Saturday, July 15, 2017

Fueled by Coffee and Love

I am so super thrilled to announce that my first book is now available on Amazon! This is a combined effort of about 60 teachers from all around the world, and I have the honor of coordinating and leading this project!

Fueled by Coffee and Love is a collection of real stories by real teachers. Each person shared a story from their teaching journey. Some will make you smile, some make you think, and some will make you cry. These are our stories.

The intro was written by the one and only Doug Robertson! And, if that isn’t enough, all proceeds from this book will be donated to classrooms and teachers. (Ok good, you’re convinced. Go buy a copy, then read on.)

Find Fueled by Coffee and Love on Amazon. And share your story with #FBCALbook
Fueled by Coffee and Love
This project started in February 2017--my AVID 8 students were starting 20Time projects, and I decided to do one myself. My inspiration for this project stemmed from news media and politicians telling a one-sided tale of what teaching and education is and is not. I feel frustrated that the individuals making decisions about our profession have little idea of our day-to-day joys and struggles.


What I thought would be a small and manageable project exploded (in a great way) and turned into a full-scale book project. In March through May, I gathered stories and facilitated the editing process. A total of 53 stories came in! Then, it took May and June to finish the editing, final formatting, getting a logo and cover design created (thanks Michele Osinski!), and getting the whole thing published. (Shoutout to Ray Charbonneau & y42k Publishing Services for making the self-publishing process easy.)

To make things even more awesome, Jennie Magiera’s ISTE 2017 keynote was all about sharing the untold stories! It takes courage to share these stories, and it’s important to shine a light on the great things we’re doing. Jennie mentioned Chimanda Ngozi Adichie’s TED Talk in her keynote--if you haven’t seen it, make sure you check it out!  Adichie says, “Power is the ability not just to tell the story of another person, but to make it the definitive story of that person.” (Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, TED Talk, The danger of a single story). It is a dangerous thing to allow others to tell our stories, especially when they are doing so for political or economic gain.

One of the biggest challenges in this project was recruiting a diverse cross-section of teachers, especially including teachers of color. Because this project grew out of my group of friends and PLN, I know there is some diversity of authors and I also know it isn’t representative of all teachers. (And, since I don’t know all of the authors personally, I’m making this judgement based on their stories, bios, and Twitter profiles.) This is something in the forefront of my mind as I begin asking for writers for Volume 2. I’d love your help in spreading the word!

It has been such a labor of love throughout this process. And, I’m thankful for everyone who made this project possible. Along with Michele and her graphic design skills, I’m super grateful for Aubrey Yeh, Meagan Kelly, and Nick Brierley for stepping up and helping with extra rounds of edits, bouncing around ideas, and providing constant feedback.
I'm holding my copy of the Fueled by Coffee and Love proof!
The proof arrived!

In all honesty, it was such a fun project and I loved every second of it. I will say, it didn’t feel real until I held the proof copy in my hands for the first time. That was an incredible feeling! All our hard work, in a tangible book! Go team!


Get yourself a copy of the book on Amazon or other ebook sources. While you’re there, buy a second copy to gift to a teacher who has made an impact on you! Find out more about the project on the Fueled by Coffee and Love website.

And, in true project style, I’m already thinking about a potential Volume 2. If you’re interested in writing and/or editing, please fill out the interest list and I’ll email you once Volume 2 gets rolling (likely September 2017).

Lastly, I leave you with this challenge:
Go thank a teacher who impacted you, went above and beyond for you, or made a difference in your life. Send them an email, a text, a postcard, an owl (bonus points: buy them a copy of the book and write your thank you inside!)...whatever you have to do. Please, take a moment to acknowledge their love and hard work.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Work Hard, Rest Hard

As I am getting more and more involved in the edtech world, working on education related projects, and presenting at conferences, I’ve found myself really failing at the work/life balance. I can’t be the only one struggling here, right?

On weekdays, I get up, go to work, come home from work, make dinner (usually while working), then work some more. Not all of this is lesson planning and grading--much of the work I do when not at work is via social media, working on projects, or preparing for conferences. It’s still work. On weekends, I wake up, work on something on and off all day, taking breaks for naps or to run errands. Even when I’m not directly working, I find myself thinking about work. Throughout teaching, the one positive limit I’ve had for myself is no work email on my phone.

I’ve found myself stressed and easily overwhelmed with the amount of things I think I need to get done. And struggling to differentiate between things that need to get done, and things I want to get done. I know I’m not giving my best self to myself, my boyfriend, our dog, and my family/friends.

Simply unplugging doesn’t always work for me because I feel guilty for not working, and be constantly thinking about what I should be doing. (Sidenote: Should is my danger word. I’m frequently wrapped up in the shoulds and should nots, rather than what’s best for me.)

I needed to make a change. ASAP.

I made the decision to gift myself Sundays.

I set guidelines for what can and cannot be done on Sundays.  I’ve decided that working on projects or work-work is off limits, including work email. I can chat with friends on Twitter, do chores around the house (even if my brain tries to talk me out of it because it’s my rest day!), hang out with friends, or do absolutely nothing.

A typical Sunday might include waking up slowly (sleeping in until 7am!), playing with the dog or going on a longer walk, going to church, grocery shopping, taking a nap, reading, catching up on MasterChef and Food Network shows on the DVR, crocheting, watching baseball without multitasking on work, doing laundry, and making a more involved dinner. I enjoy doing everything on this list (except for putting away the laundry)!

Even throughout the long and difficult process completing my National Board Certification (NBCT) this spring, and coordinating my book project Fueled by Coffee and Love, I didn’t do any work on Sundays. I found myself more focused on Saturdays and at work, knowing I couldn’t do last minute things on Sunday.

My one exception to this “no work on Sundays” rule has been conferences. However, when I’m at a weekend conference (usually an EdTechTeam summit) I’m having so much fun that it doesn’t feel like work!

This change has been absolutely magical! Because I know that all of Sunday is off-limits for work, I don’t feel guilty for relaxing. I’ve found myself less stressed, and more present in both work and rest. Additionally, I’ve found it easier to limit my work on weekday evenings.

This is what works for me. It may or may not work for you, and that’s okay. Maybe you pick a different time period, or your “rest rules” are different. There is no judgement in how you choose to rest and rejuvenate yourself.

It's less about the amount of time, and more about the practice of it.

What do your rest habits look like?

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Virtual Vikings -- tech learning made convenient!

One of my hats at school is .2 (one class period) as a Blended Learning Specialist. I work with teachers to do purposeful integration of technology into our classroom. As I try to encourage my colleagues beyond simple substitution with our 1:1 iPads, I’ve found that we’re all sort of stuck in the swamp of so much to do, and not enough time to implement everything.

Virtual Vikings Newsletter
Virtual Vikings Newsletter
I had to really sit down and consider what will work best for my teachers. They don’t need more PD or expansion of Tech Tuesday lunches. I post resources and ideas on Google Classroom, initiate discussions, and try to be present in classrooms as much as possible. We attend local conferences, such as Edcamp619 and the San Diego CUE Tech Fair. However, they didn’t need more of any of that.

It took me the better part of a year analyzing this challenge, talking with colleagues and mentors, and observing how our teachers go about learning.

When I visited Google Boulder for the Innovator Academy in June 2016 and the Googleplex in Mountain View in August 2016, I noticed they had newsletters in all the restroom stalls. This made for some very interesting and technical reading. (Sorry, didn’t take any pictures. Google’s rules!) And, it reminded me of freshman year of college when our RAs would post the weekly newsletter in the bathrooms--it was impossible to ignore.
"Love the new addition"
Text from my friend!

A lightbulb went off, and Virtual Vikings was born.

I used Google Slides to create the monthly newsletter template (see template & example here), then added in new content for each month. When I see cool tech tips, ideas, or lesson spotlights, I add them to a list on Google Keep. My featured sections include: Tech Tip, Classroom Highlight, Spotlight, Monthly Challenge, Viking Tech Crew, and Upcoming Events.

The hardest part is getting classroom spotlights, since I can’t be in every classroom every day. I’ve recruited my Viking Tech Crew (tech club) students to share what they’re learning, and take pictures of lessons and activities they’d like to share.

I’m thankful my dear friend Deb, guardian of the color printer, happily prints me 12 copies each month.

In each staff bathroom plus the copy room, I used 3M Command Strips to hang up plastic sheet protectors on the wall or back of the stall door. Each month, I do a Tour De Bathroom and slip a new newsletter into the sheet protector.

I’ve intentionally chosen not to also email out a copy. I want to preserve the magic and excitement of the physical newsletter. In the future, I’m not opposed to posting a digital archive of past newsletters.

Missing...where did my Virtual Vikings go?
Missing newsletter!
Since starting this in March 2017, I have received extremely positive feedback on the Virtual Vikings newsletter! Each time a new one goes up, friends text me, email me, or stop me in the halls to share what they learned. They like that it’s short, colorful, visual, and convenient.

In fact, a few people love Virtual Vikings SO much that newsletters occasionally disappear from the sheet protectors!


I can’t wait to post our next Virtual Vikings newsletter when we go back to school in July!

Friday, June 30, 2017

ISTE 2017 -- aka the Wizard Convention

“Words are in my not-so-humble opinion, the most inexhaustible form of magic we have, capable both of inflicting injury and remedying it.”
-- Albus Dumbledore (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows)

I love ISTE. It feels like a wizard convention.
Jennie Magiera - Tuesday keynote!
I just got back from ISTE 2017, now know as the Wizard Convention (thanks to Jennie!). Now that I’ve taken a full day to sleep and recover, I can properly reflect on my ISTE 2017 experience.

This is my 2nd ISTE, and it was even crazier than last year at ISTE 2016. Crazy, as in I want to hug as many friends as possible and have great conversations. Needless to say, it’s 5 days where I have to suspend my introvert self, and be a social butterfly.

I spent a lot of time being present with the friends I saw and met, that I really didn't have much time for Tweeting, Instagramming, Snapping, or taking selfies. I'm ok with this, knowing that the memories are more powerful than internet likes and photos.

Friends!
ISTE is like one big family reunion! I loved seeing my #COL16 family (Google Innovator cohort), and knowing that I always had cheerleaders coming past my poster & playground sessions. Plus, I saw a bunch of friends I’ve met at other conferences and on Twitter.

Some of my COL16 Innovator cohort.
COL16 Family!
One of my ISTE highlights is I got to spend some quality time with my mentor and good friend, Crafty! It’s amazing to think I met him a year ago at ISTE, and then the Innovator Sorting Hat assigned us together after COL16. Lucky is an understatement!

I loved cheering on Jennie Magiera (Go #TeamYoshi!), the Tuesday morning keynote. Since I received an award (see below), I had a front and center seat for her keynote. Jennie inspired us to tell our stories, and to believe in ourselves and our experiences as teachers. While keynotes are generally inspiring, it was even more powerful knowing Jennie is my friend and Innovator coach, and she is 100% transparent--thanks for living and sharing your story.

Another awesome part of ISTE was helping the one and only Sylvia Duckworth win her epic Demo Slam at the EdTechTeam booth. I was a backup dancer for her rendition of "Come and Get Your Chrome"! Watch us rock on Periscope!

Trailblazer Academy aka Keynote Camp aka Confidence Camp
On Sunday, I was beyond lucky to attend the full-day Trailblazer Academy, really though, it was keynote camp! I spent the entire day working with critical friends to develop stories and structure for my future (and finally in progress) keynote, and learning from Molly Bennett and Jennie Magiera. A few days later, when talking with Jennie, Crafty, and other friends, Jennie said she noticed how much my confidence level went up by the end of the day. The best part is that I felt that happen! In reality, it was confidence camp more than keynote camp.

Poster Sessions, Playground, and Expo Hall
Receiving my Emerging Leader 2017 award
Receiving my Emerging Leader 2017
award
One of my favorite parts of ISTE is the poster sessions and playground. The general sessions require me to wait in line, and there’s a good chance I might not get in; with such limited time, I honestly don’t have the patience to wait in line for an hour, stuck in one spot. Instead, I wandered through the poster sessions, learned from friends at the playgrounds, and perused the expo hall--all while walking and chatting with friends.

Emerging Leader 2017 Award
Most of my friends told me “why didn’t you tell us?!” when they found out I received an award...hint taken, friends. So, I’m happy, thrilled, honored, and humbled to announce I am selected as one of the ISTE Emerging Leaders of 2017! I received my award at a fancy lunch on Monday, and it was also announced before Jennie’s keynote on Tuesday morning.

ISTE Pro Tip

Snacks and peanut butter & jelly supplies ready for ISTE!
ISTE breakfast & lunch! 
My big ISTE (and other big conference) advice is pack food! If a conference doesn’t have food provided to all attendees, then your best bet is to pack some food. Why wait for an hour(s) for expensive subpar food, when you can sit down and eat a packed lunch? There are enough socials, mixers, meetups, and friendventures to handle dinner options.

I got a lot of eyerolls when I told friends I devoted a whole section of my suitcase to food: bread, peanut butter, jelly, applesauce, granola bars, cuties, and candy. Plus, other essentials like ziplock bags, plastic knives, napkins, and wet wipes. The best part is I made extra PB&J sandwiches for my friends! I was flexible to eat breakfast & lunch when I was hungry, wandering the expo hall, or sitting on a bench chatting with a friend.

See you all in Chicago for ISTE 2018!


PSA -- Remember to create a more accessible internet by adding in alt text to pictures and closed captions to videos! Learn more from Melissa Oliver (@maoliver17) at www.createaccessibility.com.

Friday, June 9, 2017

2016-2017 School Year Reflection

Year 5 is in the books!

I am amazed at all I've accomplished. And I'm grateful for the incredible people that have surrounded me on this journey.

One of the big themes this year has been overcommitment. Now that the school year is over, I am exhausted. I took on way more than I should have, but it is a learning experience. Now, after a week of summer break, I’ve almost recovered.

I know we live in a time where busy is a status symbol, and if that is the case, then I am a queen. I have been blogging more, presenting more, and taking on new big projects. One of my big accomplishments this year is a collaborative book project called Fueled by Coffee and Love! It was a lot more work than I expected, but it was work of love. The paperback and ebook should be published sometime in late June 2017.

That’s not to say I haven’t loved every minute of everything I’ve done! It’s just been a little more than I should have taken on. And, it has taken a few extra naps to get there.

Paper Airplane Lab in Science 7
Although this has been a very busy year, it is also been a time of reflection. I have identified that I am overcommitted, and I have tried to take steps to reduce my commitments and say “no” more often.

My saving grace is this year was teaching 0 period. It may sound strange, getting up extra early to teach at 7:19am, but it was worth it. One of the benefits is that I was done with school early on Tuesdays and Thursdays giving me a couple extra afternoon hours to relax (teaching periods 0-5, on block schedule). This allowed me to take better care of myself throughout the school year. I spent those extra few hours running errands, napping with the dog, reading, and not working.

Science 7 and AVID 8
Even though I was involved in a lot of professional development activities and events, it always comes down to my kids. As long as I am doing the best job for my students, then I know that I am doing a good job as their teacher. We had a lot of fun in science this year with plenty of hands on labs and activities. My students love that we are active in our classroom.
Touring UCLA with AVID 8

This year, I took on our new AVID 8 0 period class. It was my first time having 8th graders, and I love them. The best part was getting to loop with the kids--I had about ⅔ of the class as 7th graders in science and/or AVID, and knew the rest of them from around campus. In AVID, we went on college field trips to USC and UCLA (yes, on the same day!) and CSU Fullerton. We researched colleges and careers, and did 20Time Impact Projects.


Science with Mod/Severe
Crayon art with leaves from the
school garden
One of the highlights of my year was doing science with our moderate/severe special ed class. For the last seven weeks of school, I did science with this class once a week during my prep period. We grew tomato plants, made observations about our tomato plants and school garden, and kept a blog. (Eventually I’ll write a whole post about this.) I love working with this class because they are capable and imaginative learners, and love hands-on science. The goal for next year is to do science together once a week. And, we want to occasionally combine class so that our students can spend time together.

This class has been a second home to me, and their teacher and support staff are so welcoming. I love being their science teacher!

Unified Sports
Additionally, we are also bringing Unified Sports to our campus thanks to my friend Val Ruiz. I think it is important that all our students have the opportunity to interact, no matter their physical, emotional, or intellectual abilities.

Recording green screen videos in
Science 7
Blended Learning Specialist
Another highlight of my year has been my technology role as a Blended Learning Specialist--I have a .2 (1 class period) to work with teachers, provide tech resources and support, and work on tech project. Additionally, I still run monthly Parent Tech Breakfasts. One new things this year is I started a “Virtual Vikings” newsletter that I post monthly in the bathrooms. Our staff LOVE this, and I got lots of positive feedback via text message, email, and in-person conversations.

Technology Adventures
This school year, I had the opportunity to travel many places to present and learn with teachers from all around the country. I’ve been to New Mexico, multiple places within California, Georgia, Tennessee, and Arkansas to present at conferences and EdTechTeam summits. One of the best experiences was Google’s Geo Teachers’ Institute back in July. Although I missed days 4 & 5 of school, the learning opportunities were so worth it!

Goals for 2017-2018
Some of my goals for next school year include making my class more student centered and student run. I would like to turn over some control to my students. Another big thing coming up is that we are creating a few teams in our school. I am teaming with a math, English, and history teacher to better support our students, and we will share the same 90-100 kids. I’m looking forward to having the time and space to build better relationships with our students.

Thank you all for making the 2016-2017 school year fun, productive, and a learning experience.