In July of 2014, I was training to be a building level trainer for Project Lead the Way along with my friend, Cori Wolff. As we were going through the training, I was all about the STEAM/STEM aspect of PLTW. I was totally invested...until we got to coding.
Coding. Something that seemed foreign. Something that seemed above and beyond my capabilities. Something I quickly turned away from.
Flash forward a few months later when Twitter was buzzing about the Hour of Code! As I was watching my Twitter PLN posting their Hour of Code Certificate, I found myself wondering if this was something I should give another shot. I asked my friend, John Martin, to direct me to the best place to start and he directed me to a few sites like Code.org.
That weekend, I took the time to do the Hour of Code on Code.org and quickly realized how valuable this was for students. I was hooked and convinced that these were the puzzles of the 21st Century. I quickly learned that my students felt the same way!
A year after I attended the PLTW training, I found myself training to be a Code.org affiliate. What a difference a year makes...
I tell you all of this because I was once the non-believer. I was once the teacher who turned away from coding thinking it was just for certain people.
I also tell you this because I've also learned that the Hour of Code isn't just about coding. The Hour of Code is a movement to push educators to think outside the box and think about how computer science is in every aspect of our students' futures. It is the gateway to all things computer science. And computer science is the gateway to endless possibilities in the STEAM driven classroom.
And let's face it, a STEAM driven classroom is exactly what the CCSS is about.
What do you wish every classroom had in your building?----
While talking the with my Principals In Action Voxer group, I posed the question above. I had been brainstorming on my 40 minute drive home on how I could get all the things I wanted for my building while also providing all the professional development for my teachers. I was overwhelmed with all that I wanted to do and wasn't sure where to begin. I realized that I needed to figure out what was the first priority for the building and what was the bare minimum that we needed to launch the kind of thinking I wanted to see for our students.
Making our schools comfortable for students to learn and work in was one of the areas we all agreed on. We don't want to be just another institution pushing out students like a factory. We wanted our learning spaces to be welcoming and feel like a second home. We wanted our classrooms to be filled with areas for kids to explore learning through technology and hands on materials. We also believed that there should be enough reading materials to appeal to all students. We wanted them to feel welcome to explore, learn, and create.
The second (and most important thing we wanted) was to have a school full of people who are passionate about kids and education. We want them to be eager to learn alongside students. We also hope that they are doing as much listening as they are talking. We want them to teach the students and not just the curriculum. In others words, we are wishing for everyone in our schools to be innovative, student centered, and risk takers!
I believe that this all starts with me. I must encourage risk taking and thinking outside the box. I must be willing to take those same risks. It starts with me and I plan on rising to the challenge.
I have many words and phrases that I like to focus on to help keep me moving forward in my life. Many of them are my go-tos when I need assistance under stress...words like believe, be brave, and listen with an open heart. However, while looking for this year's one word, I struggled. I knew I wanted it to apply to work, family, and my health, but that seemed to be a lofty goal for just one word.
After much reflection (and some time reading through inspirational quotes on Pinterest)
I found my word:
transformation: a thorough or dramatic change in form or appearance.
When I read that definition, I knew I had found my #oneword.
"Your time as a caterpillar has expired. Your wings are ready" is a great metaphor for the transformation I have been making this year from teacher to principal. I'm no longer a teacher, but I am far from feeling like a "real" principal. Yes, I have the title and I complete the work of a building administrator, but I know I am far from being where I want to be. Over this next year, I hope to move forward in my transformation from classroom teacher to administrator.
Another area where I need the magic of transformation is when I drive home at night...I need to transform from principal to mother and wife. Often, I take the 45-minute ride to reflect. My goal is that I will be kind to myself during that reflection and let go of the day by the time I walk in my front door.
My final area of transformation needs to be how I take care of myself. Being responsible for my family, 370 students, 40 staff members, a home, and a school can take up a lot of my day. Just typing that makes me tired. But, it doesn't mean I can't find time to eat right, move more, laugh with my friends, go on dates with my husband, and relax with the kids. In fact, I need to do those things to find the girl who felt good about herself before I began this journey last summer. It will take great focus, but the transformation to feeling like my old self will be worth it.
Principal of PreK-6th Grade