Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Start. Right. Now. with #D100bloggerPD!

Welcome to the kickoff post for #D100bloggerPD's newest blog book study- a quest into Start.Right.Now. by Todd Whitaker, Jeffrey Zoul, and Jimmy Casas. This book was chosen by some members of #D100bloggerPD as the perfect study to coincide with our district's 3rd Annual iEngage Berwyn Conference on April 28-29, 2017. One of the authors, the fantastic Jimmy Casas, is a keynote speaker on Saturday at iEngage. He also graciously accepted an offer to partake in a #D100chat on Tuesday, April 18- explaining why this blog book study will be concluded in time for that wonderful guest moderated chat.

Here’s a little background on how #D100bloggerPD works- if you’re joining us for the first time today. #D100bloggerPD is a movement that began in Berwyn South School District 100 (hence the D100) by Colleen Noffsinger, a Reading Specialist at Irving Elementary (one of our six elementary schools), and myself, a Reading Specialist at Freedom Middle School (one of our two middle schools) in November of 2015. Since then, we have completed more than a handful of blog book studies that range from Reading in the Wild by Donalyn Miller to many of the various Hack Learning Books (Hacking Education, Hacking the Common Core), and more.

You can check along the right side of this blog and click the #D100bloggerPD label- which will take you to all of my previous posts and all the previous studies and you'll find everything you need to catch you up to speed.

Basically, #D100bloggerPD is a fresh take on blogging and professional development and involves many staff members and administrators from across our wonderful school district.

Here is the schedule for this blog study- and the date and location of where to find each post. As they are posted, I will link them here for ease of accessibility.

Following my Chapter 1 Kickoff today, you will find:
-Chapter 3: Show the Way, Part 1- April 4 
-Chapter 3: Show the Way, Part 2- April 4 
-Chapter 4: Go the Way, Part 1- April 6 
-Chapter 4: Go the Way, Part 2- April 6
-Chapter 5: Grow Each Day, Part 1- April 11 
-Chapter 5: Grow Each Day, Part 2- April 11 
-Chapter 6: Behaviors to Beliefs and Back Again- April 13 
back here on Reading and Owl of the Above

As you can see, for chapters 3, 4, and 5- even though they are split up into two parts, they will still be posted on the same day. So basically, starting today (3/28) you can follow along with a new post every Tuesday and Thursday until the finale on April 13- just in time for the Jimmy Casas #D100chat!

Alright, enough with the logistics, lets get on to the actual study! One of the things I love most about these #D100bloggerPD studies is that everyone who participates takes a different approach. You’ll notice in mine, it’s very reflective. I like to pick out parts or quotes from the book that really speak to me and write about them. Other blogger/authors build their posts in different ways. It’s really a treat to learn from others and their own personal way of sharing. 

I felt, from the moment I began this book, that the authors were really speaking to me. Having the added bonus of hearing Jimmy Casas speak in person at an institute day in my district, I knew the kind of passion and devotion that would undoubtedly be poured into this book. However, I was wrong in the best of ways. This book is hard to put down- and even though I’m only introducing the first chapter- let me just say that the best likening I can give to this book is that it’s almost like a love letter. A piece of writing from 3 people to so many that tugs at the heartstrings of fabulous teachers everywhere. I feel like they get me. I feel like they understand that teaching is hard. That teaching requires more. It’s almost like they read my mind in what I was trying to say in my #OneWord2017 post about better. I needed this book in my life right now- and I am so thankful that this study is happening.

Okay, no more mushy stuff. Let’s dig in! Chapter One serves a great purpose of really outlining and explaining the format of the book. It also drives home a message from the very cover of the book, which is to “Teach and Lead for Excellence” and they (the authors: Todd Whitaker, Jeff Zoul, and Jimmy Casas) explain this point thoroughly. If you’ve ever been in a classroom, you know that teachers are leaders. But they do a fantastic job of really driving that point home by using their personal experiences along with some famous leadership quotes (where they switched out leader for teacher and it still made sense!) that sells me (as the reader) that regardless of my role in the school “system”, I can be both a teacher and a leader. 

Yet- they don’t stop there. Much of this introduction is like that. They make a statement….but don’t stop there. So yes, I CAN be a teacher and a leader- they proved that. But they don’t stop there. They go on to set up the rest of the book- which drives home that just because I CAN do it, doesn’t mean it’s enough. I NEED to do it. I SHOULD do it. For me and for my students. 

Same thing with beliefs and behaviors- a large part of the philosophy in this book. I love that the authors made such a big deal about this in their book because it’s just so spot on. Yes, we all believe in students. Yes, we all believe we can be a great teacher. Yes, of course, we all believe in education. But then what? What are you doing about it? What are you doing to SHOW you believe in students? This round of questions could obviously go around and around- but the point is that sometimes the best of intentions are just that. Intentions. I can only speak for myself, a teacher in a 21st century classroom, but I feel like my sentiments would be echoed in saying that we don't want intentions anymore. We want ACTION. And make no mistake, it starts with us.

The authors go on to outline the format of the book- which centers around the Four Core Behaviors of Excellence. It’s a group of values (the first three of which are commonly credited to John Maxwell) that exemplify, obviously, excellence, but in this book, do so much more.
The Four Core Behaviors are:
  1. Know the Way
  2. Show the Way
  3. Go the Way
  4. Grow Each Day
You’ll recognize those values as the chapters of this book- which means I won’t get into them too much, as that is the task of my fellow bloggers.

What I can say, though, is that not much else in education has made so much sense to me lately than these four ideals. It sounds so simple, right? Know the Way. Of course, teachers should know their stuff. But this is more. And Show the Way. Again, duh, show not tell. But they way these three explain this value is magical. And Go the Way, well yeah. Of course we need to model. But are we modeling? This book is like an amazing reminder of all the things we know we should be/do/believe/act but it sells us on them over and over again. And last, Grow Each Day. The only district I’ve ever taught in is D100 (for almost 10 years now!) and if there’s one thing we know how to do- it’s professional development. I mean, that’s what inspired Colleen and I to start up this #D100bloggerPD after all. We are blessed (as teachers in this district) with leadership on every level that supports our learning. Not just perfect learning, either. Sometimes it’s downright ugly, mistake-filled, close your eyes and don’t look learning.  Yet still, we persist. And still, they support. To me, this is not a novelty. To many others, I think it is. I’m very lucky and this book reminds me of that.

The remainder of this first chapter goes on to work with the idea of “Teachers Who Lead” and “Leaders Who Teach” and explains how this book is for both of them. As I said, I’m a Reading Specialist who has a full classroom of students everyday. I loved the section about Teachers Who Lead because it showed me exactly how I should approach this book. But I’ll admit, I also loved the Leaders Who Teach part. It signaled out what to expect out of my administration and gave us the ever present reminder that education isn’t even ultimately about Teachers or Leaders. It’s about students. See what I mean about this book being so simple yet so profound? 

I strongly recommend you stick around with our #D100bloggerPD study and come back on Thursday 3/30 to read Jenny’s take on Chapter 2: Know the Way. Jenny is a fantastic iCoach/Teacher/Leader who will no doubt knock our socks off with her reflection. 

Also, if you’d like to purchase your own copy of Start.Right.Now. by Todd Whitaker, Jeff Zoul, and Jimmy Casas so that you can follow along- you can do so here:

If you get it right now, with prime shipping, it will be here in time for the next post! You can’t beat that.

As always, thanks for reading/learning/growing with me. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below.


  1. Thanks for getting us started! Your writing sounds exactly like you! Simple yet profound what more can you ask for in a book. I too appreciate the fail forward culture that we have in District 100. Growth and change can be messy that's why teachers need a PLN, to support them as they grow. This one is going to fun.

  2. Looking forward to this book study! Thanks for starting us off with a great post. :)