Twitter? For Professional Development? You Betchya.

Tomorrow is the first day of school. So, naturally, I can’t sleep. It’s either blog or have a dream that I show up and have nothing actually prepared for the big day. I’ll save the latter for later.  Although I’m so excited about our first day tomorrow (I’m getting more familiar with why they call it “on pins and needles”), I’ll wait to blog about it until it has actually happened. Let’s just say I have roughly 25 upperclassmen taking the reigns for a good portion of the day, and I’m so anxious to see them rock it!

The last few days have been a whirlwind. We, as an administrative team, worked very hard to prepare the first two days of inservice for our staff. We have a lot of logistical changes this year, and our staff, like the champs they are, took them all in stride. I feel very fortunate to work at the school I work at. The teachers are hard working, open to new ideas, and down to have fun. I took them through two ridiculous team building activities, and we had SO much fun with it. Truth bomb – it was the first time I had played these games with adults, and I was a little nervous about it. All I knew is that I thought the games were hilarious and fun (and could deliver the points we wanted to make), and hoped the staff would enjoy them. We may have left the gym sweaty, but we laughed the entire way back to the library, where it was off for more learning. Anyway, back to my point – our teachers rock. Today, one of our secretaries came by my office just to say, “I love where we work. How did we get so lucky to work with such amazing people?” All I could do was agree with her, because she was absolutely correct.

Nonetheless, when presenting new ideas to a group of teachers, it’s easy to find yourself second guessing your presentation, how you delivered it, how it was received, etc. (Which is why we started giving out feedback forms after each inservice day – we want to know how our teachers feel about how our time was spent!) So when I delivered the presentation on how to earn Professional Development Points by learning via Twitter, I was both ecstatic, and a little nervous.

Let me back up just a little bit. Back in February, I attended the NASSP Conference in San Diego. This was one of the best things that I think could have happened to me in my first year as an administrator (because let’s be honest, I need all the help I can get in this still-new-to-me-role). With people like Eric Sheninger, Dwight Carter, and Daisy Dyerr Duerr presenting, how could I not come away with some of the most amazing ideas? (Which by the way, I’ve taken at least one thing from each of those education gurus and implemented a version of it at EHS, so thank you for that!) Even though the presentations I watched from these leaders were not directly about Twitter, I couldn’t help but notice that Twitter was everywhere around me. Hashtags here, @’s there, presenters tweeting as they’re presenting, attendees live-tweeting the conference – I was submerged into the Twitter-verse. So one night in the hotel room, I took a look at my Twitter. I had a private account. I tweeted mostly just personal things, little updates (that no one probably even cared about), the Royals, and occasionally, maybe something about school. That night, I started following the conference hashtag and started following some people from the conference. I started looking at what they tweeted about. I looked at who they followed, and what they tweeted. I found more hashtags. More resources. More everything. I started reading articles on the benefits of using Twitter for professional reasons, and I was hooked. That night, in the hotel room, I made a change. It was subtle at first, but the more I got into it, the more I loved it. I began the journey of transforming my presence on Twitter. I started leveraging Twitter for professional growth and telling our school’s story, and I haven’t looked back. Now, if you look at my profile, it’s nothing to brag about. In fact, 629 followers as of tonight does not qualify me as someone to be looked to for advice on, “How to get more followers on Twitter.” But more importantly than the number of followers I have, is what I gain from Twitter each time I get on. I should probably re-phrase that. Twitter is the tool I use in which to get resources; however, what I gain, I gain from like-minded, driven, passionate educators around the world. From reading articles, to getting resources, to new ideas, to collaboration – Twitter is a vehicle that will take you all of those places, and I knew that night in San Diego, that Twitter was something I needed to get to know. Now.

Last year, I worked with a couple of teachers at my school, and with the professional development council in our district, to write and approve a policy that allows teachers to earn Professional Development Points if they participate in their own PD on Twitter. By submitting a “proof of learning,” they are eligible for up to 2 or 3 points per submission. If you’re interested in the policy itself, feel free to check it out here.

I spent some time last year trying to lay some groundwork so that this policy could be ready to roll out this year. We spent some time as a staff learning how Twitter works, researching hashtags, and exploring what it has to offer educators. Yesterday, I was able to briefly re-touch on those points, and present to the staff the opportunity to gain PD points through their own learning experience, followed by time to explore and play around on Twitter (and Storify).

One of our goals this year is to improve and transform professional development in our building. We hope to be able to bring a bigger, better EdCamp to our teachers, implement Genius Hour, and include other innovate ideas that our teachers came up with for professional development. We hope that by implementing our Twitter PD Policy, it will only have a positive effect on teaching and learning in our building. I think it’s important to note that this is not going to be an expectation of our teachers – we understand that this isn’t for everyone. We simply want to provide teachers the opportunity to get rewarded for taking the initiative to learn on their own, and encourage them to use this massive resource if they feel it can benefit their growth journey.

I had a teacher today tell me that she always has a hard time finding new, innovative ideas for CTE classes. With one of the hashtags from the presentation yesterday, she said she already found a few! I was A) so happy for her that she found some resources, and B) so excited that she shared that with me.  I told you earlier that our staff is awesome.

Here’s to a new school year – one full of change, opportunity, learning, and let’s not forget to sprinkle in some fun and laughter. As usual, thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts. Now off to dream about all the t’s I forgot to cross and i’s I forgot to dot for our first day of school.

-Megan

Let’s Go Royals!

If you’ve been around my daughter for all of 10 minutes or longer, you’ve probably discovered that she is one of the biggest little Royals fans out there. My husband and I are avid fans, and we started teaching her the “Let’s Go Royals!” cheer when she was a little over 1 year old. She caught on rather quickly, and now, it seems as though any time there is the slightest reprieve from noise, she fills it with a resounding “LET’S GO ROYALS!” cheer. It’s in all caps because she, like all true fans, has to yell it 90% of the time. Not just an enthusiastic yell, but an “I”m going to make you lose all train of thought and interrupt any conversation you were trying to have” kind of a yell. (Which is especially nice in public.) All we can usually manage to do is laugh and clap along. What’s funny is that she’s manipulated it to the point where sometimes, she’ll say it extra slow, so we’ll clap extra slow, she’ll say is super fast so we will clap super fast, and she’ll even whisper it so we barely clap. She gets the biggest kick out of it, and in the meantime, my husband and I are being puppeteered by a two year old, being at the mercy of her every Royals cheer.

We took her to her first game this summer, and she loved it. Granted, she is two, and lasted about 20 minutes (tops) at a time in our seats, but between visits to the Hall of Fame, the fountains, and the Little K (and several trips to see “Ariel” {her potty chair}), she lasted the entire game! She kept saying, “Look! The Royals are right there!” Of course, her favorite part was when the “Let’s Go Royals” cheer came over the sound system. When it would end, she’d look at us and say, “More Royals?” as if we had control when it would come over the speakers. I hope to never forget her first experience at the K.

Tonight was no exception to the “Let’s Go Royals” rule – any awkward silence (is it possible to have an awkward silence with a two year old?) was filled with the cheer, and I clapped and cheered along. We popped some popcorn and sat down to watch the game. (Note – if we are eating popcorn, she’ll sit and do just about anything.) We watched about two innings together (that’s how long the “pot-torn” lasted), then we were off to the playroom, and I spent the rest of our time tonight periodically checking the score. (In case you’re wondering, Royals are tied with the Bluejays in the 11th right now, and she’s fast asleep in bed.) Anyway, in our two innings of focused baseball watching time, I so enjoyed explaining different aspects of the game to her. (And by aspects, I mean “Look, he’s trying to hit the ball the pitcher is pitching!” “Yes, I know he hit the ball but it was foul – he has to hit it between the white lines.” “You get three strikes and you’re out. Four balls means you get to go to first base.” etc.) Yes, I understand she is two, and yes, I understand that she probably has very little comprehension of what I was actually telling her (because let’s be honest – sometimes she sees basketball on the TV and screams “ROYALS!” I like to think we’ve progressed a little from that.). However, I will say she did impress me a bit when a Royal would swing and miss, and she’d say “Awww, MISS!” Or when Infante almost got hit with a pitch (to his face!) and she said, “Him ok, Mommy?” She did seem to understand when I told her whether we wanted the batter to get a hit or to get out. But that could have been my imagination. My favorite was probably when Rios caught a ball in right field and she said, “Him GOT it, Mommy!” in her high pitched, squealy voice. Yes him did, sweetie.

Anyway, I thought our little baseball watching experience would lend itself well to a topic I think about frequently when it comes to raising my daughter. “Will she want to play sports?”  I would love for her to play sports. I think it is something we could really enjoy together, and bond immensely over. I love what sports teaches youth about life, overcoming adversity, work ethic, humility, failure, teamwork, accountability – it seems like the list is endless. I like when females push boundaries and break through barriers that have previously existed. An empowered female athlete is someone to be reckoned with, right?

Then I sometimes have the thought, “But what if she doesn’t?” And you know what? That will be great, too. I just want her to find something she loves. If it’s not sports, we will find something else. (Royals just lost in the bottom of the 11th, in case you were curious. Good thing she’s in bed – oh wait, she doesn’t quite understand the concept of winning and losing yet. All is well in her world.) Ok, back to the point. Sports are not the end all/be all for the life lessons mentioned above. No matter what she chooses to do in life, I am confident that we can instill those qualities in her. She needs to find something she is passionate about. If it’s sports, we’ll be tickled pink. If it’s music, we’ll be thrilled. If it’s art, I’ll be jealous, and very happy. If it’s dance, more power to her (Lord knows her mama won’t be able to help her there).  You get the point. I want her to enjoy how she spends her time, not resent it. No matter which avenue she chooses, we will work to make her see the value of discipline, dedication, commitment, work ethic, and a positive attitude. (Remind me of that when she’s a teenager, ok?)

What do I hope for my daughter? I hope she finds something she loves and she does it to the best of her ability. I hope she has the skill to balance it with other aspects of her life, and is able to become a well-rounded individual. I hope she finds time to hang out with ol’ mom and dad along the way. I hope we can have special moments together, whether it’s on a sports field/court or not. I hope she values learning and understands that education is the key to becoming and doing what you want and love in life. I hope she is an individual with a growth mindset, and understands that she is capable of amazing things with the willingness to learn and some elbow grease. (I also hope she wants to learn a foreign language – sorry, had to throw that in there.) Yes, I have a lot of hopes and dreams for my little one, although I know she will develop her own. But you know what I hope most of all (other than her continued health and safety)? I hope she is kind, compassionate, and faithful. I want her to be a good person with a heart of gold. I hope she puts others first, yet at the same time is a self-respecting, strong willed young lady.

The scary part is, a lot of these things that I hope for her, they’re up to my husband and me. There’s no manual telling you how to get these things for your children. Sure, there are parenting books, but there’s no true guide to parenthood. You make the decisions you feel are best for your children, and guide them along the path that is guided by your big picture hopes and goals for them. These decisions – they’re not easy. A lot of the times, they make her cry (I don’t think we have to worry about the strong-willed part). But we move forward, knowing that these choices in how we raise her are good for her character. More than anything though, we choose to fill our house with love.

…Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

-Colossians 3:12-14

If you took the time to read this, I thank you. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed typing it.

-Megan

First Year Down – Many More To Go

Tomorrow, I head back to work to begin my second year in administration.  As I’m sitting here before going to bed, already at least an hour past my bedtime, I’m having some major reflections of my first year as an administrator, and what I hope to accomplish in my second year. Normally, I would just sit with my thoughts, then go to bed, but since I have this newfound journey of blogging, I thought it could make a decent first post under “School Life.” So, if you’re interested, here are a few things on my mind.

1) I really should have started this blog last year.  If you want to truly talk about “lessons learned,” there were a plethora of them last school year.  I’m not going to reminisce through every one of them tonight, but when the time feels right, we’ll bring up some of those “memories.”

2) With that being said, one of my biggest goals this year is to bring more life and meaning to the professional development that I provide teachers.  A large part of my job entails creating, developing, organizing, and presenting professional development for teachers in our building. This is one of my absolute favorite parts of my job. (Probably because it reminds me of teaching, which I absolutely loved as well.) You know the feeling – you put hours of work into a presentation or a lesson plan, you have everything planned out down to the cheesy jokes you’re telling along the way, and you get that rush as you’re presenting something you’re passionate about. While I’d like to sit here and think that what I organized was super awesome and everybody loved it and wanted to go implement it right away, the realist in me knows that I didn’t meet every teacher’s needs (or wants for that matter).

Don’t get me wrong. I tried. I always put every ounce of effort I have into professional development. I don’t think what I was lacking was effort. We had some PD days that included small breakout sessions, and teachers had a little bit of choice of which session they’d like to attend. We even orchestrated a little mini EdCamp. (A major shout out to our staff who showed up BIG for EdCamp. You guys rocked it.) On a smaller scale, I tried making as many content specific connections and examples as I could in PD presentations throughout the year, as well as including resources that would potentially be really useful (to some teachers). But on the other hand, for the times when we weren’t doing something along those lines, I know I can do better. I can bring more meaningful PD to more teachers. I may not have known it at the time, but every year is filled with growth and learning, and I hope to bring more personalized options to our professional development this year. It may not be perfect, in fact I’m sure it will be far from it, but my goal is to make learning more personalized in our building this year, or at the very least provide teachers with more opportunities for personalized learning, with the hopes of nourishing the growth mindset that already exists within our building. Will every PD day be 100% personalized? Let’s not get crazy. I mean, a girl can dream, and I think down the road, that’s a goal worth setting. This year, hopefully we will make positive strides in personalizing PD, make choices that are good for our building, and ultimately make decisions that are best for our students.

It won’t take you long to figure out that I am a huge fan of John Wooden.  I feel like I can always find a quote of his that applies to an aspect of my life.  One that I go back to a lot is this one: 

You can’t let praise or criticism get to you. It’s a weakness to get caught up in either one.

I think praise is great – we all love to hear we are doing well. But it’s also important to stay grounded. There is always room for improvement. And just because some people may have enjoyed what I presented on a certain day, doesn’t mean that it was great for everyone. I need to seek everyone’s feedback to see how I can better myself. In the same breath, take criticism to heart, look to grow and improve. Criticism is an important part of becoming better at what you do. It may hurt or be a shot to the ol’ ego, but last I checked, I’d rather build a solid education for students than build an ego. So sometimes you have to pull an Elsa and “let it go”, and understand that criticism isn’t always a bad thing. (Sorry, I know that “Frozen” reference is way over-used, but when you’re surrounded by Elsa and Anna everywhere you look in your house – it sort of becomes a part of who you are.)

3) Sorry #2 was so long.

4) I’m so excited for our freshman first day. I have over 20 amazing upperclassmen who are going to be running the show that first day freshmen show up. They are fantastic leaders, and I know they are going to rock it. Along with that excitement comes a bit of stress – I have an extremely long to-do list to get ready for that day. Time to get to business tomorrow. Transition years are huge. Having an awesome first day in high school is tremendously important. I want 9th graders and new students leaving that first day thinking, “I want to go back there. That’s a place I want to be.”

5) I am extremely grateful for my mentors that helped me through my first year in administration, and I know will continue to provide me guidance, advice, and friendship. I could not have asked for a better team of administrators at our building and throughout the district to provide me that guidance. What an amazing group of people. I also have a pretty rock-star line up of former principals who have  been a phenomenal support system, and who have served as role models that I try to emulate. I also can’t forget my dad – the former school administrator who always brings me back to the question, “What’s best for kids?” We can talk more about my dad in a later post. Those of you who know Scotty know that I can’t sum him up in just a couple of sentences.

In addition to this network of professionals who I look up to and respect whole heartedly, I have an entire world (literally) of support on Twitter. Before this year, I hadn’t ever really thought of leveraging Twitter for professional reasons. I was lucky enough to be able to attend the NASSP national conference this year, and wow, did my eyes open up to a whole new world of learning, filled with unbelievable sights, indescribable feelings (Aladdin, anyone?). Anyway, this whole new world was Twitter. I started following a few people here, a few people there, just kind of looked at what they posted about, would make a few posts about the going ons at school, and I kind of slowly immersed myself into learning via Twitter. Again, I could dedicate an entire post to this topic, but I just want to say thank you to all the principals at the NASSP conference who showed me what an incredible tool Twitter can be. (If you’re up for it – follow me @MeganBlackEHS – I’d love to grow my PLN!!)

6) We are now several hours past my bedtime. Although I’m sad that summer has come to an end (I’m so grateful for the precious time I’ve spent with family and friends these past four weeks), I’m also extremely excited for the beginning of a new school year. It’s going to be a great one. If you’re still reading this – you’re a champ, and I thank you. 

-Megan

Kind Life – Intro

Be kind. Choose love over hate. This page is dedicated to all things kindness. I know I have a long way to go in my journey to spread kindness (and I know I am far from perfect in this regard), but I truly believe that teaching our youth to be kind is a vital part of their education.

woodenquote

Let’s live a life without putting others down. Let’s live a life where we ask, “How can I make someone else’s day better?” Let’s live a life where we are focused on becoming the best version of ourselves that we can, without intentionally making others feel poorly about themselves. And let’s be mindful enough to know when we unintentionally do so, so that we may remedy the situation. Let’s live a life where we reserve judgement for the Only One worthy of judging. I think Jesus said it the best, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” (John 8:7)

Featured

My Blog Life

Hi, and welcome to my blog page!  I will be blogging about a variety of topics, so to make browsing easier, I have separated the blog into various categories. You’ll find these categories under the “My Blog” portion of the main menu and also on the footer of the website.

“Mom Life” (and its sub categories) are posts about life as a mom. These may be funny, whimsical, sappy, frustrations, heartache, and everything in between that comes along with being a mom.

“School Life” includes all things related to my life as an assistant principal. There are some subcategories here, so be sure to check those out as well.

“Kind Life” posts are my efforts to becoming a more kind person myself and also spreading kindness to our youth and across the interwebs.

“Quote Life” – I love a good quotation. Sometimes I’ll want to write about it. You’ll find those posts under this category.

I hope you enjoy at least one portion of my blog! Thank you so much for visiting, please come back again!

-Megan