#IDedchat Wondering: How might we meet students where they are and focus on their strengths?

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During last week’s “EdCamp style” #IDedchat, many wonderings were shared that can be summarized into two common themes of meeting students where they are and focusing on their strengths. Thank you to @jazzmeister2013, @wendymairclark, @HowardKiyuna and many others for sharing insights and resources.

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#IDedchat Challenge: What if we started with what we know about learning sciences research to help us discover students’ strengths while supporting their learning growth? For this week’s challenge check out the following 10 Key Principles shared by Digital Promise and the Institute for Applied Neuroscience.

Screen Shot 2019-11-13 at 6.03.21 PMThe visual above has been curated into downloadable and printable cards!

We are looking forward to reading your reflections from this week’s challenge in the comments or with #IDedchat tweets!



#IDedchat Wondering: Should balance include gratitude, along with purpose, passion, and priorities?

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Balance Like a Pirate by authors Jessica Cabeen @jessicacabeen, Jessica Johnson  @principalj, and Sarah Johnson @sarahsajohnson encourages reflection through The Balance Quadrants (listed below). Last week, #IDedchat tweets included sharing about how to fuel our passion for teaching and learning through the use of gratitude and choosing to focus on the positives. Thank you @WinkelerD and @thesnowshoe and many others for your thoughtful insight! 

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#IDedchat Challenge: As you read through the #BalanceLAP Quadrants think or say aloud something that you are grateful for within each one. Did one of the quadrants stand out to you more than an another? If this was helpful to you, share this activity with a friend or colleague. Share your experience in the comments or with #IDedchat tweets. 

The Balance Quadrants


  • Wellness in domains like physical, emotional, and financial
  • Mindfulness
  • Family and Relationships

  • Cultivating a Professional Learning Network (PLN)
  • Continuing your own learning
  • Going back to school, and setting your own course for ongoing learning

  • Your specific roles and duties
  • Time Management
  • Dealing with difficult situations
  • Identifying priorities, and investing some time and energy in these goals.

  • Your joys outside your job – what lights you up as a person – and finding ways to stoke the fire and keep the embers burning.


#IDedchat Noticing: Gratitude…It can color every situation!

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It is October – a time of the year that nature teaches us about “letting go.”  It is also a time of the school year where the “shiny-ness” of the new year has worn off and many of us dip into “disillusionment.” This graphic from “The New Teacher Center” is intended to show the progression for novice teachers, but I would say it applies to all educators.Screen Shot 2019-10-16 at 6.26.07 PM

It is this time of the year, especially, that we have to remember that we need to be mindful of the stories we tell ourselves.  The things that we focus on have a direct effect on our mindset and thinking/filter through which we see our daily interactions/activities.  I am not saying we need to ignore or avoid having hard conversations, but we also need to practice being grateful.  As Brene Brown shares – practicing gratitude makes us joyful!  It truly changes the chemistry of our brains.

When we are in the “dip of disillusionment” we need those around us to remind us of all the things we have to be grateful for.  Many times that also involves letting go of those things that we cannot control.  Move from the “if only” to the “what if” mindset.  A great post from Angela Watson came across my feed this week where she talks about “Radical Acceptance.”  Read or listen to the podcast:  Radical Acceptance: How to deal with teaching frustrations you cannot change.

My favorite phrase in Angela’s post is this:  Here is the reality of what we’re dealing with. What thoughts, words, and actions can I choose to make the situation better? 

I would follow that up with – what am I grateful for in my current situation, and how can I build on that to make the reality of what I cannot control better?


#IDedchat Wondering – Can you use your “Why” to connect with others who are struggling through change?

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ask blackboard chalk board chalkboard

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Last week’s #IDedchat conversation brought a wondering about “WHY.”  Most of us have read or heard about Simon Sinek’s Power of Why.  In Lead Beyond your Title, Nili Bartley talks about using your “why” to stay true to yourself.  She also talked about being sure to explain your “why” when experiencing pushback from others.  The question I posed was:  “How do you communicate your “Why” to others who struggle to understand change or innovation you are trying to implement?”

Some of the responses varied greatly – from sharing stories – to SHOWING your why – but we did have some express that sharing a why can be difficult at times.

When we know our why – and then take the time to find out someone else’s why – we can then work together to find common ground to push change forward.

Michael Johnson talks about how “Knowing Your Why gives your WHAT more impact because you are walking in or toward your purpose “- knowing the “why” and “stories” of those around you makes that even more powerful.

#IDedchat Challenge – Take time to share your why – through storytelling or story-showing AND find out the stories of those you work with.  What happens?

#IDedchat Wondering: What if change could be comfortable?

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What if change could be comfortable? I had an opportunity to meet and visit with Charles Elbot, co-author of Building an Intentional School Culture: Excellence in Academics and Character last week and was inspired to think deeply about how change could be comfortable. Elbot and Fulton offer resources that help to connect a team through leadership, partnership, engagement, and collaboration. One strategy, referenced in their book, that could help in making change comfortable, is Using The Shared Agreement Protocol. This reminded me of the Classroom Constitution that my students and I would make together at the beginning of each school year. This activity set the stage for understanding our right to learn and the expectation that we would need to adapt and compromise in order to work together in our learning. Having a shared agreement meant that everyone had a part to play in setting up our learning community, however, we recognized that we all brought different strengths and because of this learning was a personal experience.

Being a gracious change agent to help make change comfortable connects well with our #IDedchat wondering and chat from last week, along with George Couros’ blog post, “A Reminder for When Others Seem Resistant to Change. “

Change Agent

#IDedchat Challenge: Share an example of how you have been gracious when serving as a change agent. Reflect on a time when you felt comfortable, even in the midst of change. Thank you in advance for your comments or tweets that will encourage continued thinking about how to support others in the process of change.

#IDedchat Wondering -What is your color and is it affecting what you see?

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In Lead Beyond Your Title, Nili introduces Ch 16 with a quote from Susan Scott’s book, Fierce Conversations:

“Think of your company as a beach ball.  Picture the beach ball as having a red stripe, a green stripe, a yellow stripe, and a blue stripe.  Let’s imagine that you are the president of the company.  That is you standing on the blue stripe.  The blue stripe is where you live, every day, day after day.  If someone asks you what color your company is, you look down around your feet and say, ‘My company is blue.”  –Susan Scott

This really resonated with me this week – so many times, we can’t understand why our colleagues cannot see the change that is needed.  Sometimes we don’t understand why administrators are so focused on a certain issue instead of what we think is important.  So many times we can only see the “color” we are living in – we forget that our colleagues may be living on a different color.

There are two things this reminds me of.  The first has to do with one of my favorite novels growing up – To Kill a Mockingbird.  The second has to do with my favorite Freedom Writer, Manny Scott.

In Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, Atticus works to explain to his daughter Scout that until you “have walked a mile in another man’s shoes” you cannot truly understand how they think, or what they have experienced.

Manny Scott talks about the importance of “openness” when it comes to “REACH”ing our students – and when it comes to building relationships with colleagues.  We have to put ourselves aside and realize that it isn’t about US.  Read more about it here:

Three Use-it-Today Tips for Leaders

What we have to remember is when we reach our frustration point – we need to step back and think…am I seeing this only through the lens of my color?  What color is the other person living in?  How can I approach the situation from their color?  How can I help them see my color too?

Challenge:  Try out some strategies to build relationships with other colleagues this week.  Engage them – really see them with an open heart and mind – learn about their passions – find out what color they live in.


#IDedchat Wondering: How do you incorporate play into learning experiences for students (of all ages)?

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This evening while scrolling through email, I found a birthday party invitation from Southwest Airlines. While I hoped it was going to be free tickets to a tropical island, it ended up being an app that allowed you to take pictures with a variety of filters. (Snapchat style)

Was it curiosity or the encouragement to celebrate life with my friends from Southwest that inspired me to give access to my camera to try out these sweet shades? 

Southwest Birthday Wish

#IDedchat Challenge: During last week’s #IDedchat, @LitCoachBrandon asked, “How do you incorporate play into your learning experiences for students and adults?” Let’s answer his question this week by curating playful learning experiences through photos, videos, or story-telling. I started with the image above, so…Tag, you’re it!



#IDedchat Wondering – Which Letter Do You Most Identify With?

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P – I – R – A – T – E

PIRATE – the acronym of PIRATE Leaders and PIRATE Teachers and PIRATE Educators!


This sketchnote by Monica Spillman @mspillman is found on the Lead Like a Pirate website.  Beth Houf and Shelley Burgess are the “founders” of PIRATE leading.  Lead Beyond Your Title by Nili Bartley is referred to as a PIRATE Leader’s guidebook.

So…which letter do you most identify with at this moment in your PIRATE leader journey?

P – Passion

I – Immersion

R – Rapport

A – Ask and Analyze

T – Transformation

E – Enthusiasm (and Engagement)

Challenge:  Reflect on your journey – and ask colleagues.  Share your discoveries about which letter you, and others, identify with – and share the “why” behind the letter you chose!  Share in the comments or on Twitter using the #IDedchat hashtag.

#IDedchat Wondering: How might Ice-Breakers, Community Circles, and Team Building Connect to Learning Goals?

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Lane Walker (@LaneWalker2) inspired this week’s blog post with this tweet,
“Wondering…we do “circles” but it seems trivial Qs are causing Ss to devalue the circles. Do you think we can creatively include content in the ice? #IDedchat”
She also encouraged us to look at “@LaurenPorosoff’s ideas in, Empower Your Students, she turns the focus to values, goals, and how to get there.”

We might offer time for reflection on the processes happening or events coming up, as Dr. Dan Winkeler shared ,“If they devalue circles, they might need to be restructured (ground rules, talking stick, deeper feelings, etc.) to get students to be more vested. Open ended questions like “how are you feeling about the upcoming lab, test, quiz, quarter, etc. #IDedchat”

We could involve our students in the creation of our ice-breakers and community circles. Check out Thomas Murray’s new book (coming out in October), Personal & Authentic: Designing Learning Experiences That Impact A Lifetime! @thomasmurray announced this week on Twitter,”….So honored to partner with @gcouros & IMpress to make it happen. The book will also highlight the voices of 50+ educators with diverse backgrounds and experiences. #AuthenticEDU is coming your way…”

The following video, Make the First Day Count, relates to our #IDedchat Wondering this week and our follow-up Challenge:

#IDedchat Challenge: What if everyday started with the same dedication and excitement as Day One of the School Year? How might you create moments that connect students’ interests to learning goals each day? Please add to the comments or use #IDedchat tweets to share ideas and resources for ways to include content-rich ice-breakers that encourage students to make meaning and investigate.

#IDedchat Wondering: What if…How a simple phrase can move us forward.

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What if…

These two small words can turn a roadblock into a jumping-off point!  So many times, we find reasons why we can’t do things in our classrooms.  Many times those roadblocks happen because we are too busy, too overwhelmed, focused on standards, focused on time, etc.  Many of these things are legitimate reasons that can get in our way.  Sometimes we just need to take a step back and think…what one small thing could I try.  What if…

Check out this video from Eric Sheninger about turning “yah buts” into “what ifs:”

Turning “Yeah But” Into “What If”

What if you focused on trying just one small thing tomorrow or next week or next month?

Challenge:  Try one small thing in your classroom, or with your staff.  Share your results in the comments here, or on Twitter using the #IDedchat hashtag.