Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Soctober Success at #KeyRocks!

We had SO much success with our Socktober project this year!  Our presentation to give our donated socks to Olivet Neighborhood MIssion from Cedar Rapids was scheduled for later in November, but because of a family emergency, their representative had to cancel.  Instead, we shared our students' projects with our students here at Keystone Elementary, and now, we're sharing them with you!  

We are so very fortunate to have such a supportive community and friends of our school to help us out with our mission project!  We have had many family and friends who supported our Socktober project ask for an update and I kept forgetting to get it out, so here goes!

Grand total - 1,305 pairs of socks for cold feet! 

Socks delivered to Olivet Neighborhood Mission in Cedar Rapids!

Look at all those socks!

Socks from Washington! 

Socks collection from a family! 

Student posters!

Socks from Des Moines!

Socks from Colorado!

Socks from Nevada!
Socks from Illinois! 

Socks from Arizona!
Socks from California!

Socks from Arizona!

Socks from California! 

Socks from Arizona and North Carolina!

3rd Grade Projects:

2nd Grade Projects

1st Grade Projects

Yellow guy with black curly hair at the end is my favorite! ;)

Monday, November 21, 2016

Five Favorite Ted Talks

Do you have a few minutes to spare?  Here is a short list of five of my current favorite TED-Talks.  

Rita Pierson - Every Child Needs a Champion

This video gives a call for educators to ensure that all students have a "person" with which to connect.  

DIana Laufenberg - How to Learn? From Mistakes

This short ten minute video discusses the process where learning happens.  Students (and adults) learn from mistakes and by others encouraging them through embracing resilience.  

Ramsey Musallam - Three Rules to Spark Learning
I heard Ramsey speak at a conference last year.  He is truly inspirational.  Ramsey Musallam is a chemistry teacher from California.  In this short talk, he encourages teachers to cultivate curiosity by lighting a spark with imagination and learning. 

Sir Ken Robinson - Do Schools Kill Creativity?

This is one of the first TED-Talks I had ever watched, and it is still a favorite.  In this video, Sir Ken Robinson encourages teachers to cultivate curiosity by thinking radically in order to change the way we teach to embrace the way students learn. 

Angela Duckworth - The Power of Passion and Perseverance

Angela talks about how IQ is not the best predictor of success in this short, six-minute video.  The power of perseverance and passion are true predictors of success.  "Grit is living life like it's a marathon, not a sprint."  

Monday, October 10, 2016

Community Data Wall at Keystone Elementary

Benton Community School District is a Year 3 Iowa TLC school and has recently transitioned from utilizing Model Teachers to now having a Data Team Leader at almost all grade levels/departments PK-12.  Our team has made data the center of most of our conversations, and with the support and guidance of our administration, the Instructional Coaches in our district have made it a goal to bring this data to a community place at all of our buildings.   Many classrooms currently have data walls, much like this one in a kindergarten classroom at Keystone Elementary.   This blog will focus on the community data wall located in the office at Keystone Elementary.

What is a data wall, you might ask?  A data wall is a space dedicated to displaying results over a period of time.  It is also a space to show whole school data, as well as grade-level or classroom data.  Data walls are also an opportunity for self-reflection and an opportunity to identify gaps.  If the data wall is in a community space, the names of students are preserved, and often, numbers take their place or general data is used.

Included on our data wall:
  • Preschool IGDIs - Picture Names
  • Kinder - Letter Sound Fluency
  • 1st Grade - Sentence Reading / CBM Fluency
  • 2nd Grade - CBM Fluency
  • 3rd Grade - CBM Fluency
  • PK-3rd grade - PBIS Office Referrals
  • Percentage of students "Progress Monitored" the week prior
  • Percentages of students who had "Intervention Time" entered into the Tier system the week prior
  • Weekly results over time

Keystone Elementary chose to get down to grade-level specific data from our fall, winter, and spring FAST assessments, as well as building-wide PBIS office referrals and weekly Progress Monitoring and Intervention data.  Our data wall will give us a chance to look at trends and take ownership of what is happening in our classrooms.

The goal is to turn data into information, and information into insight.
-- Carly Fiorina

Data is recorded and tracked over time.

We found that last year, sometimes our Progress Monitoring inadvertently was missed or incomplete.  This type of result was especially heightened during shortened weeks due to holidays or inclement weather.  According to the new Differentiated Accountability process in Iowa, 90% of the Progress Monitoring and Interventions must happen 90% of the time.  Our district has made it a focus to ensure that our Differentiated Accountability numbers continue to rise, and ensuring our Progress Monitoring and Intervention Time is being entered will help with this goal.   

Teachers make these two integral pieces a part of their classroom routine.  On Wednesdays, reports are run for the previous week and the data wall is updated.  Teachers are working hard to remember to make this a part of the routine, and as a result, Progress Monitoring happens every week and Interventions times are being entered with fidelity.  As the quote says, it's all about the kids.  This data wall is not about pointing fingers or calling each other out.  Instead, it is about embracing the "us" mentality.  These are our kids and we can work together to ensure their success. 

For more information on data walls at Benton CSD, don't hesitate to reach out!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

A Eulogy for My Papa Cookie

A Eulogy for Louis Junior Kaiser
Louis Junior Kaiser, Louie, Son, Brother, Uncle, Nephew, Husband, Pa, Pawd, Dad, Grandpa Kaiser, Great-Grandpa, Lou, Papa, Private First Class, King Louie, Junior, Papa Cookie, Neighbor, Friend.  The man we are here to celebrate today was known by many and had many different titles in his 91 glorious years.

So what do you say about a man who had it all?  He was the oldest son of nine children, he had an older sister and three younger, and he had three younger brothers.  He attended a one room schoolhouse ⅓ of a mile from the family farm before attending high school in Garrison and a semester at Iowa State.  Grandpa fought for his country in World War II as a paratrooper in the Army and loved his country with all of his heart and soul. He raised his children to love and respect God and their country.  He started playing golf at the ripe young age of 70 with the company of his brothers.  He was a man of simple words, but had wit that would sneak up on you.  Grandpa was never a man to put off work until tomorrow that could get done today.   He did the best he could to always keep his word and be there for his family.

He was married to a woman with a beautiful soul for over 60 years, whom he loved and respected deeply.  We always thought Grandma was the mushy one, but he’s shown his softer side with lots of hugs and kisses the past several years.   He and Grandma raised six children, resulting in 15 grandchildren and 28 great-grandchildren.  He loved the land and was especially fond of Oliver tractors, and the beautiful science of the planting and harvest seasons.  This love was built on a solid foundation of farming, for he started when he was 14 years old with a horse-drawn two-row planter, stepping in for his dad who was down for almost year with Malta Fever.  He once said that his most important crop he ever tended, however, was his beloved family.

The name Kaiser goes back a long way.  Grandpa Kaiser stands for a lot of things.  It stands for a man who was so well-loved by his family and friends that he was asked to be Best Man in five weddings.  What do you think of when you hear his name?  It reminds me of freedom, courage, strength, family, faith, and love.  We will certainly not do him any sort of justice in this short message, but I can tell you one thing.  We’re proud.  We’re proud of the man he was, and we are proud of the legacy he has left behind with all of us.  

It’s been almost six years since we lost Grandma, but their love, strength, encouragement, and support lives on in all of us, as we are frequently told from people who knew them.  There are 49 people on this Earth who are direct descendants of the 62 years of marriage and the beautiful life he and Grandma shared together.  Through marriage, we now total 66 people altogether.  He always joked about the fact that his large family was all his fault!  He saw her at a basketball game in a barn and couldn’t take his eyes off of her. He was smitten, she could outrun him, but he didn’t give up.

There are several stories us grandchildren, his children, and his siblings have shared over the last week.  Some of them are not appropriate enough to share with you here, but many of them are, so here are a few.  His sister Barb remembers her big brother allowing her to ride the pony, as long as she stayed behind the barn, away from the house, since Mother said no.  Grandpa’s children were talking about their time with their dad growing up.  He gave them a run for their money when the boys thought he didn’t know how to spin donuts in their farm driveway.  They also told stories of lining up in the kitchen for an ear spitshine with a washcloth on the end of his stubbed finger, laughing about their beet-red, clean ears when he was done.  

When asking the grandchildren what they remembered most, there were so many stories that brought back so many memories.  Hearing WMT radio has us thinking of sleepovers at Grandma and Grandpa’s house, with the smell of bacon frying and the song of the farm report on the radio when we woke up.  We will remember his championship horsey rides as we held onto the straps of his bibbed overalls and then him bucking us off as giggles filled the room.  We’ll vividly remember him stealing our nose and throwing it out to the pigs, tractor rides, and playing in the buildings, outhouse, and bins at the farm.  We will reminisce often of the many UNO games he let us win, knowing darn well we were looking at his cards in the reflection of his glasses.  We will always wonder how we were so gullible as to believe his “fingers” got stuck in his ears.  We will cling tightly to the smell of their home, filled with the scent of freshly baked cookies, Grandma’s tradition he so graciously carried on.  We will cherish the, “Whaddaya know, Kid” and the big hugs while hiding his toothpick for a kiss goodbye after a visit and a quick “love you, too”.

Some grandpas tell fishing stories; our grandpa told stories of the war and the Westerns he loved, but he also gave countless explanations to the reason he had two missing fingers.  After talking to his sister Barb this weekend, we think we have the “True Story of the Missing Fingers” figured out.  The grandkids remember a toad named Herman living in the basement and Grandpa bringing up the baby piggies for the grandkids to play with.  We’ll never forget the sound of the tick of his pocket watch, the click of the wind, and the sensation of running our hands over the buttons of his bib overalls as we sat in his lap. I’m not sure if we have ever met a person so crazy about gooseberry pie or Planter's peanuts.  When opening them as gifts, Grandpa always said he’d never be able to eat it all, but somehow, he always did the job with the help of a few sons.  The grandchildren also remember some intense games of Battleship, Crap on your Neighbor, and hide-and-seek, won right there in the basement of their home.  We’re sure you will also have no problem remembering his hat always being tipped to the side, and his crooked, beautiful smile.  

Our grandparents were always patient with us as we stopped by to invade their house before or after practice, waiting for that next event at the school.  It was a beautiful thing to see him watching with such humbleness as he enjoyed sporting events of his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  He even waited patiently for 40 years for a Kaiser to finally win a medal at the state wrestling tournament.  We also reminisce about more recent favorites like watching him take part in ravenous pillow fights with the great-grands, still using the bucking-bronco voice we remember hearing as children to rile up our kids.  Feeding our dogs table scraps is usually a no-no, but when King Louie did it, we let it slide.  Even with all of the ways he was able to show us how strong he was, he still wasn’t afraid to show his emotion.  We can remember talking with him about Grandma several times and he’d say, “My eyes are leaking, again!”  His tight grip holding our hands the last few days is also something we will hold very dearly, a treasure so simple, but worth so much.   We also hold a special place in our heart for the survivor in him.  He was always so proud to take part in the survivors’ lap at the Benton County Relay for Life. Even though he didn’t think he could make it last year, he enjoyed that lap and was proud of his accomplishment with his youngest grandson by his side.  

We can also tell you a little bit about that reunion we know happened on Sunday evening in heaven.  We joked that we knew grandma baked a fresh batch of cookies or a gooseberry pie, had freshly painted nails, the brightest red lipstick, blushed cheeks, donned her most beautiful smile, and tackled him to give him the biggest bear-hug imaginable.  He’s probably now holding hands with Grandma, playing cards with his family and hers, and catching them up with the great things happening on Earth with those family members missing him so deeply right now.  

We hope that when you think of Grandpa, you see his crooked hat and his beautiful smile, and that your heart is happy.  We are so blessed that we have had so many wonderful years with this special, special man.  We only hope to live up to the kind of life he instilled in us.  A life filled with freedom, courage, strength, family, faith, and love.  Thank you for helping us celebrate his beautiful life.  

Until we meet again, “Love ya, Kid.” 

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

TLC Year 1 and 2 - What's Worked For Us?

Benton Community - BCTLT is closing out our second year of participation in Iowa's Teacher Leadership and Compensation grant to garner teacher leaders from within Iowa's schools.  Having been one of the first 39 districts in the state of Iowa to implement, we had to build our plane while we were flying.  We now have the opportunity to learn with the many other Iowa districts who are a part of this teacher leadership movement.  Benton Community has had the pleasure of having several districts ask us what has worked for us.  Here is a snapshot of a few foundational pieces of our system.  If you would like more information on any of these tools, please don't hesitate to let me know.

1. Coach Check-In

This coach check-in is a modification from an interaction scale created by Susan Woodruff which can be found here.  We have found that a 5-point interaction scale works best for our district.  Knowing that relationship building is the foundation of great coaching, many of our interactions started off as 1s and 2s for the first few months.  As our coaching interactions increased and our coaching conversations deepened, we experienced more 3s, 4s, and 5s.  Our team utilizes this check-in to ensure we aren't accidentally leaving out any staff members and it helps us be intentional about our interactions with staff.  We also use the comment feature to log what types of interactions we are having and to keep track of the conversation focus taking place.

NA -- Attempt at contact but rejected
--Absent or sick   --Change in schedule    --Did not respond
1. Relationship building 
--Informal conversation    --No relationship with classroom
2.  Focused conversation / observation initiated by instructional coach
--How are things in the classroom?   --Are you having a good year?
--How is a certain initiative going?
3. Focused dialogue / observation redirected or initiated by the teacher
--Could you come and watch this?   --Could you help me with this?
--Modeling / Co-teaching  --Could you find this for me?
4. Reflective conversation regarding instructional practices / observations
--What went well?    --What would you change?    --What steps in the future?  
--Will you plan with me?
5.  Coaching cycle
--Goal setting   --Instructional implementation    --Setting instructional focus  
--Modeling / Co-teaching    --Fill out coaching log

2. Staff Surveys - Every 30 Days (Days 1, 30, 60, 90, 120, 150, and 180)
By happy accident, we started sending out surveys to staff at the beginning of our first year.  About 30 days into the school year we sent out another.  This practice has continued through our two years of implementation.  This not only gives us a great pulse on our district, it also gives us a gauge of interactions with staff and a chance for us to garner feedback from our teachers.  Below are a few of our staple questions each time we survey.

--Are you willing to work with an Instructional Coach?  This question gives us some baseline data on whether or not our staff is open to working with our coaches.  The percentage of staff willing varies depending on the busyness of the school year.  Our trends show an increase in participation in October that lessens around December.  Then, willingness picks up around January and levels off in April.

--If we visit your room, would you like us to drop in or make an appointment?  This question helps us form a plan for observation and drop-ins for classrooms.  Instructional Coaching at Benton Community is optional.  We want teachers to feel comfortable with our presence and know that we are welcome in classrooms, so this question helps us know which classrooms,we can drop by and which ones we need to set up a convenient time to visit.

--How would you rate your interactions with an Instructional Coach?  This question helps us decide whether our coach check-in interactions match our teachers' perspectives of our support.  The response on the survey asks teachers to rate the interactions by the following classifications:
     -No interaction
     -Mostly relationship building
     -Interactions initiated by the Instructional Coach
     -Interactions initiated by the teacher
     -Reflective conversations
     -Meet regularly with an Instructional Coach

--Where will you see your team needing the most support in the near future? This question helps us decide where our staff is as a whole.  Do we need to focus our learning on Priority Standards, Proficiency Scales, Common Formative Assessments, or MTSS planning and support?  Each team's response differs and we can tailor our support to meet each team's needs.

--What additional feedback do you have for #BCTLT?  This open-ended question gives our teachers an opportunity to give us feedback on the successes and challenges of implementing a new system. Our surveys are not anonymous because we need to be able to follow up with teachers.  This can be one of the most impactful questions you ask to get teachers to exercise their voice in utilizing the teacher leadership platform.  We are fortunate that our teachers utilize this question to give us honest, thought-provoking, and growth-minded feedback to help our system benefit to the fullest.

3. Role Definitions

This is a resource that came out of our Model Teacher training before we started implementation of year one back in August of 2014. Something that we thought would take an hour or so took more than a day of discussions and modifications.  We brought this resource to teachers at our first staff in-service and they were able to take more ownership in our system because the role definitions were created by teachers to help them understand our system in its various capacities.

Your stakeholders need to know what is happening in your district.  Your teachers need to see what great things are happening down the hall.  Two ways we were able to share are by participating in Learning Walks and hosting #BCedCamp.  We have shared our journey with teachers in and outside of our district.  By doing so, we have opened the doors to learn from each other and we have had the pleasure of learning with other districts who are leading the way in their teacher leadership journey.  Our Middle School/High School got their feet wet with Learning Walks and they quickly spread throughout our three elementary centers.  This gives teachers an opportunity to visit other classrooms and reflect together during a scheduled time once every one-two months.  This has helped increase the amount of time teachers spend learning from and reflecting with one another.  They've also spent more time opening up their classrooms to share the great things their students are accomplishing.  In addition, on a whim last April, we decided to invite teacher leaders from across Iowa to Benton Community to learn together about the successes and challenges of this system.  We are hosting year of #BCedCamp 2 in June and would love to have you!

Whichever tools or resources you choose on your teacher leadership journey, please know that you must utilize what works best in your district.  What works for us may not especially work for you, and "trial and error" and "risk, fail, and repeat" are your best bets for finding success.  There is no exact fit for any district. You must modify what is working for one district until you find the right fit to meet the needs of your teachers.  Best of luck on implementing teacher leadership! Let me know if I can be of any service to you on this journey.

Find me on Twitter -- @TownsleyAJ

50 Years of Benton Community Schools

50 Years of Benton Community Schools

The Keystone Elementary students and staff celebrated 50 years of Benton Community with interviews of past graduates, teachers, coaches, and parents of Benton Community schools.  Interviewed for this project were Tim Sanderson, Angie Von Ahsen, Kim Fisher, Madison Weekly, Chad Hennings, Eldon and Mary Bridgewater, Jeff Bridgewater, Amy Kaiser, Candi Benesh, Marilyn Schlotterbeck, Lois Wessling, Dee Kulbartz, Jo Prusha, Mary Rita Kromminga, Shannon Feuerbach, Judy Garbers, Hunter Semelroth, Kal Goodchild, Ron Donald, Jan Logan, Jo Morgan, Diane Eckenrod, and Byran Kimm.  Students had a great time hearing about exceptional teachers, favorite lunches and recess games, and advice from former Bobcats.  If one thing rang true throughout these interviews, it is that all of these people are so very proud to be Benton Bobcats.  Please see our video showing clips from these interviews.  We are proud Bobcats and happy to celebrate 50 Years of Benton Community.  

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Favorite Tech Links

Sites to check out

Favorite Instructional Strategies

Classroom strategies -- Reading Rockets gives examples of classroom strategies for phonological awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, comprehension, and writing

Task Cards or Choice Boards -- give students flexibility to learn independently on their own schedule by allowing them choice of tasks to show proficiency of a concept.

High Yield Literacy Strategies -- great list of strategies and graphic organizers to use for specific skills

Glossary of Instructional Strategies  -- thorough list of terms and strategies

Whip around  -- after instruction, have students quickly go around the room and state a fact or idea.

Pause and reflect -- have students pause every 3-5 minutes to talk with a partner about their learning.

When reading a passage, -- have students create questions, outline the sequence of events, give them a checklist of key points, agree/disagree T chart

Independent connections -- allow students to find connected texts to what you are learning in class

Pause and reteach -- have students pause after learning a big idea and reteach to a partner.

Student modeling -- have a student model the correct way to accomplish a task.

Non-examples -- have a student model a non-example of how to complete a task.

Survey -- have students create a quiz or review for their group members to complete.

Circle retell -- have students sit in a circle and retell a story or sequence of events.

Sporting event -- divide students into 2 teams, put a line down the middle of the board.  Students try to get the ball to move to their side by answering questions to make a goal.

Stump a classmate -- have students craft questions they think will stump their classmates.

Fishbowl -- as students ask great questions throughout a lesson, write them down and review with these questions at the end of learning.

Exit tickets --  I was surprised when...; I think I will...; I would have liked...; Now I understand...; I wish...; I could be more successful if...; I learned that...

Spot the error -- have students write questions or sentences with errors and see if their classmates can spot them.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Learning Walks and #LoveMySchoolDay

Today was a day full of learning and sharing at Keystone Elementary and many other schools.  All you have to do to witness this is check out the #LoveMySchoolDay hashtag on Twitter or Instagram.  I was fortunate enough to find out last night that our April Learning Walks landed on #LoveMySchoolDay!  We were able to share all of the awesome things going on at Keystone Elementary on this fantastic hashtag and share in our excitement and passion with educators from all over the nation and world!

Our building's Model Teachers helped make this round of Learning Walks go off without a hitch.  They jumped in and helped modify the experience to maximize the effectiveness and efficiency for teachers.  We took feedback from past learning walks and were able to modify our routine for the day.  We arranged for subs to come in for the classroom teachers rather than the specials and special education teachers.  The past two times our classroom teachers went on their walks during their prep time.  Our special education teachers had substitute teachers hired for the past two Learning Walks, but this time they were able to go during their prep time.  You can learn more about our past Learning Walks at my post here.  This time we were able to take 30 to 60 minutes for each team of 3-4 teachers to go on their walk.  It felt more laid back and I think the observations and conversations were much more rich not having to rush around to 4-5 classrooms in 30 minutes like during our past two walks.

We had teachers take a feedback survey to gauge how they are feeling after three sessions:  December, January, and April.  It's apparent from the results of our survey that teachers find value in Learning Walks.

It's also apparent that teachers have a variety of different purposes when they enter each other's classrooms.  Classroom management techniques and student engagement are two of the top look-fors.

The goal of Learning Walks is always to get teachers out of their comfort zone and into other classrooms to learn from each other. There is SO much on teachers' plates, we know they are not looking for another thing to add, but this gives evidence that they find it valuable enough to go to each other's rooms to learn from one another outside of the designated Learning Walk times.  

If you'd like to check out more of our posts from #LoveMySchoolDay, please check out our Instagram page!  www.instagram.com/keystoneelementary  

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

2016 Iowa 1:1 Reflections

Today was a whirl-wind day spent in Des Moines with educators from across the state of Iowa. I spent most of the day at the Iowa 1:1 Conference before heading back to some late afternoon professional learning with the Model Teachers in our district.

According to their website, the focus of the Iowa 1:1 Conference is to:
While the title of the conference suggests it is for 1:1 schools, it is certainly not a requirement.  There are a variety of topics discussed from team and culture-building and ways to evoke creativity and student empowerment to resource and app sharing.  While this was my first 1:1 conference, I certainly hope it isn't my last!  Here's a recap of the sessions I attended!

1.)  Ooh and Aah Moments with Devin Schoening @dschoening
Wow is this guy a dynamic speaker. He is a great story-teller to help make personal connections and is very engaging. He gave supreme examples of Ooh and Aah moments he experiences in classrooms he is a part of as an Instructional Coach in Council Bluffs. He also talked about the characteristics of excitement (connecting, engaging, talent, passion, creativity, being genuine, fun / silliness, building relationships, evoking interest, and finding purpose). He challenged us to reflect on how many of these are in our daily plans. A few (OK - more than a few...) of my favorite take-aways from his session were: 

2.) Beyond the Blue Share Button with Beth Swantz @betswan and Amber Bridge @abridgesmith

There were so many great tips and tricks shared in this session; I can't wait to make time to investigate on my own. It is SO important to provide authentic and timely feedback to students and this session certainly provided resources and ideas for how to do this effectively.  Some of my top favorites included JoeZoo Express, Alice Keeler Drive 20, and Screencastify, all found as add-ons or extensions in Google. They also shared a few "must follows" for GAFE resources - Alice Keeler and Matt Miller .  I am so blessed that these two are part of the rockstar @DLGWAEA team and I have them at my fingertips whenever I might need them!

3.) Social Media 3.0: Developing a Connected Mindset Through Intentional Practice with Dan Butler @DanPButler

I have been following this guy on #IAedChat as a participant for about a year and a half. I now get to work with him each week as we co-moderate #IAedChat together. We use Voxer to plan and communicate about our weekly chats, but it was great to meet Dan in person and get the chance to sit down and listen to him tell his personal story of why using social media to build relationships is what drives him. He's very passionate about his work and that was very apparent today in his session. I'm so fortunate to have the opportunity to work with him on a weekly basis. His passion for making positive connections and building strong relationships makes me want to just be better! If you get a chance, check out this article that speaks of being intentional in your connections.

I also had the great pleasure to host an #i11i session with two of my colleagues - Kim Fisher @Mrs_KFisher and Anna Upah @AnnaUpah. It was titled Share Your Inner Awesome: Using Social Media to Connect with Families and Teachers.  We talked about the What, the Why, and the How to share teachers' and students' inner awesome.  We spoke about our favorite connection platforms of Blogger, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Voxer, Blab, Pinterest, and Google Plus.  While we may use a variety of avenues to connect, it's important to remember that teachers need to use what works for them and for their audience. Teachers need to think about their intended purpose for sharing, who the audience is, and what is being shared.  Don't try to do all of them at once. 

 Our session resources are linked above and the Google Slides are filled with hyperlinks galore.  If you currently live on any of these social media platforms, please, look us up!  We'd love to connect and see how you're sharing your inner awesome with families and stakeholders to strengthen your partnerships!

Hosting a session at a state-wide conference is something I would not have ever thought possible before taking on a leadership role in my district. While I enjoy helping teachers think outside the box in my role as an Instructional Coach, it is certainly a two-way street in my building. I have teachers who also push me to continue to be a learner and step outside my box on a daily basis. I am very thankful for teachers who help me keep my mind fresh and always search for new ideas and passions!