Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The Mindset Innovator Visits #Engage109

When you haven’t blogged in awhile and the person who inspired you to start blogging visits your school district, you start writing.

George Couros, one of the most inspiring educators out there, visited my school district for our fall institute day. I'm so thankful for this opportunity my district created for all of us. Our day began by hearing George’s keynote. If you’ve never heard George speak in person, it is something I hope you can experience one day. It’s a very special thing. A form of “art”. There will be a roller coaster of thoughts and emotions while you hear him. Some highlights that come to mind from hearing George: fun, engagement, smiles, laughter, tears, thoughts of the past, the present, the future, thoughts of the children you teach inside your classroom, and your own children at home, thoughts of your life, their lives, inspiration to be better for yourself, better for your students, you feel empathy, you embrace who you are and you wonder what you’d like to see yourself attempt, and of course you ponder the notion of being innovative.
It touched my heart to see so many amazing educators in one place moved by George, whether it was their first time hearing him or not. The atmosphere was full of hope by people who care deeply about what they do.

I tried to capture some moments and was sharing them throughout the day on my Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat.

George beginning his keynote. 
The Innovator's Mindset (now signed my George). :)
George sharing stories of his beautiful family.
Learning is messy, embrace that!

"We need to make the positives so loud, that the negatives are almost impossible to hear."

Then, this happened...

A special moment for all. This was the first time I witnessed a standing ovation for a speaker in the 16 years I've been in my district. 

George is such a great role-model for innovation. In his book, The Innovator’s Mindset, he says, "education's "why" is to develop learners and leaders who will create a better present and future....and to develop these traits in our people, we must empower them; we must INSPIRE innovation". This, in my opinion, describes George. He inspires and empowers. He is someone who innovates by making you feel like you can do anything you want if you put your heart and mind in the right place. His amazing gift of storytelling and making connections go straight to the heart and mind. And that's why after hearing him speak you learn so much, and become so motivated, empowered, and inspired.

Our selfie with George (courtesy of his awesome selfie-taking skills)
preceding an awesome afternoon conversation with him and middle school colleagues.
I feel thankful to George Couros for inspiring us, for pushing our thinking, for stressing the power of having an “innovator’s mindset” to gain deeper learning and understanding, and for reminding us to help keep the light in our student’s eyes.

Monday, June 13, 2016

When Tech Connects - Breakout EDU Sketchnote

Technology connects us and brings us closer no matter where we are. Just another reason why I treasure being a connected learner. Because of technology and being connected, I was lucky enough to collaborate with one of my favorite educators, Sylvia DuckworthSylvia's sketchnote drawings are an inspiration to many educators all around the world. You can see all of Sylvia's beautiful artwork via her Flickr page. For more insight on sketchnotes, she has created this incredible Sketchnoting for Beginners presentation. The amazing collection of sketchnotes that Sylvia has range from so many different topics floating around the world of education. 

I was curious if Sylvia had made a sketchnote on Breakout EDU. This school year, I was fortunate to introduce Breakout EDU in my district and with the support of my team, Nikki and Andrea, it has taken off not only in our school, but in other schools across the district as well. It's an exciting time! So, I reached out to Sylvia through Twitter and asked her if she had made a sketchnote on Breakout EDU yet, since it's something so many educators are extremely passionate about right now. She hadn't yet, so we worked together and came up with reasons to play Breakout EDU. After coming up with reasons, Sylvia worked her magic and created her work-of-art sketchnote. All of this happened because of our connection on Twitter and the ease of collaborating using a shared Google Document. When tech connects, so much is possible. I'm in Chicago and Sylvia is in Toronto and that didn't stop us from connecting, collaborating, and creating something pretty awesome. That's the power of connection. 

In what ways do you think being connected has made a difference for you? I'd love to hear.

Here is the sketchnote for 10 Reasons to Play Breakout EDU:

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

FOMO To The Side

Definition via Google Search
I decided to write a quick post about what’s been going on with me the last few months. On November 10th, my family grew when my baby boy, Leo, was born. Leo is my second baby following his big sister Gia, who is 3 ½ years old. My due date for Leo was on Halloween, but he must have liked it in there because he stayed in 10 extra days. I was able to work leading up to Leo being born. After the actual due date came and still no baby, it was fun seeing people’s reactions at work when they’d see me walk in the door, day after day. I got lots of, “you’re still here?” and “when’s that baby coming?”. Although I was a bit anxious with the thought that Leo might want to come while I was at work, I was lucky nothing crazy happened. No one had to rush me to the hospital, or anything like that. 

On the 9th day past my due date, I went to work like usual, and when I got home, I posted this picture:

Later that night, we would leave for the hospital.

And, the next morning, I posted this ❤:

I felt very grateful I was able to work up to the very last days before Leo came. I know I felt this because I love what I do and the people I work with. Because I know myself pretty well, I also knew I would miss the people and moments that would be going on while I’d be on my maternity leave. When you care about things, the potential of that good old FOMO bug, aka "Fear Of Missing Out", hits more than ever.

But, I’ve been good about pushing that FOMO to the side. Last year, I decided to choose #oneword I wanted to focus on throughout the year. My #oneword was “Enjoy”, and I’ve carried that word over with me into 2016. I’m glad I wrote and reflected about “Enjoy” because having that word lingering in the back of my head helps me stop things like the FOMO bug and enjoy the moments in life.

Life with a newborn and a toddler is….hold on, I forgot what I wanted to say (that’s what lack of sleep does to your brain). Where was I? :) Things are becoming a little easier (a little) with time. But then, they gaze into your eyes like a puppy or you can't stop watching them sleep so peacefully and all the tired and stress can fade away. Getting things done (like writing this blog post) are more challenging and take a little longer, for sure. What’s been the most amazing thing, though, is seeing how much room the heart has to love. Just when I thought I couldn’t love anything as much as my toddler, this baby boy came and the love my heart has to share is immeasurable. Being able to have this time with my little guy is a treasure. I may not be able to do everything I want to and be everywhere I want to be, and that’s ok.   
❤ Leo and Gia 

Luckily, in this technologically connected world we live in, it’s pretty easy to enjoy different places, events, and especially people when you can’t physically be somewhere. Social media and technology have been my connection to the outside world. The FOMO isn't so bad. All you need is the internet and some taps, clicks, and swipes. And although it may not be the same as actually being there physically, it’s something. We’re lucky to have even that.