TMC – My Musings

Good morning.

I have read some of the blog posts occurring at the conclusion of TMC, I will read others as I am able. The ones I have read caused me to reflect on my time at TMC, and my experience and reaction to that experience.

I began to be active on twitter approximately one year ago. It was last summer after I had done all my planning that I began to lurk and wonder on twitter, to see if it would be of any use to me. It didn’t take me long to get drawn into a conversation and make a couple of comments, from there it has been “full speed ahead.” I love the people I have met on twitter, and some of them I have yet to meet in person, but I feel as if I know them better than some of the people I interact with face to face. The “passion” and energy with which they approach teaching and life is what drew me in, and continues to draw me.

I too felt a little overwhelmed at TMC, not because I felt I was nothing in a pool of greatness, but because I realized very quickly that the people there were every bit as real as I had hoped they would be. I was afraid that the energy and passion that I saw on twitter would quickly disappear in person, that it wouldn’t have the substance that I experienced in chats and conversations on-line. I was relieved to see that it did.

I was somewhat torn about how much interacting I could do. My husband was with me and I felt awful about leaving him all day and wanting to sit and talk with my new found colleagues in the evening, so I didn’t spend the socializing time that I really needed to with them. I am not very social, yet I know that I would have been easily able to socialize with the people at TMC. My husband, however, felt very out of place, and inadequate for the conversations that were taking place. He is not an educator.

I have been passionate all my life, about everyone and everything. It is what makes me the educator I am, and the person I am. It is that passion that drives me to be the very best I can be in whatever I am involved in. The passion that I have comes from the God that I know intimately in my life, it is what makes me feel that I am doing what I am supposed to be doing, and drives me to work so hard at it. Because of that passion and drive, I have often in my life run into people who are drawn to me, and want what I have. Because another one of my strong characteristics is to give, I often give so much of myself and my passion to others that I am “sucked dry” by them, and then need to refill. Ayn Rand refers to this type of person as a “second-hander” in her novel “The Fountainhead”. BTW, for all you passionate people, I highly recommend both “The Fountainhead” and “Atlas Shrugged”. They gave me a very personal and enlightening picture of myself and why I do what I do.

The educators I have become involved with and consider my PLN on twitter are also very passionate and driven people. Not only do they not suck me dry, they fuel the passion that I already have, and drive me to desire to learn, grown, and create even more. That is the energy that I felt this past week in Jenks, OK; and the energy that I will continue to strive to be a part of this coming year as I shift gears to a district level leadership position and work to create that passion in other teachers in my district. I know now that I will definitely need to look to my twitter PLN for the energy and fuel that I need, and realize that most of the educators that I will be working with on sites will need me to be that fuel and energy for them. Thank God, I know where to go to get what I need to continue to do my work.

While most of this post has been a response to what I was hearing about TMC, I need to give another shout out to a very special and important twitter group in my PLN. The Christian Educators have been a life-saver for me this year! I have gone through some of the toughest experiences ever this past year at school and personally, and my weekly chats with this group, as well as the constant encouragement from very special educators such as Rik RoweDavid GeurinWade Stanford, and many, many others too numerous to name, I made it through and have a renewed desire to create some greatness this year.

I am meeting today with my new immediate supervisor to get some insight into where to begin, and to see my new corner of the world. I am hoping to come out of that with a better idea of what the district expectations are, and begin my own creative process on defining myself and my position. This is all because of the passion I have, and the PLN I have which renews this passion in me constantly.

Thank you all more than I can ever say or possibly show. You are all the bomb! Keep up the good work.

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July Challenge – TMC 1st day

All right, I have not done well this week at blogging at all. I have truly enjoyed the time with my sister, however, and have been doing some sightseeing and learning. We spent one day in Coffeyville, KS and learned about the Dalton Gang and their demise. We also visited the Precious Moments Chapel and museum and learned the story behind the creation of those wonderful figurines and paintings, and spent a rainy afternoon in Groves, OK perusing antique shops. It has been very interesting and enjoyable, and has definitely left me not wanting to blog.

Today was the first day of Twitter Math Camp, however, and I do feel that I need to write a little. First of all, what an incredible experience, being in a room of 150+ math educators who are all seeking information, collaboration, and interaction with other math educators seeking the same thing. The workshops and presentations are completely given by classroom teachers and coaches and people interested in creating better math education at all levels. There is an energy that just can’t be explained in words, you have to experience it yourself.

The morning session I decided to attend is a group workshop facilitated by Elizabeth, who had several ideas for creating a working relationship for groups, as well as activities to encourage students to become group participants. After lunch we heard from Steve Leinwand, who is well know in the math community, NCTM, and an author of “Principals to Action” the newest publication on the CCSS. He is a dynamic speaker, had us laughing, problem-solving, and reflecting on our own math learning, as well as how we introduce topics to our students. It was very enlightening.

The afternoon session I attended was led by Chris Luzniak, again a discussion on class discussions, and how to encourage student justification of their ideas and claims. It was a wonderful extension to the morning session with Elizabeth, and gave me some good insight into the work I will be doing with teachers, PLNs, and coaching. The final session for the day was Jason Valade from Tech Smith discussing Snagit, and it’s uses for classroom teaching and enhancing lessons.

I only wish I could have attended everything, there were so many great workshops and sessions going on. It was very difficult to choose one per time slot. I will definitely be collaborating with others who attended sessions I was unable to attend, and sharing information with them from mine. This is definitely a great professional collaboration opportunity, and I am grateful to be here this year. I highly recommend it, and give a might shout out to the people who spent the time and energy to put it together! Great job.

This evening before dinner a group of teachers who will be teaching geometry next year met to create a list of blogs, discuss a twitter chat time, collaborate and meet each other so that they will have a PLN to work with during the school year. Ideas were exchanged, blog sites compiled, and a list of possible guest speakers for Global Math Department’s webinars which air on Tuesdays at 6pm PST. I love twitter and the MTBoS! There is no better way to teach and learn!

July Challenge – My Journey Begins

My husband and I are flying to Oklahoma in the morning. I’m looking forward to this trip. We haven’t had many opportunities to take vacation trips due to lack of time and money, so this is exciting for us. We also have a hard time getting time off at the same time. My husband is a worship director at a church and his busy days are Thursday through Sunday. There’s always a lot going on in the summer also. 

I’m looking forward to meeting the people who have pushed me to grow this year. I’m also beginning to add others to my PLN to help me with the coaching focus. My brain is beginning to make a switch, I know that I will continue to grow thanks to the wonderful educators I’ve become acquainted with on twitter and those I have yet to meet. 

I have decided to relax and enjoy this trip, especially since I get to make the trip with my husband, and allow myself to refresh, relax and become ready to begin the race again in August. 

Can’t wait to see you all!!

July Challenge – TMC Excitement Rising

So, I’ve been talking with several of the teachers who will be at TMC next week. I’m trying to decide which morning session I need to be in, with my change of focus at work now. If there was an elementary math session, that would be the one definitely, however, there isn’t. Group Work looks good, and Writing Real-World Math Lessons also looks good, as well as the Pre-Calculus I’m currently signed up for, just because I love Pre-Calculus. I may have to decide next week. I wish I could go to all of them, which is exactly the sentiment among many of the teachers.

I’ve been looking at twitter most of the day today, finding myself trying to switch gears to discussions which focus more on coaching ideas and providing professional development, since that is what I will be doing now. I still find myself getting caught in the “what’s good for kids” discussions too, because ultimately, that’s what my work will be focusing on as the outcome. Helping teachers provide good teaching is what’s good for kids and our big goal is student learning. The more I think about it, the more excited I get.

I spoke with the assistant superintendent again today. She’s ordered a computer for me, and has given me the names of my contacts to get me into my office area and get settled logistically. This is really happening! After being down and unmotivated for a good portion of the summer, it’s nice to be getting excited and motivated about things. I usually work through the summer at approximately 90 miles an hour (my average speed). And I’m not ADD.

I think Elizabeth said it best,Screen Shot 2014-07-18 at 4.32.39 PM

So I am planning on going to Oklahoma, seeing my sister and brother-in-law, meeting lots of new friends, and learning whole bunches of new stuff. What more could a person ask for?

July Challenge – New Focus

I notified my principal and school district today that I would accept the Academic Specialist position. I spoke at length with the assistant superintendent about the position, my transfer to another HS before this came up, the job and responsibilities, the interview, other colleagues who will be working with me, and many other things. After speaking with her, and a night of reflection and prayer, I really feel that this is the right position for me. As soon as I made my decision, I felt much more peaceful than I have felt since school let out. 

I really was excited about teaching at American Canyon HS, yet, I guess deep down I have been feeling that academic coaching and support is really a strength of mine. One of my colleagues of the past five years agreed. She felt that I needed to be in this position, and challenged me to really think about what I have been doing the past 11 years and how my work at the school site has helped many other teachers, as well as teachers at other school sites. 

Last night my husband and I were talking, and I could feel my excitement and strength returning as I began to talk about this position, ideas I have for beginning, and the possibilities that I see arising. He told me it was good to see me smiling again. I realized that while I was looking forward to the challenges that ACHS was bringing my way, I really do want to work with teachers and curriculum and build strong programs vertically. I believe that I am in the right place. 

My first greatest challenge is becoming familiar with the elementary level math program and teachers. I will be working with teachers at all levels, and have already been working with a lot of our middle and high school teachers, so they are familiar with me, and I have been teaching at the high school level so I am much more familiar with these programs and goals. As of today, I change gears from planning for Math II and Pre-Calculus, to supporting teachers, curriculum and learning. 

I have already been scheduled for my first meeting with the superintendent, assistant superintendent, and other academic specialists for the first week of school. I’m excited to begin and see what I can develop over the next school year. 

July Challenge – Making Progress

I’m grateful for this challenge and the bloggers I am meeting because of it. Reading the other posts has helped me so much, and I’m beginning to feel more motivated and energetic as I am moving through the month. 

I was offered the position for the district level Math Academic Specialist, and asked for 24 hours to think on it and reflect. I talked it over with my husband and a friend, and will be making my final call in the morning. I feel much better having been offered the position, and the discussions I had have also helped. I feel like a weight has been lifted from me, and I am feeling more like myself. I really have been affected emotionally by the drama of the last school year and the interview processes I have been involved in the past month. Ideas are beginning to flow, I am starting to take a look around me and think about things that need to get done, and how to accomplish them. 

I really appreciated Shelli’s blog today and Shelley’s blog. No, that’s not a mistake. I’m also realizing that Shelli titled her blog “Productive Day” and I’m now beginning to feel productive myself. I haven’t been physically productive, yet, but I now know where to begin, and that’s half the battle. I also appreciated Justin’s note on my post from yesterday. I am so grateful for the MTBOS and the encouragement and energy I receive from them. I am so looking forward to meeting so many of them next week, and especially getting productive and focused. I have so much to learn and do, and am getting excited about it. 

I will write more tomorrow about my decision and what my next steps will be. I am allowing myself to sleep on it tonight to be sure I have made the right decision, and to notify the appropriate people before becoming public with it. 

Lastly, I appreciate all of you who have hung with me through the blog posts and continued to read and the comments and support I have received. You really have helped me to get through this difficult time, and I look forward to becoming more productive again. 

July Challenge – Vacation and TMC

Sunday morning my husband and I will be leaving for Oklahoma. My sister and her husband live there, and this year I am attending TMC, TwitterMathCamp, for the first time. This has been my first year on twitter and after meeting quite a few very creative and innovative educators, I decided that this would be a great way to spend a few days in the summer. I am excited about meeting so many of the teachers I have been interacting with and learning so much from. I am also excited about seeing my sister and her husband again, this time at their home, to which I have never been. 

I’m also looking forward to getting back on my feet after having a difficult year and finding myself all but frozen this summer. A couple of times I have attempted to start some lesson planning, looked at a couple of things, then lost interest. This is not like me, and I’m hoping that TMC will help me get back on my feet. 

I had one last interview this morning. I was a little anxious going to it. I have heard several times that I did a great job interviewing, then not been offered the job. I really don’t want to hear one more time that I have been “edged out” of something. One of the interviewers this morning was the superintendent that I worked with last year, which made me feel better. I did some good work last year for the district, preparing math teachers at the middle and high schools for the change to CCSS this year and changing to the Integrated Math pathway. Two other teachers and I wrote lessons, assessments, and activities to help teachers introduce geometry to algebra students and see what integrated math would look like at that level. The teachers I spoke with afterward said that the work we did was so helpful, and reduced their anxiety quite a bit. They feel better about moving to integrated mathematics this year because of the work we did. Another teacher and I were also able to come up with some resources, one of them being Mathematics Vision Project, so that they had something to work with until we could pilot some materials and get an idea of what we feel will work best for our district. We also previewed quite a few materials and narrowed down the amount of material the other teachers needed to look at and make decisions about. It took quite a bit of time, but I do believe it was worth it in so many ways. I’m just finding myself concerned that my work and skills won’t be recognized, and on the other had, concerned that they will want me for this position and I will have to explain to the principal at the school I just transferred to why I won’t be teaching there. Either option feels very uncomfortable at the moment. 

I guess it won’t hurt me to take this time off. The courses I am scheduled to teach are familiar to me, I haven’t taught Pre-Calculus in a while, and will definitely need to do some work planning for inquiry and modeling, but I know I can do it. There’s also a lot of people and resources available to help me get my ideas flowing, I’m just so used to having a lot of it done by now.