Appreciate Don’t Replicate

The summer is a busy time of learning for many many educators.   Conferences, edcamps, online learning opportunities, twitter chats, and more are available pretty much 24/7.

There are many many wonderful educators who are doing many wonderful things in their classrooms (or did many wonderful things) and it is fantastic that they are willing to share their ideas with us.

You are sitting at the feet of giants who have gone before you (usually pretty successfully) and as they share their thoughts — it is very easy to start wanting to have what they have or to be like them.

But before you decide to do a complete make-over of your classroom, your lesson plans, and perhaps your teaching style……I ask you to remember the following.

Rome wasn’t built in a day!

Your classroom is filled with opportunities and re-imagination options. Look at ideas that were shared but make them work within your classroom setting and your classroom budget. Don’t go broke just to buy something because someone told you to. Be creative and garage sale and thrift sales to decorate your room but remember, their classroom was not rebuilt in a day.

Your administration is not theirs!

One of my pet peeves is when someone says “it is easier to ask for forgiveness than ask permission”. For me, that shows no respect or offers any opportunity for conversation. You know your admin… know where you can stretch the line and where you need to be wise. Bring your administration into the conversation. Seek their wisdom, include them in your planning. If your admin IS on your side for classroom change that will much more beneficial than an admin who feels you went behind his/her back.

Your strength is you!

When you are listening to someone share their story, you often are only hearing the triumphs, the successes, and the ends. You very rarely hear the pitfalls, the failures, and the Plan B, C, D…and more. So, before you reinvent yourself to be something new….look inside to see what is WORKING already — working well …. and then start building some new ideas. And also, be honest and look to see what is NOT WORKING — and be willing to start making some changes on that too.  But don’t change to be like someone else…make changes that will make you a better you.

Your goal is your kids!

Right now, being an educator is so exciting! There are so many learning choices available and the opportunity to be the best teacher your students will ever have is right before you.
Take what you learned and sift it through your classroom strainer. You will know your kids better than anyone else. That is a strength you have that they will never have. So take the ideas shared but make them work with your class.

It is always good to learn new things…..and it is always good to change up your classroom, you teaching style, and your hopes/dreams for each new year.   But remember, you were hired to be in your classroom.  Not the person who you just heard at a conference, edcamp, read their book, podcast, etc.   Your administration chose “YOU” because they wanted you.

So, after you listen and learn from the giants this summer, don’t walk away wanting to be a mini-me of them —
Take what you learned……meld it to work best with you, your classroom, and most importantly your students…..

and be the best YOU you can this next year!


I guess 3rd time is the charm — because (humbly saying of course) — this NOT AT ISTE was the best so far.

We great from 700 members to almost 1,200 members in 4 days.

And it was a busy busy place.

Hats off, Confetti Thrown, and Huge Thanks first must go to Peggy George, Vicky Sedgwick, Tony Vincent, and all the people who helped gather door prizes for this event.  (We ended up giving away almost 60 door prizes)

Vicky does such an exceptional job with the ribbons for the badge share and Peggy outdid herself this year with the Livebinder of resources.  Plus, to help Tony out with his periscopes — he recruited note takers to gather info as he talked — and they are pretty pretty cool.

Last year we had 5 IGNITE sessions and this year we had 13!  Plus, we added a new component of Green Screen (thanks to Tony, Jen Roberts, and James Kosako) so that our NOTATISTE’s could take pictures as if they were ATISTE!

The #NOTATISTE hashtag was used by SO MANY people this year that it made the ability to jump into periscopes, notes, hangouts, and more so much easier than before.  THANK YOU to everyone for sharing that hashtag out!!

There was a voxer group (though since I am not on voxer, I have no clue what went on) that was FANTASTIC and they even had a Karaoke night which was great fun!!

What continues to work in this community, in my mind at least, is the simplicity of it.   Though we have a major plan — we want to be able to enjoy the learning opportunities at ISTE while not being at ISTE — there is no huge agenda, no meetings to plan, no rules of conduct, no boss or manager.   As people see a need, people help work that need.  If someone has an idea of something they want done, they do it.   For me, it is wonderful to sit back and watch people flourish with enthusiasm.

So — as we plan for the NEXT NOTATISTE — yes, it is a go for next year as well……here are some of my thoughts.

#1 — I plan to BE AT ISTE next year — it is in San Antonio and I adore the River Walk and this year, I need to go see the Alamo instead of just walking by it every day.  So, as Dennis Grice passed NOTATISTE to me, I will be passing it on as well.   Peggy George and Vicky Sedgwick are my top 2 choices and I know they will take good care of this group!  I will still hope to be involved, but hope my help will come from San Antonio.  But even if I don’t go to SA, I think after being the host for 3 years, it is time to pass the torch on.

#2 — We need to have a better portal than the Google Community.  Perhaps a weebly or a google website.   But we need a portal that allows information to be seen more clearly.   A lot of people commented that they could not find things.  And even though the welcome letter (filled with info) was pinned to the top of the community and all the links were right under the community info, people still said they could not find things.  So perhaps having a different portal with TABS of information might be helpful.   AND we also need a video for welcome and info — perhaps even a new one each day — to help people stay informed.

#3 — Tony Vincent is a MUST again next year.   Even though I know he was frustrated with his connectivity….we were just grateful for everything he shared out.   And since many people NOTATISTE did not have an hour to follow him through posters, the 5 minutes of connection time was great.  Plus, he archived it all — (AND MADE YOUTUBES for when things didn’t go as planned) — so we are all happy campers….and if he is willing, we need him back next year.

#4 — Our IGNITES were so successful but some were not IGNITES — they were sessions.  So perhaps, just maybe, we should have the option for people to submit session ideas as well.   The IGNITERS would have 5 minutes, 20 slides….but those who wanted a bit more time, could share at a session.

#5 — Something new —- however, I have no idea what this will be.
Each year, we add a new idea (this year was Green Screen) so that we don’t continue to replicate the same community each year.  But what this new idea will be — well, I will leave that up to the new hosts.

There is a lot that I am probably forgetting and TOO MANY people to thank that if I start mentioning one at a time, I will forget someone…..

So — for now, I will just say “THANK YOU for another good NOTATISTE”  — I could not have done it without you, nor would I have wanted to do it without you.

For those of you who periscoped, twittered, shared links, created a hangout and more….that opened a door so that we at NOTATISTE could participate ATISTE from afar, we thank you.

And for those of you who participated or helped in NOTATISTE — via the challenge, pictures, tweets, comments, polls, badge creations, karaoke, voxer, and more — THANK YOU.  It was a blast.






If I Were Attending ISTE…..

In about 2 weeks — many of my friends and colleagues will be descending upon Denver to attend the ISTE conference.

Alas, I will not be able to join them there…..

but if I were — this is what I would do.

#1.   LINGER
Usually, at the conference, I am moving from session to session.  In fact, sometimes sitting in a session just to get a seat for the next session.   It is an exhausting conference because it is a “have to get to” conference.
What I would do, if I were there, would be to linger more.   Not move onto something else before I took to time to think about what I have just done.   Not dash from a conversation I am in….just to join another….but take the time to linger in a conversation.  To not give importance to what is “NEXT” and perhaps miss what is “NOW.”

As a seasoned educator, who has my feet wet in a lot of “techie” opportunities, I tend to sit back and say “impress me.”   So instead of listening, I am critiquing.
What I would do, if I were there, would be to listen more.  Remove myself from being an expert and put myself into a the role of a learner.   Not always judge the content based on what I already know and what how I already use — but be impressed by what someone else might be doing or might already know.   Look for something NEW to learn rather than always having the silent checkmark of “did it, did it, did it.”

#3.  WATCH
There is A LOT happening at the conference and there is a great deal of dashing happening at the conference.   And because of this, a lot of things get overlooked.  As simple as the decorations in the conference hall (which usually are quite interesting) to someone sitting alone in a session room to what book someone might be reading to the t-shirt someone chose to wear.
What I would do, if I were there, would be to watch more.
Keep my eye open for opportunities of vision.  Notice things that perhaps are unnoticed.  Call attention to things others might wish to see.   Look to see what someone else might be looking at.   Take the time to look.

Many times at the conference, people go to be heard.  For many, what they are doing on their campus is unnoticed at their campus and finally they can share this with others who not only understand but will also acknowledge their hard work.
What I would do, if I were there, would be to share out stories from those who stories often remain silent.   Take the time to blog or facebook or twitter out someone’s great idea (giving them full credit) — and putting them into the spotlight.

Though many think I am an extrovert…..I am not.   I can be quite timid and often will sit back and wait to be approached rather than approach.  I have this silly insecurity of not fitting in, so I set myself up to not fit in.
What I would do, if I were there, would be to join into conversations, walk up to someone who I might be afraid to walk up to, not head to my hotel room at 6 but join some after parties, and be brave to sit by someone I don’t know at a session and say “hi.”

#6.  SHARE
For the time you are at ISTE, from the moment you get up each day to the moment your head hits the pillow — you have an opportunity to learn…..MUCH.   To the point that your brain will be tired each day by the overload of information.
What I would do, if I were there, would be to set aside at least 1 hour of each day to reflect and share out what I learned.
Whether it be during a dinner conversation with friends, or a blog post, or links placed on twitter or a google doc, I would take time to process, reflect, and then share what I learned.

#7.  PLAY
In the last few years, educational conferences have taken a turn from providing “listen to me” sessions to much more “hands-on” opportunities.
What I would do, if I were there, would be to look for the “fun” opportunities.   The breakout edu area, the minecraft room, the robotics session, anything that allows me to touch, to explore, to experiment, to learn.  Personally, I would make sure that at least 60% of my learning options involved being able to “touch.”

ISTE presenters have known now for several months their topic — and many have been fine-tuning what they will say and are ready to share.   Also, many of the ISTE presenters are no longer in the classroom and have ventured (or hope to venture) into the world of consulting.
What I would do, if I were there, would be to ask more questions from those who are presenting.   Not to challenge — but to understand more.   If someone has left the classroom and is giving me ideas to use in my classroom — I would ask them to share examples from teachers who are using what they have just suggested.  If someone gives a quote or proven data, I will ask for the link to research it later.  I would try hard to not be a passive attendee but engage more.

I would like to be at ISTE, but alas, I cannot.
But if I were to go — I would try to make this ISTE count — for me, for my teachers, for my students.

Please let me know, if you are attending ISTE (or any other conference) and perhaps some goals or plans you hope to put into place.

Thank you



3 years…..of learning

Each year — something new.

This is my 3rd year of being the Elementary Technology Teacher — and each year — something has been the highlight of the year.

My first year — I think DOT week (based on Peter Reynold’s book “the Dot”) was a highlight — especially with the Virtual Reality App that made the DOT come alive. We went from a flat white paper to something that jumped off the page….and the kids saw possibilities.

My second year — had to be CODING. Though we used it my first year…..the second year was when I saw the impact, the enjoyment, and the learning. I honestly wish I saw students more than 1 time a week. Sometimes I wish I was with them 8 hours a day — we would never run out of things to learn. Students began to grasp the idea that they could control and manipulate technology rather than just click, click, click …. and the kids saw possibilities.

My third year — was totally unexpected. In April, the day before OpenHouse, I was told we were getting a 3d Printer the following day on Friday. By Monday — I was already designing curriculum and a week later — 4th & 5th were working with tinkercad. And each student ended up creating something unique….and printed it out — to take home. I had a father thank me yesterday — and then again today. He said “my daughter is holding something in her hand that someday she will look back and say “i was there at the beginning of this.””. Students went from hearing science, and hearing math, and hearing metrics, to having to put it into action … and the kids saw possibilities.

When I look at my 3 years — which have flown by way too fast —

I know I am resting on some past ideas (imovie trailers, skittle graphs, powerpoint gameshows, wordle picture clouds, etc.)…. But I also know that each year, I have stepped into an unknown possibility and my students have willingly followed (and sometimes lead) along.

I have no idea what will be new in 2016/17 — but I look forward to another new step forward…..and seeing possibilities.