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!