Friday, January 29, 2016

My Inspirational Follow-Up

As you see in the previous post, the #D100bloggerPD crew just wrapped up our January journey- which was a post on something that inspires you. We had 10 wonderful posts, from educators though Berwyn South District 100, all reflecting on something that inspires them- in whatever way they wanted. I loved the variety of posts- from quotes and books, to family and heritage, even workouts and chicken nuggets- point being that inspiration comes from the most personal of places- yet when handled properly, impacts so many people. 

I began that #whatinspiresyou journey all the way back on 1/11 with my post about what inspired me recently- and that was a quote from Dave Burgess who, as many know, is the incredibly engaging author of Teach Like a Pirate. Ever since that post, however, I have felt that I would be crazy to not do a follow up entry about what truly inspires me every single day, without fail. That is, of course, my family. If you've been reading my posts for a while, you know a little about my family- but let me introduce them.

First, I am married to an incredibly smart and selfless man- Peter- who is a middle school math teacher in Elmhurst, IL. We met while attending Illinois State University (yet another of the million reasons why I love my alma mater) and have been inseparable ever since. He is, as the cliche goes, definitely my better half. He's dedicated to our little family above anything else and would do anything for us- yet still finds time to be an amazing teacher, son, friend, and overall human being. Recently, we have started presenting at EdTech Conferences together and being able to work with him to help other teachers has been incredibly fun and rewarding. He inspires me every single day to be a better in every way. It's so awesome to have someone in your corner who always supports you and pushes you to be better, while still making you feel proud of what you've accomplished. The top picture is from our wedding (8/2/08) and the bottom is from our most recent conference presentation.  

The other two pieces of my inspiration puzzle are our children- Brayden and Olive. Brayden, who is 4 and a half, is an absolute tender heart who tries his best at everything he does.
Brayden (Left: 4, Right: 2 Weeks)
He was born tongue tied (yes, that's a thing) and after his corrective surgery, has been in Speech to work on his sounds that were delayed due to that condition.  Just last night we were practicing his speech homework and the progress he has made (at 4!!) has been incredible. He just keeps trying and he never gives up. He is also super sweet and has a heart of gold- something that I know might change over time but I plan to nurture as long as possible. He's going to be starting Kindergarten next fall and I can only imagine the ride we are in for. I've never been one to get emotional at the first day of school- but I'm not going to lie- I'm already preparing myself for this one. Everyone says that time only goes by faster- and so far we have found this to be true- but even still. It's just so hard to believe that our little boy, who was born almost 7 weeks early into a whirlwind of life- could possibly be old enough to be starting elementary school. It's crazy. 

One great thing about Brayden having such a sweet personality is that it makes him such a tolerant and patient older brother to his little sister Olive.
Olive (Top: 2.5, Bottom: 2 Weeks)
A lot of people wonder if they heard me right when I say my daughter's name is Olive- and yes, they did. And while it seems like an "out there" kind of name- if you met her, you'd know we were spot on. Whereas Brayden is our sweet and gentle child, Olive is our wild and free spirit who, I am sure of it, will never cease to keep us on our toes. She is full of energy, full of life, and full of an independent spirit that I cannot wait to see where it takes her in life. At only 3 years old (nearly exactly as I write this!), she is already taking the world by storm. With a head of crazy curls and chubby little cheeks, she is inquisitive and curious- all while smiling her way through the day. Right now, Peter and I are convinced she's going to be a reporter when she grows up because she just has to know everything. And then, when she knows it, she questions it. Her preschool teacher probably loves this trait! But all kidding aside, she's stolen our hearts from day one and we are excited to see where she takes it. 

I realize that I just wrote an entire post about how much I love my family- but I think pausing to reflect on the gratitude I feel towards these 3 people for changing my life is important. We cannot ever overlook that sometimes the most inspirational people are the closest to us at all times. And we can never stop appreciating them for all they do to make us better every single day. 

Monday, January 11, 2016

#D100bloggerPD: What Inspires You?

For my first post of the new year, I am kicking off a new adventure by the #d100bloggerPD crew- a short "What Inspires You?" month of posts, videos, tweets, and more. In wanting to keep the awesome momentum of our #d100bloggerPD hashtag going, we wanted to do something that would be quick and easy to kick off the new year- and what better way to do it than with a positive and inspirational start!

Here's how it will work:
On every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from January 11 to January 29 (9 total), a member of the #d100bloggerPD crew will be posting something that inspires them. The post might be on a blog, on twitter, on google +, or elsewhere- but you will always get a heads up as to where to find the next post from the current one. So for example, I am starting today, and at the end of my post, I will link you or direct you to who is coming next on Wednesday. All you need to do then is follow the path through the posts. You could read them as they get posted, or wait until the end and follow all 9 at once. At the end, I will update this post at the bottom with links to all the inspirational posts. Be sure to comment and add what inspires you, because remember, we are all learning from each other here!

So without further ado, here is what inspires me as I begin this new year and new study!

My 2016 Inspiration is this quote:

This quote also goes hand in hand with this quote- which I couldn't help but include:

As you can see, my inspiration is all about teaching students to reach their full potential- while fully getting to know and understand that student in order to facilitate that learning. 

I was lucky enough to see Dave Burgess (Teach Like a Pirate) speak live at the Illinois Reading Council Conference earlier this school year. In my opinion, it's impossible to sit in his audience and not be inspired. I tweeted out that first quote immediately when I heard it (after making it pretty with the WordSwag app) and it's still, to this day, one of my most popular tweets. It's totally easy to see why. Today's teacher's didn't decide to follow the profession when they were little because they wanted to rock the PARCC test. They became teachers to change lives and make the world a better place. So why then, as grown up teachers, does "teaching to the test" have to be the main focus? We cannot ever lose sight of our first love. Teaching kids. Not for test scores, but for the love of teaching and learning. This task, this unending journey, is what inspires me to come to work everyday and give my very best. Our students need us. 

That's where that second quote comes in. Sometimes I get so caught up in the pedagogy (I can't help it, it's so exciting!) that I forget about the very simple building blocks of my students. I love, and I mean love, using Bloom's Taxonomy and the Digital Bloom's Taxonomy in my teaching. In fact, I love it so much that I wrote one of my favorite blog posts about it. (Read it here if you'd like.) But even I need to remember that none of that matters if we don't show our students that we care about them as humans. When I saw this quote from Alan Beck it sent me rushing back to my Educational Psychology class at Illinois State and made me instantly appreciate that teacher/course for making me learn about all the famous educational psychologists- Maslow included. There's something really vital about remembering that our students have lives outside our classroom walls and sadly, they are sometimes are not as pretty as we'd like them to be. Sometimes there are burdens bigger than getting homework done and challenges mightier than getting their silent reading done every night. Let's all make a resolution to think before we speak and contemplate before we make any judgements this year. Let's give our students the benefit of the doubt a little more and the harsh pang of disappointment a little less. Let's be the one person our student's know for a fact they can rely on. Imagine how much more you would've tried in a class if you had a teacher who you knew cared about you and wanted you to succeed above all else. 

We can't control their lives outside our classroom walls. 
But we can make what happens inside our walls magical. 

If you enjoyed reading about what inspires me then you will love the next post- coming this Wednesday 1/13- from Marilyn on her Pershing Principal Blog. I can guarantee that you will learn something wonderful from this post. After you read that, be sure to follow along every MWF for a new #whatinspiresyou post from the #D100bloggerPD crew! Also, starting February 1, our new book study begins! We will be reading Ron Clark's Move Your Bus! I hope you can join us for that, as well. First post will be from Colleen at Literacy Loving Gals on 2/1/16!

Thanks for reading and happy new year!

#D100bloggerPD #whatinspiresyou Posts:

Marilyn at Pershing Principal Blog: Learning to Dare Greatly
Annie at Show Your Thinking Math: Math TwitterBlogosphere #MTBoS
Colleen at Literacy Loving Gals: What Inspires You?
Felicia at Literacy Lights: What Inspires You?
Courtney at @Literacy4Life1: Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz
Christine guest blogging at Responsive Literacy: The Teacher Mom 
Nancy at @TeamHealyK-2: Heatwave Fitness
Leah at Responsive Literacy:  Voices of Inspiration