#DBCBookBlogs: Educated By Design

In the Spring of 2017, my family and I bought a modular home about 20 minutes from where we lived at the time. Our old home was built in 1900 and we had spent more money than I’d like to think about upgrading the plumbing and electrical systems and the roof. I was ecstatic to move into a home that was built only 5 or 6 years ago. It’s a three bedroom, two bathroom home with an open concept and a playroom/office. We have between 1.5 – 2 acres of land and there was very little landscaping around the home.

Walking into a completely empty home was a bizarre feeling and one that left me a bit overwhelmed at all of the empty (mustard colored – ick) walls and windows. I have never had a knack for interior design, so seeing this blank canvas added an unwelcome layer of stress to our move. I immediately called my stepmother who is a painter and does faux finishing on any surface. She is incredibly talented. She helped us find a color scheme we liked and before placing our furniture, she painted every room in our home. My husband chose the window treatments (yes, I did say my husband) and he did an outstanding job! Next came the pictures, artwork, and decals placed on the walls. We chose our living room sectional together and our bedroom furniture was our big gift to ourselves when we moved in.

The idea of being creative and designing a space that fit our family was overwhelming for me, but with the help of others, we have been able to put together an interior design that we are all happy with. We continue to add to it, and have even taken away a few things over the past (nearly) two years. Being creative with the design process was a real struggle for me. The 61st book in the Dave Burgess Consulting, Inc line of books, Educated by Design by Michael (The Tech Rabbi) Cohen, shows us that it shouldn’t be scary.

educatedbydesign

There is so much to love about this stunning book, beginning with the beautiful cover and the square design! It is totally symbolic that this book would be shaped differently from any other book in the DBC, Inc line. It’s symbolic in that this book is all about design and creativity. Rabbi Michael Cohen (yes, he’s truly a Rabbi) does an awesome job sharing his story and showcasing his love of design, incorporating it into the field of education.

The sketchnotes in this book are remarkable! Even in grayscale, they jump off the page! These are Michael’s own sketches and they add so much depth and beauty to the book!

There are two main points that really stood out to me as I read.

Creativity must be taught in our school. We are doing a disservice to our students if we don’t give them the opportunity to showcase creative thinking on a regular basis. Students are taught that creativity belongs in their art class or their music class. This isn’t the case! Creativity belongs in ALL classes! As Michael says, “Creativity is a mindset, not an art set.” He also shares this. “Creativity comes from within. It’s not something teachers give to students – it’s something they reveal.” Are we revealing creativity in our students? Do we give them multiple opportunities to engage in the creative process? Michael speaks to the need to allow students to fail, emphasizing that failure is not a final destination, but a part of the journey. We, as people, do not fail, but our creations might. So we “stop, reflect, and pivot” to fix our next iteration. I love how Michael brings his background in design into the classroom and allows students to dig into the process!

The other main point that stood out to me was that we must connect with others. In fact, the author shares the word “connect” or some derivative of it 45 times (Thank you for checking that for me, Michael)!!! Michael shares that educators must learn from those outside of education, as well as those within education. Similar to when we bought our house and brought in an expert to help us choose a color scheme, we should be connecting our students with experts in their fields of study. I love that Michael suggests that we “diversify resources and connections when looking to hone our educational craft.” This will truly allow us to open our minds and get creative in the design of our lessons and student learning. He gives us a list of folks to follow outside of education and, of course, I went to follow each of them immediately!

Finally, I must say that once again, the DBC, Inc books are complementary of one another – building on the philosophies of others. I see many aspects of Teach Like A Pirate and The Innovator’s Mindset within the pages of Educated by Design. The idea that creativity must be something completely new is a fallacy and Michael speaks to that. He shares that creation can be the mashing together of two or more things that are already in existence, as well as the use of a tool for a reason other than what it was intended. Hearing these descriptions make me feel that, you know, maybe I am creative after all! Thanks, Rabbi!

My implementation of this book relates to the research that my students are currently doing during their media classes once a month. Throughout the next four months, students are embarking on a research project in the media center. This coincides with my implementation of the book, Launch, by John Spencer and AJ Juliani. By implementing the LAUNCH cycle in research, students are learning research skills by delving into any topic of their choosing. I have students researching anything from Fortnite to diabetes, from Greek Mythology to Holocaust, and from Imagine Dragons to traveling to Fiji. Using inspiration from Educated by Design students will be able to show their learning in any medium they choose; the only stipulation is that they create something. It can be hands-on using materials in the makerspace, or can be driven by technology using their Chromebooks. They may choose to create a poem or song, or a video and upload to YouTube, it doesn’t matter to me. We will then place their creation on display in the media center, as well as on the school’s student blog.

I highly recommend reading this book (preview it here) and using the Creativity Toolkit at the end of the book as a hook for students (and teachers) to reveal their own creative process! His emphasis on empathy as a driving force for creation is on point! If you can’t get enough, check out The Tech Rabbi’s keynote from ISTE 2018!

There is so much goodness to share and thankfully, he has a lot of it on his website! So check that out! As always, you’re invited and encouraged to check out the Flipgrid (created by the amazing Andrea Paulakovich) and add your thoughts!

I might also add that my one word for 2019 is CONNECT, which fits with this book quite perfectly! Check out my blog post about why I chose this word here! You have a part to play in helping me live out my one word, so be sure to let me know when you’re within driving distance and I’ll meet you for coffee, lunch, dinner, ice cream, whatever!

Well, what are you waiting for? Go grab your own copy of Educated by Design and start “designing the space to experiment, explore, and extract your creative potential”! Thanks for bringing us another incredible book, DBC, Inc!

My #OneWord2019

Last year my community group from my church did a book study on the book My One Word by Mike Ashcraft and Rachel Olsen. It was the first time I’d ever heard of using one word to define the year, and I loved it! I rarely made New Year’s Resolutions because I knew I wouldn’t keep them, no matter how good my intentions were. The idea of only needing to remember one word was intriguing to me.

Last year, my word was moderation. I laugh every time I think of that being my word because reading 60 professional development books would likely be considered anything except moderation. My reason for choosing that word was that it applied to many aspects of my life. Financial moderation, moderation in eating unhealthy foods, moderation at work, etc, etc. I’m a bit obsessive when I put my mind to something. My focus is laser-like (to a fault) when it comes to achieving my goals. If I want something, I will push and push until I get it or until I’ve exhausted all options.

Jokingly I mentioned that I had failed miserably at my word for 2018 during a #MakeItReal Twitter chat. Denis Sheeran (author of Instant Relevance) shared this with me.

When he reframed it, I couldn’t help but agree that my epic fail was actually success through a different lens. (Thanks, Denis!) Also, I lost 40 pounds in 2018 and managed to make fairly decent financial decisions! Yay!

2018 was a year to remember for sure! Many amazing things happened, like being elected to the NCTIES Board of Directors, celebrating 12 years of marriage with my husband, meeting Dave Burgess, growing through #DBC50Summer, presenting about #BookSnaps, Twitter, and NCWiseOwl throughout my state, attending Badge Summit in Chicago, taking our family on a Disney cruise, and connecting with all of you, as well as some trials and setbacks, like our youngest daughter being diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. With 2018 being so amazing, I really questioned how 2019 was going to top it.

Then, my word for the year practically fell in my lap. Now, I know how 2019 will top this year! I will connect with others!

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I will connect on a deeper level with the students and teachers I serve. I will connect students with curriculum by making it relevant. I will connect my students with other students from across the world. I will connect with my family by spending more quality time with them. I will connect with my PLN through Twitter chats and on Instagram. The part I’m most excited about is connecting face-to-face with people in my PLN. I can’t wait to see the incredible educators of NC at NCTIES in March. I’m hoping to attend an event in Houston this spring, and am begging my husband to let me go to ISTE in Philadelphia. I have absolutely no idea how we will be able to afford it (the aforementioned Disney cruise pretty much drained any savings we had, but it was oh-so-worth-it), and I am definitely a country girl. Being in the city makes me so anxious – I need wide open spaces and pastures with cows, haha. But if being in the city gives me the opportunity to meet some of my absolute most favorite people, I will smile through the busyness of the city & get after it! Now… anyone have suggestions for getting to ISTE for cheap? HA!

I can’t wait to connect with each of you! If any of you are ever planning to be within driving distance of North Carolina (anywhere around north of Atlanta, NC, SC, TN, VA, and even parts of western KY), let me know! I love taking a road trip & will do everything I can to meet you for dinner! And if you’re speaking at a public event around here, send me a DM!!! I totally want to learn from you in person!

Here’s to 2019, friends! Let’s go get it!

#DBCBookBlogs: Sanctuaries

Book 60. Let’s just take a minute. Be still. Silent. Slow down and appreciate the fact that this organic publishing company, born from a single book, has revolutionized educational professional development to its core. SIXTY books, y’all. And they’re not obscure books. They’re best-sellers. They are inspirational. Many are being used similar to textbooks in preservice teaching courses! And they are real books, about real educators, doing real things… so yeah, just take a minute. Respect. Dave & Shelley, I am blown away. Congratulations on book 60! I’m betting we’ll see book 100 in 2019! I can’t wait to see who will have that honor!!!

So let’s get down to it! Who had the honor of being book 60? The same amazingly relaxed, zen-like educator who authored book 8 The Zen Teacher! Dan Tricarico brings us book 60 and it dropped at the perfect time of year; a time when most teachers are on break! Sanctuaries is a stunningly beautiful book and is full of incredible strategies to give ourselves the same kind of care we’d give others.

Sanctuaries

I’m always up for a dose of irony. Are you? So, I received this book before Christmas. It is now a week later and I’m just getting to sit down and read the book. Holidays. Whew! What a crazy hectic time of year! In fact, we were on our way down to my in-laws to celebrate Christmas and I used the commute time to read (I was a passenger; no worries about I-77 travel in NC, other than the usual). It didn’t take long to start laughing out loud; I love Dan’s sense of humor.

When we got home, I was dying to finish reading it, so I holed up in my bed, opened up to the last page I was on before it got too dark to read in the van (we’re Sienna people – if you’ve read Teach Like A Pirate, you know that the Burgess clan and I disagree here), I got out my blue highlighter and dug in. As I’m reading, trying to be as immersed as I can, my daughters are playing with some (insanely loud) robots/cars/toys they got for Christmas, my husband is “watching” Mythbusters while really watching Facebook videos at the highest volume possible (maybe not, but it seemed that way), the dog is snoring, and the whir of the ceiling fan somehow started echoing in my ears… Guess which chapter I was reading at that very moment…

Y’all… I can’t make that up. I even tried to get the audio for you so you could get the full effect, but the 7,168 images and the apps saved on my phone caused my recording to not save.

So here’s the deal. When I read & blogged about The Zen Teacher back in early July, I was a bit hard on Dan. “I was not excited. Period. I tried to be… really, I tried so hard! I gave myself a big pep talk before I even opened it.” – yeah, I said that… that was me. This was not the case with Sanctuaries! (Also, I ended up LOVING every minute of that book once I started it. So I knew that Sanctuaries would be just as epic!) Dan has been such an amazing asset since reading his first book! I have taken two of his online courses and have had several fantastic conversations with him. I was chomping at the bits to get Sanctuaries started! As he states in the introduction,

“If The Zen Teacher reminds you to take care of yourself, Sanctuaries shows you how.”

I love the practicality of Sanctuaries! There are so many implementations possible from my reading! My highlighter was working overtime! Dan even leaves space in the book to work out your own Sanctuary Plan and that got filled up quick in my book! You’ll definitely want to buy your own copy and not borrow this one from a friend. (Truly, friends likely won’t even loan this one because they will have written their own self-care plan in it.)

By the time I was on page 100, I was just itching to grab my computer and blog! I’m glad I didn’t though, because I came across more goodness in the next 68 pages!

I could write for hours about how great this book was and how timely the message is, but then I’d essentially rewrite his book and he does a MUCH better job than I ever could at telling this story. Just trust me when I say it’s worth your time! Make your first act of self-care to be purchasing this book for yourself. If you don’t believe self-care is important, I challenge you to purchase The Zen Teacher (Pro Tip: Go ahead and purchase both at the same time so you can have Sanctuaries ready to go because then you’ll realize how important self-care really is. Just sayin’)

My implementation is directly from the book. Sometimes I choose something totally off the wall based on what meaning I found from the book, but this one – it’s pretty much taken straight from the words of Dan himself. Dan talks about the Five S’s – these are imperative to our self-care. I need each of these in my life, intentionally and radically (he talks about this early on, too).

Silence

Mama needs silence, y’all. I’ve got to find time in my day, those fast breaks, where I can relish in the silence. These moments are rare, but I will find ways to purposefully seek out silence more often – even if it means silencing headphones. No lie.

Stillness

One of my very favorite Bible verses is Psalm 46:10: Be still and know that I am God. There is so much power in just being still. Being still requires trust and reverence for the moment. So many people revel in busyness – constantly running here or there, but Dan urges us just to stop. Be still. Take it all in. Use our senses to appreciate the stillness.

Subtraction

This is the big time y’all. It’s the end of 2018. What have you not used this year? Why is it still in your home? I’m obviously talking to myself too. If you could see my daughters’ playroom right now… I’m legitimately looking right at it and it looks like I could have self-funded ToysRUs before they went out of business. Tomorrow, they’ll be figuring out what they can subtract from that room. I’ll be going onto my bookshelves and determining what I can subtract from it (don’t worry; the DBC books are safe, y’all). I need to open my fridge and figure out what can be subtracted there. My closet. The pantry. Our [outdated] movie collection. The bathroom vanity drawers. Medicine cabinet. I’ll be subtracting like a wild woman.

I also need to subtract from our calendar. We need to free up some space there, too. Over this holiday break, my family has watched three movies. This isn’t anything new; we watch movies all the time. What’s new is that we watched them …(wait for it)… as a family. On the TV. In the living room. Not Bailey watching one on her new Chromebook, Sophie watching one on her iPad, Chris watching one on his iPad, and me binge-watching The Office on Netflix (yes, I read that part, Danny). We watched each of them together. It was wonderful.

Space

It’s important to clear mental, physical, spiritual space and I need to do more of that. Once I’ve subtracted, I believe the space will abound. I am a minimalist by nature. I only have curtains and pictures on the walls because my husband picked them out and hung the frames – seriously. In the media center, there are no books on display atop the shelves. I know that’s a cardinal sin of libraries and there are amazing media friends of mine who will likely be trying to hold an intervention, but I don’t like it. I feel like it looks cluttered. I like artwork on our shelves.

Slowing Down

I need to do this. In my car. If you’ve ever had the pleasure of being a passenger while I drive, you likely suffer from white knuckle syndrome. I have a bit of a lead foot. I need to single-task as Dan discusses in the book. Devote myself to one task at a time, finish it, then move to the next one. It seems counter-productive at first, but now I won’t need to go back and fix my errors that I likely made while multi-tasking.

I loved this book. You will, too. Well done, Dan Tricarico. The 60th book from the DBC, Inc line continues to uphold the tradition of excellence. Go now and grab your copy and prepare to take care of yourself. We are in a profession that is about giving and giving and giving. Take some time to give to yourself. Give yourself the gift of self-care. You deserve it!

The flipgrid is available! You’ll definitely want to check this one out! Thanks to Andrea Paulakovich for this tremendous idea & offering to allow me to copilot the space with her when #DBC50Summer first started!

Oh, and in case you were wondering… there is an acronym. It’s solid stuff.