Thursday, April 13, 2017

Start. Right. Now. #D100bloggerPD Conclusion!

Thank you for tuning in for the finale post of the #D100bloggerPD blog book study on #StartRightNow by Todd Whitaker, Jeffrey Zoul, and Jimmy Casas. If you have missed any of the previous posts, be sure to view the first post of the study here, which has all the links and locations of the fabulous previous blogs. 

If you’ve been following along the last few weeks, you know that members of the #D100bloggerPD crew have been reading, reflecting, and blogging on the book Start. Right. Now. and that in our school district (Berwyn South District 100), we host an amazing ed-tech conference called iEngage every April. This year, one of the three keynote speakers is Jimmy Casas- one of the three authors of this book. If you stick around at the end of this blog post, you’ll find some “next steps” to take as well as even a couple great prizes for participating and following along with us on this blogging journey.

In my kickoff post for this book, I mentioned how I just felt like this book really hit home for me. That this study was truly helpful in my reflection as a teacher and how grateful I am that these three authors wrote this book. And that was only after the first chapter! Upon finishing the book, I can confidently say that I think every educator must read this book. In fact, sorry to all my teacher friends and my principal for bugging you and making you stop everything to read this book right now- but it’s worth it. I’m also married to an educator who *luckily* gets to listen to excerpts out loud as I find them and read all these posts- but truly- the book changed me- and it will do the same for you.

In all the previous posts from this study, I’ve noticed that there is a common thread. That all my fellow #D100bloggerPD bloggers say something about how just reading this book has pushed them to become a better educator. For example, in Jenny’s reflection post on Know the Way, she concluded with, “And with that, I am off to build my confidence, learn more about my craft and build relationships.” Or how about Amy, in her Go the Way reflection, ending with, “There needs to be a desire to learn, to grow. Don't we want our best selves to be on display?” Or lastly, Lauren who, when writing her Grow Each Day part, concluded with, “Thanks to Todd, Jeff and Jimmy for writing this book that helped me reflect and grow as a leader.”

It’s certainly no coincidence that we all had such a deep connection to this book- because all of us are educators who strive to be excellent. We are all educational professionals in some way who want to get better. I found it so perfect that the final chapter of this book begins with the famous Maya Angelou quote about knowing and doing better. At the beginning of this year, I made a post about my #OneWord2017 and it happened to be better and that quote was included in my post. I love how it’s a quote that doesn’t point fingers or place blame. It also focuses around something I very much believe about good humans- which is that we are all doing the best we can. But like this book, Angelou’s quote pushes us to do more. Yes, of course, do the best you can. But please, learn. Grow. Improve. Study. Try. Fail. Listen. And when you’ve done all those things and you’ve learned something new, do that now. Until you need to do something more. And better. Then repeat all those steps over and over. There’s no end point. Only a continuous journey of self and student improvement. How lucky are we to be able to continuously mold ourselves into our best possible version? 

As this final chapter puts a concluding touch on the four behaviors of excellence, it reminds us that not every educator will be perfectly in sync with these four ideals at all times. That, naturally, in every school, there will be those who do not share the same beliefs. I love how the authors point out how excellent educators do not fall victim to this idea of “getting everyone on board” with a plan or belief. Instead, they “carry the torch” if you will, for the excellent ideas, and hope that the light of the torch lights the way for their colleagues.

One of my favorite parts of the whole book, is near the end, when the authors are taking about “Happiness in the Daily Doing” and how yes, we celebrate the big victories- but that those big victories are made possible by the smaller, often overlooked day to day tasks in a school. For example, stepping into my Strategic Reading classroom, you might not be impressed by the students working together to fill out a google form on what meaningful matches they found in their texts during reading that day. However, what I see is a group of 30 students who have: 
  1. Found a new partner each day we have done this and therefore expanded their personal network of friends and introduced themselves to someone new that day.
  2. Discussed with that new friend their book that they read that day and therefore expanded their literacy minds as well as social and communication skills.
  3. Partners filling out a google form on what they discussed to turn it in to me for feedback and therefore are practicing 21st century skills and nurturing their skills in an ever increasing technological world.
  4. Upon submitting the form, conclude their conversation by sharing book recommendations, saying thank you, and getting back to their reading therefore, in general, are just being two nice humans (an ANY century skill) and growing in reading.

So yes, at first glance, this activity might not look like much. And I had to teach each one of those “mundane” tasks of “say thank you to your partner for listening” but you better believe that when I stand back and watch this- I am certain I am watching magic happen. That sight is my victory. And excellent educators have these victories everyday in their classroom. Not by accident- but by careful planning and many, many “mundane” tasks that add up to something incredible. 

I’m going to conclude my reflection on this book by simply showing one of my favorite quotes from the whole piece. Remember how at the beginning of this post, I mentioned I was so thankful for this book? Thankful because of how I have learned so much and grown as an educator. And yet, wonderfully, the authors have this message for us readers:

At the beginning of this post, I promised you some next steps you can take after reading this post (and the others) in this #D100bloggerPD blog book study. Here they are:
  1. Set your calendar for next Tuesday (4/18) at 8:00pm central time when author Jimmy Casas joins for a special edition of #D100chat. Just follow that hashtag on Twitter and you’ll find everything you need to know!
  2. Sign up for iEngage-Berwyn- our amazing 2 day Ed-Tech Conference where you can hear Jimmy Casas speak- along with two amazing days of learning. You can find more information about the conference and tickets here, but, I’m going to give a FREE 2 Day Conference Ticket to the first person who replies to this blog post!
  3. Everyone else who comments here (but isn’t the first person) will receive a code for 20% off their ticket AND be entered into a drawing to win their own copy of the book Start. Right. Now. by Todd Whitaker, Jeffrey Zoul, and Jimmy Casas. 
    1. You can then get your copy of the book SIGNED by Jimmy Casas at the conference!
Thank you so much for following along with us on the #D100bloggerPD journey! If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below- we love to hear from you! Also, thank you to all my fellow #D100bloggerPD members for partaking in this study- I have and continue to learn so much from all of you!


  1. Sounds like District 100 is doing great things! Will definitely check out this book!

    1. Hi Laura,
      Thanks for reading an responding! Since you are the first,you win a FREE iEngage ticket! Please email me at to redeem your prize!