Friday, August 23, 2013

New Initiatives: 10 Stages of Acceptance

If you are a teacher, this scenario may sound all too familiar.  You arrive at the designated meeting location on the opening day exercises of the new school year.  You spend time catching up with friends and colleagues, smiling and ready to take on the world.  You feel great because you have spent time over the summer reflecting and preparing for the upcoming year.  Then it happens, your district introduces a new initiative.  You begin to panic and look around the room.  Is this really happening?  The pit in your stomach grows as summer vacation suddenly becomes a distant memory.

If you have been in education for even a few years, you have probably experienced something like this already, and most certainly will again.  Relax, you are not alone! Change can be difficult but it can also be good (see Change Can be Good). The process of coming to terms with seemingly impossible demands is different for everyone, but recognizing your feelings is a good place to start.

  • Shock:  “We have to do what?!”
  • Denial:  “They can’t really expect us to do this, can they?”
  • Anger:  “I can’t believe they are doing this to us!”
  • Resistance:  “There’s no way I’m doing this.”
  • Acceptance:  “Fine, I guess I have no choice.”
  • Learning:  “OK, I kind of get it.”
  • Experimentation:  “I tried it,this is pretty good.”
  • Practicing:  “I am getting much better at this.”
  • Mastery:  “This is great, I’m on a roll now!”
  • Sharing: “It’s easy, let me help you with that!”
What are you doing in your daily practice now that once caused stress and anxiety?

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

What Teachers Need to Know but May be Afraid to Ask

The other day while on a walk with the family, my 10 year old asked us to solve the following riddle, “Mary’s mother had four daughters, their names were April, May, June, and what was the fourth daughter’s name?”  He smiled knowingly while the rest of us paused to consider the question and attempt to solve it.  Of course it’s one of those questions that you know the most obvious answer is the wrong one and the correct answer is right in front of you but you don’t see it.  When someone is new to the profession, or even just new to a building or position, there will be many questions and often time’s people are afraid to ask for fear the answer is right in front of them.  As you walk down the freshly waxed hallways this September and see the faces of your new colleagues, remind yourself that what is obvious to you may not be to them.  The fourth daughter is named Mary.

  • What does that acronym stand for?
  • What assessments am I required to give and when?
  • How do my colleagues and fellow staff members prefer to be addressed in the presence of students?
  • How do I get the supplies and materials I need?
  • What protocols are followed if I am having a volunteer or guest speaker visit the classroom?
  • Are there any passwords I need to have? (Copiers, printers, laminators, computers, tablets…)
  • Who are the individuals I need to introduce myself to as soon as possible? (Custodians, secretaries, specialists, department heads, technology director…)
  • Where is that room located?
  • What committees should I consider joining?
  • What traditions exist?

Friday, August 2, 2013

10 Aha! Moments I Experienced at the EdtechRI Technology Un-conference (Spoiler alert: None of them have anything to do with technology!)

Today was a very special day.  No, it wasn’t my birthday or anniversary and it wasn’t even the start of a long weekend.  No, it was special because I was part in an amazing learning community.  I’ll save you the trouble of looking at the date, it is August 2 and it is summer vacation.  This was not a district mandated professional development and no money or course credits were exchanged.  Nevertheless, nearly 60 educators from over 12 districts in 2 states descended upon the Barrington High School Library to learn about technology…from each other.  No presenter, no agenda, no assignments, no rules.  The tablets, smart phones, laptops, and netbooks were aplenty and much technology was shared.  For this list however, I am choosing to focus on a few other things I learned today.
  • It’s important to broaden our professional learning networks to individuals outside our own districts
  • When learners are given choices they are active and engaged (even adults!)
  • When you are given permission to “not know everything”, you relax and become a better learner
  • Teachers think about school in the summer…they really do
  • Teachers embody the phrase “life-long learner”
  • Educators of all grade levels and any content areas can and should learn together
  • Shared leadership is a wonderful thing
  • Collaboration is vital to success (for more on this check out
  • We all have something to contribute
  • Stepping outside your comfort zone can get pretty comfortable

Special thanks to and