As podcasters, Eric Carlin and I pride ourselves in releasing an episode of the Share MO Edu podcast each week. We see the benefit in amplifying the positive voices of others and celebrating their contributions to the field of education. It allows us to connect, learn and share! We reached Episode 93 and had to take a hiatus...a pause...a gap in our series.
Diagnosed with thyroid cancer in early November, followed by a total thyroidectomy in early December, my daily priorities had to shift during this pause. It hurt! We were...We ARE so close to 100 episodes.
Taking care of my family and myself became my priority over the past 2 months. I can happily say that I have found strength in a time of weakness. I am returning to podcasting physically and mentally healthier and happier. My family (including my school family), friends near and far, and PLN showed up to support and offer encouragement. This was so appreciated!
Well, guess what!??! We are gearing up to go! GO is my word for January and GRACE is my overarching word for 2020! I can also share that Eric's word for 2020 is LISTEN.
We are ready to GO with GRACE to LISTEN and share more!
Episode 94 of Share MO Edu on PodOmatic and Apple Podcast.
Live Morning Video Announcements Made Easy
Moving from delivering the morning announcements over the intercom to live video announcements was a dream at the start of this past school year. We had the K-6 student voices! We had the content! We had the will power! We lacked the fancy broadcast booth full of equipment! But where there is a will, there is a way!
A colleague told me about the Live:Air Action app. She had little knowledge of the app, but I was hopeful! Immediately I started investigating the app from Teradek. Here are sites and videos that I found helpful:
Teradek Live:Air Action Site
Long story short...we use the free version of this iPad app. Our recipe for success includes an iPad with the Live:Air Action app installed and programmed to support our morning announcements, an iPad stand, a Maple Elementary backdrop/banner (the banner we typically use was created and donated by Reed Photography), a YouTube channel linked to the app, student anchors, student camera men/women, and daily scripts synchronized with the images and videos that will be overlaid during the announcements.
We now live stream our morning video announcements to our school's YouTube site, Maple Elementary. The announcements are archived daily following the live stream. Classes can watch them live or access them later in the morning to view the announcements for the day. Families and the community can also find them here.
Here is our first video
announcement from the 2018-2019 school year!
Once the idea took off, we were never at a loss for morning news anchors! Teachers submitted names of students who were interested, students constantly asked to be on the announcements in the halls, and when we went looking for student volunteers, almost every hand in the hallway was raised to the tune of "pick me". Students in grades K-6 love filling this role! Sometimes we even air guest anchors as a fun surprise.
We started creating weekly activities in our announcements and finding additional ways to celebrate students. Here are some ideas we used this year:
Once you understand the app, here are some simple tips:
I will not say that each day is perfect with a non-faulty app, live-stream success, and timely prepared scripts. Mistakes happen and equipment fails. We use these opportunities to model failing forward for our students. There are ideas to grow this daily event in our school--including more student input and celebrating our school story in more creative ways next school year.
If you have used the app or need help getting started, please reach out! I would love to swap ideas or help your school get started.
365 days...365 opportunities
To challenge & push myself,
To recognize & celebrate others' strengths,
To get messy & learn from failed attempts,
To wake up early & chase dreams,
To smile more & spread positivity,
To connect & collaborate,
To show gratitude,
And be APPRECIATIVE for this life.
One. Little. Word. Yet, to the person who claims the word for the year, it holds so much potential. My #OneWord2019 is APPRECIATIVE. In chasing dreams, empowering others, and continuing to grow in 2019, I am starting with appreciation. Tony Robbins says, "Change your expectations for appreciation and your whole world changes in an instant."
Instead of feeling owed in 2019, I want to feel awed! By appreciating people...ideas...the moment, experiences are amplified. Opportunities to say thanks, support others, and change the world for the better are surprising and genuine. I'm choosing moments of awe over moments of owe in 2019.
This blog is transforming...
My school life has been full of change. As 2018 kicked off, I was encouraged by my friend, Adam Welcome, to start a podcast. In February, the Share MO Edu podcast launched with my admin teammate, Dr. Eric Carlin, facilitating as co-host. As we near the end of this year, we are close to airing our 50th episode! This journey has allowed us to meet educators across the US and globally that are making a difference in education. It has changed our lives for the better...I often say, "We didn't know we needed this in our lives!" Meeting and highlighting new guests has encouraged us to #pumpthepositive, grow our PLN, gain confidence in the hard work we are determined to do, and learn that something special is created when you share a piece of yourself with others.
As spring emerged, the building I lead was completely packed up to prepare for renovations. Following the final day of the school year with students, construction began as doors and walls were removed and new learning and collaboration spaces were created. In about 3 months $5.3 million dollars of renovations were completed at Maple Elementary. We opened our doors to a combination of new staff, students, and grade levels, transitioning from a K-2 school to a school that houses grades PreK-6th grade. (AND--the 62 year old school looks amazing!)
The start of this school year has been a time to re-connect with familiar faces and learn to build a strong school family with new colleagues. We are collecting and using new student data to grow together in grade level teams and as a school. We are challenging each other and ourselves to create a new learning space that makes everyone feel welcome. We are laughing, celebrating, and having a ton of fun along the way!
As I mentioned, this blog is transforming. Formerly called "Learncaching", it has been renamed to "Share MO Edu" to match the most recent venture in my learning journey! I am motivated to write again, and I have so much to say as my story continues to unfold...watch out!
When Allyson Apsey aired on Episode 15 of Share MO Edu, she talked about the importance of blogging and sharing her voice and encouraged me to start blogging again! She shared the message "...we need your voice!" (I so appreciate this support, Allyson!!)
If you look back at former posts on this blog, you will see that I have re-committed to blogging MANY times. It's okay...life happens. I'm sure there will be more gaps in my writing. For now, I am excited to start a new chapter in my blog and continue to share my voice through reflections, idea generations, and ramblings. Thanks for reading!
Elementary teachers in Smithville R-II School District had the pleasure of spending the day with Joe Sanfelippo, co-author of Hacking Leadership, on our most recent professional development day. In this brief blog post, I am excited to share my takeaways in 10 tips and archive highlights from the day!
We created a podcast in under two minutes! Listen here:
I recently reached out to Jimmy Casas and asked him to record a welcome message to kick off a professional development day for my staff in mid January. He agreed, and I was elated! The purpose of this post is twofold. I want to share his message so others in my PLN who are experiencing change can benefit. AND, I want to archive this video here in my "professional scrapbook"!
I have mentioned in other posts that my district is in transition. Maple Elementary, as well as 2 other elementary schools in the Smithville, MO school district, will open with a combination of new staff, students, and grade level in the fall of 2018. Splitting staff, announcing boundaries, and preparing for a complete renovation has been overwhelming and scary at times.
Jimmy's message best sums up how any staff should prepare for change. A safe environment that promotes risk taking and provides the support and time to adequately prepare for the change is necessary. "Great change begins with self change!" Yes!! Change your mindset from negative to positive. Change your outlook from dread to opportunity. Change your attitude from "wait until it is comfortable" to "start now"!
Thank you, Jimmy Casas, for this message. My staff and I appreciate your words and encouragement! This message was an amazing start to our day.
For my daughter's 14th birthday I surprised her with tickets to go see poet, Rupi Kaur, reading from her new book, The Sun and Her Flowers. It was a memory-making evening that the two of us will cherish. Elaine, my youngest daughter, has always loved writing and recently developed a love for poetry. The event was held at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Kansas City. This event space is AHH-MAZING!! Any event attended in this space is magical due to the architecture, structure, and beauty of the building!
As the evening unfolded, Elaine and I learned the expectations of attending poetry readings. To hear Rupi Kaur speak her poems was like tantalizing music pulsing through our veins...the songs to which words "gut punch" you and force you to face reality.
Rupi picked out a few poems to share from each chapter of her new book. Prior to reading the selected poems from the chapter, she would reflect and share on her writing, setting the audience up to anticipate the words that were coming.
Rupi expected and encouraged the audience to react to her poems as appropriate. The snapping was my favorite part. Rather than applauding, the audience snapped their fingers to show their appreciation, which is a common expectation of poetry slams.
The last chapter of Rupi Kaur's book is entitled "Blooming". With the start of 2018, there are five short poems that I recite to myself almost daily from this chapter. As I have bravely said to others recently, it is time to shift your mindset as we maneuver through transitions that cause us to question our ability to overcome change. It is time to PUMP THE POSITIVE and DREAM BIG every day.
The one thing that allows us to not embrace change or try something new is doubt. When doubt creeps into my mind, I typically ask myself, "What if I fail? What will I look like in the process? What will others think of me if I try this? What if I can't do it?" Doubt is a scary emotion that leads us to compare ourselves to others, have a constant worry of failure, and question if we are enough.
When doubt enters my mind, I now choose to listen to the words of Rupi Kaur....
If a student or colleague were to approach me with a new idea they were hesitant about, I would be one of their biggest supporters. Why then is it so hard to stay in a positive mindset and speak kind words to myself? It is time to DROPKICK DOUBT. That's right, give it a big punt far, far, far from me and my dreams!! And, every time it slinks back into my mind, I will repeat the process.
I choose to believe in myself, dream BIG, spread my passions far and wide, and embrace change! For me, "all means all" in 2018! I commit to staying positive, recognizing the gifts and talents of others, and pushing myself to try new adventures.
My #OneWord2018 has kept me up at night!! I have filtered through, mulled over and explored several words...
and I have decided on...
This may seem like a lofty word, however, when you love what you do; you want to be your ALL, give your ALL, and explore ALL that is out there! With ALL comes great responsibility! ALL means prioritize, find balance, and spread your passion.
ALL means loving and respecting ALL students, even when it is hard.
ALL means finding ways to #PumpThePositive because #kidsdeserveit and #teachersdeserveit ALL of the time.
ALL means giving your time to ALL that is important in your life...find time for family, your passions, new learning with your PLN, and yourself.
ALL means we are ALL called to be leaders...students, teachers, and administrators.
ALL means we are ALL responsible for the culture of our schools.
ALL means we are ALL in this together...through the changes ahead.
ALL means committing to personal learning, sharing and celebrating ALL ideas that ignite innovation, promote student choice and voice, and benefit learning.
ALL means ALL.
Yes, ALL is a lofty word for the new year, but I dedicate myself to setting out to accomplish ALL in 2018. ALL means ALL. It is ALL important and it is ALL worthy of my time. I will be my ALL. I will give my ALL. And, I will continue to explore it ALL.
As 2017 draws to a close, I realize we are halfway through a school year that will lead to new beginnings. Next year Maple Elementary will contain a combination of new grade levels, new staff and new families. This being said, I am forced to reflect. My reflection is a list of 17 of my favorite memories from this school year that "pumped the positive" at Maple Elementary School.
Through all of these memories I am reminded of the phenomenal students, staff, and families that I work with daily. My assistant principal, Dr. Eric Carlin, and I are committed to spreading passion to our school community every day! Sometimes one has to remind the other that the hard time will pass, and to face every new challenge with a positive mindset and grace. In the end, I can look back on the start of this school year with a grateful heart and excitement for what the remainder of the school year will bring! Cheers to these 17 memories (celebrated in no particular order) and the many new ones that are waiting to be created in 2018!
#1 Twitter Scavenger Hunt Through Smithville
At the back-to-school meeting, staff participated in a Twitter Scavenger Hunt as a team building activity. This idea was born from my PLN on Twitter and from ideas in Lead Like a Pirate by Shelly Burgess and Beth Houf. This activity accomplished the goal of getting our staff out into the community, generating teamwork, and starting off the year with smiles!
#2 Total Solar Eclipse
Not even a full week into the 2017 school year, we prepared for the total solar eclipse with 500 kindergarten, first, and second graders with trepidation! The media had convinced us traffic would be at a deadlock, students who removed their glasses would be scarred for life, and this was the opportunity of a lifetime! Probably to our benefit, it was a cloudy day and a very memorable experience as the world went dark in the middle of the afternoon for a few minutes.
#3 Building a Float
To celebrate the Sesquicentennial (or 150th Anniversary) of Smithville School District, each school was charged with building a float to represent school spirit. A team of dedicated (and competitive) staff members met in a barn to paint, build, and dream up Maple Elementary's float. We stuck with our theme, Learning Under Construction, to promote 150 Years of Building Leaders. Students were invited to dress as their future occupation and walk with us in the parade. We won the district's spirit stick and a trophy for Best Group Entry from the parade committee.
#4 Green Screen Videos
Last year we worked hard to make Friday's announcements from the office digital with the use of the green screen and app magic (@DoInk)! This year we have stepped it up to promote more PBIS happenings, read alouds, and student celebrations. Here is a favorite from the year...
With the letters that would announce each teacher's placement for the 18-19 school year impending...it was time to go to work and make November notable by pumping the positive with staff, students, and families. November consisted of a staff talent show, pancakes for staff, Monday Motivation on car windows (piggybacking off Car Window Poetry), a read aloud to all classrooms, admin presence at recess and on the bus, and an intentional attempt to say thank you to parents. It was our hope that kind acts for one would spread to many!
#6 Staff Talent Show
The most notable event in November was our staff talent show. Participants submitted their talent through a short video, and these were shared at a staff breakfast. Thanks to community donations, each participant receive a FABULOUS prize! Following is our video announcing the event. I think this activity taught us to not take ourselves too seriously!
By December, staff knew their placement for the 18-19 school year. With a focus on collaboration, technology integration, and kindness, a challenge was issued to students and teachers. Students had a 15 day Kindness Challenge and teachers were asked to complete 6 of 10 challenges that included GHO, a Pineapple Chart (borrowed from Brandi Miller), #BookSnaps, and Twitter chats.
#8 DESE Leadership Academy
Joining DESE's Leadership Academy has created an opportunity to partner with leaders to support learning and collaboration. This summer's kick-off included learning about our leadership styles, Luis Cruz talking about Professional Learning Communities, and Cathy Lassiter promoting developing your brain to support risk taking. Occasionally I meet with my regional group in KC, and we have the privilege of touring local schools. While I did miss the Outdoor Leadership Experience due to the Sesquicentennial Parade, I hope to attend this next October. I am looking forward to our upcoming meeting in January.
#9 12 Days of Christmas
Book swaps, faux fur, treats, caroling, and more...oh what fun!! Again, borrowing from my Twitter friends, we celebrated the 12 days before Christmas break in a BIG way with the 12 Days of Christmas!
#10 Learning Under Construction
This year's theme "Learning Under Construction" is based on the millions of dollars of renovations scheduled for the summer of 2018. Staff has had great fun with this theme. Yes, our yearly staff shirts are bright orange to support our theme! Being a part of the design process, pre-bid meetings, and change process has been a great experience.
#11 Twitter Connections
#KidsDeserveIt, #tlap, #JoyfulLeaders, #warriorscreate, #ssdpride, #Culturize, #MondayMotivation, #BookSnaps...I have found so many professionals to help me grow as a leader this year. From book recommendations, motivating blog posts, and weekly chats, my PLN has pushed me to promote the passion and step out of my comfort zone. I was recently interviewed by Barbara Bray and will be on an upcoming Rethink Learning podcast!!
One of the most difficult moments of my career was delivering letters to my staff to announce their placement for the 18-19 school year. Three elementary schools will open in 2018, and all will house Pre-K through sixth grade classes. On the afternoon that I passed out letters, there were tears, hugging, and words of support shared. I returned to my office to find that my staff had created a book of Grati-Tweets for me. (Grati-tweets are what we post in the teacher's lounge to post a note of gratitude to staff.) Reading through these kind notes that evening, was additional proof that my staff is ah-mazing!!
#13 Kids Deserve It
The 10th Day of Christmas became #TeachersDeserveIt Day! Families from Grace Community Church in Smithville reached out to me asking about a practical gift they might purchase for teachers. I asked them if they would like to give a donation to our purchase of 42 Kids Deserve It books for teachers for Christmas. They exceeded my wishes and purchased the entire lot for us! Celebrating teachers with this gift brought cheer before the holiday break! What a blessing from Grace Community Church!
#14 Leadership Hour
This year all 500+ of our K-2 students hold leadership roles! Students have met 3 times during the school day in Leadership Hour in the first half of the school year. Students are working to lead in the school, community, and at home. The video presentation was highlighted at the Smithville R-II Board of Education meeting in October.
#15 Cardboard Challenge and Family Reading Night
If you viewed the green screen video for memory #4, you saw highlights from our Family Reading Night and Global Cardboard Challenge. Sara Freeman, our awesome Maker Space developer and technology teacher, dreamed up the events to support the Cardboard Challenge. Our gym was a cardboard design studio. Boxes of all sizes had been collected for months, allowing families to build and create together. The leftover cardboard vehicles from our float became a racing station and props for a photo booth.
#16 Faculty Friday
This year we take time to highlight a staff member each Friday with Faculty Friday. A bio is written based on a survey that was given to teachers at the beginning of the year. I try to take a picture of the teacher with his/her class, and the post goes out on our Smithville MES Facebook site on Friday. It is a great way for the community to get to know our awesome staff.
#17 Principal Pride Awards
Principal Pride awards started last fall. After reading Kids Deserve It last spring, we increased up our positive phone calls home and started announcing each one on the morning announcements. This school year we have called home with positive reports to families well over 250 times!! This is a favorite part of our day. It is important to our students and models the passion we want to exude as the #JoyfulLeaders of Maple Elementary!
What a start to the school year it has been! We look forward to the return of school on January 2nd ready to kick off #JoinTogetherJanuary! Keep smiling!
Being a part of changes in a district allows for new opportunities, but it is not always easy. I am currently the principal of a K-2 elementary school in a lakeside community about 20 miles north of Kansas City in Missouri. We house approximately 500 little people who make our school the happiest place on Earth! With the passing of a bond and levy in our district, a 3rd elementary is being constructed and the elementary schools will become Pre-K through 6th grade neighborhood schools in the fall of 2018.
There are many benefits to this change, which include less transitions for students, the opportunity for student peers outside the primary grades, shorter bus rides for students, and increased instructional time. There are also many emotional changes to work through...the reorganization of staff to 3 buildings being the most recent emotional change. To combat this change, we find the positive in the hard times. Following the placement announcements, I shared the following message with my staff...
This weekend I started reading Culturize by Jimmy Casas. It was the perfect book for me at the perfect time!! (I also had a lot of fun creating #BookSnaps to highlight my learning on Twitter!!) Jimmy Casa defines "culturize" as to cultivate a community of learners by behaving in a kind, caring, honest, and compassionate manner in order to challenge and inspire each member of the school community to become more than they ever thought possible. When Jimmy talks about leadership, he is referring to teachers and school leaders. Collectively, everyone has the capacity to lead, and everyone is responsible for the culture and climate of the organization.
Reflect on these words from Jimmy, "No one person is responsible for determining your success and no one is responsible for your morale but you." Our positive culture at Maple Elementary is due to every person that makes up our staff. Even with the changes ahead, that morale is part of YOU!! Carry it with you as we spread to three buildings next year. YOU are responsible for keeping it going...spread the passion! You've got this!
Thank you for showing up everyday for students, colleagues, and our Maple families! I admire your positive attitudes, smiles, and hard work! You make the warrior family great, and you matter!!
Dr. Rena Hawkins
I am the Principal of Maple Elementary School in Smithville, MO, and co-host of the #ShareMOEdu podcast. I am passionate about teaching and learning while supporting a school environment that promotes a positive climate. #ShareMOEdu airs every Thursday on iTunes and PodOmatic, highlighting an educator who has a positive message to share.