Archive for June, 2013

Learnign is Fun

Do You Like to learn new things?  Do you want to learn new things?  Do you need to learn new things?

Is learning fun?

I hope so.

Last week I asked a group of teachers if they looked forward to the first week of school,  you know … the first week back from summer break — The Staff Development Week.  I asked for a show of hands of those who REALLY looked forward to that week.  Surprise, surprise, guess what?  Nobody raised their hand.  That’s as shame, because in theory, it’s supposed to be a week to learn.  But in reality, it’s a week that everyone wishes we didn’t have.

I asked that same group of teachers for a show of hands to my next question.  I asked if they could learn whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted, would they like that?  This time, everyone raised their hands.  Is this that big of a surprise?

What does this mean?

It means that teachers do want to learn.  It means that they value choice.  It means that they value freedom to learn on their own terms.

This is good.

It also means that, for those of us in administrative positions, we must listen to our teachers.  We must value their time.  We must give them the freedom to improve their skills.  We have to give up control of professional development and the thought that we always know best what our teachers need.  We must understand that the vast majority of our teachers want to improve themselves because they know that when they learn new skills, techniques, strategies, etc., then the students are the ones who will reap the benefits.

That’s why we are in this business of education … to help our students learn and grow and gain new knowledge and skills.   That’s what it’s all about.  It doesn’t matter if you teach Pre-K, 3rd grade, algebra, or world history.  The goal is for the students to know more at the end of the year than they did at the beginning.

I also know that there are teachers in all schools (and administrators too) who think they already know everything there is to know about their subject, their grade, and what their students need.  These are the teachers (and administrators too) who do the same things every year at the same time every year.  These are the teachers (and administrators too) who think all students (and teachers) are the same and they will learn it or do it “my way” !!!

These are the ones we need to reach.  We need all teachers (and administrators) on the same page and able to admit that we don’t all know everything there is to know.  We need to learn from each other.  Teachers can not only teach their students, they can teach their fellow teachers, and they can also teach their administrators as well.

We are all fortunate to have those superstar teachers on each of our campuses.  We must take advantage of their skills, their knowledge, their desire to learn and teach.  If we do this, each of our schools will be a better place.  Each of our teachers will be better and more able to teach.  Each of our students will be able to learn and grow and become better people.

We all have those teachers who are constantly learning.  And you know what, they don’t save their “learning time” to that first week back from summer break — The Staff Development Week.  To them learning is fun.  But it’s more fun when they are in control, when they have a choice, and when they are given the freedom to learn on their own terms.

Remember this ……….  learning is fun.

Go Learn!

 

 

 

Teh Scot Wright Daily

Every morning around 7:30 ( I just changed it from 8:30) my online newspaper, The Scot Wright Daily, comes out electronically.  It has articles, videos, photos that can give you ideas, tips, motivational tools, technology information … there’s something everyday that you can learn from.

If you want an easy way to get one small bit of your daily dose of information so you can learn, please consider subscribing to it.  It comes out daily on twitter as well, but when you subscribe, it comes out via email to your inbox.  You don’t have to do anything but read, learn, and share.  (Remember to share with your PLN and help them learn too).

Thanks for reading my blog, The Wright Stuff.  I hope you like it.  And I hope you consider reading and subscribing to The Scot Wright Daily.

Thanks for sharing.

I got an email today of a tweet that had a simple, yet powerful question …

email

Great question!

Would you want to be a student in your classroom?

Just for the fun of it, let’s add some more questions to it …

  • Would you want to be a teacher in your school?
  • Would you want to be a player on your team?
  • Would you want to be your child?
  • Would you want to be your spouse?

Would you?

Think about this for a moment …  What if the answer is NO?

What do you need to do to get the answer to be YES?

I can’t tell you what you should do.  But, if you take some serious self-reflection, I bet you can come up with some good answers, some ways you can improve at whatever it is you need to do to be a better teacher, administrator, coach, parent, spouse.

Self Reflection 2

Twitter-icon

Last summer at the TASSP Summer workshop I attended a session on Twitter.  I created a Twitter account during that session and that started me on the path to where I am today.  Now, one year later, I am going to present three sessions on using Twitter to build your PLN (Personal Learning Network).  Up until that point last summer, I relied on others for my professional development, but since then, I have been learning something new almost daily … and it’s been on my own terms.

I would like to acknowledge a few people who I have found through Twitter.  They have shared some resources that I will use during my presentation this week, and without being on Twitter, I would never have been able to find this information as easily as I have.  They are a valuable resource for me, and I am very grateful to each of them for the part they have played in helping me grow as an educator.

Thank you …

  1. Eric Sheninger – @NMHS_Principal – Twitter Resources, Apps, and Tools
  2. Daniel Zeevi – @DanielZeevi – Twitter 101: What is Twitter Really About
  3. Leland Rechis – @leland – Introducing Fast Follow, and Other SMS Tips
  4. Jerry Blumengarten, AKA Cybraryman – @cybraryman1 – Cybraryman’s Internet Catalogue
  5. Tom Murray – @tomascmurray – and Chad Evans – @cevans5095 – Google Doc — Weekly Twitter Chats
  6. Tony Sinanis – @Cantiague_Lead – Everything We Need to Know We Learned on Twitter
  7. Erin Klein – @KleinErin – Twitter for teachers: Erin Klein’s Awesome 10-Minute Video Tells All
  8. Jeff Herb – @jeffherb – How to Join Twitter
  9. Rita Clawson – @RitaClawson – Clawson’s Bloggity
  10. Sally Cariker – @carikers –Random Thoughts and Musings
  11. Jennifer Rogers – Technology Times in an E-Classroom

It truly has been an interesting year for me as far as my professional development goes.  I cannot stress enough how valuable of a tool Twitter is for educators, and I hope that more people get on board.  With Twitter you have access to thousands of teachers, administrators, and other educational professionals throughout the world.  There is no easier way to learn, exchange ideas and be in control of your own professional development.

If you haven’t begun to use Twitter to build your PLN, what are you waiting for?

book 2

The first book I have read from My Summer Reading List is The Energy Bus by Jon Gordon (@JonGordon11).  This book follows George, who is forced to ride the bus to work because of a flat tire on his car.  George meets a unique bus driver and an interesting cast of fellow bus riders who, over the course of two weeks share the 10 Rules to Fuel Your Life, Work, and Team with Positive Energy.  In the process, they help George turn around his life, his team at work, and his marriage.

It all begins with positive energy.  No one goes through life untested and positive energy is what is needed to overcome these obstacles we all face in life.  Positive People and Positive Teams produce Positive Results — and the essential ingredient is POSITIVE ENERGY.

As he begins his journey of transformation from riding the Energy Bus, George meets the driver, Joy, who is instrumental in changing his life.  She, along with the other passengers, give George (and us) 10 rules that will change his life (and ours) forever.  It’s all about the positive energy we get from these ten rules.

Rule #1 — You’re the Driver of Your Bus

People feel like they don’t have a choice so they give up.  But you do have a choice!  Take the wheel and choose to create the life you want … one thought, one belief, one action, one choice at a time.  It starts with a decision — decide what you want.  Then YOU start creating it.  Create your world.

  1. My vision for my life is (including my health) is …
  2. My vision for my work, career, job, and team is …
  3. My vision for my relationship and family is …

It all starts with these three statements and the ENERGY to think about it and to identify what you want.

Rule # 2 — Desire, Vision, and Focus Move Your Bus in the Right Direction

Joy, the bus driver, shares this important piece of wisdom.  The more you focus on something, the more you think about it, the more it shows up in our lives.  Again, there is energy in thought.  Spend your time thinking about what you want rather than what you don’t want.  Don’t complain.  Complaining is focusing on the negative.

Be a Winner, Not a Whiner!

Rule # 3 — Fuel Your Ride With Positive Energy

There is power in positive energy!  It is important.  Positive energy will keep your bus moving forward with momentum.  As you know, there is a lot of negativity in the world, so choosing positive energy is important to help deal with the negative people and negative situations that can knock you off course.

One passenger on The Energy Bus named Danny shares this formula:  E + P = O

“E” stands for “events” in your life.  “P” stands for “perception” (and it also could stand for “positive” energy).  “O” stands for “outcome”.

You can’t control all the events in your life, but you can control how you perceive them.  Your perception can control the outcome.

Remember this, positive energy and positive people create positive results.

Rule # 4 — Invite People on Your Bus and Share Your Vision for the Road Ahead

You cannot always do things by yourself.  You need a good team.  You need to get like-minded people on your bus, and the more positive people you get, the more positive energy will be created.  Share your vision and make it clear what you expect.

Rule #5 — Don’t Waste Your Energy on Those Who Don’t Get on Your Bus

The enemy is negativity and it’s everywhere.  How do you deal with it?  Simple.  Don’t worry about it.  Don’t waste your energy on it.  The more you worry about it, the less positive energy you will have.

Rule #6 — Post a Sign That Says: NO ENERGY VAMPIRES ALLOWED

Surround yourself with a positive support team.  These people will have a big influence on your life and whether it’s successful or not.  You want people around you who will INCREASE your energy not DRAIN your energy (energy vampires).  You have to be strong enough to let people know that negativity is not allowed.

Rule #7 — Enthusiasm Attracts More Passengers and Energizes Them During The Ride

Positive energy works.  It spreads one person at a time.  You need to be the CEO – Chief Energy Officer.  The CEOs are excited, positive, and optimistic.  They don’t let fear stop them.  When you are enthusiastic, people will want to get on your bus.  People notice it.  People feel it — energy and enthusiasm.  This is like a beacon of energy coming from your heart.  It’s real.  And when you are energized, others will be energized.  A positive culture will out perform a negative culture every time.

Rule #8 — Love Your Passengers

To tap into the power of your heart and lead with a positive, contagious energy, you must love your passengers.  You have to love your employees, your customers, and your family.  And, you have to share that love.  You have to let people know that you care about them…really care about them.  When you do this, you’ll get love back.

Let your people use their gifts, their strengths.  Allow them to do what they do best.  Bring out the best in others, and by doing this, it brings out the best in you.

Rule #9 — Drive with Purpose

Purpose is the ultimate fuel for your journey through life.  When you drive with purpose, you don’t get tired, bored, or burned out.  Find excitement in the mundane, the passion in the everyday, and the extraordinary in the ordinary.  Find your purpose and share it.  This is positive energy.

Rule #10 — Have Fun and Enjoy the Ride

Don’t focus on what stresses you.  That’s no fun.  Know that you are too blessed to be stressed.  Remember all of the things you are thankful for because this feeling of gratitude will fuel your performance everyday.  It is uplifting.  Live and work like you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.  Be optimistic.  Be positive.  Find Joy!

 

 

Everything happens for a reason and we don’t necessarily know why.  Life is a test.  Adversity helps us grow.  Negative events and negative people teach us what we don’t want so we can focus our energy on what we do want.  There will always be challenges and problems and we must face each challenge and problem with a positive outlook.  Learn from the past and don’t focus on the future — focus on the path.  Experience Joy in everything you do and everywhere you go.

book 1a

Here’s my 2013 summer reading list (in no particular order):

book 1

Teach Like A Pirate by Dave Burgess  — (Follow Dave Burgess on Twitter — @burgessdave)

Dave Burgess lists the following traits to absorb and develop and practice until they become part of the teacher who is wholly committed to the profession: Passion, Immersion, Rapport, Ask and Analyze, Transformation, and Enthusiasm (astute readers will see that the first letter of each word spells out PIRATE). From this jumping off point Burgess accompanies the reader through the techniques he has developed and perfected in making the classroom an exciting, desirable place for students to literally absorb learning. His ideas on providing `hooks’ that focus on capturing the attention and passion of students to follow his standard in making learning not a chore but a fun challenge to incorporate in their view of the joy of learning.

book 2

The Energy Bus by Jon Gordon  — (Follow Jon Gordon on Twitter — @JonGordon11)

The Energy Bus  takes readers on an enlightening and inspiring ride that reveals ten secrets for approaching life and work with the kind of positive, forward thinking that leads to true accomplishment.  Everyone faces challenges and everyone has to overcome negativity and adversity to define themselves and create their success.  For everyone looking to turn negative energy into positive success, this book provides a powerful plan for overcoming common life and work obstacles.

book 3

Next Generation Leader by Andy Stanley  — (Follow Andy Stanley on Twitter — @AndyStanley)

Five characteristics mark the man or woman who will shape the future.
-Courage
-Clarity
-Competence
-Coachability
-Character

Drawing on two decades of experience mentoring a rising generation, seasoned visionary Andy Stanley shows how to:
-Discover and play to your strengths
-Harness your fears
-Leverage uncertainty
-Enlist a leadership coach
-Maintain moral authority

“Capable men and women will eventually catch, pass, and replace the current generation of leaders,” says Andy Stanley. “Embracing these essentials, you will not only excel in your personal leadership, but also ensure a no-regrets experience for those who choose to follow you.”

book 4

Schools Cannot Do It Alone by Jamie Vollmer — (Follow Jamie Vollmer of Twitter — @jamievol)

Schools Cannot Do It Alone  tells of Jamie Vollmer’s extraordinary journey through the land of public education.  His encounters with blueberries, bell curves, and smelly eighth graders lead him to two critical discoveries.  First, we have a systems problem, not a people problem.  We must change the system to get the graduates we need.  Second, we cannot touch the system without touching the culture of the surrounding town; everything that goes on inside a school is tied to local attitudes, values, traditions, and beliefs.  Drawing on his work in in hundreds of districts, Vollmer offers teachers, administrators, board members, and their allies a practical program to secure the understanding, trust, permission, and support they need to change the system and increase student success.

book 5

The Noticer by Any Andrews  — (Follow Andy Andrews on Twitter — @AndyAndrews)

Poverty.  A failing marriage.  Old age.  Lost dreams.   A failing business.   An unsure future.  To the residents of Orange Beach, Alabama, these desperations are dead ends.  Hopeless, barren places with no chance of change.  But to an old drifter named Jones, with a gift of seeing what others miss, there is no such thing as a dead end.  It only takes a little “perspective”, he says, to recognize miracles in our moments, the seeds of greatness tucked into our struggles.  As Jones mysteriously makes his way through this coastal town and into the searching hearts of its residents, he offers simple wisdom and sound hope.  Think, Learn, Plan, Dream.  For soon … you will become.

Again, this is my plan for summer reading.   I have Teach Like a Pirate on my iPad and hard copies of the other four.  I haven’t decided which one I will start with, but I am going to start one on Monday, June 10th.  By the way, I have included each author’s Twitter handle — you should consider following each of them.

If you have read any of these,  I would love for you to leave a comment and let me know what you think.

Keys

On Friday, May 31, 2013, Ore City High School held its graduation ceremony for 43 seniors.  Prior to the ceremony, Art teacher Rita Clawson presented each senior with a key, a small token that was a symbol of the the main subject of her graduation speech.  No one knew she would be speaking at the graduation ceremony.  It wasn’t in the program, and I didn’t even tell our superintendent who has been prompting me each year to get a speaker.  After the salutatorian and the valedictorian gave their speeches, just prior to awarding the diplomas, I made the announcement that we had a surprise guest speaker …. Mrs. Clawson, the HS art teacher would be giving a speech.  (She told me earlier in the day that she had been practicing and it would be right at five minutes.  That was the stipulation … no more than five minutes.  That time limit really wasn’t set in stone: I just told her that because I knew it would be really hot and I didn’t want to use too much more time because I didn’t want parents and grandparents griping at me after the ceremony was over.  There’s always that one person who has something negative to say after graduation each year!  In any case, she took the limit seriously as she prepared her speech.)

Here is the speech given to the Class of 2013 by Rita Clawson, Art teacher at Ore City High School .  (You can follow fer on Twitter @RitaClawson, and follow her blog at awesomeclawson.wordpress.com)

I gave you a small token before you marched out here (and you all look so good in those gowns).  This small token is a symbol of the main thing I’m going to be talking about tonight.

Keys, most of us have them.  Some have more than others.  Some keys just open stuff, lock things up, or just dangle from a cool little key chain waiting to be used.  Everyone, at least knows what keys are and can acknowledge that they all have some type of purpose.  Just like you — you have a purpose.

I know today that you are not totally sure what that purpose might be, but you are on your way — I guarantee that.  Whether you like it or not, after tonight, you will be on a path — just as you have been on a path up until this point.  Where this path takes you, no one REALLY knows. 

Ohhh … I KNOW.  Some of you KNOW exactly what you want to be, where you want to go, what kind of person you want to marry, and the list goes on.  But keep in mind, we are not promised tomorrow and even though it’s HIGHLY important to look to your future, today is a gift that you should enjoy — NOW!

This very night is one of those moments that you may think is all about you, and to a certain extent it is, but really — it’s for your parents, grandparents, family members, etc. who are here right now thinking how proud they are of you.  Those tears welling up in their eyes right now, because they can’t believe their baby is graduating  …  that is the main reason for tonight.  Not just so you can be honored — although that is important — but so those people can see you being honored.  (addressing the graduates … find those people in the crowd now and throw them a kiss or wave at them … appreciate them because they are so proud of you!)

Back to those keys … I’ve listed a few KEY points that you should never forget.  It’s kind of my KEY list on how to live a happier life.  You may be thinking “Why does this crazy art teacher think she can tell me how to live?”  I understand your point, (you are like 17 or 18 and I know, you know everything.  Your parents, I’m sure have heard that line) but let me just try to share these KEYS with you — and maybe you can take something out of this list that will assist you.  Even if it’s one little point that helps you be a happier 2013 graduate, I will have done something positive tonight.  And don’t forget, I’m older than you and I’ve done things in my life that have definitely not made me happy so I’m trying to give you a head start on the important KEYS that can only promote, support, and contribute to your future happiness.

  • I know I’m not a perfectly happy person all the time (who can be), but I absolutely strive to be as happy as I can be and if you need some cheering up, I’ll be the first one to try.  Everyone needs a cheerleader.  You should be that for others in your life.  This is KEY.  Be a big bright shiny smiley face to those around you.  You might get weird looks or even a few comments (believe me … it will happen), but that is what makes it even more worth it!  If you can be hated for your smile or having a great attitude — I’m willing to take that chance to help others feel better about life.  Be that someone for others in your life.
  • Another KEY … Don’t judge others.  This is so KEY.  You truly don’t know where they’ve been or what they are going through.  Don’t allow your quick-to-judge attitude or anything like that to get in the way of you being able to love others.  Liking them might be hard to do sometimes and you are not going to like everyone you come in contact with.  You already know that, but LOVE should never be a question.  You don’t have to like everything about someone to have love for them.  And I’m not  talking about couple love, or give-me-sugars love … I’m talking about genuine love for humans.  When you really truly figure that out … expect BRIGHTER, HAPPIER & SUNSHINIER SUNNY DAYS (even when it may be cloudy outside).
  • It is KEY to always be thankful for the present and always look ahead.  You can’t change the past so why dwell on it.  This is KEY!  Work daily on moving forward and away from things that get you down and that sometimes want to creep back up from the past.  Don’t let it.  Look ahead to the things that you CAN DO instead of anything you didn’t already do.  Leave the past in the past.
  • A KEY that you have probably heard me say before if you were in one of my classes or just in my classroom for a bit, and if you didn’t hear it, you could read it — it’s written on the wall right behind my desk:  IT’S ALL ABOUT HOW YOU LOOK AT IT.  This saying has been a motto, slogan, mantra of mine for many years, which basically means that any situation, no matter how bad it may be, can be looked at in a different way.  There is always something good going on.  Sometimes you just gotta find it and sometimes you have to dig really deep to find it!  Keep looking — because it truly is all about how you look at it.
  • The last KEY I’m going to share with you tonight, to me, is the most important … Don’t hold grudges no matter what.  Grudges are heavy.  All they do is slow you down.  Without those ugly, nasty, heavy things, you will feel lighter and more able to travel through this life with ease.  Who doesn’t want a smooth path to travel?  Grudges make your way full of potholes and obstacles.  They cloud your mind and make your outlook dark.  WITHOUT them you will have more time to do the fun things you want to do because you aren’t wasting time thinking about some stupid grudge.  There’s nobody in this world worth holding a grudge against.  It doesn’t hurt them by you holding it, because most of the time they do not care.  There’s a quote that says:  Holding a grudge is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.  Get it?  DO NOT waste your time on that.  Ain’t nobody got time for that!!!

Tonight, it’s important you treasure this moment you have with each other.  You hold the KEY to so many things, but most importantly you hold the KEY to your own happiness!  

I hope that some of these KEYS I talked about tonight help you open that door.

Again, I promise you, from an ole, crazy art teacher … IT’S ALL ABOUT HOW YOU LOOK AT IT!!

 

As she concluded her speech, I looked around at the graduates sitting in front of me and I could see a few wiping tears from their eyes.  And at the end of the graduation ceremony, I heard the photographer tell some one that this speech made her cry.

Obviously this speech touched some of the ones in attendance.  Maybe these graduates will take at least one thing from Mrs. Clawson’s speech.  And hopefully someone in attendance will take something from it as well.