#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!

 

 

What Exactly Do Great Educators Do Differently?

April 1, 2019

I woke up ready to find out the answer to this question…exactly what great educators do differently?! I anxiously packed for a trip to Houston, Texas where I’d find out the answer! I was anxious because, although I’d been on a plane before, I had never navigated an airport alone and would be going the furthest west I’d ever been.

Maybe you just learned something new about me. I’m not exactly a world traveler (yet). I was pretty worried about this trip. I checked off a lot of “firsts” while finding out what great educators do differently… first solo airport navigation (including security, where I learned that multiple Dave Burgess Consulting, Inc books stacked at the bottom of my carry-on looks suspicious enough to merit a bag search), first flight alone, first time renting a car, first time being in Texas (I’d only visited TX long enough to stop at the welcome center when I was a teenager visiting friends in Louisiana), first time driving in the city, first time driving through a toll (yes, seriously), first time attending a conference alone, etc, etc. You get the point. For someone with generalized anxiety disorder (ahem, me), this was a HUGE undertaking.

I made it to the Texas airport, and as I was approaching the line to get my rental car, I hear my name. Nervously I looked around and (insert squeal of delight) THE Pirate Captain is coming down the escalator! I’ve never been so happy to see a friendly face in my life! That might be a slight exaggeration, but not by much.

That evening I had the privilege of meeting & chatting with several of the speakers for the Houston 2019 What Great Educators Do Differently conference – David Geurin, Jimmy Casas, Amy Fast, Katie Martin, Jeff Zoul and I got to reconnect with my dear friend, Derek McCoy and my awesome publisher, Dave Burgess! Heading to bed early, I was ready for the upcoming fast-paced day of learning!

April 2, 2019

As always, Dave lit the room on fire with his Teach Like A Pirate keynote. It reminded me that this month is ONE YEAR since I experienced his keynote for the first time. I wrote a blog about it here. (Spoiler: It changed my life; literally a Life-Changing Lesson, or LCL as it’s referenced in the book.) I saw it again in June 2018 in Florence, SC, so I was pumped to take it all in again. This was the perfect way to start the day. From Dave’s keynote, I got that great educators create experiences, not just mere lessons; for “lessons are easily forgotten, but experiences live forever!”

Following up on this idea was Jeff Zoul‘s session on classroom management. It is unrealistic to expect every student to be engaged every second of the day. It had been a long time since I’d engaged in a best practices session on classroom management, so I was excited to hear what Jeff had to say. I was affirmed in this session because many of the management strategies I already use, Jeff shared. What I learned about great educators in Jeff’s session is summed up in this tweet. Don’t copy someone else’s management techniques… they have to be YOU!

Perhaps one of the sessions I was most excited about was Jimmy Casas’s session. I’ve got to be honest, I didn’t care what the author of Culturize (and more) presented on… it could have been oompa-loompas, fairies, or proper techniques to watch paint dry… I just couldn’t wait to hear from him! (Culturize left me in pieces – read more about that in my #DBC50Summer blog post.) He did NOT disappoint. His session on addressing underperformance was a clear reflection of his passion and purpose in developing a strong culture in schools. I learned from Jimmy that great educators don’t shy away from the difficult conversations. Great educators have the conversations and offer help, not just in that moment, but checking in & following up with those who are struggling.

As if the day couldn’t get any better, it was time for our lunch keynote from Rick Wormeli. Yep… THE Rick Wormeli, one of the first National Board Certified Teachers, international speaker extraordinaire, and the man who made me realize that traditional grading practices are asinine during his #HiveSummit interview with Michael Matera (author of Explore Like A Pirate) this summer. Lunch was delicious, I met Aaron Hogan (author of Shattering the Perfect Teacher Myth & a new book coming soon – so excited), AND Rick owned the keynote and taught me that great educators “never sacrifice sound pedagogy because someone above [them] isn’t there yet.”

It was time for the final session and I wanted to see David Geurin, Derek McCoy, Amy Fast, AND Katie Martin speak! I would have LOVED to clone myself in that moment. I split my time between Katie Martin and Derek McCoy. Katie’s story about her own child’s struggle in school reminded me that great educators know their learners. Great educators focus on the strengths of their learners and grow them from where they are. Derek got me when he said, “we can’t spend any more time building schools based on what adults need!” From him, I learned that great educators are focused on the students.

By the end of the day, I had chatted and learned from these phenomenal educators and several of the participants!

IMG_6253

(Left to Right and Top to Bottom) David Geurin, Dave Burgess, Jimmy Casas, Amy Fast, Aaron Hogan, Jeff Zoul, Katie Martin, Rick Wormeli, Derek McCoy

April 3, 2019

As I confidently (because hey, I survived so many “firsts”) packed up my suitcase, careful to separate the books this time to get through security faster, I reflected on my time at the What Great Educators Do Differently conference. I wondered, if I were to sum up what I learned in one or two sentences, what would I say?

I spent the majority of my flight home considering that, and came to this…

Great educators are willing to take risks in the best interest of their students. They are willingly to relentlessly learn and grow, seeking the very best way to teach every learner.

And I realized in a VERY humbling moment… I did just that. I took a huge risk, investing time, money, and a tremendous amount of anxiety to attend a conference to better myself and my practices for every learner I have, both adult and middle school learners. Flying halfway across the country to attend a conference alone, meeting and reconnecting with several educators I admire and respect, was something many around me could not understand. (Trust me, they asked why I was doing this multiple times.) I am so grateful for the opportunity to attend #WGEDD and I highly recommend going to one if you have the chance. I will definitely seek it out again!

**I believe this qualifies as my #DBC50Summer implementation of Ditch that Textbook by Matt Miller and serves as a piece of my implementation of Lead Like A Pirate by Shelley Burgess and Beth Houf. I had no idea about this conference during the writing of those blogs, but it certainly fits the implementations of letting go of fear and being relentless, don’t you think?

#DBCBookBlogs: They Call Me “Mr. De”

Cassie Bernall, Steve Curnow, Corey DePooter, Kelly Fleming, Matt Kechter, Daniel Mauser, Daniel Rohrbough, Rachel Scott, Isaiah Shoels, John Tomlin, Lauren Townsend, Kyle Velasquez, Coach Dave Sanders

The names of those murdered by two students at Columbine High School on April 20, 1999. Frank DeAngelis was the principal at Columbine that day and he remained principal for the following 15 years. This may go on record as the shortest #DBCBookBlog to date as I feel that anything I would say would diminish the power of this book. This book left me speechless. I cried. I mourned the loss of those lives. I felt the Rebel Pride of Columbine as I read about the recovery, the hope, and love of the community through Frank’s eyes. This is a must-read book.

TheyCallMeMrDe

There are certain events that have occurred in which I remember exactly where I was and how I felt. The mass tragedy at Columbine was one of those times. I was in middle school and as news didn’t spread quite as quickly as it does today, I found out about the shooting on the evening news. There wasn’t a lot of information available, but I remember feeling stunned that this could happen. The community of Columbine seemed so much like my own community – supportive, vibrant, and loving.

To say that anything “good” came from that day must feel like a slap in the face to those who experienced the horror. With that in mind, I will just say that I am thankful for the efforts of Frank and so many others to protect students across the country from these senseless tragedies. At my school, we now have locks on our doors that lock from the inside, a full-time School Resource Officer (SRO), video surveillance across our entire campus, a front-door buzzer, panic buttons, badges for volunteers and visitors, and more. We practice two lockdowns per year in conjunction with our Sheriff’s Department. However, with all of these safety protocols in place, these tragedies continue to occur.

While I feel as though I’m powerless to prevent this from happening to anyone else, I can be certain to be more involved in the lives of my own children. By my children, I mean both my biological daughters and the thousands of students whom I consider to be my children. I struggle to believe that children are born evil. I’m not sure what changed the two gunmen from silly little boys to murderous young men, but I can be sure to be proactive as a parent and an educator. No one knows what tomorrow holds. We can only spread kindness, hope, and love, just like Frank DeAngelis.

One of the things that stood out to me the most from reading this book is the effort Frank put in to include the names of every single person who was instrumental in the recovery and resiliency of the community. He honors the students who lost their lives by sharing their stories and being involved in countless charities and organizations. He speaks across the world and reaches out to those who have been affected by similar tragedies. Lean on others when you need support. Like Frank, it’s important to seek treatment by a professional and show your emotions. Grieve together. Share positive memories with one another. Check up on each other. If you are a spiritual person, dive into your faith like never before. These are some of the keys to Columbine’s hope, recovery, and resiliency.

Thank you, Frank DeAngelis, for sharing your story. Thank you for being raw, honest, and vulnerable. Thank you for allowing us to see you. I imagine writing this story was part of your own recovery and I appreciate your heart. Because of you, the lives of the Beloved Thirteen will continue to be remembered. Never Forgotten.

∞∞∞

No matter what your profession, no matter your political affiliation, your spiritual beliefs, every person should read this book. It’s important that the truth is shared and that these lives are remembered. Read a free preview, then order your hardcover copy here.