Ok... so I know it is Thursday. The first full week of school is getting away from me! I mentioned in a recent post: New Year, New Beginnings, that I had read a few books that were inspiring me for the new school year and I have since read a few more! Below I will give a brief overview of each book and what I loved most about it. I will also mention what tips/ideas/chapters hit home, made me reflect, and challenged me as an educator.
The Pepper Effect- Tap into the Magic of Creativity, Collaboration, and Innovation By Sean Gaillard
I liked this book as a music teacher because, if you couldn't tell by the title (my Husband didn't get it...) it ties everything back to Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. The book goes through how the Beatles flipped the script, stopped touring, and focused on innovation for that album- and how we can apply the same principles to our classrooms. I learned some Beatles history and got some great classroom tips along the way.
After reading this book, I have ideas to be more positive, collaborate, and help students be their best. First of all, I plan on making Mondays a positive catalyst for the week and starting each school day with a festive atmosphere- never holing myself up in my room, but greeting kids with more than just a "good morning". Maybe I will play a song, maybe have a puppet, maybe I will give out high-fives or make secret handshakes with students- it will always be changing- but the goal is ensure that everyone feels valued and invited when they come to school.
When it comes to working with colleagues, I loved the keys to collaborate which were summed up in an acronym: LISTEN. This will be super important this year, as I am brand new to my school and will need to get to know everyone there! "Education is a collaborative and joyful journey. Love your collaborators and demonstrate your belief in them... Belief is the ignition for inspiration and the foundation for dreams."
L= Look for the gifts of other colleagues in the schoolhouse.
I= Invite colleagues to share those gifts with you.
S= Strategize a plan to build and do something wonderful.
T= Take a risk and commit to do something bold and creative.
E= Enjoy the process of collaborating and camaraderie.
N= Now Make It Happen!
One other thing that really hit home,especially as I start at LU-T, is being intentional about taking moments away from the grind. Sean Gaillard calls it "Here Comes the Sun" Space. As he says "An intentional move to gather time for renewal can stir inspiration in the most unexpected ways." I will be making a Here Comes the Sun poster (or buying one...) and making at least one plan a week time to just renew and connect with students and colleagues.
As for concrete classroom ideas aside from tips on collaborating, innovating, and hearing student voices- one thing really jumped out at me: "Flip your classroom into an Escape Room DESIGNED BY STUDENTS" (Emphasis added by me). I have seen many teachers do escape rooms in their classroom, but I haven't seen students creating these escapes. I plan on having my older students next year show mastery of certain units or vocabulary by creating an escape room for another class in the same grade to solve. Students will work in teams to create parts of the escape and they will be combined into one big challenge for other classes to solve. I am SO EXCITED for this project!
Remember: "One teacher's words can set a life-changing course for a student to take bold, giant, steps towards building a dynamic future."
The next PD book I read was Unleash Talent by Kara Knollmeyer.
This book was all about finding your T-3 (passions, skills and personality traits) and helping other staff members and students find theirs as well so the whole school can work together to be a positive, awesome environment where everyone can learn and grow!
I LOVED that each chapter was summarized with a "bottom line", journal prompts, and discussion questions that made it really easy to go deeper and really think about what was presented. I basically ended up highlighting quotes many of the chapters so I will just put a few here so you can get an idea of what the book is like and how it will work for you. Some of these I want to print and hang by my desk as daily reminders!
"Talent is not realized overnight but tended and nurtured day after day"
"We must understand that commitment, desire, and drive are not mutually exclusive. All three must work together to create true success."
"Contentment without desire and drive would keep us in a static state of 'good enough'"
"When passion is present, it spreads like wildfire to everyone who sees it"
"Courage is the willingness to step forward even as you are struggling with fear into what lies ahead. Your authentic self is more powerful than any monster living inside your head trying to hold you back."
"We need people who are trying to change the world for the better. And when you are trying to change the world, you do not do ordinary things."
"A compliment is verbal sunshine"
"Any day could be the day you and I were made for. Each day is our opportunity to live our destiny"
"Cookie Cutters are for cookies! Or in other words BE YOU!"
"Feedback does not need a meeting place. It needs a vulnerable space and someone to truly listen"
"Allow others to talk and look for that little spark of light that shows up in their eyes when something they are truly passionate about shines through. That right there is their life's purpose..."
"As educators, the more we share our talents, the more we empower others to share theirs"
"No. The sky is not the limit. It is only the beginning. Lift off."
5 Characteristics of People Who Inspire Others: 1. heart of a servant 2. Brave 3. Accepting of Others 4. Tenacious 5. Vulnerable
In addition to these great quotes, there were a few specific practices I plan on implementing asap.
Gratitude notes- The author states that when she is down she writes gratitude notes to those who inspire her with their love, actions, and talents and I can not wait to start this in my new school and daily life. I love that she turns negative feelings into positive with this simple thing.
Observations- Another thing mentioned a lot in the book is observing fellow teachers and allowing them to observe you. I made this "Observe Me" poster that links to a google form (I got the idea from twitter...) so any time colleagues or parents want to observe me they can give me direct feedback that I can constantly refer to. I am so excited to see how this works.
Questions to ask- What is the history of the school? How can I help honor that history? What is unique about each staff member? How can I get to know who they are? how can I better understand the varied perspectives of members of the school and see where each person is coming from?
I also plan on reading the following 3 books VERY soon:
The Teaching Text (Your Welcome)
Play it from the Heart
Did you read any awesome books this summer? Need more ideas to easily insert positivity, creativity, and just plain old fun into your room? Check out my FREE 30 day Happy Teacher Challenge! I love to do this challenge year round. There are ideas for: Classroom Fun (classroom fun can be extended all week), Classroom Organization, Reflection/ Self Care, Professional Development, and Random Acts of Kindness