#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.

Top Ten Blog Posts of 2018

What an incredible year this has been! Reflecting through blogging has allowed me to create something I’m proud of, highlight some incredible educators and students, share about my most favorite books ever, and find my voice. I had not written in so long that I forgot how therapeutic writing is. I am grateful to anyone who has taken the time to read these posts & share your thoughts. I realize they are a bit long by blog post standards, but hey – I’ve got a lot to say. Ha!

top10

Here are the top ten blog posts as indicated by views during the year 2018.

10. #DBC50Summer 14/50: 140 Twitter Tips for Educators

9. #DBC50Summer 2/50: Pure Genius

8. #DBC50Summer 10/50: eXPlore Like A Pirate

7. Where Everybody Knows Your Name?

6. #DBC50Summer 1/50: Teach Like A Pirate

5. #DBCBookBlogs: Stop. Right. Now.

4. #DBC50Summer 29/50: Social LEADia

3. #DBC50Summer Explained

2. #DBC50Summer Book 1-10 Recap

1. #DBC50Summer 9/50: The Innovator’s Mindset

I wish you and yours a very Happy New Year!

2019 is sure to be a great one! Looking forward to continuing to learn and grow with you!

Bitmoji Image

*Alicia

Mustang Madness

Teaching to an empty room

This quote is at the heart of the book Teach Like A Pirate by Dave Burgess. (Shoutout to Shelley Burgess for creating this beautiful graphic!)

When I read about Ryan McLane‘s Teach Like A Pirate Day, inspired by this quote, in the book he and Eric Lowe co-authored, Your School Rocks, I knew I had to figure out a way to make it happen! It quickly became one of my implementations for #DBC50Summer even though I had no idea how I was ever going to convince the teachers I serve to give up a day in their already busy calendar.

The Plan

In early August, I met with my principal and explained this day centered around celebrating a love of learning. The more we discussed it, the more her eyes lit up. (Side note: I love that she is constantly finding ways to let me lead & grow. This was just one example of that. She rocks.) We discussed that this would need to be brought to the School Improvement Team (SIT), so we made a plan for me to pitch it to them at the next meeting. Little did I know that I would be elected to serve on SIT just a few weeks later.

Every month we have a Mustang Madness Day built into our schedule. These days are usually held on dates with early release schedules or at the end of the quarter when we’d be holding our awards programs for academics and athletics. The members of SIT seemed eager to develop this idea further, so we preemptively looked for holes and concerns our teachers might have. We scheduled the first attempt at a #tlap day for the Mustang Madness day before Christmas vacation. Then… life happened.

In late November, I sent our SIT chair and principal an email asking if we were still moving forward with the date as scheduled. Getting the green light from them, I began organizing the day with as much structure as possible, as suggested by SIT.

Here’s how it went down…

Every teacher in the school shared their activity on a Google Sheet. Using that sheet, I created a form for students in each grade level to rank their interest in the activities (1st choice, 2nd choice, and so on). Here’s an example of a form.

*We decided to keep students with their grade levels to streamline the process this time.*

During media classes in early December, students completed the form. It took about 5-7 minutes in each class. Using those responses, I created schedules for every student (yes… every. student.) making sure to respect their 1st and 2nd choices in the core classes and 1st choice in their encore classes. No child ended up with anything less than their 5th or 6th choice!

On Wednesday, two days before our Mustang Madness date, I printed a copy of each teacher’s class lists for each class. Teachers still had their planning period in tact and would be going to lunch at the same time. On Thursday afternoon, I emailed every student their schedule for the day.

Let me just tell you, the hype was REAL! Kids were pumped to be at school the next day! I could hear them discussing which classes they had and trying to figure out who they would be in class with!

*When students completed the form, they did not know which teacher would be doing which activity – I wanted them to choose based on activities only to eliminate any preconceived notions about their own interest level. When they received their schedule, they only got the name of the teacher! So there will still so much suspense around what they’d be doing the next day. It was so much fun to listen to them guess which teacher was going to do which activity.*

Then… it was time.

Signs were placed at classroom doors with the name of the activity and the teacher’s name. I hung up poster-sized schedules with 1st period locations to prevent confusion among students, especially our 6th grade students. The bell rang and the excitement in the halls was palpable. By the end of the day, I was so exhausted, but in the best way! I had FUN teaching! To my knowledge, there wasn’t a single behavior issue the entire day. I asked students and teachers to complete a survey at the end of the day and responses are still coming in. This is the preliminary data.

That’s HUGE! Do you SEE that? From what I’m seeing, 62.5% of students CAME TO SCHOOL (on a snow make-up day, no less) because they were excited about Mustang Madness! Yep – that’s making kids want to tear down the walls to get INTO school, rather than to get out! In my eyes, that statistic alone makes the day a huge success.

Here’s some other feedback I received:

From students

What did you love about today?

“it was funner than school has ever been”

“having teachers i don’t normally have”

“I loved the fact that we could do what we chose and that we could choose our own schedules.”

“everythang”

What would you change?

“nothing”

“make it longer”

“If i could change anything i would make the option for the students to have more access to which students there going to be placed with in there classes because some people may have got no classes with there friends and people that may have really wanted to have this day together couldn’t so i would love to see more accessibility towards that part.”

“Today everything was fun and we don’t need to change anything today.”

From teachers

What did you enjoy about today?

“Getting to do lessons that we are really passionate about, and being able to meet new students that we normally do not see.”

“The vibe of the school is so much fun.”

“How much the students engaged in something that was an “out of the ordinary” experience.”

“Getting to have fun with the kids and see them at their best.”

What would you change?

“Not much, the schedule worked great but having a little more input or access to the sign-up process would be nice.”

“Do it on a full school day; may need more time with some activities”

“Let kids sign up during homeroom so we can catch the ones that are absent.”

*It is worth noting that 100% of teachers said this is something they want to do again!*

So… what’s next?

I would love to see this run like Ryan did his. Students report to first period for attendance and announcements, then disperse throughout the school for classes. I think that once a class is full, the teacher will shut their door and any remaining students who wanted that class can go to their next choice and try to attend the class they missed in the next block of time. I’m excited to see our 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students mixed up within the classes. This was something our teachers were very hesitant about; I mixed grade levels in the media center with no trouble, and am hoping that will serve as a model for the next iteration. I believe that allowing free movement and not having a “schedule” ahead of time will give students the ability to have more classes with their friends. Also, if we have it on a regular school day (not an early release) students and teachers will have more time in each class.

Some of the best feedback I received from this day came from three different people.

One teacher said, “You didn’t know it, but I needed this day so bad. It reminded me why I love teaching. I had forgotten.”

One of our custodians said, “My favorite part about today was seeing teaching today. Every time I walked by <his/her> classroom, <he/she> was so excited! I’ve never seen <him/her> teach like that.”

My administration said (and this meant so much to me), “Today was the very best, smoothest last day of school before a break that I’ve ever experienced in my 17 years of education. Thank you!”

As kids were leaving the school, the halls were vibrating again. It wasn’t necessarily from excitement to leave. It was from students yelling their “see you laters” and “Merry Christmases” to new friends. I believe they will be excited to be back on January 2nd, and that they will be looking forward to our next Mustang Madness.

Enjoy a few of the pictures of our day celebrating a love of learning! This is just a sample of what our incredible teachers and students enjoyed. Thank you for this incredible idea Ryan, and for sharing it in Your School Rocks! Just another example of how #DBC50Summer is changing my world, one book and one implementation at a time.

For more on this idea of #tlap day, check out Ryan’s blog! He has so many resources and has done this many times! It’s a wealth of knowledge and he’s super helpful if you need anything that you can’t find there!