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Mad at the world, or not

It was New Year’s Eve and I was traveling home on the Missouri River Runner from Saint Louis to Kansas City. During the four-hour train ride home, I had a lot of time for introspection. Just the day before my mother had been laid to rest in her homeland thousands of miles away. I had also spent that day shopping with my daughter for bridal gowns. It was a bittersweet day to say the least.

So, you can imagine my being just a tiny bit annoyed when an elderly gentleman walked by my seat and mocked my posture by folding his arms and saying, “You look like you are mad at the world.”

It took me a second or two to realize the old coot’s snide comment and posturing was directed at me. I was taken aback, so I didn’t say anything then and I ask your forgiveness as I take a moment to do so now.

You, jerk, you!

Who are you to know my mind, my heart, and my spirit?

How dare you make a frivolous comment about something of which you know nothing and to someone you have never before met or never again will meet?

The saddest part is I don’t think you have any idea it was mean, or hateful, though I suspect you realize it was unnecessary.

If I had to do it over again, I would have happily risked being booted from the train to confront him and tell his smug old tail to kindly keep his comments to himself.

But, I didn’t. Grace prevailed

So, now that you have allowed me to vent, I choose to learn from this experience and try harder to not judge any book by its cover. Someone may look mad or sad or glad, but who am I to judge their journey?

Let’s commit to 2015 being a year of sharing deeper grace with one another even with old coots.

Relevant PD Made REALLY Simple

Great day of PD at Staley High School

I teach at Staley High School in the North Kansas City Schools and, recently, we celebrated a day of professional development edcamp-style and from all accounts it was a great success.

Teachers chose the session topics.

Teachers taught the sessions.

Teachers chose which sessions they would attend.

Students enjoyed videotaping the sessions for the teachers.

What’s that you ask?

Experts in our midst!

Matt Nevels and Theresa Crystal answer questions about Black Board and Power School.

YOU MEAN TO TELL ME YOUR ADMINISTRATION TRUSTED YOUR TEACHERS TO KNOW WHAT THEY NEEDED AND THEN TAKE CARE OF BUSINESS?

Yes, that is what I am saying.

Teachers were asked to share their expertise. They were asked to share their needs. The expertise and needs were naturally braided together to create a morning of celebrated learning.

There were several sessions ranging from How to Plan with Design in Mind to Defining Blackboard Skills and Using DocCameras and QuickTime Videos to Support Instruction among other topics.

Each session was taught by a colleague with demonstrated expertise. Each session ran for three cycles with almost 100 teachers attending the three sessions they chose. One of the best parts–no signing up weeks in advance only to find the day irrelevant.

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Staley student filming PD sessions

On the contrary, the PD was timely and fun. It was a day of celebrated learning!

If you are interested in more information about the value of TRUSTING your teachers and using edcamp-style for your school or district’s professional development, email cmershon@nkcschools.org and tell him Twitter sent you. 🙂

It is about relationships, stupid!

You want to make the best and biggest impact you can as a teacher or you wouldn’t be in education.

You want your students to learn the curriculum so they do well in life and, yes, let’s face it, on any mandated testing.

You want to see your students successful and joyful and happy.

You want your colleagues to respect you and the work you do.

You want your classroom and curriculum to be relevant and rigorous so the most effective teaching and learning takes place.

None of these things will happen as they should without understanding the bottom line.

And to paraphrase an old ad campaign, the bottom line is about relationships, stupid.

No, you are not stupid.

You are busy.

You are stressed.

And you are probably just this side of overwhelmed.

Take a moment to smile.

Take a moment to say hello.

Take a moment to send an encouraging email or handwritten note.

Just take a moment…

It really is all about relationships, sweetie!

Kids deserve to bloom

This post is from my former blog site and was originally published on 9/21/10.Image
A neighborhood cat loves to dig in my petunias and take naps. Unfortunately, this does little to enhance the beauty of the petunias. More often than not, the petunia stems are dug up by the sleepy feline and tossed from the container to make room for a doze.
The other day, I found a tossed petunia stem and simply placed it back on the dirt in the container. I was hopeful it might survive to some degree.Imagine my pleasant surprise when a day or so later, I found a blooming flower on the damaged petunia stem.There it was, a beautiful pink flower, hanging on to life by a thread, but surviving–determined.

We all have seasons in our lives when we feel like we have been dug up and tossed aside. I am thankful to have friends and family who care enough about me to pick me up when this has happens and help place me back in my container or even into a new container where I can continue to thrive and bloom.

Our kids deserve that same type of support. They may not know how to tell us they feel like they have been dug up, let alone tossed, but as their parents and teachers, as the ones who care, it is up to us to be there when our kids need to be replanted.

Kids deserve to bloom.

Give me a D

Several years ago, my oldest child’s graduation from college was preceded by the following conversation several days prior to the big day:

Rigor and Relevance Framework

Child: I finally finished my last college course and will be graduating!

Me: That is great. How did the class go?

Child: Got a D. Yeah, but you know what they say? D is for diploma!

Me: #sigh

Traditionally, a grade of D is nothing to brag about. It reflects minimal effort at best.

But there are times when a D really is a great thing such as when the D refers to QUADRANT D of the Rigor and Relevance Framework. In that case, I will take this D any day of the week!

Quadrant D terms

If I had a Twitter (The Twitter Song)

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Last evening  during #edchat, husband and wife members of my PLN, Bill and Diane Chamberlain, shared a tweet or two about how much time a certain husband spends on twitter. Bill even commented “if I had a dollar for every tweet…”

Well, this got me to thinking along the lines of Peter, Paul and Mary’s song If I Had a Hammer.

The result was the following: Enjoy and thank you to Bill and Di for their inspiration. Oh, and, yes, Bill, I expect you to learn this song on your Ukulele so we can sing it when we meet one day! And, Di, get your tambourine ready!

(Please feel free to make suggestions via comments for improvement.)

IF I HAD A TWITTER (The TWITTER Song)

words by Barbara W. Madden with inspiration from Bill and Diane Chamberlain

If I had a Twitter

I’d tweet in the morning

I’d tweet in the evening

All over the Web

I’d tweet out blog posts

I’d tweet out web links

I’d tweet out where to find professional development

All over the Web

If I were a Teacher

I’d tweet it in the morning

I’d tweet it in the evening

All over the Web

I’d tweet out blog posts

I’d tweet out web links

I’d tweet out where to find professional development

All over the Web

If I had a PLN

I’d tweet it in the morning

I’d tweet it in the evening

All over the Web

I’d tweet out blog posts

I’d tweet out web links

I’d tweet out where to find professional development

All over the Web

Well I’ve got a Twitter

And I am a Teacher

And I’ve got a thought to tweet

All over the Web

It’s a tweet of knowledge

It’s a tweet of wisdom

It’s a tweet about where to find professional development

All over the Web

 

Connecting the dots…from iPhones to Duck Calls

NFL Hall of Famer Terry Bradshaw played 2nd string quarterback to Phil Robertson in college.

The following is my speech for the Staley High School 2013 National Honor Society Induction Ceremony.

Ladies and gentleman of the Staley High School National Honor Society, you are here this evening because you have proven yourself to be a person of excellent character and high academic standards.

Tonight I challenge you to continue along this path of excellence but with one caveat.

ALWAYS NURTURE YOUR CREATIVE SPIRIT BY FINDING WAYS TO CONNECT THE DOTS!

If asked who is considered to be one of the most creative minds of our time, there is one name in particular on which we can agree.

The late Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple Industries and inventor once said:

Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things.

In other words, they figured how to connect the dots.

Another creative mind I find of personal interest belongs to a gentleman who does not care to own an iPhone or any cellphone for that matter. He prefers a computer technology-free, if not rustic, existence.

Phil Robertson grew up one of seven children whose mother was often ill and whose father worked hard to keep food on the table. Phil and his three brothers honed their expert hunting skills while keeping the family fed.

Though Phil’s hunting would eventually gain him the worldwide reputation as the Duck Commander, it was his athletic prowess that would take him through high school as a member of the all-state teams for baseball, track and football. He attended Louisiana Tech University on a football scholarship, playing until his senior season, when he quit because he was tired of football interfering with hunting.

In his autobiography, teammate Terry Bradshaw, who played second string behind Phil, recalls how Phil would arrive to football practice with squirrel tails and duck feathers sticking out of his pockets.

Eventually, Terry Bradshaw would win four Super Bowl titles as well as a place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

On the other hand, Phil Robertson turned down offers to play pro football.

After teaching for several years and, unfortunately, hitting more than a few personal bumps in the road, Robertson was finally able to, as Steve Jobs said, connect experiences he’d had and synthesize new thing or, connect the dots, by inventing the first in a series of duck calls, which are now sold in all fifty states as well as several countries around the world, making Phil Robertson a very wealthy man as well as a star on the most popular cable TV program, Duck Dynasty.

Yes, Steve Jobs, changed the world of technology by connecting the dots.

And, yes, in his own way, Phil Robertson changed the world of hunting by connecting the dots.

And, now, once more, let me encourage you to

ALWAYS NURTURE YOUR CREATIVE SPIRIT BY FINDING WAYS TO

CONNECT THE DOTS!

Terry Bradshaw (far right) with Phil and wife Kay and, son, Willie.

Terry Bradshaw (far right) with Phil and wife Kay and, son, Willie.

Because you never know where those dots will lead you…

Despite the fact that Steve Jobs and Phil Robertson have very little in common, they are connected…

After all, this iPhone can call ducks—(I held up my iPhone and activated the duck ringtone.)

Thank you!