Sunday, January 6, 2019


     -brave, bold, risk-taking, lacking in fear or anxiousness

What I am not, but will strive to be.

I have never seen myself as a bold or brave person. In fact, I'm reminded often about the differences between introverts and extroverts. And as often as I'm reminded of that, I chose to ignore it. Even though others would classify me as an introvert, I don't see it as a personality deficit. If only they knew how much I used my quietness to think, reflect, and constantly self-talk. Just not out loud.

I selected "fearless" as my one word for this year. I actually chose it a few months ago after contemplating some new things I wanted to try in my professional and personal life. I confirmed my choice after finding this necklace at one of my favorite stores not long after.

my one word for 2019

This one word mission has been a "tradition" of sorts for the last few years. Instead of a resolution for the new year, it's a topic to focus on, a word to incorporate into my life, or a trait to strengthen. Inspire and Create are words I've chosen in the past.

For me, the word "fearless" is a challenge ---
      --to try new activities with my youngest (K-1) students that I haven't tried before or thought were not possible due to their age or lack of experience
      --to use new tools, apps, and websites even though there may be the chance of some things not working right the first time
      --to participate in some activities during my free time that are new for me or that I haven't done in years

What is there to fear? Things not working right. Others only focusing on the end product, not the process, risk, or effort. Embarrassment. Time better spent on something else that is a "sure thing" instead. Feelings of anxiousness.

Fortunately, I have already experienced those things and think they are probably a normal part of teaching and living everyday life.

My one word focus on being fearless is not a commitment to never be fearful of what is ahead, but instead a dedication to be actively engaged in the process of trying new things and being less fearful of the outcome.

I challenge you to join me in facing the things that make you anxious with a renewed sense of peace and boldness.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

A Moment in Time

Graduation 2016.

A moment in time.

It seemed like a day that was so far away just a short 18 years ago when she was born.

Everyone says it will go by fast.

Enjoy the baby years -- they are little for such a short time. It will go by fast.

Enjoy the little kid years -- soon they will be too big to hold. It will go by fast.

Enjoy the elementary years, the first days of school, the cute little papers and projects they bring home. Save the little drawings and the stories they write. It will go by fast.

Enjoy the junior high and high school years. They will be so busy and learn so much. It will be tough, but it will be great. They are becoming who they were meant to be. It will go by fast.

And it did.

And it was great.

We're so blessed, and lucky, and proud.

She has impressed us with her attitude, her dedication to both academics and sports, her love of God & family & friends, her loyalty, and her perseverance.

And we know the next two months will go by fast.

Then a new journey, with more precious moments in time, will begin.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

The Road and the Journey

photo by Jen Houlette

"Never let a stumble in the road be the end of your journey." ~unknown

The journey is sometimes winding and often contains bumps. But even the smallest stumble can be navigated depending on the road taken.

Will the stumble be a road block?
Or will it simply be a detour?

The ever-changing, sometimes disconnecting, never-ever-the-same landscape of technology in which my journey currently resides is always full of bumps.

Whether it's a slow connection, severed fiber cables in the area, deleted users that need re-adding, websites that aren't working but they were yesterday, questions without answers, lack of time, etc. ..... there's one thing that doesn't change --- there will always be stumbling blocks, bumps in the road, unexpected detours, and an ever-winding road.

It comes with the job. No day is ever the same. And the thing that makes it impossible to just "go through the motions" is the same thing that makes it exciting and sometimes scary. I find myself thinking - "What vehicle did I jump in and what road am I going down?"

But one thing I do know is this...... even though I may have an unclear road map and there will undoubtedly be bumps no matter what side road I find myself on, each time I find myself on a rocky road I have a choice.

A choice to see it as a detour on my way to a great destination along the journey.

Or a choice to see it as a disastrous road block that stops me in my tracks and disables me from continuing down the path to greatness.

I will choose the first.

Because a detour is sometimes an opportunity - a Plan B - a better way - a chance to round up road-side helpers. :)

Because a detour is not a dead end. It's a chance to try again, to turn the day around in a positive way.

Because a detour is the perfect way to model resilience, flexibility, and vulnerability.

So I will continue on the journey using this quote as motivation to keep going, keep trying, and keep my head up when things don't go perfectly on the daily road of the journey I'm choosing to take. Join me!

                "Never let a stumble in the road be the end of your journey." ~unknown

Saturday, January 2, 2016

A Time to Pause

One of my favorite bookmarks

Much like a bookmark is a pause between pages, my life has been somewhat paused between the many layers of the over-scheduled minutes of a mom, wife, friend, teacher, and student.

---starting a new job position, finding time to do two online grad classes and the accompanying readings and assignments, spending time at swim meets watching my daughters, going on college visits, creating 6 videos a week, meeting with friends, keeping up the housework, volunteering and serving on the swim club board, and much much more ---

Am I complaining? No. I'm blessed to have the opportunities to do the things I love, and the days when the many things I do pile up just a little too high, I wonder why I chose the #oneword "create" last year -- but the positive things that have been created have outweighed the hard times that may have come along with it.

But the last week and a half has been a time to pause and think ...time to spend with family, time to spend catching up on to-do lists, time to celebrate Christmas, time to shop and play and just be.

And as it feels great to move the bookmark further ahead as pages are read, information is absorbed, and stories are enjoyed, it also feels great to just leave the bookmark in place and pause.

A "pause" is a representation of space.

A "pause" is a temporary stop between starting and stopping.

A "pause" is meant to be a short-lived break. However, one pause that has been more of a dramatic pause has been the break between my blog posts on this blog. It's not that I haven't had a lot of things I could have written about, and it's not that I haven't had support from my blogging community and friends, and it's not that I haven't had numerous inspirational and challenging posts sent my way. It's just the pressure that I put on myself to get things right and say things the way I perceive them to be and sometimes it's easier to just continue the pause instead of trying to break through the wall.

This wall is not easily knocked down. And it only becomes a larger wall the more you stare at it and try to imagine all the ways to break through it.

How do I start? What do I say? Who wants to even read it anyway? These are all questions I asked myself as the weeks and months since my last post.

Now I'm not one to make New Year's resolutions or think that the change of the calendar will somehow magically make things happen, but maybe I'll at least try to pause more often and long enough to try to break through the wall a little at a time.

Monday, September 7, 2015

The Road to Simple and Seamless

"If we teach today's students as we taught yesterday's, 
we rob them of tomorrow." ~John Dewey

Photo by Jinoba

What do we need to do to make technology woven into our teaching and learning? 

What do we need to change to make it less of an "event"?

How do we move from the state of mind that technology is a special tool, much like a dessert, instead of the table setting that is a necessary and obvious part of the landscape that simply blends into the background?

The #compelledtribe blogging group topic for this week couldn't have been more timely for me.

Because these are the exact questions I've been asking myself.

Photo from Wikimedia

The number of classrooms full of students that I am teaching.

The number of classrooms full of students that I desire to bring to a new level of knowledge.

The number of classrooms full of students I hope to be able to help understand that technology isn't simply an event that takes place at a certain time of the week that they see me, but can take place anytime and anywhere.

The number of classrooms full of students I wish to connect - to each other, to their community, and to the world.

Photo by Jen Houlette

The road to get there may be many miles long.

Especially with an outdated, or missing map of the land.

And the road most likely will have twists and turns, barriers and dead ends.

Making the use of technology into something that is second nature, is sometimes quite a trip.

Is there a right way? Is there a wrong way? It's hard to say.

Unless you're in the vehicle at the front of the caravan on the road, it's almost impossible to imagine.

But here are my first steps down that road:

*Connect lessons to the content learning taking place in the classrooms and the skills the students need to be able to do.
In most of my classes this week, I was able to connect the technology lesson I was doing to a reading, science, or social studies standard that was a focus in their classroom.

*Make creating and sharing more important than consuming.
This week I overheard a few students ask, "What game are we going to play?" I had a small twinge of panic as I realized that our view on the use of  technology may be on opposite ends of the road. It's my desire to move students toward the realization that a technology device can help them create amazing things, not just entertain them with mindless games.

*Take risks - variety is necessary.
I've done more risk-taking in my first couple weeks in my new role than I have in a long time. I could not have imagined myself doing six Google Hangouts with multiple classes at once, or realizing with only 15 minutes notice one morning that I would need a Plan B when two kindergarten classes were left with devices in locked mode, or that I would be required to "wing it" when the internet froze in the middle of a fourth grade lesson. My students need to know that it's ok to take risks, and it's ok if things don't work out perfectly.

The road to simple and seamless is one we need to travel together, especially when technology is concerned.

Yes, we need to do things differently.

Yes, we need to take technology and the way we teach it out of the box we've put it in.

After all, the road is about the students, and this is why we do what we do:

Photo by Jen Houlette

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Poems for the First Day

Photo by Jen Houlette

The students are all on their way

They're eager to learn and to play

The classrooms are ready

for learning to grow

We're energized for the first day! 

Students and Teachers.... 
this is my hope for you:

That you will.....
know that you have amazing gifts
be able to share your voice
shine in your passions
create amazing things
realize learning is a journey
and know that you matter.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

I Don't Know

Photo by Jen Houlette

"Take the attitude of a student, never be too big to ask questions,
never know too much to learn something new" ~Og Mandino

This week I had a lot of questions.

I also spoke the phrase, "I don't know" quite a few times.

As a question mark represents the unknown, I've been in the thick of an unclear fog and it's a little unnerving.

After many, many years of being quite certain what I needed to do to be ready for the first weeks of school, I'm going down a path I haven't been on before.

Starting something new isn't always easy. With new expectations, new relationships, and new responsibilities also comes new possibilities.

And even though this week wasn't easy, I was reminded this week of why I'm on this journey.

My one word focus for this year:

Art by Jen Houlette

As I wrote about on January 1st, I want to be open to allow these things to be created in my life:
and solutions.

Little did I know nearly 8 months ago that this is where I'd be today.

And while I still find myself thinking, "I don't know" ..... it's comforting to know that someday I will. :)