Sunday, November 26, 2017

Create Your Own Lane

Earlier this week, a Twitter friend of mine (Thanks @kerszi !) posted this Quote of the Day.  I'm on Twitter every day and see lots of quotes, quirky sayings, and cool images, but this one has stuck with me all week.  There are 3 things that really made this resonate with me.

1.  I laughed at the term "boss up" but I loved that choice of words!  You know, like a boss, take control and do it.  I felt like that was a good motivator, a way to call others to action.  Sometimes you have to just step up and make a decision.  Take a risk.  Make that leap.  Just do it.  Like a boss.

2. Sometimes in education we have to create a new path where one  never existed.  Create your own lane.  That's what innovators do, whether in the classroom or as a school leader we have to forge ahead through new territory and design our own lane because we know it's what's best for kids.

This reminded me of those old "create your own adventure" books.  You remember these?  You get to a certain juncture in the story and you either choose between page 47 and page 86.   I used to love these books when I was little, but sometimes you need more than the two options provided.  That's when you have to create your own lane--jump off-road and take the path less traveled.

Innovators are often lonely on those single-lane highways, but usually the journey and the destination are well worth it.

3.  The last part that really had an impact was the phrase"had no choice".  Truly, there was a choice, wasn't there?  It is a choice to stay on the same path and keep moving along at the same pace as everyone else.  But for innovators, that's just not an option.  That lane is full of other cars doing to same old thing.  Innovators are pushed to the point that they have no other choice that to break away and create a new lane--that's when the magic happens.

Are you ready to "boss up"?  In what ways are you creating your own lane?  Share your comments!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

10 New STEAM Makers You Should Know

Over a year ago I wrote a post about the 25 STEAM Maker educators that you should follow on Twitter. Since then both STEAM (STEM, STREAM, whatever you call it) and Maker Education are heating up and more and more educators are getting involved in this exciting pathway to learning.

This list of educators represents those with less than 1000 followers on Twitter, who are doing AMAZING things in their schools.  Please check them out!

1. Tori Cameron @STEAMuptheclsrm
Check out Tori's podcast STEAM Up the Classroom.  She connects with STEAM Maker educators who are taking risks and pushing innovation.  She promotes all things STEM, STEAM, Maker and Makerspaces.

 2. Ed Bringas @annoyingDrones
A STEAM Maker Specialist--gotta love that title!  Ed posts relevant articles and examples of amazing student work. 

3.  Chris Cook @FlintHillMakers 
Coding, 3D printing, robotics, sewing--Chris posts all kinds of student projects.  Where was this middle school maker teacher when I was in school ???

4. Kristen Nan @nankr1120 
Kristen is a third grade teacher who is overflowing with passion for teaching and learning.  Her students are leaders in the classroom, as Kristen facilitates project-based learning in her school's makerspace. You must check out the learning happening in this classroom!

5. Bethany Jones @bethany_jones4
This middle school engineering design teacher truly embraces the 4Cs.  The creative projects from her class are awesome and her Makey-Makey projects are off the charts!!!!

6. Maureen Frew @FrewsCrew
Maureen is a teacher on special assignment with a mission for making.  The hands-on making that she does with the youngest of learners is just amazing.

7. Penny Rayhill @PennyRayhill
Penny is a tech coach and maker from West Virginia.  She works with students and teachers to incorporate digital making and tech in creative ways.  Check out what she is doing with Quiver!

8. David Lostetter @MrLostetter
This technology/STEM teacher does some pretty cool stuff in his elementary makerspace.  His student projects definitely have the WOW factor!

9. Mandi Figlioli @mrsfigmakes
As a curriculum specialist, Mandi sees both the classroom side and the leadership side of making.  She is passionate about hands-on learning and posts great ideas for other makers.

10. Mr. Russo @RussosRoom
This NY teacher's profile says it all:
STEM isn’t about showing your students how to do something, but empowering them with the right tools to create and discover it on their own.

Of course, this is not an exhaustive list, but simply some great educators to connect with around everything STEM, STEAM, and Making.  Who else would you add?

Friday, November 10, 2017

4 Types of Educators You May Know

There are many analogies that can be made about educators, but one that I've heard recently stuck with me.  I've been in school leadership for the last 14 years and have worked with lots of teachers.  They range from passionate go-getters, to competent, compliant educators to those who are simply stuck.  Consider the attitudes, motivation, and actions of the teachers that you know. I bet they will fall into one of these categories.  It is important to recognize that all of these people are a part of your organization.  The key is to figure out how to connect with each and move on a successful path for your school or district.

Speed boats
Image result for speedboat
These are the teachers who are always one step ahead, zipping through the waters with ease and often leaving others in their wake.  They don't mean to leave others behind, but they are interested in trends in education and pride themselves on being connected educators "in the know".  When presented with a new initiative they go full speed ahead.  If you want to grab on, they are willing to show you the way, but you better be ready to move forward.  As an administrator, these are the teachers I love!  They are curious, creative, and forward-thinking.  They want to try new approaches and new technologies because they are excited about what it could provide to their students.  The speedboats don't get bogged down in rules and regulations, once they know better, they want to do better.  (Thanks, @nankr1120 !) 

The tug boats are consistently strong classroom teachers--they can hold their own in the water, chug-chugging along. Progress may be at a slower pace than the speedboats, but they are moving.  Sometimes, they connect with a speedboat and they are off making waves, too.  These teachers need our encouragement.  They need to know we are with them on this voyage and together, we will exceed our goals.

Imagine a huge barge inching down the river.  It will get to its destination, but at its own time and pace.  There's not much to make it move faster or take another path, but try as you might--keep pushing it forward.  The barge is just fine with waiting for the speedboats to zip ahead and then report back with the success of an initiative.  There's just no urgency to rush.

These won't be your leaders of innovation, but school leaders must support the barges through their journey and continue to communicate the end goal.  Connect the barge with a tugboat and now you might have some momentum.

Image result for anchor oceanAnchors 

A heavy, immovable weight stuck down into the depths.  You aren't moving this one--and they're not afraid to tell you so.  They've watched many things pass them by and they are content right where they are.  Focus on ways keep all the other boats moving.  Don't let them get pulled down by the anchor.

Teachers--which one are you?  If you are not where you want to be, how might you change it?

School Leaders--how do you support each of these?  Can you lift the anchors? How to you respond to your barges?  How do you continue to fuel your speedboats?