books and connect with my PLN to provide my own growth. #DBC50Summer and #DBCBookBlogs have been the main instrument for growth, in addition to Twitter chats. I enjoy attending edcamps. I attend state level conferences and would like to attend a national or international conference in the near future. Finally, my passions include reading and writing, watching football, and connecting with others.

Like many of you, I’ve got a lot on my plate, so to speak. I drop the ball every day on at least one of these quadrants. I’ve got to get better at this balancing act, and this book was exactly what I needed to help me make small steps to see big changes in each of these areas.

There is so much I enjoyed about reading Balance Like A Pirate. The practical advice at the end was definitely the highlight for me. As a believer in the quote from the Captain himself, “Inspiration without implementation is a waste,” I was thrilled to see the final section devoted to ways to readily implement the ideals and philosophies held within the pages of the book. I will be implementing many of these in the near future. My official implementation plan for this one is a bit different from the ideas given at the end of the book.

When I started my weight-loss journey over a year ago, the first thing my doctor suggested that I do was write down everything I put into my body. If I drank water, write it down; if I put barbecue sauce on my chicken tenders, write that down, etc. I thought this was lame, but realized that I weighed more than I had when I was 9 months pregnant with my youngest daughter and I knew I was in a spiral into depression. So… I documented it all with my FitBit app. What I quickly realized was that I was gaining weight because I was eating nothing but junk. I wasn’t eating much at all, but when I did it was a Snickers bar and Mountain Dew. I was drinking nearly a liter of Mountain Dew every day and absolutely no water. We would go out to eat every night and I would load up on all the starchy vegetables and leave the good stuff out. I would eat a half of a bag of Doritos at 8:00 at night, then wonder why I couldn’t rest well. It was bad, y’all. If I hadn’t written it all down, if I hadn’t taken that step to become aware of what I was doing to myself, I’m not sure that I would be able to tell you that my weight-loss journey has been a huge success. I have lost over 40 pounds in a year and feel better than I’ve felt in a long time. Granted, I’ve gained some of it back in the past few weeks due to excessive amounts of time reading and blogging (ahem, imbalanced much?!), but as part of my EduNinja Mindset implementation plan, I will be getting up early at least 3 days a week to exercise in the mornings. (This hasn’t gone so well yet, but I will get better.)

With this in mind, my implementation for Balance Like A Pirate will be very similar. I will take a pulse of my commitments and my time in each quadrant by writing down what I am doing each day. Every 30-60 minutes, I will take a short pause for reflection writing down which quadrant I have been focused on. If there have been multiple quadrants addressed during that specified time, I will note that. I will do this for at least one week, possibly longer, until I see a clear picture of where I currently stand in the quadrants. I’m not sure which quadrant I’m spending the most time in right now, but it is clear that my personal quadrant is being neglected the most.

If you’re a parent and an educator, you likely feel the same convictions I do when it comes to our own children. My daughters get the worst version of me.  They unwillingly make so many sacrifices because their mom is a committed educator. They need me to be a committed mom. I come home exhausted from answering a million questions, dealing with middle school drama, and pouring my heart out for my students, and there’s just not a lot left when we get home. After working until 4:30-5:00 every evening, we come home to quickly do homework, grab something quick to eat, go to whatever ball practice/game is on the schedule for the night, then come home for showers and bedtime. They deserve better from me. This much is evident without even taking a pulse on where I currently am in my imbalance. Once I see where the majority of my time is being spent, I can better adjust using ANCHOR Goals (described in this book, it’s the equivalent of a SMART goal for balancing our lives) without eliminating my time in the quadrants altogether. I look forward to seeing what comes from my time with this book. I am excited to spend more time with my family, but fearful of what that will do to my professional growth. I’m not going to lie, I’m looking forward to sleeping again, ha!

Also… that freaking out chart… that thing is on point! You’ve got to see this thing in the book! It’s pretty much perfect!

Head on over to the Dave Burgess Consulting website to preview this book! You can follow along with others going on this journey working toward achieving a better balance using the hashtag #BalanceLAP and following Jessica, Jessica, and Sarah. You may also check out their websites! Jessica Cabeen’s is here, Jessica Johnson’s is here, and Sarah’s can be found here. Jessica Johnson’s website has a list of podcasts she has appeared on, as well as her own podcast, Principal PLN. Sarah also includes podcasts and publications here. I highly recommend purchasing this book for yourself and for a friend. Being sure that both of you have a copy gives you the opportunity for immediate accountability partners who will speak the same language. Oddly enough, my accountability partners are people I’ve never even met; you all. You are my accountability partners in that you pushed me to finish #DBC50Summer, and you are currently encouraging me to follow through on the implementation plans I created for that, and the rest of the #DBCBookBlogs and you may not even be aware that you’re inspiring me to complete this journey. But you are. And I appreciate that. Continue to follow along with me. There are only a few books left (I’m sure more will be coming very soon, but at least for now I’ll be caught up).

As always, Andrea Paulakovich (creator of the flipgrid for all DBC, Inc books) and I invite you to share your thoughts on the flipgrid for Balance Like A Pirate.

The next book is Kim Bearden‘s Talk to Me. I’m beyond excited about this one. I have heard that I’m going to love it, so I’m eager to see if it will live up to the hype from my dear friend who suggested it. Also – there’s a special something in store for this blog!!! Stay tuned!

#DBCBookBlogs: Lead with Literacy

Hold on tight – I’m about to get my Usher on. This is my confession…

I became a media coordinator to promote my love of technology, not reading.

There. Don’t throw things at me, though. My blog, my reflections. Just stay with me.

In my district, there is no such thing as an instructional technology facilitator/specialist. In January 2011, I started an online program through East Carolina University (the Pirates… not even kidding) to earn a Master of Arts in Education in Instructional Technology. In early May 2012, I graduated. I flew through that program and loved every minute of it. I was devastated when I spoke with our HR and found out that there was no funding (nor would there be) for these positions. He did let me know that our media coordinators in our district were filling the role of instructional technology facilitators in many cases and that perhaps I should look into that.

So I did. After applying in late May 2012 for the online Master of Library Science program at East Carolina University, I was accepted, and within a matter of days found out I was expecting our youngest daughter. I had to make a decision… was it worth it to me to earn my MLS when I could get paid for having an MAEd in the classroom?

I enrolled in classes reluctantly. The only reason I was pursuing this degree was that it was my only avenue for sharing my passion with other educators. Incorporating technology in seamless and meaningful ways was the goal. I finished the MLS program in May 2014, fulfilling my internship requirements by already being hired as media coordinator in an elementary school media center. I never went into my role in the media center because I wanted to promote a lifelong love of reading.

Don’t get me wrong… I enjoy reading. However, I despise everything about Accelerated Reader, Reading Counts, and other read-then-quiz-to-get-points programs. Those programs were the norm in my district. Also, I despise Battle of the Books. I CAN admit that I always enjoy the book list. But those questions? How much more arbitrary can we get? Unfortunately, this club is the norm in my district as well. (I’ve tried to make the best out of the situation. You can see how I gamified Battle of the Books to try to incorporate my own passions to make it more palatable for me to sponsor in this archived post.) With these two programs that I am adamantly against, I can confidently say that I dreaded my role in the media center with the expectation that I would have to not only support these programs, but encourage participation in them.

I did it for 2 1/2 years. During those 2 1/2 years, I discovered my own love of reading children’s books. My favorite media classes were those in which I read aloud a story. I loved our mobile Book Bus, a school bus that traveled a combination of our bus routes to deliver new books and a snack to students multiple times during the summer months. Our local Rotary Club supported literacy by gifting kindergarten students with a free book four times a year! They would come and buddy-read to the students and personally give the student the book. It was a highlight of my time in elementary school. Dr. Seuss Day made me smile. Our character parades were amazing and a dance party ended the day with lots of “characters” dancing to celebrate reading! I fell in love with literacy when there were no strings attached.

See, I grew up with Accelerated Reader. I remember taking those quizzes as a student. I remember being in Academically Gifted (AG) classes and being required to take a certain number of tests, cheating on the tests because I hated the books we were required to read. It destroyed my love of reading. I’ve watched my own 4th grade daughter lose her love of reading; “Oh, Bailey, you loved the book?! How did you do on the test?” I won’t let that happen on my watch. Not anymore. If there is any silver lining at all to a loss of funding, it’s that the AR program was cut in nearly every school in my district. This has given an opportunity for significant growth, thinking outside the box, getting creative. All schools have been tasked with casting a new vision for promoting literacy in our schools.

After reading Lead with Literacy by Mandy Ellis, I am armed with TONS of new ways of promoting literacy in our school.

This isn’t a program, it’s a culture.

In truth, our district is asking every school to change its culture. That’s not happening over night, but it will happen. And we’ll all be better for it.

LeadLit

I knew from following Mandy on Twitter we were going to see eye-to-eye when I finally got to read her book. Unfortunately, at a #BookSnaps workshop this summer (see Be REAL by Tara Martin post here), someone accidentally took my book (I choose to assume positive intent). Mandy immediately replied asking for my address so she could send me another copy. Not only did she send me a copy, she sent me a signed copy with stickers! She’s got a heart of gold! (Thanks again, Mandy – I cherish my book!)

Mandy’s passion and intentionality in creating a culture of reading is evident both in her twitter feed and on the pages of her book. There are so many ways to embed reading into the culture of the school that can be applied to every level of education! Before reading this book, I didn’t see myself as a literacy leader by any definition. Even though I advocate for choice in reading, I’m still very much seen as the technology person among media folks in my district and in the state. As I read Mandy’s book, I noticed that I do many of the things she does in her school! I was blown away!

According to Mandy, I am certainly a lead reader (#DBC50Summer is clearly evidence A, and my insanely full bookshelf of children’s books in my office would suffice as evidence B). I tweet and blog my book reflections regularly, sharing with faculty and students what I’m reading. I ask what students are reading and dive into conversations with them about their books. I make suggestions to students for books to read next, but do not mandate book selection. I encourage choice in selection of books, and offer a variety of options for our students. I value quality of books over quantity of books, regularly stating that I’d rather have 500 books that I can’t keep on the shelf than to have 5,000 that sit on the shelf unopened.  Mandy’s book is so full of ideas that there are at least 5 or 6 things I’m looking to implement as we move forward with our updated literacy plan. Knowing that culture won’t change overnight, I’m focusing on just a couple things at a time.

Here is a copy of the draft of our new literacy plan. This is a living document and will be changed throughout the year. These plans are only a starting point. My first year at middle school, I only had around 400 circulations in a media center which served approximately 400 students… yes, one book checked out per year per student. Sad.

Last year we increased that number to around 2,700 circulations in a year. A 600% increase, but still nowhere near enough reading happening. I am thrilled to say that we are already at 1,689 circulations and students have only been in school for 6 weeks! We’re moving in the right direction!

The greatest factors to students checking out books, I believe, has been time and independently set reading goals. Students have been given protected class time to check in and out books twice a month. I really appreciate our teachers making this a priority. Students were asked to determine their own reading goal each quarter with no strings attached. There are no rewards, other than the satisfaction of reading amazing books, and no consequences (absolutely no ties to grading, quizzes, point systems, etc). They aren’t “in trouble” for not meeting their goal, and I’m only disappointed if they don’t set a goal. I was honestly worried how this would turn out when I took this risk. I was expecting a ton of students to set their goal at only reading one book, while others focused on quantity versus quality by reading 20 books. (Although I can say from personal experience that this may be a false dichotomy as my goal of reading 50 books this summer was strongly rooted in quantity AND quality… just saying.) Here are their goals for the first quarter.

Aren’t they impressive? I’m excited to see where this takes us! Mandy’s book is one that is available for media coordinators in our district as we partake in a small group book studies this year. I am excited to see what others in my district will implement from this insanely amazing power-packed Lead Like A Pirate guide book!

*Side Note: This is the second of the #LeadLAP guide books! Mandy continues the tradition of excellence that Shelley Burgess and Beth Houf established, and Jay Billy built upon in his guide book Lead with Culture.

More information can be found on Twitter using the hashtag #LeadLIT! There is such greatness waiting for you there, so jump on over if you’ve not already! This book is an incredible addition to any media coordinator, or principal’s professional library. Classroom teachers will also take so much from this book! I’m feeling a bit like Oprah – YOU need this book and YOU need this book and YOU need this book! (Sorry, can’t give them to you like Oprah, but man wouldn’t that be epic?!) Check out the first few chapters here! Once you fall in love with it (because you will), go ahead and order your own copy! Mandy’s website can be found here!

Also, share what you’re reading on the flipgrid created by Andrea Paulakovich (which I get to copilot, thanks Andrea!)

Next book up (because you should always have a book on deck) is Balance Like A Pirate by Jessica Cabeen, Jessica Johnson, and Sarah Johnson.

#DBC50Summer Book 41-50 Recap

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It is officially the first hour of Fall 2018! I published the blog about the 50th book 30 minutes before the official end of summer.

When I began the #DBC50Summer journey in June, I had no idea what it would look like at that point. I typically begin with the end in mind. In this case, I took a major risk. I had an idea and I just went for it. Not only did I go for it, but I jumped in head first by letting the owners of Dave Burgess Consulting, Inc know what I was doing before I even really knew what I was doing. From that moment, Dave and Shelley Burgess have been nothing but supportive. Their team at DBC, Inc is incredible; Wendy and Tara are two of the nicest people you’ve ever interacted with in your life! I have felt encouragement, support, and enthusiasm from everyone at DBC, Inc and I cannot say thank you enough for that!

Only having less than 2 weeks to read and blog about 10 books was insane! I was at a point where I literally read and blogged about a book a night. You may have noticed (especially if you’re subscribed to the blog) that the posts were coming around 1:30-2:00 AM every night. That’s when I was publishing. You would think that I have been exhausted. You would be wrong. I have been more energized than ever before in this journey! I quietly wondered if the integrity of the quality of books would be in question as the quantity of books increased. Short answer: DBC has just gotten better with time.

Through reading the first 50 books, in order of their release date (to the best of my knowledge), I have watched the transformation of DBC, Inc. I am absolutely blown away . by the fact that every. single. book compliments the Teach Like A Pirate message. These books never contradicted themselves. They built on one another in a logical manner, pulling you deeper into the PIRATE pedagogy with every page. It is abundantly clear that Dave and Shelley take great pride in their authors and they are still very much running the business, both in name and in practice. I do not believe for a second that the continuity between books would be present if they weren’t (wait for it…) steering the ship at every turn. They are clearly invested in their business through their investment in the authors they publish. Dave set out to disrupt the publishing business, and disrupt the business he did. I stand (errr, sit…) in awe of the dynasty they have created from the ground up. Dave and Shelley have kickstarted a revolution in education through their publishing business and I am so excited to see what they have coming up for us next!

Three days ago, I saw this post was pinned on Dave’s Twitter profile.

Although Dave saw this at a fitness center, this quote applies perfectly to my experience with #DBC50Summer. I believe there were times that the Captain himself even doubted that I would meet my goal of reading the first 50 of his books by the end of summer (though he never said anything about it). Heck, there were times I doubted it. When my youngest daughter was hospitalized and diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes in early August, when I was traveling throughout the western half of North Carolina doing four presentations each day then driving hours to our next destination for two weeks in July (I presented 32 one-hour sessions in 8 days), when I was spending late nights at the softball field with my oldest daughter, and when teachers came back to work in late August, I was certain that the first day of fall would come and go as I continued to work on #DBC50″SUMMER”. The unending encouragement from my professional learning network and the absolutely spectacular authors of DBC, Inc get full credit for inspiring me to keep going and push through these obstacles to achieve my goal of reading the first 50 books by the end of summer. Even those “without a dog in the fit” so to speak (the authors of books 51-57) have shown support through Direct Messages on Twitter, text messages and encouraging tweets. I am forever grateful.

On August 27, I experienced an hour unlike any other. I actually found Cloud 9 and hung out on it for a while… I was honored to host #tlap that night to share my experiences with #DBC50Summer and discuss the entire DBC, Inc line. This was a great celebration of the authors and the ideals shared in each book, and I hope that those who participated were able to walk away with new books on their Amazon wishlist!

Let’s check out the last ten books in #DBC50Summer!

41 – Be The One For Kids by Ryan Sheehy: This book lit me on fire to be an advocate for every student. It also reminded me that even though I can’t possibly be the one for every student, I never know which one I will inspire and motivate. Because I don’t know which one(s) will be touched the most, I should do everything in my power to be the one for them all.

42 – All 4s and 5s by Andrew Sharos: This book is advertised for Advanced Placement (AP) teachers. But ohhh the power of false advertisement. This book is actually for EVERY teacher! Why should AP students be the only ones held to high standards? That’s exactly what Andrew shares with us in his book! Don’t let the intended audience fool you. You need this one in your hands yesterday!

43 – Shake Up Learning by Kasey Bell: Static learning won’t work for students in 2018! (It also didn’t work for students in 2006 when I started my career, but I’m learning to forgive myself because I didn’t know any better.) Kasey inspired me to step out and apply to earn my Google Teacher Certification. Get her book to see what dynamic teaching is and why it’s what’s best for our kids.

44 – The Secret Solution by Todd Whitaker, Ryan Donlan, and Sam Miller: Unlike any book in the DBC, Inc line, this book takes us on a fictional journey inspired by real events. We experience the inner-workings of a typical school that could be found anywhere in the US. A principal (Roger Rookie) is trying to find the secret to being a great leader. He fails over and over again. What does he find the Secret Solution to be, or is there even a Secret Solution? Grab this book – and you don’t have to be a principal to put it on your wishlist!

45 – Let Them Speak by Rebecca Coda and Rick Jetter: The power of student voice cannot be understated. Meet students on their turf and get their opinion, but only if you’re ready for the honest feedback you’ll receive. Then, do something about what they say. They deserve to be heard. So let your students speak.

46 – The Path to Serendipity by Allyson Apsey: The big secret of #DBC50Summer can be found in this post. Allyson’s book is the real catalyst! The post for this book written weeks before #DBC50Summer started. This is one of those books that you’ll get something different out of it every time you open it. I actually deleted the majority of the first post to rewrite a new one because I was inspired by something altogether different the second time around! Allyson takes us on a journey of self-discovery that you don’t want to miss!

47 – Lead with Culture by Jay Billy: Jay is the real deal, y’all! His book has me excited to go on a treasure hunt this year for evidence of positive culture! Check out the post to play BINGO and use the link within it to purchase Jay’s book, the very first book in the Lead Like A Pirate guide book series! There are more to come!

48 – Sparks in the Dark by Travis Crowder and Todd Nesloney: This. Book. Though. What do you mean, you don’t have it? Go get it. Now. It will transform your reading and writing instruction (and all other content areas) for the rest of your career! You will fall in love with reading and writing, and so will your students if you use these strategies!

48.5 – Sparks in the Dark by Travis Crowder and Todd Nesloney: What happens when you’re 48 hours away from the end of #DBC50Summer and you are inspired beyond belief by a book… you write a second blog post, of course! This one had me breaking all the rules. Lucky for me, I know the lady who made the rules. We chatted… it’s okay. (HA) Check out Part 2 of Sparks in the Dark #DBC50Summer blog post!

49 – The Pepper Effect by Sean Gaillard: Why does Monday have such a bad reputation? Why can’t we celebrate a new beginning? That’s exactly what Sean did through #CelebrateMonday! Find out what inspired the movement and how Sean connects his passion for The Beatles into his own schoolhouse as principal! The author is a friend of mine… he’s as genuine as they come! You want this book, even if you’re not a fan of the music.

50 – The EduNinja Mindset by Jennifer Burdis: She competed on two seasons of American Ninja Warrior but that wasn’t the hardest thing she ever did! Find out what was the hardest thing she ever did. You’ll also discover how to set goals and get out of your own way to achieve them. This one is a book for the masses! The perfect book to end #DBC50Summer on!

My implementation plans and flipgrid links for each book are listed in a nifty spreadsheet here. I also suggest checking out each of the Recaps from earlier in the summer: Summer Recap 1, Summer Recap 2, Summer Recap 3, and Summer Recap 4.

That’s it; that’s all folks… but wait. #DBC50Summer may be over, but I’ve still got one more blog post to write! You’re going to want to see this one! I have been asked a dozen questions by coworkers, administrators, PLN members, and members of the Pirate crew (immediate and extended)! I address them all in the final #DBC50Summer post, as well as sharing a HUGE announcement!