Friday, January 6, 2017

Reading 2017

I stumbled upon a fellow educator's blog (I think it was Mari Venturino) that talked about how she reads so many books each year. I made it a goal to read more last year and I noticed how much better I felt.  Reading serves almost as an escape for me.  It is an opportunity to forget about the dishes and anything else on my to do list.  I read a lot of education and inspirational books (I agree with Mari that this term is better than Self-Help) and both of these genres improve my teacher and how I approach each day.  I love the opportunity to learn and grow and reading helps this process.  I also read for entertainment and one of my goals for 2017 is to read more "fun" books.  By fun, I mean fiction books. This is a genre that is usually lacking for me. 

In order to make sure I have time to read, I took some time to think about a schedule that would be realistic. I usually read multiple books at a time: an audio book for during my commute, a book, and an ebook. As part of my 2017 fitness goal, I plan to walk more, so I am going to use this time as time to read "fun" books.  I also want to step outside of my reading comfort zone by reading books that are outside of my typical genres.  I would like to read more Classics and Fiction books that made it to "Top of Lists."

My goal is to read 52 books this year (a book a week).  Regardless of how many I actually finish, I will learn a lot and enjoy my time.  I also want to model to my children the joy of reading.  Kiddo 1 has starter "reading" books by herself and it is a sight that makes my heart happy.

What are your reading goals for 2017?  Happy Reading!

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Dixon Police Department

Dixon, Illinois is a town near to where I live and their police department started a Twitter account this year.  Their tweets update the community on arrests and town information, but they also share hilarious stories.  From what I can gather through their tweets, one or two officers are in charge of the account.  An officer thought of the idea and was given permission to do it.  

This is a great reminder that the people doing things do not need to be at the highest level in an organization.  People at the top need to give the people below them permission to come up with new ideas and to think out of the box.

This summer, Northern Illinois was hit with a heat wave.  The Dixon Police Department asked parents to tweet their address with the emoji of police lights. Officers showed up with water guns and had a water gun fight with kids in the community.  What a great way to build positive relationships and reach out to the community!  They also handed about freeze pops.

Some supervisors hear about these two ideas and come up with reasons they won't work, but these officers were given permission to think outside the box.  The water gun fights and their tweets have gained attention from more than just their local community and they are great reminders for all organizations.  Let your people think outside the box and don't make it impossible to try new things.

Teacher as a Business Owner

A family friend became an Edward Jones Advisor last year and I learn something new about the Edward Jones company every time we meet with him. Many aspects fascinate me and I think there are many parallels to education.

1.  Although it is a large company, each agent works as their own entity.  They work independently (classrooms) but each individual's success leads to the success of the whole company (school/district). To help ensure success they provide each new agent with mentors and advisors who help the new agent build their business. There is always someone only a phone call away who can answer questions and give advice. This is an area I think schools could learn a lot from. Often we hire who we think is the best for the job, but we don't always support them. Burn out rates for teachers in their first five years is incredibly high.

2. Edward Jones has a thorough screening process. Our friend told me about his interview process and sounds intense. A phone interview, mock client meeting and other meetings/interviews. I got the impression from talking to him that they care more about personality and how you handle situations than background knowledge.  Yes, teachers need to know their content in order to be successful, but I also believe most successful teachers can learn new content if they need to teach a new class.  Many of the best teachers I have had all had similar traits: passion for their subject, ability to build positive relationships, clear communication and they cared about their students.

3. Each Edward Jones Agent is required to have their own facility. A new agent starts working in the same building as another agent and after a year or so they transition to their own facility. What is each teacher treated their classroom like a separate entity?  What if each teacher spent as much time on parent/family/student buy in as a business owner did?  

I know there are many differences between a business and a classroom and in many ways there should be.  I also think that there are many ideas we can learn from the business world.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Let Me Tell You A Secret...

"Out of 7 billion people and thousands of collected years of recorded human history, none of us are facing a particular adversity that’s completely unique. Keep perspective — other people have gone through what you’re going through and can help you. Also, remember that you’ve survived hardship before and you’ve come out okay."
 - Brendon Burchard
 Lately, I have been posting more about my struggles and to my surprise, I have found that I am not alone.  The more I share, the more I realize that what I am experiencing is completely normal.  Regardless of how I feel, I am not alone in my struggles.  Being a teacher is hard.  Being a wife is hard.  Being a mom is hard.  Being an adult is hard.

EVERYONE struggles and chances are they are or have or will struggle with the same issues.  Some people make life look easy and it seems like they have it all together, but I have learned that some people are just better at hiding it.  Don't let people fool you.  No one has it all figured out and no one is immune to challenges.  

The biggest secret of life is that everyone else is struggling too.

The Next 365

As the New Year approaches, I have been reflecting on the last 365 days.  Each year brings changes, great memories and sadness.  There are great accomplishments and tough challenges.  As I grow older, I am realizing the importance of learning and growing every year.  2016 gave me many opportunities to learn and grow.  My hope is that I am able to take advantage of each of these opportunities to learn and grow.

My Biggest Lessons from 2016

  • Relationships are #1!
  • Being an adult/teacher/wife/mom/person is hard sometimes.
  • Life gives me multitudes to be thankful for and I need to spend more energy thinking about the positives instead of the challenges.
  • Comparing my life to others steals joy from my life.
  • Reading is a great gift.
  • Children are hilarious.
  • Enjoy the moment.
I am thankful for the lessons I have learned during 2016 and I look forward to 2017.  Each day is a chance to enjoy the moment and to learn and grow.

Happy New Year!

4 Years of Blogging: Top Posts

The end of 2016 marks four years since I began my blogging journey.  In honor of the last four years, I have put together a list of the top four posts from 2016 and the Most Popular posts since I have been blogging.

Four Most Popular
Composer of the Month

Incredibox Lesson Plans

Recorder Karate 2013

Idea Bandit

Top Four from 2016
Kindergarten Concert 2016

Do We Realize


Emergency Sub Plans

Thursday, December 29, 2016

You Look Happy

Weeks ago, before church I had a few minutes before we had to leave so I picked up my phone to check Facebook. I had five alerts so I quickly skimmed through them and noticed someone had commented on a photo. Earlier in the morning I had changed my profile and cover photos. My marriage is the second most important relationship (behind God) and I decided my profile picture should show this relationship. My girls are also very important to me so I changed my cover photo to a picture of them and my profile picture is a picture of my husband and I.

Someone commented that we look so happy.  A completely innocent comment that made me upset.  How dare they tell me how to feel.  I realize now how silly my reaction was, but in the moment it really bothered me.  I did not feel happy and I did not appreciate someone telling me that I should be happy.  This comment made me realize how much we hide from others.  We give the illusion that we are happy.  On the outside everything looks great, but on the inside we are far from great.

In someways this is good.  Being able to "hide" some of your emotions can be very helpful. In other ways it can be a detriment.  Regardless of what "everyone" sees, it is vital that I have people close to me that I can share how I really feel.  People I can turn to for help when the trenches get a little too deep.  We all need these people.

What we see on the outside does not always match what is happening on the inside. Just another reminder that relationships matter.  Don't judge a book by it's cover.