#EduEyeExam Information

Good evening, friends! We interrupt this irregularly scheduled blog site to bring you some pretty awesome information! Well, at least I think it’s pretty awesome!

This blog fulfills the implementation of several books from #DBC50Summer!

In the very first #DBC50Summer book post (Teach Like a PIRATE by Dave Burgess), my implementation was the quote, “It’s not supposed to be easy, it’s supposed to be worth it.” I had no idea how that would be played out, but I knew that I needed to remember that when obstacles made something difficult, it would be worth it on the other side.

In the post for Stories from Webb by Todd Nesloney, I shared that I knew I needed to write & share my own story.

When I finished The EduNinja Mindset by Jennifer Burdis, I knew I wanted to create my own mission statement.

Later on in #DBCBookBlogs, Run Like a PIRATE by Adam Welcome inspired me to start now and try big things!

Shortly after that blog post, I did a thing. I started and definitely decided to try big things! It wasn’t easy! I wrote more than a mission statement. I nailed down my educational philosophy, my vision; I wrote my story and talked to Shelley Burgess about having Dave Burgess Consulting, Inc publish it.

Here we are almost 9 months (to the day) after that conversation with Shelley. I received an email early this morning letting me know that edits were finished and the final files were being sent to DBC, Inc for publishing!!!

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If you’d like more information about the release of Educational Eye Exam: Creating Your Vision for Education, along with information about book signings and more, subscribe by completing this form.

I can’t wait to hear your thoughts! Please share using the hashtag #EduEyeExam on Twitter and Instagram!

#DBCBookBlogs: Beyond Us

Every once in a while I will read a book that has so much heart and soul dripping from the words that I can’t help but to tear up while reading it. The 78th book in the Dave Burgess Consulting, Inc line is one of those books. The best part is that it’s a picture book and can inspire empathy in our children through the author’s words and the illustrator’s images. Meet Beyond Us by Aaron Polansky with illustrations from Rin Rezendes.


This true story tells of a young lady who asks for $50 from her father so she can go shopping with her friends (promising to return everything she purchases). Aaron shares with us the battles of wanting to fit in and treating others with kindness. The daughter then thinks of several students in her school who needed kindness and chooses to spend the money in a way that shows acceptance and love toward others. You’ll need to grab a copy of the book to see what it is that she does and how she models kindness and acceptance of others.

The words are amazing, and the illustrations are breath-taking! Rin is a student and he has placed many subtle messages for us in his images! Check out more in this article from Sippican Week, a newspaper in southern Massachusetts!

Do you see the tip of the hat to the LGBTQ community here? There’s stuff like this everywhere in this book!  (I also LOVE that quote!)

In the foreword, Aaron brings so much passion and truth in two short pages! He says,

“…be brave and love who you are, love what you do, and help others do the same.”

“We all have the ability to change the world for the better.”

“Ask without judging. Check in – not just with students…”

“In a profession like education with no shortage of acronyms, I consider ‘RUOK’ to be the most important four letters for educators to remember.”

The timing of this book could not be more perfect. I want to share a moment with you, but I need you to promise to finish the entire blog before judging. Okay?



I grew up in a very spiritual, religious, conservative home. In our home, homosexuality was not acceptable. It was an abomination. Insert scripture here, judgment there, and finish off with overall negativity and shunning over here.

As I became aware of my own emotions and opinions, I realized that while I didn’t quite “accept” the lifestyle, I didn’t believe it was worth alienating other people. I was of the mindset that if it didn’t impact me directly, it wasn’t that big of a deal. When issues of homosexuality and gender identity came on the news, I’d just turn the channel. I’ve never considered myself to be homophobic, I just didn’t have a personal reason to be involved. And I didn’t understand it.

Then, I transitioned to teaching middle school. I found myself in situations where students were choosing to come out, and of all people, I was the first person they told!  When I looked into the eyes of children I had known for years and saw their anguish and their fears of how I would react, yet trusting me with something so important to them – it tore me apart. While I still don’t understand (and can never truly understand because I’ve never experienced it myself), I now have a personal reason to be involved.

These students are my kids. They are worth love and respect. I accept them. The first student who came out to me told me in a survey response that just gave them the space to share anything on their mind. It only took about 5 seconds for me to decide how I felt about it. I immediately found them in the school and took them to the side. I told them that I’d seen the response to the survey question and gave them a big hug! I told them that I accepted them and if they ever needed anything, they are always welcome in the media center.  ::cue tears::

A few months ago, a student shared with me that she preferred to be called by a masculine name (no longer using her ‘dead name’) and wanted pronouns “he/him/his” used. That night I stopped at a bookstore and bought two copies of The Art of Being Normal and he and I read that book together. I learned so much about the transgender community and continue to learn more every day. Many of my students are members of the LGBTQ community and they need to know they are accepted and loved. One way I can show that is by learning about social norms within the community and doing what I can to eliminate my own ignorance.

It’s not about me and my opinions; it’s not even about them. It’s helping others to understand that we are “us”. I am a straight Christian teacher, and I support the LGBTQ community. I believe that we are called to love one another, period. God does not call us to love one another unless they are different from you.

Love. One. Another.

My implementation for this book is simple. I will continue to advocate for students in the LGBTQ community in my small town in rural North Carolina. This fight is not just their fight anymore. It’s ours, and I stand with them. I hope you will do the same.

Beyond Us is a powerful example of love, acceptance, and what the world could possibly look like if we see the value in every person. Check out Aaron‘s latest blog post here. He outlines some incredible discussion starters and ideas to incorporate from the book! Also check out his first picture book (& DBC, Inc’s first picture book), Dolphins in Trees! Below is a sneak peek with Aaron and Rin. I love their interaction here! It’s clear how important they are to one another.

I do not share this post to invite criticism and hate, so if you’re bringing that, take it back with you. Don’t come at me with that. The world is full of hate, especially on social media lately. Sometimes my feed reflects people that are being plain cruel to others, and I follow educators!!! I ask that you simply love, show compassion, empathy, and acceptance. Our world needs more of that. And to start showing more compassion, empathy, and acceptance, grab a couple of copies of Beyond Us and share with your friends! This true story truly does have implications for all of us! Well-done, Aaron, Rin, and the DBC, Inc crew!

Time Tracker Test


Last night I really struggled with some internal battles. I should have been on cloud nine as this has been an incredibly fulfilling week. My school rocked our first Teach Like A Pirate Day (more on that in a separate blog later), our Community Game Night was a success, and I got to co-facilitate two terrific #BreakoutEDU games, one for every 7th grade science class and the other for every 6th grade social studies class!

There were a few setbacks; I felt pretty rough Monday night and Tuesday and my youngest daughter had the stomach bug Thursday night. My daughters are excited about Christmas which means they are a bit wild(er than normal). Combine that with getting less than ideal amounts of sleep, I was operating on a short fuse at home.

However, none of that was enough to make me feel as melancholy as I was feeling last night. I even tweeted about it – which I VERY rarely do. Typically my tweets are insanely positive, but last night, I just couldn’t help myself. I had to share my thoughts.

Of course, my amazing PLN responded with love and kindness.

I just kept trying to figure out what was getting under my skin though. Reflecting on the week, I began thinking about self-care and balance. That’s when I remembered that my Balance Like A Pirate implementation for #DBCBookBlogs was to track what I did every 30-60 minutes and determine which quadrant (professional, personal, passion, and positional) those activities belonged in.

I may have cheated a bit because I didn’t do this throughout the week as I had intended, but by thinking backward through my week I was able to account for each of the major things I did this week. I used this spreadsheet to write down my activities (feel free to make a copy of your own). The results were pretty much what I expected.

Out of the 168 hours in a week, I spent a little over 50 hours sleeping. Subtracting that time, because it doesn’t really fit into one of the quadrants as it’s a necessity, I was left with roughly 115 waking hours this week.


My Positional responsibilities ate up over half of this time this week. The Positional quadrant includes my role at my job; it’s what “pays the bills”, as the authors of Balance Like A Pirate, Sarah, Jessica and Jessica say. This doesn’t always take up over half of my week. This coming week, for example, I am blessed to be able to spend the week with my family for Christmas break. However, in the past week, I spent over 52 hours physically at work, over 7 hours working from home, approximately 10 hours commuting (including running my daughters to practice, etc) and nearly 7 hours showering and getting ready for work. If I did the math right, that leaves me with less than 40 hours in my week. (This is easily an example of why teachers advocate for a higher salary and summers off. I worked over 60 hours this week.)


Our professional responsibilities are how we continue to learn and grow in our ability to serve our students and staff. This week, I spent less time in this quadrant than usual. Normally, I spend over an hour on Twitter chats nightly, connecting with educators from across the globe to improve my practices and revisit my educational philosophies. I also did not read a professional book this week (odd, I know!) and this is my only blog post this week. I was able to connect with my PLN on Sunday night for two of my favorite chats, #teachpos and #BeKindEDU, Monday night was an incredible #tlap conversation, and this morning I enjoyed the #LeadLAP chat. I have also been taking an online course and spent some time today revisiting and learning about self-care from the one and only, Dan Tricarico (author of The Zen Teacher AND nearly released Sanctuaries).

I highly recommend diving into Dan’s courses, in addition to his books. I finished his first course, which is an introduction of sorts to self-care called Self-Care Starter Kit. I am currently nearing the halfway point of another of his courses, Self-Care 101, and am enjoying the breathing exercises and mantras he takes you through. I really appreciate that he gives us permission to take care of ourselves. Dan reminds us that it’s okay to be idle; we must schedule this time for ourselves. He says that self-care isn’ t meant to be something extra, something added to your schedule. It’s actually about subtracting, about taking things away to make time for yourself. Carve out some time in your schedule to go through one of Dan’s courses! You can go to zenprocourses.com for more information. He breaks the courses into 5-7 minute videos, so it’s easy to take bite-sized pieces. Trust me, it’s good stuff. This week I’ve spent around 9 hours in the professional quadrant.


So the personal quadrant is all about who you are outside of your job. It’s about all of the others titles you hold. For me, these include Believer, mother, wife, daughter, sister, friend, niece, aunt, cousin, nursery volunteer, dog mom to our almost 11 year old shih-tzu, etc. Some of the personal quadrant is a joy. Others, however, are not so much fun. I spent nearly 10 hours this week doing “chores” (I miss getting an allowance for these things, don’t you?!). We do a ridiculous amount of laundry, and with our youngest daughter being a newly-diagnosed type 1 diabetic, we spend a lot of time packing lunch and counting carbohydrates as we continue to get used to managing her blood sugar.

Checking homework and cleaning the house and the car are also among chores I don’t enjoy. Finally, with both my youngest daughter and I being sick this week, I didn’t waste any time taking the trash off. We had to do some last minute shopping this week for the holidays  in addition to our normal grocery store visit.

However, there are many parts of my personal quadrant that I greatly enjoy! These are times when my daughters and I are laughing together doing karaoke in the car line at school, or when our family enjoys Christmas movies lounging on one another on our sectional. (We got two movies in this week!) We spent about 7 hours eating meals as a family this week, while other meal times were spent at work/school or on demand. Throughout the week, we spent about an hour tucking our kids in bed. We spent a little over 2 hours at church on Sunday. I am a volunteer in our church nursery, so I loved on the babies during one service and attended the next one. During that service, our oldest daughter Bailey was baptized based on her profession of faith, which was a huge celebration in our family.

The last few hours (only about five hours this week) were spent reflecting as I lay in bed at night before I fall asleep, playing games on my phone, watching TV, and just relaxing.


So where does that leave room for my quadrant of passion? According to Balance Like A Pirate, our passion quadrant includes that which gets us out of bed every morning. I am incredibly lucky in that my profession, my position, and my family are all passions of mine. Sure there are parts of my position that I’m not passionate about, and those chores I don’t enjoy. However, I typically can find joy in most of what I do.

So why was I have such a tough night last night? Why did I feel as if the rainbow on the umbrella in the image drawn by my student (isn’t it beautiful?!?!) was being erased rather than being exposed?

I’m still not sure, to be honest. Part of those same feelings from last night are still lingering today, but blogging is really helping. I am in the middle of writing my story, my implementation from Stories from Webb and Run Like A Pirate. I wasn’t able to take any time this week to write part of that, so perhaps that is what is bothering me. I am expecting to finish the writing of my story during Christmas break, so hopefully that will lift a weight off my shoulders. It’s been on my mind incessantly since this spring, so having it “out of my head” and “onto paper” (errrr, Google Doc) should free up some headspace. (Possibly? I’ve never done this before so we’ll see if that really happens, ha!)

So back to my Balance Like A Pirate implementation. Passion is embedded within my other three quadrants, so based on this week my positional quadrant took two-thirds of my waking hours, while the personal quadrant was given about 25% of my waking hours. The remainder (less than 10%) was spent in the professional quadrant. I was surprised to see the professional quadrant being so limited, and perhaps that is the real reason I felt so off-kilter last night. I have devoted so much time to professional growth in 2018, that maybe I felt as if I was neglecting that this week.

Either way, the most important thing to remember is that there is no such thing as perfect balance. It’s just not going to happen. Instead, we will constantly fluctuate between our quadrants based on our needs that week, that day, even within that hour. It’s about finding joy and having an attitude of gratitude. It’s about making the time to take care of ourselves and acknowledging those moments like I had last night. I truly feel like it’s important to share those moments with others, because we all have them. It’s equally as important to pick yourself back up and move forward, so others can see perseverance and determination. I’m picking myself back up and am determined to have a tremendous week with my family during this holiday season.