Monday, July 6, 2015

What Connected Educators Do Differently Week 6: Key Connector 5 Strive to Be Tomorrow…Today

This week, continuing the celebration of our independence, I'm opening the topic(s) of this week's conversation to you. What would you like to talk about? What questions do you have for your fellow book club participants or what thoughts or ideas do you have to share? Someone jump in and lead the conversation.

Next week we will read Key Indicator 6 Know That It Is Still About the 3 Rs: Relationships, Relationships, Relationships.

141 comments:

  1. My favorite segment of this book is in this week's reading: it is the list of "Best Practices for Bringing your Best" (pp. 66-67). Also, called the "intentional behaviors (of) connected educators", I believe this list could be called the "Ten commandments of Teaching" as there are in fact, ten behaviors. In particular, I appreciated the call to connect personally, writing notes to uplift students and staff. Many others positive behaviors are highlighted with the acknowledgement that we can all help each other become better versions of ourselves regardless of our flaws.
    This chapter offered me much inspiration to have a positive outlook: I will try to read it again a few days before school starts and maybe a few times throughout the year.

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    1. This was also one of my favorite sections for this week's reading. I marked this section and want to start in the fall with at least one new idea from the list of behaviors. I also really liked the quote from Sue Enquist "Personal excellence starts over each day" (p 68). I want to make this something I can post in the classroom as I feel it says so much for anyone who is struggling as well as those who take success for granted.

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    2. I agree that is a good list for teachers and staff. Besides the teachers I think we should also include the entire staff of the building. Many times a teacher's aide or custodian came up with an idea when they say I had a problem.

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    3. I haven't started the chapter yet--on my list for tonight while waiting to pick up a daughter from dance. I am looking forward to reading it based on what you wrote. Thanks, Tammy!

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    4. Agreed! I think this is a great chapter for ANYONE not just educators.

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    5. Wow! I will put together my comments in a later post. The positive focus was incredible! Well worth the week...:)

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    6. I completely agree! This chapter is good for anyone not just educators! Gail's statement also holds true! The entire staff should be included, such as teacher's aides or custodians when there are problems! Everyone would feel more like a staff too and not left out.

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    7. I agree! I really need to get better this year about writing Knight Notes and really reinforcing positive behavior in my classroom! Sometimes that is SO hard to do when the few students seem to bring the feel of the class way down!

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  2. The personal board of directors is going to require a lot of think time. My favorite action to take is making the invisible students visible. We work in grade level teams and I know diff t's connect w diff s's. Find connection for all.

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    1. I really liked the "making the invisible students visible" as well. Sadly, it seems there are way too many of the "invisible kids"...great ideas in this chapter!

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    2. I really liked the idea of the personal board of directors. It really got me thinking about who I want to include in that "group." Although I have begun to develop that list, I also realized that the board would be more of a dynamic group depending on my needs at the times.

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  3. I agree that the "Best Practices for Bringing Your Best" section is full of great advice -- the list sets very high standards though and I think it is important to remember to be compassionate and forgiving to ourselves and our colleagues. We all work in a very dynamic and exciting profession, but there are days of incredible stress. It's not totally realistic to expect ourselves or our colleagues to bring our best every single day. I think my favorite item on the list is "have high standards for all kids every day." This is also not easy, but it is so important to remember to to love and respect the kids while having high expectations for them. The "every day" part is a pretty high standard for kids as well -- sometimes they will have bad days just like we adults do.

    I also liked the second list that offers advice in dealing with negative push-back. Those four points are all important to remember, but my favorite is the 33% Rule. I had never seen it put in such simple and eloquent terms before, but Enquist is right -- there will always be people who just don't know how to celebrate success or be happy for others. It is important to thicken our skin against people like that and keep on pushing through -- it's only 33%, that means 67% of the people out there are ready, willing, and happy to celebrate success!

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    1. Beth,
      I agree with your thinking about remembering to be compassionate and forgiving to ourselves and our co-workers. There are so many demands on our time and our days are filled with incredible stress. I also agree that it is not realistic to expect ourselves or co-workers to bring our best every single day. Life happens.

      But that being said, we still have to try our best to improve our teaching and we have to set high expectations for our students. Kids do have bad days like grownups. But, they have to learn perseverance. It's easy to give up and feel like a failure. We have to let students see that giving up isn't an option. We have to try, try, and try again. Looking for how we have improved, each time we try it again. Perseverance is about looking for improvement and adjusting the attempt until we figure it out.

      NEVER GIVE UP - is the message that we need to teach our children. We have to push-back the negative and reach for the positive.

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    2. I too struggle with letting the negative feedback get to me. It's so easy to let those "Negative Nellies" and naysayers get us down. I appreciated this chapter not only had the best practices to set high standards for us but also the reality that not everyone appreciates those who do strive to meet those standards- both were needed perspectives.

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    3. I echo what everyone says about being compassionate and forgiving. Teaching, like life, is all about trying new ideas and practices. I feel so blessed to teach at a school whose administration supports and encourages trying new things. That culture of experimentation, I believe, results not only in a better educational experience for students but also in a stimulating and satisfying work environment for teachers.

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  4. I agree that this has been a great chapter! I really enjoyed the quotes and meaningful inspiration. Twitter is a great tool and so far the book has been really helpful with how to use it for education but this chapter just gave you warm fuzzies reading it!

    As a “new teacher” I really connected with the 33% want to see you fail. I don’t know why-I have a GREAT staff and administration but sometimes I just feel like people want to see the newbie not do GREAT things…and with that I really connected with the quote “You will fail but recover quickly”. I am a person who when I mess up I dwell on how bad I really did and I don’t cut myself any slack for being human and making mistakes.

    I really enjoyed the list of things to do for positive impact. Those are all GREAT ideas but I feel to implement them you need a staff member already in leadership like your principal. Did anyone else feel that way? Of the ones listed that I think I could do personally is the note to two people per week, this week on Twitter, and the thank a parent. I think those are all wonderful ideas that I could do on my own.

    Like many of you have said re-reading this right before school starts will give you the boost you need for the year!

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    1. Amanda, what a great reminder for all of us to be encouragers to each other! Handwritten notes with a little treat are easy and meaningful. Our PTO asked us to list our favorites and this was posted for parents and staff to have access. Positive, uplifting, thoughtful notes and actions can really build a school's culture. Everyone has a part to play. Hope your second year is positive. You sound wonderful! D :)

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    2. There are always going to be those negative teachers who want to see you fail. I try to avoid negative people and to encourage other teachers. Maybe these teachers don't really enjoy teaching and are wanting to discourage newbies because they aren't excited about teaching.

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    3. I totally agree that setting a positive tone is a top-down approach; meaning that the principal or school leader sets the tone of the building. I have been doing a book study this summer as a part of my corporation. The book is called "The Advantage" written by Patrick Lencioni. It deals with having a "healthy" organization which is along the lines of having a positive attitude. I recommend it.

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    4. I also enjoyed the list of things to do for positive impact. It does state in the text, that it may need the help of someone in a leadership role to implement. I feel like if I took some of these ideas to my principal, he might be willing to try some of them in our professional development days. What I could do on my own, however, is the celebrate good times. Bringing a cool story or a personal success to my department meetings would be nice. Sometimes, as teachers we tend to dwell on the negative in our days and this would be reminder to do the opposite. It would also give us a better sense of community in the school.

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    5. It was nice to see in print, "Don't let the bottom third suck the life out of you." It is so easy to get pulled into that trap...it would be so amazing to work and live in an environment where everyone was focused on celebrating everyone's successes!! Oh the dream!

      It is a great challenge...one I am going to give my students this year, as well..."Don't Allow Anyone To Take Away Your Excellence!" What a powerful message and one that we all need to remember. I have heard my students say time and time again, "it is good enough." We all deserve better than mediocrity.

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  5. My favorite quote from the chapter was from Amber Teamann who said "the smartest person in the room is the room." I totally agree. We cannot do everything on our own - but I am wondering how we get the others to feel the same way. Amanda bullion stated above that she works with wonderful people, but still feels like some are hoping she fails as a new teacher. How can we get everyone on the same page - how can we get them to feel like a team. I am ready to dive into whatever is needed to take our students to the next level - expect more, demand more and get more - but I need help. I wish others had the giving attitude - is that what it takes to get us all working together? Any advice??

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    1. I have the same dilemma, Tony! I am fortunate to work in a department where we share, collaborate, and support each other, but I know many other departments in our building do not have this support system--let alone those singleton teachers who don't really have a "department" to work with! I see our staff as fragmented, with cliques that think they don't like each other, when they really don't even know each other. We are starting a new initiative next year where each teacher is going to set a personal goal for professional development. I'd like to see teachers grouped together into supportive PLC's of different departments, experience levels, genders, etc. to support each other as we work to achieve these goals. I would also like to see the different PLCs share their research, activities, successes and failures with all staff at some point (or maybe several points?) during the year. I'm hoping common, personal goals, new colleagues to work with, and seeing each of us as a knowledgeable learner on a given topic will help tear down some walls and encourage more support for one another!

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  6. This past school year our principal challenged us with "I am the positive energy to my students' success." Our building was full of positive and uplifting quotes. This was also extended to students and parents. At the beginning of the school year, all staff made a positive phone call to each of our students within a week. Parents loved this and many "said so" publicly as good news traveled through our school community. I include "shout-outs" in my daily email updates. I try to spread the good news around acknowledging students successes and hard work ethic. Sometimes it's birthday news. Student recognition is top priority. As this is our practice, students also join in the positive comments to each other. Parents send in positive notes to post on our hallway "We OWN It! shout-outs hallway banner. On these banners will be notes from staff, parents, and students with personal notes. I love when students notice that a student doesn't have a "shout-out" and post one for him or her. Students stepping up into leadership roles and showing compassion. Priceless!

    Twitter posts with classroom photos build communication of classroom happenings. These tweets also load directly to our school and classroom Facebook pages. Sharing excellence promotes excellence. Success begets success.

    What ideas have you used to build a classroom community that really cares about each other?
    D :)

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    1. I love everything you are talking about here. I too have made the "Positive" phone calls. What has even worked better for me is a written note to a student who has done something that I want to recognize. The rest of the class can see this too! (Many students do not even know what a thank you note is!) I love that parents would have a place to post positive comments!! I worked at Crown Point High School a few years back and the principal at the time wrote note cards on a daily basis to staff for doing a great job. He might be walking past your room and see something positive and you would get a note in your mailbox thanking you for what you are doing. This was so uplifting when you would get one of these notes! Sometimes, I am looking for the smallest thing in a student who usually does not get this attention and it makes all the difference. Positive breeds Positive!!

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    2. I love this- stealing some good ideas!

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    3. Dianna:
      Wow! I like all of the things that your school did to create a positive climate. In a time where people seem to enjoy rushing to judgment and "bringing people down", it's so refreshing to hear about someone looking for good. So many things in education these days seem to dwell on the negative and deficits, whether it's teacher evaluation, student assessments, or other factors.

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    4. Great ideas!! I am going to steal some of these!

      I send out positive postcards throughout the year. (I know this seems old school considering we are becoming more connected!) It is nice though to get mail and I have never sent one out where a student didn't thank me or talk to me about what I wrote. Sometimes a student will tell me they never get good stuff in the mail...so it makes a big impression. It definitely adds to a positive climate.

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    5. I like the positive feedback that is given to students. I think that making connections with parents helps the community of learners. I am looking forward to revisiting this book throughout the year to add to my bag of tricks. I am putting things on my calendar to do for later on to keep me connecting. I have spoke with some of my staff about about the positive postcards. I think this is a simple way to bring big rewards.

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    6. Love your ideas…here I am taking again!

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  7. My favorite part is also setting high standards for our students. They will not know how far they can fly unless we push them off the branch. Yes we have to give them the basics but part of our job is to teach them how to survive outside the classroom. Not to have them hold our hands or someone else for the rest of their lives.

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    1. I completely agree with you Gail! I set high standards for my students even though I teach ESL and my students have to work twice as hard, I believe in them!

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  8. This year, I had a senior student who was a "tough nut to crack." He barely spoke, he would write snarky comments on his vocab tests regarding the sentences, and he never smiled. I tried my best to say hello every morning, to provide meaningful feedback when he wrote well (and he usually did), and to make sure he knew that he was valued. I finally got him to say two words on his birthday when I told him Happy Birthday; he said, "Thank you." I could see a little gleam in his eye that someone acknowledged his special day. At the end of the semester, the students gave eulogy speeches - the death of their high school careers. His speech was spot on, and he was funny. He had a voice, and he used it. It was absolutely wonderful. I don't know where this child will end up, but I have to think that I did try my best to value this student even though it was really tough some days. I'm no rookie, but I have to think that my PLN here might have some suggestions for getting through to this student - and maybe I did with what I was doing, but there were days when he would leave and I would feel like I didn't get through to him at all. (Nevermind the other 21 students who did just fine...it's always that ONE student that leaves us thinking...)

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    1. Hey Cindy! Super inspiring story! I also always try to reach out to those students who are considered a "tough nut to crack." I had one student who I always smiled and said hello to in the hallway and he always ignored me. One day I had too much on my mind and didn't go out of my way to say hi; I probably didn't even notice him at the time. He walked by, stopped, and said: "Well, aren't you going to say hi??" You've got to enjoy those small victories!

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    2. I love the tough kids. I try to remember that sometimes I get to see visible success and sometimes I am just the seed planter. I plant a seed of kindness and hope that at some point it will grow.

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  9. I work in a one person department and my room is somewhat separated from most others. I do not see many staff members during the course of the day. I love the idea of a "Meet and Greet". It is good for everyone to just get to know everyone better! Creating a family atmosphere at school is good for everyone including the students! I think more than just once a year is important to keep learning new things about each other to foster those relationships. Twitter is also a great tool for this. Right now I do not see too many teachers at my school on twitter for professional reasons but this would be a good thing to try to get started! I like "This Week on Twitter" idea! I also love the welcome wagon! So important to make sure the new student feels welcome and to get feedback! This book just keeps gettting better and I wish it was required reading for everyone!

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    1. Agreed...the "meet and greet" is a really cool idea that I think most teachers will have fun with. I spend a lot of time with 2-3 teachers throughout the day. I know all the others, but I don't know much about them. This would be a great way to learn about colleagues and better implement the "two a day" comment idea. Thanks for sharing!

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  10. I loved this chapter, as it was so encouraging and inspirational. I appreciated the list of practical ideas that were shared. It made me smile when I read about the things our school is already doing, and it challenged me to try some new ideas as well. I am very fortunate to work for a principal who is very positive. He has created an uplifting, family oriented environment that I'm blessed to work in each day. He starts every staff meeting where staff members share positive success stories about our kiddos and together we celebrate that accomplishment. He has also challenged us to take the time to make several positive parent phone calls each week. I know that doing something this simple will make a huge difference.

    I appreciated the 33% Rule as well. It was nice being reminded that it is important to be surrounded by excellence instead of people who are negative and want to tear you down. Being part time and not being a part of a particular grade level sometimes makes it challenging for me to connect with other staff members. After reading this chapter, I feel challenged to write handwritten, positive notes to other staff members to celebrate what they are doing. We should be each others biggest cheerleaders!

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  11. I strive to stay as positive as possible every day, although, as we all know, this is a monumental task some days. During those times where I feel like I have "lost" them or maybe they aren't responding to my usual tactics, I love to show a short TED talk. These are amazing and thought provoking insights that sometimes are just the catalyst I need to get the kids attention refocused.
    One of my favorites that I used during a poetry unit is "Sarah Kay: If I should have a daughter..." it is an astounding talk by a young woman speaking about the power of our words and our voice.
    While I want to be the one who makes a difference in their life and their school work, that does not mean that it has to be MY voice. Using these online tools to inspire the students is exactly what I feel like this chapter is trying to communicate to us. We all need stimulated, encouraged and motivated at times and through the use of these online resources that the books is talking to us about we can find all the inspiration we need to continue to push our students in a positive, life changing way.

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    1. I'm looking at piloting some character education with my all-English teaching load next year, and I was considering a year-long PBL lesson where students not only find and share positive messages with our school but also create those positive messages to share with the world. I love your insight that it doesn't have to be the teacher's voice to encourage positive attitude in change; in fact, if it is ONLY our voice they hear, we're doing them a disservice! Awesome insight, and thanks for sharing the TED Talk!

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    2. Chantell - if you want to go outside of the district with the PBL project, let me know! My English classes would love to join! It sounds like an awesome project!

      Amanda - I agree completely! I am interested in the Ted Talk you mentioned, and plan to check it out soon! One of my favorite projects this past year (also done during a poetry unit) was showing students Spoken Word Poetry and having them create their own. They didn't have to present or show the class if they didn't want to, but the ones that did inspired the other students immensely! I even had some re-do their projects because they were so inspired/encouraged by their classmates. Some students who did not do any other work that trimester, completed the Spoken Word project, and did amazing with it! I love when my students can make a difference in each other's lives and my life!

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  12. The Student Leadership Team idea in this chapter is the one that immediately grabbed my attention. Since I have the pleasure of working with three different groups of student leaders in our school (freshman class officers, student council, and our student tech team), and our school really only offers one other student leadership group--the Student Athlete Advisory Council. A few students are involved in more than one of these leadership groups, but I would LOVE to have all of these student leaders meet together to discuss ideas to improve our school and create a culture of excellence! I am passionate about student voice, in my classroom and in our school, to help create a positive environment and create positive change, so encouraging dialogue among a "super group" of student leaders would be amazing!

    I also love the idea of "This week on Twitter"! Slowly but surely, I have been working to get more teachers in my building on Twitter and see the power of connections and ideas from outside our building. I led a book study of Teach Like a Pirate last spring, and we discussed through Blogger and Twitter with everyone's scheduling conflicts. Most of the teachers who participated were new to Twitter, so we chatted right after school and anyone wanting support could come to my room for help guidance. Some of the teachers haven't looked at Twitter since we finished, but some of them have been lurking or participating in slow chats. I'd love to do a staff Twitter challenge next
    fall, possibly incorporating badges for different levels of participation and definitely with prizes (thinking a copy of this book or Ditch that Textbook, maybe?). "This week on Twitter" could have some ideas and articles, but also "Follow 5, Find Five, Take Five" too...or maybe fewer, then badges for those? Really just thinking out loud here...what do you all think?

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    1. Great idea for the Twitter challenge. I like your idea of badges or prizes to get others involved in using Twitter more. Prizes always work at our school! I also think a copy of this book might be helpful. I know it has opened my eyes to the uses of Twitter besides just for contests and such. I think you offering help in your room to anyone would be great too. At my school, we always have some teachers that need that help or just someone telling them they are doing technology things right so that might make some of them more comfortable in participating more too.

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  13. I LOVE this chapter. I am very blessed to work at a school filled with positive, energetic people who strive to "bring thier best to their organiziation each day." I was pleasantly surprised to read this chapter on connecting personally with our students and staff. As a mother of 4, ages 10-17, I am incredibly aware that technology and social media are the ways in which this generation will communicate, learn, and share in the years to come. The educators at my school have all taken a pledge to incorporate new 21st century learning and assessment techniques into our classrooms, from grades Pre-k through 8. We have a committee of teachers who lead a "Tech Trek" at our school each year to help raise money for new technology for our school, including IPADS, Smart boards, and more. Many of my coworkers use facebook, twitter, and blogs to connect with parents and fellow educators. But while I know that technology and social media are important, my heart was happy to read about the value of personal connections, like phone calls, notes, kind words, and positive attitudes. "We know that tomorrow will be different than today; learning is never about one thing and the best experiences are still found in the personal connections we make with others who have similar aspirations to change the world for our children."

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    1. Very true! A handwritten note is exciting to receive. I know when I get something in the mail with handwriting on the envelope I always open it first!

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  15. I enjoyed this chapter even more than the rest. I really enjoyed the part about best practices for bringing your personal best each and every day. I feel that it is a good set of reminders for everyone in education from the office staff, to the teachers, to the support staff. Often times we get so busy planning to meet all the standards or get the students ready for testing that we forget about the last point of take time to smile and laugh and encourage others to have fun. I feel that we need to remember that part of fully be the best that we can be as a school.
    The other part that really hit a note with me was the point about Making Invisible Students Visible. The "invisible" students are often the ones that have the most need. I think often times they try to be invisible so they are not noticed because they feel or see themselves as not as worthy. I have been writing positive notes to my students for a few years now and I can really see a change in those students when they get one about something positive they have done. I had one student last year that was really withdrawn and didn't participate in class. She had bounced around to many different schools. Once she received a note from me, she seemed to bloom. She started to participate and interact more with her classmates. She received other notes during the year, but that first note stayed on her desk all year. I think it was one of the first times she ever felt valued. I feel that it takes a lot of work to get the "invisible" kids more visible, but it is worth every bit of effort to see them become the best that they can be.

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  16. My favorite is talking about the importance of a strong PLN. I feel like I have established a strong PLN with twitter. My question is, how can I use Pintrest for a strong PLN?

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    1. Mr. Stoner, I believe you can use Pinterest by following professionals just like you do on Twitter. I know I follow educational technology websites, teachers from around the US, and websites like Edutopia, Scholastic, etc. and once you start pinning their pins, people will see what you are pinning and re-pin it. They may not follow you back, but they will have an idea of what you are researching. And on that note, Pinterest will suggest followers to you that might be researching the same thing. I hope this helps!

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    2. I love Pinterest! Not only could you follow select people on Pinterest, but you can comment on what they pin and send people pins if you think they would enjoy the resource. Plus it allows you to message people so that'd be a good way to keep up with conversations/collaboration!

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  17. I also found this chapter to be super inspiring and it’s also my favorite thus far!!

    Has anyone here heard of negativity bias?? This chapter talks about trying to maintain a positive voice and attitude. That can be really hard sometimes, especially when our jobs are overwhelming and we have days where we think are aren’t reaching any of our students. Our brains are actually wired to focus on the negative aspects of our day (I am sure there is an evolutionary explanation tied to survival somewhere). If SIX big things happen to us in one day, FIVE good events and ONE bad event, our brains are naturally wired to focus on that ONE bad event and it can ruin a person’s entire day despite those FIVE good events. However, our brains are malleable and we can retrain it! If you sit down at the end of every day and jot down THREE good things that happened that day, it has been proven to be more effective than anti-depressant medication. It’s a really great reflective practice to get into for work or just for life in general. Gratitude is a powerful thing!

    Here is a great article about negativity bias if you are interested from the Greater Good Science Center at Berkeley: http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/the_neuroscience_of_happiness

    Here is a GREAT video I love showing to students about how gratitude leads to happiness: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oHv6vTKD6lg

    And finally, here are some tips for keeping a gratitude journal in you are interested: http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/tips_for_keeping_a_gratitude_journal

    I like to share this information with my students because I want them to strive for success and excellence as well and a big part of achieving success is also finding what makes you happy! My students have responded really well to these discussions in class… it’s also a great tool in terms of character development as well for all you English teachers out there! :)

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    1. This is going to be my school goal as a teacher- make a list every day this year before I leave the building of the 5 great things that happened (and the 1 not so great thing) so that I don't focus on just the negative. Thanks for the encouragement!

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    2. Love this idea! And it can be applied to anyone anywhere! At school, home, workplace, the gym, etc....

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    3. I love this idea too! I usually think as I am driving home of one or two things that went very well that day. If I wrote them down I could keep them in the back of my mind. Maybe then the one or two things that did not go so well would not always be the one that I keep thinking and obsessing over!

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    4. I love this idea! I especially love the idea of sharing it with the students. I'm also going to make it my goal to do this daily this school year. Thanks for sharing and inspiring!!

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    5. Cassie, thanks for the post. Great intentional actions to take with students. This would probably stay with them far longer than the topics/lessons covered. I have become Facebook friends with some of my students after they graduate from high school, and I am surprised how much some of them worry about things that I was not aware bothered them. Even if a student doesn't comment on this activity, it might make a difference in their thinking.

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  18. Janebluestein.com has a free template for 'pads on the back' it has 8 notes you copy and complete to share with coworkers or students. For example one is " you have no idea how much you help me when...'; I haven't told you lately how much I appreciate.... I bought the preprinted post it pads at a conference but the free template could be printed on card stock and would work just as well. I want to make an effort to use these this year.

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    1. That sounds like a great idea! Everyone likes to hear some positive feedback.

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    2. I checked out the "pads on the back". They come it lots of languages. I plan to use the ones in Spanish. Thanks for sharing!

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    3. Jenny, great post. Everyone likes to be appreciated, and this would be a non-threatening way to encourage gratitude and appreciation. And Sandy, my daughter gets out the "Compliment Booklet" you had them make in Spanish class every now and then. She likes reading through them, and Dan and I like hearing her comments about what people wrote to her.

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  20. Positive Voices added to a staff meeting would be a wonderful change. With so much of our time and meetings focused on change this, change that, this is good enough. Looking at the positive is a super idea to start a meeting.

    Building a learning network of colleagues in the school is a challenge. With so many teachers feeling defeated and overwhelmed, it hard to created a environment where a positive learning network can strive. There doesn't seem to be enough time for supporting the students in new technology adventures with the gradual release. My students need lots of support.

    Making Invisible Students Visible - I felt invisible most of the time in school (1970s). There were a few teachers who took the time to help me feel like I mattered. I like to encourage the reluctant learner. When the reluctant learner feels successful, he/she is more willing to try new things.

    I teach 3rd grade, how can I us Twitter in the classroom with 4 computers and a Smart-board? Independent work? Group work? Whole group? My students need lots of support and redirection.

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    1. You could establish a class twitter account and have the students collectively help you decide what to tweet. I have heard of classes sending out one tweet a day to reflect on the most important happenings/learnings that day. It's even a good way to teach parts of speech!

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    2. Our principal started this past year send out congratulations to different teachers on things she saw in the classroom (and included photos from time to time) of what she saw on her rounds of the building. In practice this is good but I also think that all teachers should be included in this at some time during the year. All teachers do great things in their classroom and should be recognized.

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    3. During our staff meetings our principal would say, "Does anyone have something to add for the good of the cause." Sometimes people would chime in, but I think it would be helpful for the principal to point out some of the positives she/he is seeing around the school. I thought one way I could contribute is pointing out something my co-teacher is doing to positively impact her students. All the testing/evaluations can really bring everyones moods down. Our schools need that positive voice more now than ever.

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  21. I love attending professional development sessions or reading books that give practical advice and input on how we can better ourselves as educators. This chapter contained so many great ideas (it seems others found this to be true as well in reading the comments above) and thoughts on creating positive work and classroom environments. My job is split between being a preschool teacher and directing our preschool program/Before and Aftercare Program. I found a lot of ideas that would be helpful for me to implement within my program and classroom. In particular, on page 73 I enjoyed and plan to implement the "Two A Day." A handwritten note, and word of encouragement can go a long way! I know from my experiences working in a variety of school settings, the places I enjoyed working the most were the places where I served under someone who was a respectable leader and where I felt encouraged and like I was making an impact. Many of us here a variety of discouraging words each day...sometimes those emails or handwritten notes or phone calls can make all the difference in a stressful job. I personally keep a file in my desk that contains encouraging emails, notes, or quotes I have received over the years. On those not-so-fun days I sometimes take the file out and glace through those. They truly can serve as inspiration for years to come!
    More than the practical ways we can promote a connected and positive learning environment though, I appreciate the idea that by creating this type of a culture in our classroom, and within our school, that this culture could escape the school walls and tumble out into our community! I would love to not only encourage my students to learn and grow with "book smarts" but to also give them tools to help them be positive, caring, and responsible citizens from a young age. I would think that if our classroom and school is a positive and caring environment where students and staff feel noticed, appreciated, connected, and encouraged that those characteristics will make their way into our homes and elsewhere.
    I enjoyed reading through the "Five Steps to Make A Greater Impact In Your Learning Community or Organization" on page 77. Many of these steps would take quite a bit of time and effort however I am sure they would greatly pay off in anyone's school or learning community. I hope to look into #5 first (Hosting your own Twitter chat). I think this would be helpful for me personally since I am still a Twitter-learner.

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    1. I agree, Andrea. The "Two a Day" idea is great. It is simple and will not take much time. It seems like a great way to encourage our fellow teachers/administrators and our students. I think we can all agree that a word of encouragement from someone makes a big difference in making us feel like we are doing something worthwhile. We should definitely pass that feeling along.

      That is awesome that you are looking at hosting your own Twitter Chat...good for you! I would love to do that with my students this year. I rarely assign homework, but I think that hosting a few evening Twitter chats throughout the year could really help enrich the learning and the topics that we are discussing in my classes.

      Good thoughts! Thanks for sharing!

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  22. I teach preschool in a program where parents are supposed to volunteer twice a month. To be able to encourage parents to come in I have to strive to be positive and welcoming. I try to always share positive things about their child and not just the negative things. I think that the idea of celebrating good times at faculty meeting is a great idea. Telling positive stories about our students will help us focus on the positive. I am lucky to be in a school where the principal is a positive person and our staff is welcoming and works well together. I like the quote, "Personal excellence starts over each day"

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    1. The power of a positive phone call home is shocking! I administered ISTEP in a small group of two students one year who had behavior issues in the classroom. They were separated more so they did not interrupt the thinking of their classmates. One boy I tested was so focused and determined to do well on his test I would never had imagined he was a distraction in class. I called his mom to tell her how hard he worked for me. She answered the phone with a pretty gruff "Now what did he do....." I introduced myself very calmly and told her how proud I was of him and how hard he worked. The change in her voice and her reaction was priceless.......she was almost speechless.

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  23. I love the way this chapter encouraged us to be a better... everything. I enjoyed reading the "best practices for bringing your best" because it isn't just about bringing our best to the classroom each day. It is about bringing our best to everything we do. It is a lifestyle, a choice, a part of a bigger than "me" attitude. I attended an E-Learning day at Hamilton Heights yesterday and heard Robbie Grimes speak. I really enjoyed hearing him speak on the importance of technology in our classrooms. You can find him @ https://twitter.com/robbiegrimes/media.

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    1. I try to bring my best everyday and am very ambitious, but doing it all alone makes it very difficult at times. I have no department for support at my institution because I am the only ESL teacher for both the middle and high school for my district. Brings down moral.

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  24. I enjoyed the bullet point list of best practices on pages 66 and 67. The two that stood out to me the most is "have high standards for all kids everyday" and "acknowledge inappropriate behavior of kids." I think these two ideas go hand in hand. I think that holding students to high standards means that one must hold students accountable. I think students will have more respect for themselves and their education if they are expected to work hard and behave. It is not always easy to keep this in check, but I strongly believe that it is necessary.

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    1. I agree. This does encourage them to have more respect for themselves. How can we expect them to respect others if they do not respect themselves?

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  25. I am fortunate to work in a great building with a very supportive principal. I think positive energy is very important, as mentioned in this chapter. I love sharing and hearing about others successes and wish everyone had the mindset of working together for the best interest of students. I love receiving hand written notes of encouragement and think they provide a boost when needed.

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    1. Positive energy is very important, as well as working together, unfortunately not always possible when a department of one :(

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    2. I love to receive handwritten notes too! They are very personal and special! I also love to send them to other faculty members. I wish I did it more often because I always feel good afterwards. I need to make myself take the time to do it more!

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  26. I also enjoyed reading this chapter. I found the four points by Sue Enquist on pages 68-69 quite interesting. I checked out the video on the 33% rule suggested in Find 5 section. I ended up watching several of her YouTube videos. If you were interested in the 33% rule, you should check them out. I also watched the Drew Dudley video Leading with Lollipops. A short video that shows sometimes we don’t realize how we influence people in a positive way and we may not even know how it changed the life of a person. Sometimes it’s the little things.

    The list of positive ways to impact the ones around us also caught my attention. We issue Knight Notes to our students (calling attention to what our students are doing positively). Our PBIS committee does a good job and encourages the staff to write notes for every student in the building…thanks Jody Stakeman! We also have Knight shields that the students recognize the staff. I like #4 Making Invisible Students Visible. I believe our Knight Note system does do this but sometimes I think the “invisible” students still get overlooked. #3 The Welcome Wagon…this is one that I think we could do better as a staff. I have suggested to my principal that he should read this book! I am happy to say, he has implemented several similar items that were mentioned in the list in the last three years. Our teacher meetings are always started with positive things that staff members and/or students are doing.



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  27. Thanks for the recognition Sandy! I think we do a great job of recognizing our students using the Knight Notes too, but I agree that sometimes the "invisible" students get over looked. I do think that we have gotten better at looking for those students doing good. If you ever have any ideas of ways to improve we are always open to new ideas!

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  28. I watched the video suggested in the chapter "Do Schools Kill Creativity". The presenter was very insightful and funny. One of the points he brought up was that the public school system is designed to create college bound students. The arts, in virtually every school system in the world, are on the lower end of the hierarchy of the public's perception of importance. Students are discouraged to pursue their interests in art, music, dance, ect because it is "unlikely to be successful in life with a job as such".

    This especially hits home with me because I teach a related arts subject. I hear often how it doesn't matter what I am doing in my classroom as long as the students are doing something. I hear "oh, its Family and Consumer Science. It's Home Ec. It can't be that hard. It's not that important." I am sure I am not the only related arts teacher who hears these types of sentiments. This diminishes the importance of related arts classes. Some students who typically struggle in the core subjects flourish in mine. What message are we sending to our youth?

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    1. Well said Kathryn! We need to encourage creativity and the related arts classes do this naturally! We empower students with the ability to find their passion and go for it! We also teach the soft skills needed for success in any area of life! All students deserve this education!

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    2. I can echo everything you've said! I wear myself out trying to convince students of the number of jobs available, the salaries, the happiness found in a career in the arts. I know I reach quite a few since the high school program has grown over the years (I teach middle school.) I also try to reach parents with these same messages which is a bigger challenge, but e-mail, twitter, facebook, etc. has helped. This chapter fired me up to go back in August with high hopes for inspiring even more students and parents through more and different social media. Pages 66-69, and 72-74 were especially uplifting. One particular sentence really hit home: Finding the right hashtags can change your professional life. I like being a part of this new PLN.

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  29. What resonated with me was "making the invisible visible" (be it student or staff). Our band directors give a special award each year to a "Super Silent Senior" who would be invisible EXCEPT that that they are always quietly outstanding in gentle leadership, faithfulness and attendance, and always doing their best and being musically- someone you can count on but you never notice because they are just always there. The kiddos love this award- it give the winner such pride to be appreciated and noticed, and they all cheer as strongly for that award as for the other, showier awards. I need to do a better job at this myself!

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    2. This is an awesome award!!! I think that being introverted, you may often get overlooked for doing positive things . I certainly was one of those students. Last year, my department gave out 2 awards for being outstanding in one subject area. I chose these students based on this "quiet leadership". When I gave the awards out, both recipients were shocked. They never thought they were noticed or were appreciated for what they did in the classroom.

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    3. Great awards- the quiet leadership needs to be noticed. It takes ALL kinds of leaders and followers in a community to make it work!

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    4. Wow! Love that idea!

      I also like that you thought about our invisible teaching partners. We have some amazing teachers, who do amazing things, but do it quietly and invisibly. It would be nice to recognize them for their work.

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  30. In this chapter, I loved how they want to help make us better teachers. There was no beating around the bush, all good ideas right there! I know I wrote notes on a lot of ideas to take from this chapter.

    I enjoyed all the different ideas on how to really get to know your co-workers and students. In the 4 years I have been teaching, I have not been in one school full-time. This year will be my first year at just one school, so I would love to implement some of the ideas to help get to know my co-workers better. Some of my favorites were: speed meet and greet, the welcome wagon, this week on Twitter, making invisible visible and the two a day notes.

    I would like to try the #oneperson idea, but I was thinking to talk with our social worker and make a school-wide bulletin board, and have the students and staff participate. I feel that will help the students connect with their teachers on another level and vice versa.

    In the beginning section where they talk about the inspirational talks, Kid President came up. He is one of my favorite kids! He has amazing things to say that kids (and adults) can relate to. I have used his videos in my class. One of my favorite videos is his “Pep Talk for Teachers and Students.” You will not regret watching this video! (Link below!) I also follow him on Instagram and Facebook, where he posts daily inspirational quotes or videos.

    Overall in this book, I am enjoying learning about how to connect with my colleagues (and we just half way through!). I am looking forward to using the ideas in my classroom, school and with my Related Arts team! I also enjoy the Follow 5, Find 5, Take 5. It helps give more ideas on how to become a better… us, personally and professionally.

    “Kid’s President’s Pep Talk to Teachers & Students”
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RwlhUcSGqgs

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    1. I love Kid President's Pep Talk to Teachers and Students! I'll have to follow him on Instagram.

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  31. I also wrote down some of the ideas. Maybe I am getting old but I am tired of the games of introductions where I could be learning more beneficial information for my classroom. Have a meet and greet 15 to 20 minutes before the meeting. Then use your time for in the meetings for exchange of ideas and learning new material from your presenter.

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  32. I have really enjoyed this chapter and feel that there are so many great ideas and practical advice as well as tons of inspirational quotes! I am going to need to reread this throughout the school year when it is more challenging to keep that positive attitude!

    I really liked the part on Personal Board of Directors. It definitely made me stop and think about who I surround myself with and who I should not surround myself with. I definitely think there people I go to when I need that positive kick and there are some colleagues that I need to distance myself from as they are not supporters.

    I really liked the idea of "planning intentionally to make a positive impact in the lives of those with whom they work most closely." Sometimes you have to plan and make the effort. I am definitely going to try some of these ideas this year! I really like the "This Week on Twitter," "Celebrate Good Times," and #oneperson. Many of the ideas here could be modified for a class room environment (I am thinking..start small).

    I really want to focus on having high standards for all students everyday. I think that many kids rebel a little when it comes to working hard. It is the easy way to give in and give too much help. I need to remind myself and my students that failing is part of the learning process and we are going to recover quickly and fight for our excellence.

    I have been taking notes on everyone's posts this week...great ideas in the chapter and in the responses!!

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    1. I also tagged this chapter as one to return to and reread as the school year starts. I want to write several of the ideas on my dry erase board at school to make sure I don't forget about them.

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  33. I have really enjoyed this chapter and feel that there are so many great ideas and practical advice as well as tons of inspirational quotes! I am going to need to reread this throughout the school year when it is more challenging to keep that positive attitude!

    I really liked the part on Personal Board of Directors. It definitely made me stop and think about who I surround myself with and who I should not surround myself with. I definitely think there people I go to when I need that positive kick and there are some colleagues that I need to distance myself from as they are not supporters.

    I really liked the idea of "planning intentionally to make a positive impact in the lives of those with whom they work most closely." Sometimes you have to plan and make the effort. I am definitely going to try some of these ideas this year! I really like the "This Week on Twitter," "Celebrate Good Times," and #oneperson. Many of the ideas here could be modified for a class room environment (I am thinking..start small).

    I really want to focus on having high standards for all students everyday. I think that many kids rebel a little when it comes to working hard. It is the easy way to give in and give too much help. I need to remind myself and my students that failing is part of the learning process and we are going to recover quickly and fight for our excellence.

    I have been taking notes on everyone's posts this week...great ideas in the chapter and in the responses!!

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  34. I am one of those who has been exhausted by the 33%! It is in my nature not to leave anyone behind. It has taken me years to realize there are some students who don't want my help. I still try hard with them until I reach a point of where I have to let them go. This is a lead in maybe for the invisisbles to be visisbles. Maybe spotting these kids sooner than later will help. I know regardless there will always be those who don't want my want help it is just a tough pill for me to swallow. We all became educators to make a difference and we want to do that for all. Also great comment about giving teachers positive feedback. A little encouragement never hurts anyone! Many neat thoughts in this chapter really enjoyed it.

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    1. I think sometimes that kids act like they don't want our help because talking to teachers isn't cool. I talk to them anyway, smile, say hi, and don't let them get away with trying to be invisible. There are too many with "voices in their heads" when left alone, and I don't mean they are mentally ill, it's just that teen angst, cliques, attitudes, that we can keep the walls down if we keep trying to communicate. We may not see or hear about the difference we make until years later. I can go home and sleep better at night when I've tried to reach every student.

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  35. I have found many things to consider about using twitter for the classroom. What can I do to get more students involved with twitter as well as parents? I am also torn between if twitter is a better method or is Canvas with the iPads the students all have?

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    1. Twitter has a easy to use iPad app. You can keep Twitter private as just a classroom and parents. You can choose to only accept followers of your choice. They have to be approved by you. That keeps it more protected if you don't want outsiders involved. I love KidBlog for my students. It also has numerous levels of privacy. D :)

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    2. Want to try KidBlog. I teach middle school- quarters so I am assuming I would have to start new each quarter?

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    3. I know some teachers have incentives to get students involved on twitter. For example, they post bonus spelling words. These words are posted every Wednesday.

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    4. My class tweets what we are doing every day. The students (second graders) don't have their own accounts, but we do it together as a class. They decide what we tweet and proofread it. Then they go home so excited for their parents to see what we did at school. They are the ones who get their parents hooked on it. I also put my Twitter handle in my newsletter and display it at open house.

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    5. My class tweets what we are doing every day. The students (second graders) don't have their own accounts, but we do it together as a class. They decide what we tweet and proofread it. Then they go home so excited for their parents to see what we did at school. They are the ones who get their parents hooked on it. I also put my Twitter handle in my newsletter and display it at open house.

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  36. I intend to create a personal board of directors, a group of colleagues to keep me focused on my goals and purpose.

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    1. I liked the board of directors idea. I plan on creating my own as well. Being an instructional coach it also made me wonder......would I be on any of my fellow teachers board of directors? If I am doing my job, and doing it well I should be on a lot and need to push myself more.

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  37. As many of my fellow book club participants have said I also have enjoyed this chapter very much!
    There were many quotes I really liked. One that stood out for me was on page 63. "One way connected educators acquire a powerful and positive voice themselves is by seeking out as many positive and powerful voices they can from all walks of life."
    I try to do this, maybe not by being connected to the Internet, Twitter, ECT... but by keeping those people around me. They may be my family, my friends, my teaching partners and it may just be by a smile, phone call or note but having them around me helps me to do my best in the classroom daily!

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  38. I found the list for planning intentionally to make a positive impact in the lives of those with whom they work to be the most interesting. I think that these ideas could be used on a smaller scale with my 8th grade teaching team and then expanded throughout the school.

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  39. I really liked the list of sixteen ideas to make a difference.

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  40. I loved the sixteen items as well! I also loved the idea of the unknown students. It inspires me to write their name on an envelope and mail one home once a trimester to parents so they can see the good work their child is doing!

    I enjoyed this chapter more than the rest. Not sure why. Just an encouraging chapter.

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    1. I agree, this chapter was great. It was very inspiring and I liked the suggestions to get you started being your best!

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  41. What a great chapter! What really stood out to me was the 33% rule. There are always going to be people that complain about everything and always quick to point out others faults. It is easy to get "sucked in" with that crowd. Negativity will only breed more negativity. It so sad when we see this in our schools with staff members putting each other down, intentionally or unintentionally, I always try to make new teachers feel welcome and be encouraging.
    I also loved the best practices for bringing your best. My favorite was loving students as if they were your own. I try very hard to find something about each child that makes them special or unique. I smile to myself sometimes thinking of the people they will be as they grow up. I also remind myself that discipline is love, too. What I want for my own children is their best, and that's what I expect from my school children as well.

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    1. I agree! I think it is so important for us to lift each other up! I think this makes us better educators. We are all in it together, we can't get sucked into negativity.

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  42. Ditto on enjoying this chapter! So many great ideas from the chapter and fellow participants responses! This definately reinforces the need and total benefit of being. "connected" to other educators. Being a counselor it is my quest every year to assist those invisible students to become visible to someone, somehow. I truely believe in the quote by Martin Luther King "I cannot be the best I can be until you are the best you can be."

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  43. Ditto on enjoying this chapter! So many great ideas from the chapter and fellow participants responses! This definately reinforces the need and total benefit of being. "connected" to other educators. Being a counselor it is my quest every year to assist those invisible students to become visible to someone, somehow. I truely believe in the quote by Martin Luther King "I cannot be the best I can be until you are the best you can be."

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  44. I found out the new position I interviewed for 2 days before leaving on vacation I got when I landed in Los Angeles, CA! So this chapter comes at such an appropriate time as I start a new job at a new school. I will use it as a reference to be the best teacher leader I can be! So excited for this new opportunity!

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    1. Congratulations on your new job, Tracey! And good luck! I agree, this was the perfect chapter for your new chapter in life!!

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  45. Looks like I missed a fun week of "choose your own adventure" discussion! I was in Florida for the week and decided to leave my computer at home for the first time since 2005. I usually take it with me on all vacations. But this time with two kids in tow my carry on bag was just too full of activity books, crayons, and snacks to lug it along! (Does this site jump around for anyone else on their mobile, just curious!)

    I highlighted a lot in this chapter. During the chapter opening I think I highlighted two entire pages and wrong "Amen" in the margin! I liked some of the ideas given at the end of the chapter. I starred three I want to implement this year, "Celebrate Good Times, Two A Day, and Make Invisible Students Visible."

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  46. As we are bound to any performance rubrics, we are drifting away from the relationships that used to define us as "good, caring" teachers. I think the question posed by the young teacher in Colorado last spring opens the door to re-establishing that part of our job: "Things I wished my teacher knew about me" provided an insight to where her students "come from," was a great ice-breaking activity, gave voice to those quieter students, and provided a short writing sample to guide instruction.

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  47. I really enjoyed reading about the 33% rule. It seems that negativity regarding the students or teaching in general is all around us. However, according to the book it is important to, "surround ourselves with a circle of excellence in order to protect our greatness!" I also like the 2-a-day thought. We all get so busy during the school day that it is virtually impossible to get around to seeing all of the other teachers each day. This would enable us to all be in better communication and express our gratitude for each other. What an uplifting idea!

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  48. I do love to read about strategies and practices to improve my teaching, but sometimes I just need to be inspired. This chapter did a good job inspiring me. I loved watching the Kid President videos and I loved feeling like I am doing something right even if I don't reach every student with every standard. Reading things like this make me realize just how powerful an educator can be, and it really inspired me to "bring my personal best everyday". I will definitely have to revisit this chapter during the school year!

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    1. Agreed! This chapter came at a good time!

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  49. This chapter was amazing! Seeing as I have been involved in Twitter for over a year professionally, the earlier chapters were basics for me. These chapters now are starting to challenge me and giving me ideas to spread the Twitter love! I especially enjoyed the 16 suggestions. I circled 4 of them: 1 for me, my principal, the school staff, and the district. For myself, I am hoping to do the "Two a Day" during one of the known slum periods of the school year to keep morale high and so teachers know they are always appreciated. I also hope to implement the Make it Personal positive phone calls to parents, and I also hope some of my colleagues jump on board with me. We get so used to only calling parents for negative behavior, and I want to get back to also providing parents with positive information on their students. I hope my principal implements the Twitter of the Week! suggestion in his staff notes. We have hoped to spread the Twitter love throughout the staff, and I think this would be a great way to help spark their interest and leap! Our district has already began implementing a student leadership team, but I hope they continue it throughout this school year.

    I am excited to hopefully implement and see these in action this upcoming school year! :)

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  50. In the section labeled…"Strive to Make a Greater Impact"…I really liked the list of things to do.

    Love the idea behind #4…making invisible students visible…this could be so powerful...this one also made me think of the amazing book by Trudy Ludwig titled The Invisible Boy.

    Love the idea of #7…Two a Day…something I would like to try. (I might have to tweak it a bit…but like the idea!)

    The section labeled "Celebrate Good Time" is one that shouldn't be overlooked. It is so important to celebrate our successes and to celebrate our student's successes too. This also reminded meow a book…one by Ruth Ayres' book titled…Celebrating Writers.

    So glad I joined this book study! GREAT choice!

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    1. Oops! I was a bit behind in posting and was trying to catch up tonight. I got a bit ahead of myself with this post. The section labeled "Celebrate Good Times"…is actually in Chapter 6. Sorry for any confusion. Time to go to bed. More tomorrow.

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  51. I loved all of the ideas in this chapter! I think the 33% rule is really important. It's hard to stay positive and embrace change with these negative voices. I also really liked the 16 ideas to positively impact your school. A positive school culture is extremely important for the students and staff in the school. I especially want to do "making the invisible student visible", "two a day", and "#oneperson". I can't wait to start using this chapter in my own building!

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  52. I agree with everyone, I really enjoyed this chapter! I think the 33% rule is great advice! Surrounding yourself with positive people will help you become a better teacher, but you definitely need to find those positive people. It is sometimes easy to have your excellence taken away. I loved the quote, "Excellence doesn't negotiate!" I also loved the list starting on page 71. I really enjoyed "Making Invisible Students Visible," "This Week on Twitter," "Two a Day," and "#oneperson."

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  53. I guess my biggest question when it comes to twitter is how educators have the time to look all of the stuff up that they find and join in the Twitter chats. I have a 10 month old baby now and I have no interest in working on school related items while I'm at home. I want to spend time with her and when she's in bed, I want to spend time with my husband. I am the type to leave school at school and enjoy my time at home with my family. It seems as if keeping up with Twitter communities and Twitter chats that I would be giving up a lot of personal time. Occasionally I don't suppose this would be a big deal, but I can't imagine doing it on a regular basis. Is there anyone on here who participates in Twitter regularly and has input as to how this fits in with your personal life?

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    1. Stephanie, I can very much relate to your struggle as a mom of three boys ages 9, 6, and 14 months. I struggle with feeling overwhelmed and trying to find the balance between Twitter, Twitter chats, working on improving my lessons and curriculum in a new program that I am currently involved with at my school, spending time with my boys and my husband, and then maybe having some personal time for myself, such as exercising, reading, etc. Like you, I try to utilize my time at school efficiently so that I can leave school at school and focus my time at home with my family. I could easily become completely engrossed with school stuff and sacrifice important time and energy with my family, which I've struggled with in the past. I have become much better at not being such a perfectionist with my lessons and teaching activities and leaving school at school for the most part.

      Now that I am trying to grow my PLN and incorporate Twitter more into my professional life (especially since it is utilized heavily within my school district), I am trying to figure out that balance again. I have reminders on my cell phone regarding Twitter chats but haven't participated in one yet. I know that I will; however, it just hasn't happened at this point because I am so busy with my children during our summer break. As far as checking Twitter and posting or reposting tweets, I am usually only able to do this maybe once or twice a week if I'm lucky. I know this social media resource is valuable and have gained several followers as a result of the suggestions in this book, but I am not beating myself up because I can't spend as much time on it right now as my other colleagues can. I have three children, and I have a family that is very important to me, and I am not willing to sacrifice time with them. However, I also want to grow as a professional, so I have had to think about my schedule and responsibilities and figure out times that work for me to participate in Twitter chats as well as use Twitter and other social media outlets. There are some Twitter chats that occur later on in the evening around 9:00 p.m. once a week. My children are in bed around 8:30 p.m., and since this chat is only one night a week, I can still spend time with my husband but just have to do it on other week nights. I try to check my Twitter account at least once a week, and again, it is usually in the evening after my kids are in bed. Right now, this "schedule" of checking Twitter and participating in chats is what is going to work for me and my family. I have noticed that colleagues of mine who don't have young children or don't have any children are able to spend a lot more time on these PLN avenues than I am, but I try not to pay attention to everything that they are able to do because I am in a completely different situation.

      I hope this helps because it is frustrating trying to find the balance between all of it :)

      P.S. By the way, as I was responding to your post since my youngest is down for a nap, my other two boys came up to me with questions and comments at least 15 times - lol!

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  54. I definitely enjoyed reading this chapter and highlighted several sections. In education today, it is so important to become connected and surround ourselves with positive influences because it is very easy to become negative and cynical as a result of other forces (state mandates, standardized testing, and negative colleagues). I work at a great school district, but for the first time in my teaching career, I am in a department that is extremely cliquey and negative/mean. I am ready to start my fourth year and am just trying to really focus on the positive aspects of my job and interacting with colleagues who will support me. I keep picturing the image of race horses with the blinders on the side of their eyes as they race to help me utilize the same strategy. I don't want to pay attention to negativity and, instead, want to focus on the positives, the students, and the good behaviors, actions, etc. being done within the school and the community. I highlighted the point about connected educators to remind myself of this: "They do not allow failure or gossip to define them and they approach every challenge as an opportunity to rise above the noise in order to make a significant impact on what they can control."

    I also really liked the list of suggested TED talks and am a big fan of Sir Ken Robinson - these types of videos can really be inspirational for teachers :) Under the section "Strive to Make a Greater Impact," I absolutely loved the list of ideas for doing exactly this at my school building. I have implemented the idea of Make it Personal and want to do an even better job of this throughout the school year because every parent needs to hear something positive about his/her child. In fact, when I have called certain parents and praised their son or daughter for something in my classroom, the parent or guardian went silent because he/she was expecting something bad to be reported. It was awesome to hear the impact these calls made, and I need to do this more! One of my favorite ideas was Making Invisible Students Visible - I think that our school does a great job of highlighting student accomplishments; however, I know there are students who feel "invisible," so I just really liked this idea and want to share it with my building principal. I also want to share the Invite Them Back idea because my principal is focused on helping students who have dropped out to come back to school and graduate.

    I definitely appreciated the positive focus on this chapter, especially as I get ready to go back to school in a week and a half! It helps to reinforce why I choose education as my career path.

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  55. I love the idea of building relationships with students and I plan to steal an idea from my cousi , Rose Ann Callahan, who is an elementary teacher. She makes a gift bag for each of her students that is labeled, “Welcome to 4th grade”. The sheer numbers that I have at the high school level make this prohibitive but I am going to do this for the seniors in my English class. I plan to label the gift bag with “The tassel is worth the hassle” or some other motivational saying. I believe that this would give my seniors the message that I have been looking forward to the day that they stepped into my classroom.

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    1. I lost the last part of my entry. I believe that this would be different from what they expect the first day of English 12 to be and it will be well worth the effort and expense.

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    2. I lost the last part of my entry. I believe that this would be different from what they expect the first day of English 12 to be and it will be well worth the effort and expense.

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    3. Good idea! I saw something like this on Pinterest! I was thinking about doing something like this for first year Spanish students. Great minds think alike!!!

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    4. I love it, Cathy! "The hassle is worth the tassel" is perfect since you are their English 12 teacher AND a senior class sponsor. It puts the why there for them on day #1 of your class. Terrific idea.

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  56. This chapter was an inspiration. Getting the invisible student to participate is a challenge. He/she may have issues, be shy, or have a difficult home life. I want to make them feel their value. I have watched Dr. Brene Browns TED talk on vulnerability and really enjoyed it and obtained great insight from it. I try to encorage students to take chances. Many need to trust themselves. I believe a PLN could very beneficial in obtaining good ideas to implement student involvement at many levels.

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  57. This is a really great chapter in so many ways. This is one that I need to keep bookmarked to read every so often. My goal this school year is to follow the "best practices for bringing your best" every day.

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  58. I also enjoyed this chapter the most. I loved the reminder that we need to take time to smile and enjoy our students. Last school year I was too negative as I was so stressed over whether my students were learning enough to pass their exit tests. I truly believe if kids are happy and safe that they were learn enough. It is more important to reach our students on a personal level. I am going to work on a more positive attitude and try to have more fun with my students. I loved reading all of the posts this week. This chapter really got me excited for the next school year!

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  59. This chapter really hits home why being positive is so important. Not only are we already slammed with so much negativity as teachers, but this just reminded me how positivity can make a difference. So much of teaching is the stressful and negative: evaluations and ISTEP and meetings and lesson planning. But every now and again, we have to remind ourselves to stop and breath in the little things and reach the kids we are blessed to teach.

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  60. I loved this chapter; my favorite by far. At 50, I'm old enough to be thinking about the legacy I want to leave at my school. I try to have a "young" mindset, and I really don't think of myself as an older teacher, although I understand that when I was in high school, I would have thought of 50 as old! But, honestly, I can think of teachers around my age that are positive, favorite teachers. Three of my daughter's favorite elementary teachers were older teachers, proving it's all about attitude and energy.

    I can reflect on a couple of years that teaching had become stale for me. I was in a rut, and I was severely stressed and disappointed by some decisions of my school corporation. I saw the struggle through, and got some changes made for my fellow teachers. Although it left me battle-scarred, I knew in my heart I was doing the right thing. Another year, my mother was diagnosed with a rare illness, and it was extremely difficult to come to school with a smile on my face. Last year was personally difficult as my school experienced several unexpected, devastating human losses. I would tell younger teachers that some school years will be more difficult than others. Do the best you can and don't be too hard on yourself when these years happen. The three years I mentioned all taught me lessons. They may not have been lessons I wanted to learn, but they all left something positive within me. The first situation gave me self-confidence; the second situation gave me empathy and compassion for others and even more respect for my mother; and the third situation brought me to prayer and closer bonds with the people I work with. We leaned on each other and modeled this very important characteristic to our students in grades 7-12.

    There were so many terrific ideas in this chapter. I love the Personal Board of Directors. I love the reminder to surround yourself with people who make you laugh and are fun to work with. It is a good reminder to be that sort of teacher to the students, too. When I was in high school, if I liked a particular teacher, I worked harder in that teacher's class - especially if it was a subject that was not one of my favorites. Lastly, seriously appreciated the 33% Rule. We tend to give the bottom 33% more thought. After all, they are the ones we are continuously reminded to "get over the hump" in our classes and ISTEP and ECA's. I know I will have to focus on this group, but I also need to protect my sensitive side and not take the 33% too much to heart. The idea about writing a letter to a teacher's parents telling them how much the school benefits from having them on board would mean the world to any parent. I can only imagine how this letter would be treasured by a teacher's parents. Our students' parents also need to hear positives from their children's school.

    Question: One thing I've been thinking about lately is professional development days. I wish my superintendent, assistant superintendent, and all building principals and assistant principals would give teachers more control about designing these days. So many times the topics the teachers would like to discuss are not included in these PD days. Last year my building principal gave the teachers in my department, the English department, one entire day to work together writing out curriculum. We didn't make lesson plans, we merely wrote out what units would be studied at each grade level each nine weeks. This was so awesome, so productive, and so useful. We have a new teacher in our department this year. She will easily be able to see what the teacher before her did during a year. We also found out more about what our department does, laughed and collaborated, and got so much done. It felt good that our administrators trusted we would use the day wisely. It has been the most beneficial PD day I've had in my career.

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  61. Great chapter! My goal in teaching students has always been to strive for them to be able to become successful productive citizens down the road. Educating children for more than a test or passage of a grade level isn't the purpose of education. I want my students to work hard, respect others, value themselves, and love learning. I enjoyed the reaffirmation and inspiration from this chapter!

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  62. The thing that I enjoyed about this chapter is the qualities that instill us as educators. For me, normally around Christmas time is when I can start becoming very routine and stagnant with my teaching. I tend to rely on my past lesson plans and pull from those old file folders. What I need to do is pull out these pages in this chapter and read what it takes to be an excellent teacher! Parents, some teachers, and some students can bring us down from time to time. That is going to happen no matter what. However, if we keep these special "Commandments" as they are calling them, we will survive each year unscaved and ready for any and all problems that may arise. I love the final practice in this chapter, "Take time to smile and laugh and encourage others to have fun." Great idea....

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