Reflections

ISTE 2019 Reflection

Another ISTE in the books! As I have for the past three years (2016, 2017, & 2018), it’s time to reflect on my experiences.

Sarah Thomas and me!

Seeing all my friend’s social media and blog posts, I noticed we were all talking about appreciating the people around us. I especially appreciated Sarah Thomas’s approach to ISTE in her recent post “One Thing I Did Differently at #ISTE19” where she explains how she prioritized her own needs by saying “maybe” to all social invites, and not pressuring herself to attend anything.

Fueled by Coffee and Love authors and friends meetup

This year, my personal ISTE theme was relationships! I spent the majority of my time with old and new friends. There were so many hugs, squeals of excitement, and selfies!

It’s so easy to get caught up in trying to find all the people, especially the educelebrities (oy, that word makes me cringe, sorry y’all). Find the people who are going to stretch your thinking and build you up, not the people selling you their brand.

My love for PearDeck is peary obvious! Eric Curts agrees

I filled my ISTE time with social events and meetups. I loved having a Fueled by Coffee and Love authors and friends meet-up. I got to meet some of the authors in person for the first time, and share some exciting new things coming for the book project (follow @fbcalbook, announcements coming soon!)

This year, I intentionally limited my presentations to just one, and reserved the rest of the time for informal learning moments. While it can be fun to be super busy, this year I chose to build relationships, not my portfolio. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with presenting multiple times and being super involved. This year, that style of ISTE wasn’t for me, and I had to respect my own energy.

What matters most to me is the quality of people around me; I love my friends, and I know they always have my best interests at heart. After the year I’ve had, I spent many conversations talking about the changes in my professional and personal life, and where I’m going from here. I heard so many words of encouragement from my friends, and it means the world to me to have these quality people around! Personally or professionally, there’s nothing better than a friend saying, “I’ve been there, I got through it and so will you.”

Seriously, I love y’all so much! See you next year in Anaheim!

 

A bunch of us went to a Phillies game on Friday night before ISTE!
Reflections

2018-2019 School Year Reflection

This is one of my favorite blog posts of the year! I love reflecting back on a whole school year, seeing how I met my goals, and how I’ve grown as a person and as a teacher. Plus, it’s an excellent opportunity to look back on 2017-2018, and see areas of growth and success.

When I set my 2018-2019 school year goals, I had no idea what this year would bring. Though I planned to be more reflective, I didn’t regularly come back to my goals throughout the year. However, when I read back on what I wanted to accomplish, I did a fairly good job of meeting my goals. Next year, I’ll have to put my goals in a more visible place.

Working at work, relaxing at home

At this time last year, I was borderline burned out. I know I wasn’t fully burned out because I wasn’t ready to throw in the towel or search for a different job; however, I recognized that I was exhausted and needed to make a change. I did so much better with leaving the majority of work at work. Overall, I felt much better and more relaxed this year! I reversed a lot of the burnouty feeling, and kept up my energy better.

I love this quote painted on the wall at Robert Anderson MS (Anderson 5 district, Anderson, SC)! 

I was thrown a curveball in December when a teacher in my department decided to resign and left us scrambling to cover the classes. This, paired with the district cutting our resource positions, left me teaching two additional classes, including a new prep: AVID 0 period, 4 sections of 7th grade science, and 1 section of 7th grade science elective. It was exhausting, but I loved every second with my kids. With the added load, I somehow managed to complete the April No-Work Challenge again this year.

Additionally, there were some serious personal ups and downs this year. I had a huge life change in the fall, and spent the better part of December – February rearranging some pieces. In February, I turned 30 and celebrated by committing to work on myself and invest in my own happiness. I celebrated my 30th birthday with a solo trip to New York City!

Building relationships

Of my seven years of teaching, this year was one of the best, relationships-wise. I built strong relationships with my classes. It was tough to gain two new classes at the semester, and it took a while to build a functional relationship; the time and effort was worth it, and we ended the year on an amazingly positive note. I often received random hugs from my kids, and we ended most classes with, “I love you, bye!”

Google Expeditions AR in 7th grade science!

For the entire year, my fourth period class was a dream. They were this unique blend of students who figured out how to work well together, asked great questions, and knew how to transition between joking and serious–you all know that’s a huge deal in middle school. Academically, they weren’t the most skilled, but they made up for that in determination and joy! In fact, when I did my last day of school thank you speech, a few raised their hands and contributed their own thank you’s.

On the other hand, I really struggled with my third period class for the first two-thirds of the year. There were multiple behavior challenges, and students negatively fed off of each other’s energy. Teaching that class made me exhausted and a little frustrated; it was a great opportunity to model restorative practices and being honest about my own emotions. But, I didn’t give up! In late February, they began to turn a corner and became a goofy, empathetic, and productive bunch.

Finally, this year my first group of 7th graders graduated high school! I attended graduation with a few colleagues, and I’m so proud of my former students! It was great to see so many familiar (and grown up!) faces, and cheer for them and all they’ve accomplished.

Mentoring new teachers

Even though there weren’t many science student teachers and I didn’t have one placed with me either semester, I spent some quality time informally mentoring new teachers. We had the most awesome

Celina (history student teacher) came to observe during a science lab. Safety first! 

right-out-of-college first year teacher at our school this year, and she and I really hit it off! I enjoyed teaching science in her classroom, sharing advice and silly stories, and providing some support. Additionally, we had an incredible history student teacher; she and I spent quality time together, discussing teaching, life, and kids. I am grateful for these opportunities to give back and live the “it takes a village to raise a student teacher” idea.

Back to school!

I’m excited to share that I was accepted into the 2019 Boise State EdD in Educational Technology cohort. We started our first class in mid-May, and it has been non-stop work since then. With an expectation to devote 18-25 hours per week to school, I have had to be more proactive with my self-care and balance. Despite it being a significant time investment, I love the work I’m doing, and I’m grateful for this opportunity. It’s a much different feeling being in school because I want to, not because I have to.

Overall, I’m thrilled that this year was so successful. Looking back at all my photos, it’s fun to reminisce on the fun memories, activities, and journey we had together. Even though I am excited for next school year and making to-do and goals lists, I know I need to take this time to enjoy some sunshine. I’m grateful for summer break! I am looking forward to more schoolwork, relaxing, and a few fun adventures!

Reflections

One Word 2019: Reclaim

This post has been a long time coming. It’s taken me two months to sit down and finish it. In fact, I’ve hardly blogged or tweeted at all in the last two months. There have been so many changes in my life, most of which have been positive.

In the last two months, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking and reflecting. I’ve known my 2019 word since December, though I’ve only shared it privately with a few friends. I’m now ready to share it with the rest of my friends:

My word for 2019 is RECLAIM.

As I shared in my 2018 in Review post, I ended a 10 year relationship last fall. While picking up the pieces hasn’t been terribly difficult, I’ve realized how much I need to reclaim myself as a human and as an adult. I’m feeling very positive about the new direction of my life, even through the tougher moments.

On top of it all, we lost our resource positions due to district budget cuts, so I gained another class, plus a 6th class to cover for someone on leave–that’s 6 classes and 3 preps (4 science, 1 science elective, 1 AVID). Included in all of this is my 0 period, so my school day is 7:19 – 3:15, pretty much nonstop. I have a “prep” period on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but that’s the 7th class period. It’s exhausting. I love my kids so much, and they’re worth it.

Oh, and I turned 30 in February!

So, I’ve taken a step back and spent time focusing on myself. I’ve enjoyed making lots of plans with friends, taking a solo trip to NYC, and spending time with my doggie.

New York City solo trip in February 2019! 

Part of reclaiming for me is learning who I am. There have been a lot of opportunities to explore what I truly like and how I fit into this world. I’ve spent time thinking about both my short-term and long-term goals, while not allowing the future to create unneeded anxiety. It’s much easier said than done!

I’m grateful for so many phenomenal friends who have stood with me on this journey. Throughout the past few months, I’ve had so many insightful conversations with friends that have challenged me to think deeper and step out of my comfort zone. Thank you all!

Additionally, I’ve been reclaiming my physical space, which has taken a lot of time and energy. I’m in the process of re-doing my 3rd bedroom, which I’m turning into my office with an awesome navy blue gallery wall (I’ll post pics when it’s all done). I bought new bedroom furniture and lamps, which instantly made me feel calm and happy. It’s amazing how much making some updates and changes to my physical space has made me feel like a new person.

So, here’s to new possibilities and new opportunities as I reclaim in 2019!

Books, Reflections

What I read in 2018

I love reading and talking about books! It brings me so much joy to share this love with my friends and students. Last year I shared “What I read in 2017” to highlight my favorite books of the year.

2018 Reading Data

It’s crazy to say I achieved my 2018 reading goal of 100 books. Of these books, 42 were audiobooks and 58 were books (24 physical & 34 ebooks). I always try to read more than I listen. I read a total of 19388 pages, and listened to approximately 191.35 hours of books (rounded to nearest 15 minute, and divided by 2 since I listen on 2x speed). If I had been paying a little more attention to page data, I would have pushed myself to hit 20k pages.

One of my favorite parts is that I keep fairly extensive reading data. I used to use Goodreads, but found that I like entering and analyzing my own data. Make a copy of my book spreadsheet. Each year, I add a new tab and track the same data. It’s fun to see my trends and graphs as the year progresses. And yes, Harry Potter has its own category–do the math, 100 total books and 7% Harry Potter–yes, I did a full series re-read in November and December!!

There are a couple books that I technically read more than once this year, but only counted once. For example, 3 of my classes and I did a read-aloud with We Are All Made of Molecules (Susin Nielsen), but I only counted it once. And, all the edits and such of Fueled by Coffee and Love: The Refill probably equate to reading it at least 5x all the way through.

chart (3).png

As you can see from my graph, I read a ton of YA. I truly enjoy this genre, and I appreciate the complexities of the stories as well as the self-discovery. Plus, there are so many talented authors out there writing for my students, and I want to pass along these recommendations.

Some of my favorite books from 2018 are: 

  • Love, Hate, & Other Filters (Samira Ahmed)
  • Rebel Seoul (Axie Oh)
  • Dear Martin (Nic Stone)
  • Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda (Becky Albertalli)
  • Americanah (Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie)
  • At the Edge of the Universe (Shaun David Hutchinson)
  • The Porcupine of Truth (Bill Konigsberg)
  • I’m Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter (Erika Sánchez)
  • Children of Blood and Bone (Tomi Adeyemi)
  • The Poet X (Elizabeth Acevedo)
  • Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit (Jaye Robin Brown)
  • March, Book One (Andrew Aydin and John Lewis)

Even though I don’t blog about every book I read and I’m super far behind on blogging, I do enjoy sharing about some of my book highlights on my “What is Mari Reading” blog. It’s all just for fun, and a great distraction from chores and such.

This year I don’t have any big reading goals, other than to finish at least 52 books and read more than I listen. I’m also intentionally reading more diverse books, specifically LGBTQ+ YA novels and novels written by authors of color. I didn’t track this data in 2018, though skimming my list it’s over 50% of the books I finished.

As always, I’d love your book recommendations!

Reflections

2018 in Review

I’ve been putting off writing this post for the past week. I usually love writing these reflective blogs (past year’s posts: 2017, 2016, 2015), but this year, not so much. Out loud, I’m blaming the busyness of ending school on December 21st, then immediately diving into all the holiday crazy. However, internally I’ve been finding plenty of other things to do instead because I want 2018 to be a thing of the past and I don’t want to dig back into the less great things of 2018. It’s necessary to reflect and learn, so, here goes!

Where I was (December 2017)

  • A year ago, I was very intentionally navigating the never ending challenge of work-life balance. It wasn’t easy, and thankfully I have amazing friends around me who constantly check in.
  • Professionally, I was coming off of a fulfilling year. And personally, I was having a bit more of a rough time. But, I was hopeful things would get better (spoiler: they didn’t get any better until the very end of 2018).

Where I am (January – December 2018)

  • I was so fortunate to participate in our district’s Teacher Leadership Academy, led by the amazing Amy duo, Amy Hunt and Amy Illingworth! I learned a lot about being an effective teacher-leader, working with Difficult People, and how to say “I’m not going to take that on.”
  • Fueled by Coffee and Love: The Refill was published in July 2018, and I had the opportunity to share a bit about it on KUSI’s Good Morning San Diego and host a release party at Project Reo Collective.
  • I had the opportunity to share my love of teaching and technology all over the US at various summits and professional development opportunities. Some highlights include Atlanta, Nashville, Phoenix, Chicago, and Greenville, SC.
  • “Dark times lie ahead of us and there will be a time when we must choose between what is easy and what is right.” – Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. I did a full re-read of the Harry Potter series in November and December, and I loved immersing myself in the magic again. It was so helpful to escape reality and the stress of life. I had to make a big choice this fall, and ultimately decided to end a 10 year relationship; though there are moments of sadness, overwhelmingly I feel happier and healthier. Along the way this year, I’ve had so many friends encouraging me and sitting down to have heart-to-heart chats about relationships and life. Thank you, friends.
  • I ended 2018 at a freezing cold New Year’s Eve party, surrounded by friends! I couldn’t ask for more (except maybe a heated blanket).

Where I’m going (January 2019 and beyond!)

  • New year, new me, right? For once, it really feels that way. After the stress of 2018, it’s as if a huge burden has been lifted. I’m ready for new opportunities and adventures! In the fall, someone asked me what 1 year in the future Mari would want for current Mari; that helped me put a lot of my life into perspective, and helped me make both hard and fun decisions.
  • In February, I turn 30, a gigantic adulting milestone. As my gift to myself, I planned a fun trip to New York City! I’ve never been, and it’s time I do something awesome just for myself.

As I planned out this post, I scrolled through my entire year on Google Photos. It’s fun to reflect back on the fun adventures I’ve had, and remind myself that, despite some setbacks and dark clouds in 2018, overwhelmingly it was filled with incredible friends. I’m really looking forward to 2019!

Goals, Reflections

#MyRelaxing5 – My Commitment to Take Time for Myself!

I love a good group blogging challenge, so I’m starting this one: let’s all share out 5 ways we commit to relaxing as we close out 2018. Please share out and tag #MyRelaxing5!

Lately I’ve seen a lot of us talking about work-life balance, and how we make sure we spend time to relax away from teacher lives–especially without feeling guilty! Shout out to Brian Costello for writing “Put Yourself First,” which inspired me to write this post. Despite what those on social media and trumpeters of eduspeak say, a good teacher doesn’t equal putting our 24/7 into teaching. Rather, it means putting our whole heart into our work, then stepping away to attend to our heart’s health (physical, social, mental-emotional) outside the classroom.

Each Friday, my teaching neighbor asks me what I am going to do for fun over the weekend. With the [annoyingly pointed and I-really-need-to-listen-to-this] caveat that presenting PD and snuggling my dog don’t count! Cue the total exasperation. But, it’s made me really think about how I spend my non-teaching time. And, I’m more aware that there’s a big distinction between “I’m having fun doing my work” and “I’m doing something fun outside of work.”

The #MyRelaxing5 are 5 non-work things that we will commit to doing for ourselves before the end of 2018.

Here’s #MyRelaxing5!

1. Crocheting — This keeps my hands busy and brain creative. Usually, I crochet while watching sports or something else on tv. The best part is, I can’t also be playing on my phone or computer while I’m crocheting. And, it’s always rewarding to finish up a project, especially when it’s a gift.

2. Baking & Cooking — I enjoy being in the kitchen and cooking, especially when I can share what I make with my friends! As the holidays approach, I love trying new dessert recipes, and bringing them to work where I always have a captive audience. Last weekend, I successfully made a beautiful lemon meringue pie, entirely from scratch, and brought it to work to share with my friends. .

Beautiful lemon meringue pie I made from scratch. My work friends and I enjoyed it at lunch on Tuesday!

3. San Diego Zoo / Safari Park — I have an annual membership, and it’s easy to go for an hour or two. A bonus of my membership is I have a +1, making it the perfect friend adventure. There’s something so peaceful about walking through the zoo, enjoying the animals and plants, and chatting with a friend.

4. Beach time — I live in San Diego, there’s no excuse for not getting to the beach every so often. The weather will be at least warm enough to walk on the beach, even if it’s not warm enough to lounge.

5. Make it to the gym — I’ve totally fallen off the workout wagon, and I desperately need to climb back on. It always makes me feel better after I go to the gym. So, by adding this to my list, I am officially committing to getting some more exercise. It’s easier to convince myself to go when I know I can get a free hydromassage after.

Ok, now that this post is written, it’s time to make plans to accomplish my relaxing goals. I know that I need to prioritize myself a bit more, especially facing the stress (even if it’s positive and fun) of the holidays and end of the semester.

What 5 things will you commit to as we end 2018? Remember to tag #MyRelaxing5 when you share out yours!

 

 

Goals, Reflections

2018-2019 School Year Goals

I can’t believe it’s already back to school! I’m starting my 7th year teaching–it’s really amazing to look back at how far I’ve come over the past 6 years of teaching + 2 years of pre-service teaching! Thank you Teacher2Teacher for this awesome #TeacherStats graphic! Make your own here!

My kids start on Monday, July 23rd, and I think I’m just about ready. We’re on a sorta year-round schedule, with a 6 week summer and longer breaks. I really do love it, even if it’s hard to go back when everyone else is still enjoying their summer.

The 2017-2018 school year was stressful for a number of reasons, and I am hoping to really focus on balance this school year. I need to do a better job taking care of myself, managing all the things that stress me out, but are not in my control, and not working nearly as much.

The following are my goals for each area of my responsibility. If you have expertise in any of these areas, I’d love to know and learn from you!

Science

With my science kids, I have two different areas I’m working on. First, as I continue to improve with mastery-based grading, one big thing I’d like to work on is helping my students to be more self-reflective and self-evaluative. Part of that will be teaching them how to provide effective feedback to their peers and themselves, then use that feedback to improve their work.

Second, I’m going to continue to transition my class social media over to my students. I’ve had them post regularly in the past, and I’d love to make it a class job, where we are regularly sharing what we are learning!

AVID

I love teaching AVID, and my 0 period AVID 8 kids are a special bunch. I had many of them in 7th grade science or knew them from popping into their AVID 7 classes, and I always look forward to continuing to build these relationships for a second year.

AVID stands for Advancement Via Individual Determination, and my focus this year is to guide my students in the “individual determination” piece by making the class portfolio-based, and potentially eliminating grades. I’d love to help my students find their own intrinsic motivation, and build their own external accountability, if they feel they need it. At the grading periods, students will self-assess and assign themselves a grade. This will prepare them for both college and adult life, where they are responsible for their own educational path. I have no idea how this will turn out, and I’m a little nervous, but isn’t that how we truly learn?

Blended Learning Specialist

As my school’s Blended Learning Specialist, I have 1 class period dedicated to technology resource and integration. Last year, we became the first Common Sense Media Certified School in our district, and I my goal is to double the amount of lessons taught, and provide a good foundation for our student, not only in digital citizenship, but also in effective searching and internet safety.

Furthermore, my goal is to encourage our teachers to share out the great things they’re doing on Twitter, using #VikingsLearn, our school hashtag. As of now, we have 22 teachers and admin on Twitter, and I’d love to get that number up to 30. I’d added a “Twitter Challenge” section to our monthly Virtual Vikings #PottyPD newsletter with specific things to share, such as “try a new tech tool” or “show off how you engage your students in reading.”

Teaching, in General

One thing I love doing is observing my colleagues! I’m in their rooms quite often, admittedly to say hi, see what’s up, or sometimes goof around (when appropriate, of course…we have SO much fun!). I want to spend more time intentionally observing, leaving feedback, and asking questions to make us all better teachers. We have a paper peer observation template; I don’t mind that it’s analog, it’s easy to grab my clipboard, then snap a picture of my observation before leaving the paper with the teacher. Plus, I can tweet out a shoutout when I visit.

I’m also hoping for more observations this year. When my colleagues walk in, I love handing them my clipboard and asking for feedback. This year, I’m going to add a sticky note or half-sheet of paper with my current goals for them to focus on.

Who wants to come observe? I’d love to have you!

Personal

Very limited work at home. I know no-work may not be possible, but I’m hoping that’s the case 93% of the time (meaning, once every two weeks or less!). I learned how to leave work at work through my “April No-Work Challenge,” and I expect to keep up these habits.

Please keep me accountable and check in with me over the next weeks and months. You have full permission to ask me how these goals are going, nudge me to share evidence of growth, and guide me in a positive direction! Thank you PLN, I love being on this adventure with you all!

Reflections

Geocaching: Inadvertent Adventures as a Beginner

When was the last time you were a total beginner at something? 

This past week, I tried something completely new to me: Geocaching! I’ve heard about this for years, but I was never curious enough to actually try it. It wasn’t until ISTE this past June that my friend Wanda Terral, a super geocacher, gave me a little spark. I downloaded the app, and made a mental note to try it over the summer.

I tried Geocaching!

According to the Geocaching website, “Geocaching is a real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices. Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the geocache (container) hidden at that location.”

geocaching
Geocaching! Download the app and get started!

Finally, last week, I got up the courage to go out and try it. I did a little bit of basic research first (here’s a good place to start), like, what am I supposed to do when I find it? (Answer: open it, sign the logbook, then put it back. Easy enough, right?) Then, I played around with the app for a few minutes before I left home. There was one located about a 10 minute walk from my house, at a local park!

Ollie wanted to come too, so we walked (insert doggie head-tilt at the word walk) to the park together. I oriented myself to the park layout, and figured out where-ish the geocache would be located. Then I searched. And I searched. And I searched. And, I sat down and stared at my phone. What do these things look like? How hidden will it be?

And it was a lot harder than I expected

I almost gave up and walked home. I felt ridiculous, slowly walking at the edge of the park and staring into the bushes. There were other people at the park, surely they all thought I looked strange, walking near the back edge of the park with my dog. In fact, I walked halfway back to the street, before turning around. I felt defeated.

That’s when I realized, THIS is how it feels to be a total beginner at something! It feels awkward, embarrassing, and distressing. I took a deep breath, did a bit more how-to research, pulled up the app again, and used the GPS tracker to get within about 5 feet of where the geocache was supposed to be hidden.

But, I persevered, and I was successful!

Ollie geo 1
Ollie says, “Mama, what is this?!”

Then, I peeked into the bushes, and dug around a little…and found it! It was hooked to the fence, hidden by some leaves, but obvious once I saw it.

I couldn’t stop smiling! I did it! That feeling of exhilaration–I haven’t felt that in SO long. It’s like the first time you are successful in an escape room or Breakout EDU; you know you worked hard, and now you have a great pictures to capture that moment. Plus, the journey felt way more important than what was inside the box/can/container.

I was so caught up on that feeling, I only took a few pictures–all of them Ollie + the geocache!

Then, I reflected on my experience

On the walk home, between meeting new doggie friends, I asked myself a few questions:

  • Would this have been less scary if I had someone like Wanda with me to guide/coach me through my first geocaching experience?
  • Would this have been more fun (and less awkward) if I brought along a friend, even if they’d never tried it before?
  • Was the seemingly endless discomfort erased once I was successful?
  • What needs to happen for me to try this again?
  • How often do I ask my students and colleagues to “just try it,” but then leave them without support?

Even though it’s uncomfortable, it’s good to be a beginner every once in a while. This experience helped to remind me that we all have to start somewhere.

I didn’t go out geocaching to intentionally experience being a beginner, or have all these feelings, or write a blog post about it. I thought it would be something cool to try, and I also expected it to be easy, like walking up to a PokeStop in Pokemon Go–as in, it would just be there, and I’d say “yay!” and move along.

Ollie geo 2
Ollie loves it when he gets to come on adventures, like walks!

I’m sold, and I’m definitely going to try it again. Who wants to go with me? There are lots in San Diego. Or, if we’re traveling at a conference/summit/workshop together, let’s go on a little adventure.

Ok, and seriously, if I’m not already happily nerding on this experience, I also learned that the term for a non-geocacher is a…muggle! Yes, as in, Harry Potter.

Reflections

ISTE 2018 Reflection

I am currently in Post-ISTE Recovery Mode, and finally have enough energy to reflect on the past 5 days. When I think back to my ISTE 2016 and ISTE 2017 experiences, I realize just how crazy these adventures are.

Spent a great morning with Martha, my YEN Scholarship Mentee! 

One of the coolest parts of ISTE this year was being a Young Educator Network Scholarship Mentor. Each year, ISTE awards 10 conference registration scholarships to local teachers. Mentors are paired with these scholarship winners, and we spend Sunday morning getting to know each other, orienting our mentees to the overwhelmingness of ISTE, and pass along some advice. I emailed with Martha before ISTE, and loved finally meeting her! For those of you attended ISTE or followed along with #notatiste18, please take a minute to fill out this form–I’d love to collect your advice and takeaways for ISTE 2019 newbies!

When I attended ISTE 2016 in Denver, that was my first time meeting many of my friends. Reflecting back, I’ve come so far both personally and professionally. It’s hard to attend these conferences, and not feel many new feels–some of which are uncomfortable. Since my past 2 years’ reflections have covered a lot of the ISTE basics, I’m going to take a different spin this year. Below are some of my growth areas over the last 3 ISTE conferences.

Be in the Moment

Life goal, achievement unlocked! I got to be the Pear Deck pear for 5 mins!

There is always so much going on at ISTE! When we say “yes” to one session or social, we’re saying “no” to at least one other thing we really really want to attend. Remove FOMO (fear of missing out) from your vocabulary, and enjoy where you are, and who you’re sharing this experience with. If you’re #notatiste, celebrate that social media allows you to learn along with us at the conference.

A big shift for me this year was I didn’t worry about finding all the people, only to run off to find someone else minutes later. I enjoyed some smaller group adventures and even some one-on-one adventures! I loved this quality time with great friends!

I’ve learned not to stress about what I’m missing, and instead focus on hugging the people I’m with! And, I’m so grateful I did. I have fewer pictures from this trip, and more happy memories.

It’s Ok to Feel Impostor Syndrome

Every single person presenting at the conference is a human, just like me. Some get gigantic stages, and some are attendees. We all bring value and expertise in our own ways. And, we all had to start our learning process somewhere. As I have shifted my classroom to mastery-based grading, I have also shifted my outlook on my own learning to mastery-based.

Presenting on #PottyPD at the EdTechTeam booth.

I had the opportunity to present at the EdTechTeam booth for 20 minutes on #PottyPD. Even though I’ve presented and keynoted around the US, this made me super nervous. The night before, I had a dream that I had to go up completely unprepared. Typical teacher, right? I’m grateful for a few people who offered words of encouragement and hugs before I took the stage.

I have to remember that when someone has The Microphone, they have put hours and hours of work into learning and preparing to get themselves where they are today. I can’t compare the start of my learning journey to the middle of someone else’s! In the past (ok, honestly, happens all the time now, but I’m better at identifying it!), I my inside narrative would tell me that I’m not good enough. With a shift in my mindset, I realize it’s all about putting in the hard work.

Tired and Happy

One cool part about joining a bunch of friends in a different city is spontaneous adventures! A highlight of ISTE sightseeing was visiting the Willis (Sears) Tower and taking fun pictures in the glass boxes. The wait to get up was long, and thankfully I had some great friends to chat with.

Willis Tower SkyDeck with incredible friends!

With all the fun and adventure comes balance. I packed a healthy lunch for myself each day, plus extra food to give to friends. It brings me so much joy to keep my friends fueled. I didn’t do a great job of staying hydrated, but got better as the week went on.

Now, I’m home and excited to enjoy my 3 weeks of unscheduled summer!!

Reflections

Tips for Preventing the Teacher Summer Slide

A few weeks back, there was some Twitter buzz on what good teachers should or should not do with their summer break. Should we be learning as much as we can, preparing for our new students, and collaborating with our PLN? Should we be 100% unplugged, relax with our family, and not think about school until the night before we go back? Last summer, I wrote about Navigating the Sea of Shoulds, and pushing back against all the things we should do.

We all have our own summer priorities and ways we want to spend this time off. The key here is to find what works best for each of us to ensure we reach the first day of school with our whole and rested selves!

La Jolla Cove
One of my first summer outings was catching the sunset at La Jolla Cove!

I reflected on my school year in last week’s blog post, and mentioned that it was a stressful and emotionally draining year. I didn’t quite realize the full extent until now, as I am struggling to come out of the fog. As much as I have relaxed at home and traveled to present at conferences (all of which help me decompress), I still feel the weight of the year.

As educators, we worry about kids and the “summer slide” where they lose some content knowledge during their time off. My district has only 6 weeks off for summer–a decision made before I entered the district 7 years ago, and presumably to help mitigate the summer slide.

What we don’t talk about is teachers and the summer slide! I know my audience is mostly friends on Twitter, so maybe this doesn’t entirely apply to this crowd, since we all embrace a growth mindset and are seeking opportunities (via Twitter) to grow as teachers and leaders. Nonetheless, how can we make sure we are intentional with our time, even during our summer break?

My take? I’m going to take the same advice/summer assignment I give to my students!

Read a Book

This one is easy. You don’t need to tell me twice to go read a book! I’m hoping to read a mix of YA lit, education books, and nonfiction this summer. Plus, I’ll sprinkle in a few audiobooks during my plane flights. Even with all my travel so far this year, I’ve only finished 2 books.

My summer “to read” stack!

And, I admit, I’ve been watching more TV than I usually do–with new seasons of Masterchef and Food Network Star (really, the only two shows I regularly watch!), lots of baseball games, and the World Cup.

I’m looking forward to sharing my thoughts on some of my summer books on my book blog!

I want to return to school with a few more recommendations for my students. And I hope they have some for me too.

Give Someone a Hug

When I give this homework assignment to my students, I’m met with some incredulous looks. Yes, yes, I am asking you to go hug someone! Yes, it can be me!

This assignment is less about the hug, and more about seeking out people who we value, trust, and enjoy being around.

I’ll be at ISTE next week. Come find me, give me a hug, then let’s take a selfie!

Go Outside

It’s so easy for me to spend an entire day sitting on the couch, mindlessly scrolling Twitter, eating ice cream, and reading books. I know there are plenty of people out there that “go outside” is second nature. It’s like, third nature for me (if that wasn’t a thing, now it is). I have a hard time getting myself there, but once outside, I’m happy!

Zoo adventure with my friend Nick! 

One of my favorite places in San Diego is the San Diego Zoo. With my membership pass, I can always bring in a guest for free. When I think about ways to get myself outside longer than walking my dog, hanging with the animals at the San Diego Zoo or San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and learning about endangered species sounds like an excellent idea! And, this leads me to my next point…

Learn Something!

Summer is a great time for learning something that interests us! I don’t assign my students summer reading or experiments for science. Instead, I want them to spend this time learning something new on their own. We are surrounded by so many sources of knowledge, from videos, to the internet, to local museums, to family members.

One great thing about San Diego is that different museums in Balboa Park are open to San Diego residents on Tuesdays (see the schedule here). I’ll be around for a few Tuesdays, and I look forward to visiting some museums.

I know I owe it to myself and my future students to take care of me. It feels 100% selfish at times, but I know ultimately this investment will pay off down the road.

How are you resting and recharging over summer?

Let us know in the comments below 🙂