What Happens After A Year of Twitter Chats?

What Happens after a year of twitter chats_

Spoiler alert: Growth! That’s what happens!

Well, that’s the short answer anyhow. As my #DBC50Summer implementation of Escaping the School Leader’s Dunk Tank, I chose to participate in at least three Twitter chats per month in order to keep connected during the school year. Normally I drop out of the “Twittersphere” when school is in session because I’m “too busy” to spend time connecting with others. In #SLDunkTank by Rick Jetter and Rebecca Coda, I saw that it’s more important than ever to gather allies when you’re in the trenches.

As an extra spin on this implementation, I chose to participate in three different Twitter chats each month! I ended up connecting with incredible educators throughout the world and discussing topics that I’d never considered. Throughout this implementation, I also satisfied the implementation of 140 Twitter Tips for Educators by Brad Currie, Billy Krakower, and Scott Rocco. For this implementation, I simply wanted to share the incredible happenings of the school I serve and share my blog posts.

These two incredible books inspired immeasurable growth in me, both professionally and personally! They inspired growth, not just because of their words, but because of the implementation and the amazing educators with which I am now connected. Each of these chats have built communities of support, encouragement, and a safe space for educators to challenge one another to be even better for students. I truly believe I’ve learned with and from some of the best of the best in education this year and I’m so grateful for that.

Here’s what the year looked like!

August

September

  • #122edchat – Created by Michael Abramczyk, this chat is fire every week! I still check the feed even if I’m not able to attend that week. The topic that night was When Passion and Heart Meet Purpose.
  • #waledchat – This chat is one that I try not to miss each week! Phil Strunk has created a terrific community which provides a safe space for educators to share their Wins And Losses in EDucation!
  • #OrEdChat – I was able to stay up late on the east coast and join Tisha Richmond on a stop on her virtual book tour sharing her manifesto Make Learning Magical. What a fun group in Oregon!

October

  • #IAedchat – Joining educators in Iowa, we discussed personal and authentic learning that night!
  • #teachpos – Another chat I try to jump into each week was created by Craig Shapiro. This chat focuses on teaching positively! (I’m not even going to lie, the hashtag drew me in at first, lol) This week we chatted about the season of fall.
  • #TellYourStory – I enjoyed this chat and was sad to see it end. Created by Todd Nesloney (author/co-author of multiple DBC, Inc books – Kids Deserve It, Stories from Webb, and Sparks in the Dark) Todd runs a podcast under the same name that you access here! The night I joined, we discussed How to Deal with Crappy Days! It was a timely topic for the month of October. (Am I right?)
  • #K12ArtChat – I just had to join Tisha on another of her virtual book tour stops and this chat is definitely worth mentioning! Loved this community!

November

  • #edchatRI – A chat out of Rhode Island, with Ray Steinmetz leading, is a weekly win! You can always be certain to get something great out of this group! This chat was led by Preservice Teachers and focused on Teacher Readiness and Training. (See, I told you it was good)
  • #AltEdChat – Alternate Education is a great chat and on the night I joined we chatted about Learning & Social-Emotional Well-Being for ALL kids. I love that this group constantly focuses on how to help ALL students!
  • #champforkids – Another chat that is on fire is Champ for Kids! Created by the author of the book Champ for Kids, Kelly Hoggard has created a community that stands in one another’s corner. I adore these folks! Our topic this night was Trauma-Informed/Trauma-Responsive Practices.

December

  • #ShiftThis – I was fortunate to lead a chat in this community about Shifting Mindsets. The book, Shift This, is a must-read by Joy Kirr! This chat, unfortunately, doesn’t meet anymore. However, Joy’s got another book coming out soon called Word Shift! I can’t wait to see what she does there!
  • #fearlessedchat – What a cool name for a chat! I had to get into this one! How can we be fearless as educators? We talked about Winter Tech Treats!
  • #LastingLearning – In this community, we are committed to creating learning that sticks. Promoting a love of learning is so important. We chatted “Staying Safe When You Fall Down” on this night.

January

  • #bookcamppd – Created by Meredith Johnson, this group is constantly reading and learning from one another! It’s a continual book study online and they have a terrific line up each season! The book they were studying when I hopped in was The Wild Card by Hope and Wade King! Make book recommendations here!
  • #ecet2 – On the night I joined this community, we chatted about Character Education! If you want some educators who are on fire, check this chat out!
  • #oklaed – Ooooklahoma educators are awesome! Our discussion on Best Practices in Education was so powerful and I left with many great ideas!

February

  • #LeadUpChat – I had always wanted to get into this chat but never made it until it became intentional! I loved our chat about Relationships as the On-Ramp to Rigor. So much truth!
  • #rgveduchat – Randomly coming across this chat was a treat for me! We talked about Honoring Culture in the Classroom and it was so powerful to have these discussions with educators who are doing it right!
  • #AISLEdchat – My people! I was thrilled to find a chat devoted to school librarians! On the night I was able to join, I was treated to a tremendous conversation led by Kristina Holzweiss! Her book Hacking School Libraries is on my “to be read” stack!

March

  • #edchatPH – I went global and joined a chat in the Philippines! Whaaat? This was awesome! Honoring All Languages was the topic and we discussed how to honor the first language of all our students. Coming from a district with many students who have English as a second language, this was so wonderful to discuss!
  • #futureofschool – The topic on this night peeked my interest! As we chatted about Exploring the Impact of Tech on K-12 Education, it was clear that we all agree that students should be creating with technology, not just consuming!
  • #BuildHOPEedu – This community is awesome! Roman Nowak brings sunshine everywhere he goes and this group is no exception! We chatted Inspiring Action in our Classrooms on this night!

April

  • #masterychat – I try to join this chat regularly! The incredible Teach Better Team always puts on a great chat, and they have an after-show on Facebook Live each night as well! We talked about Creativity and Inspiration and I’ll tell you, this team is on fire! The BIG Teach Better Conference is coming in November and I’ll be presenting there! Hope to see you there!
  • #Read4Fun –  Yes, please! I’m always reading for fun, so I was excited to join this chat! We just shared various materials we like to read – everything from books to blogs to magazines! It was so much fun!
  • #worldgeochat – Unfortunately, this chat no longer exists. I caught the tail-end of a 5 year journey! Our conversation about Ending the Year Strong got me pumped up to finish as strong as we started!

May

  • #UnisonEDU – This fairly new chat, put together by Patrick Hausammann, promotes unity and inclusion! We chatted about Blended Learning and how to be inclusive in this space.
  • #LCInnovation – Katie Martin wrote a powerful book called Learner Centered Innovation. This chat was part of a book study led by Katie in May. I’d certainly look for her to lead more & check out the hashtag frequently!
  • #WB4K – What’s Best for Kids is a great chat! Student engagement was the topic on the night I joined; they had just experienced a #tlap keynote and were sharing amazing takeaways for keeping engagement high!

June

  • #VAESPchat – This group of principals joined together to chat about Ryan Sheehy‘s book Be The One for Kids!
  • #CelebratED – Celebrating education, educators, and educating keeps the enthusiasm for our profession turned up! I was able to sneak in on a chat about FIRE Up the BBQ! It was a great summer theme and got me excited to see students again!
  • #EngageChat – During this chat we discussed Collaboration and how being collaborative not only helps teachers, but also helps students.

July

So I’ve still got the remainder of this month to jump in a few chats, but there are a few that I have been in during other months that I didn’t highlight! So… check these out!

  • #tlapdownunder – Led by my favorite Australian PIRATE Karen Caswell, you don’t want to miss out on these chats! I love that she’s taken my favorite book and made an international tlap chat from it (with blessing from Dave, of course).
  • #BeTheOne – This is the fastest 15 minutes on Twitter and Ryan gives us two great reflection questions each week!
  • #KidsDeserveIt – YES, this chat based on the book Kids Deserve It is still going strong. Check it out each week as Adam Welcome and Todd Nesloney remind us of the most important part of our profession – the kids!

Check out these communities and see which chats fit into your nightly schedule! You can find chats in the morning, afternoon, and evening! It’s easy to say we’re “too busy” for joining twitter chats, but finding your allies so you can thrive as an educator is too important to miss out on!

My Five-Word GPS

FIVE-Word GPS

During #DBC50Summer last year, I chose to implement (at least) one thing from each of the Dave Burgess Consulting, Inc books. I continue that practice now through #DBCBookBlogs; some thing are able to be implemented immediately, while some take time. Some haven’t been finished while some haven’t even started. Last summer, I read P is for Pirate, the third book in the DBC, Inc line co-authored by Dave and Shelley Burgess. To implement this adorable alphabetical picture book for adults, I chose to select five words that I hope students will use when describing my class environment. In Teach Like a PIRATE, Dave touches on this idea with a letter-writing exercise (see tweet below), and the Burgesses continue this idea making the 5-word GPS as the letter G in P is for Pirate.

My five words for 2018-2019 were:

  • Welcoming
  • Safe
  • Exciting
  • Memorable
  • Uncommon

You can find more on why I chose each word here.

At the end of each quarter, I had students give me a grade based on how they felt I did with each of these areas. This grade was given on a scale of 1 to 5 with 1 being the worst and 5 being the best. I was hoping for 4s and 5s from every student. Here’s what I received this year, and it was an eye-opener for sure!

Welcoming

1st Quarter: 97.4%

2nd Quarter: 98.2%

3rd Quarter: 90.5%

4th Quarter: 92.5%

Safe

1st Quarter: 93.7%

2nd Quarter: 91.6%

3rd Quarter: 88.3%

4th Quarter: 85.3%

Exciting

1st Quarter: 85.8%

2nd Quarter: 84.4%

3rd Quarter: 80.2%

4th Quarter: 78.5%

Memorable

1st Quarter: 73.3%

2nd Quarter: 69.5%

3rd Quarter: 57.8%

4th Quarter: 56.9% (ouch)

Uncommon

1st Quarter: 82.2%

2nd Quarter: 84.1%

3rd Quarter: 78.3%

4th Quarter: 71.9%

Students were also given the option to anonymously submit comments. Here are some of the comments I received (with no edits).

  • Keep doing what you’re doing it’s great I would just add a couple of actives with what were doing in your class.
  • You should get some last kids on earth books
  • we should have more time in here cause we only see you 1 a mouth
  • I think you should get more have everyone doing something in class.
  • I think that the media class is like other classes but it is made fun.
  • that i reall love her class
  • To have one day when we go to our classes like normal but just play on our phones or do whatever.
  • I love her class and I always get excited when we get to come to the Media Center
  • i love coming to the media center
  • I don’t feel very safe cause there are so many windows.
  • you should let us have free time
  • No because if someone dont feel comfortable about being here she has to change something.
  • Through out the whole year media has been fun ❤
  • I think we should come at least twice a month so I can remember things better.
  • i really think we should have more exciting activitys
  • Do more games that are educational
  • i dont like this class!!!!!!>
  • better time mangagement
  • I want to do something else than what we do already like instead of typing we should do more interactive things like vr and stuff
  • i feel save and welcome its just not that exciting
  • thanks for making your classes fun but serious at the same time
  • I don’t feel as safe because of the class windows, and how easily someone could break in.

So what do I do with this next year? I continue to make students feel welcome in the space, while also pushing to make sure I make our experiences in media more memorable and more uncommon than ever before. I completely agree with the student who mentions “better time management”. Because the majority of my time is co-teaching in other subject areas, I only get 57 minutes per month with students in media classes (which is what this survey is about). I cram as much into those 57 minutes as I can 10 times per year. I realize it can definitely be hard to remember what we did the month before, but I’m going to work even harder to make that happen.

As for the window comment, we are in the front of the school with a large wall of windows and two doors (which remain locked) that lead outside. Our media center feels very open, and for some that openness may feel unsafe. I can’t move windows, but I can provide several areas where those students feel more secure.

I don’t see this as a failure, by any stretch. If 7 out of 10 kids feel that their time in the media center is uncommon and exciting, I’m on the right track! Also worth mentioning, we spent the majority of our time together this year learning research skills, copyright laws, and digital citizenship.

School-Wide Implementation

Finally, I had teachers do this exercise at the beginning of the school year last year. Students then chose words from a drop-down list to see if they could identify which words their teachers used to describe their class. Check out the results here! It was pretty neat to see if students matched their teachers. I found it interesting that our encore teachers showed the same pattern across grade levels! 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students found their classes to be fun, welcoming, creative, challenging, and exciting overall!

What are your five words and how will you determine if your students are buying what you’re selling them?

#DBCBookBlogs: Through the Lens of Serendipity

A little over a year ago a serendipitous treasure was shared with the world. I struggle with self-doubt and a constant desire to be better, to be more. I constantly fear that I’m not enough; not enough as a friend, not enough as a mom, not enough as a wife, not enough as a daughter, an aunt, a sister, and the list goes on and on.

Then Allyson Apsey came into my life with her first book, The Path to Serendipity. That book forced me to change my self-talk and visualize an inchworm moving ever-so-slowly toward its destination. It is this visual that reminds me that “All [I] need to do is move inch by inch toward the person [I] want to become; that is enough. [I am] enough.” In all the beautiful, powerful quotes through Allyson’s first book, this one impacts my day-to-day life in a most profound way. I still struggle with self-doubt, but I’m moving toward the person I want to become.

Naturally when Allyson shared that she had finished her third book (yes, she’s a writing machine – check out her second book, The Princes of Serendip), I was ready to click pre-order immediately. In early January, Allyson tweeted out that she was offering the opportunity to endorse her newest book… and I went all “I volunteer as tribute”! The incredibly amazing Hans Appel and I were selected to endorse the new book and I immediately sat down to read what would become the 70th book released by Dave Burgess Consulting, IncThrough the Lens of Serendipity.

#SerendipityEDU

Here is my endorsement (with 100% more clickable links, ha):

“First, she astounded us with her authenticity in The Path to Serendipity, then she gave us The Princes of Serendip, an exceptional picture book for social-emotional learning. Allyson Apsey amazes yet again with this timely masterpiece on trauma-informed practices. She shares actionable, practical ways to show compassion and empathy to everyone around us. Whether in education, or in any other career field, this book gives readers the tools needed to understand how to HANDLE others with care. Through the Lens of Serendipity should be on every bookshelf, highlighted and tabbed, to be referenced again and again.”

When I received the print copy last week, I was so excited to do just as I recommended in the endorsement… highlight and tab all the things! I’ve got to tell you… reading it way back in January was an honor; however, I needed this book at the very moment it arrived at my back door (yes, my delivery folks rock out here in rural North Carolina). This book has such valuable information on trauma-informed practices that are really just good practices in general. She shares this information through stories about students and scenarios involving fictional characters, and the acronym HANDLE. (I have to say that I love this because Dave Burgess shares how he likes to put “handles” on his material so others can pick it up in his #tlap sessions.)

Allyson has such a heart for social-emotional learning, trauma-informed practice, and becoming our best selves and it is evident in every word she writes. I’ve not met her face-to-face yet, but I’m fairly certain her heart is quite literally made of gold. Truly.

I could share so many thoughts & stories as I reflected & connected throughout this book, but instead, I’d like to just share some quotes that really stood out to me. I believe you will see how beautiful Allyson’s soul is through this alone.

“…understand your personal needs so you can be your best self and therefore more effectively help others.”

“No one’s life is perfect. ‘Perfect’ just doesn’t exist.”

“If you knew that person’s story, would you treat them differently? My guess is that if you were to look at everyone you meet with compassion, their behavior and your own would significantly change.”

“When we treat students the way they have always been treated, they will behave the way they have always behaved.”

“The supports that allow people affected by trauma to heal and grow are good for all people… trauma sensitivity is people sensitivity.”

Implementation

Although there are a dozen or more impactful quotes I could continue to add, this is the one I will implement because “inspiration without implementation is a waste” (courtesy of The Captain in Teach Like A Pirate).

“The only person you can control is you… you cannot change others. Only they can decide to do that. You can only change yourself… if you wait for the world to change for you, you may wait forever.”

Allyson shares this piece of advice she gave her son after a particularly rough day he had as a young child at school. How profound and true! I needed this the moment I saw it. It’s amazing how every time I reread a book, a new truth jumps out at me. This one not only jumped out, but it held on tight. It reminds me of the Emotions Deflector from The Path to Serendipity. There’s an old saying that you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink. The horse must decide to drink the water of its own free will. There is something resembling freedom that I feel when I am reminded that I cannot control others. It helps me to not feel responsible for their actions, because I am not in control of their actions, only my own.  (“I am the one thing in life I can control” -Aaron Burr “Wait for It” — Hamilton runs on repeat through my head now, thanks to my students.)

The lesson applies to many aspects of my life. As an instructional coach, I can share best practices. I can model them. I can support the teacher through co-planning and co-teaching. I can rinse and repeat, but until that teacher is ready to change, it won’t happen. That’s not to say I should quit trying to help and support positive change. But just realizing this truth depersonalizes the struggle for me. As a wife, I cannot expect my husband to change some of his annoying habits, just as he cannot expect to change mine. (Bless him; I’m sure I have more things that annoy him than vice versa.) I can’t control him. I cannot make anyone do anything. I cannot change anyone.

But do you know what I can do? I can have compassion for others. I can give grace freely. I can show others my heart. I can speak positively and (as Toby Mac says), I can speak life into those I encounter. I can choose to believe that I am enough. I can discover my best self, so I can be a better educator, wife, mother, and friend. And thanks to Allyson’s newest book, I have many tools to do just that.

Follow along on Twitter with the conversations around this book using the hashtag #SerendipityEDU. Also, you simply must check out this TEDx Talk that Allyson just did! While you’re at it, have you seen Allyson’s website? Check it out here! Her blog is powerful and she shares terrific resources!

Finally… oh my goodness… are you thinking of a group of colleagues that you believe would love this book? You should read it together! BOOK STUDY!!! Are you nervous about facilitating a book study? Or don’t have the time to pull together questions and resources? Y’all… DBC has you covered! They have just introduced an amazing new section on their website specifically for book studies! You just have to see it; it’s that amazing! There are activities and reflection questions already created for you! Seriously! So thankful for this incredible resource, which saves educators time and makes facilitating book studies a breeze! And yes… the book study for Through the Lens of Serendipity is ready to go! So grab some copies of the book, some friends, and have fun! Remember to share your learning on Twitter using the hashtag #SerendipityEDU!