Video Game Club and a Mindshift

In middle school, I wrote a research paper on all the bad things I could find about video games. I was closed minded and couldn't imagine a case where I would be pitching to my administration all the positives of video games. I never in a million years would have guessed that I would now be overseeing my school's first video game club, but I am and I love it.

This summer I did an Ignite talk at ISTE. While freaking out backstage, I met Josh Bound, a Pennsylvania educator who I quickly learned was in my Apple Distinguished Educator class. Through that experience I learned about the Video Game Clubs of America and the story behind how the organization was founded. I was inspired by their mission and was finally able to see how video games could be used as a vehicle for social emotional learning and to help students gain confidence.

Fast forward a few months and a couple of my students came to me about starting a video game club during our activity periods. After a call with Josh…

Finding the Courage to Share Your Voice

On this chilly Sunday evening, I am reflecting on my last few months and am feeling like I have not been using the voice that I was blessed with. I have been a little absent from my blog and less active in my Twitter presence and I am ready to prioritize using my voice again to share best practices and continue to advocate for teachers and students.

Why am I feeling inspired tonight? I just watched the Ted Talk my sister in law gave on how she went from ordinary person to advocate. (The Ted Talk is available here and I highly suggest you take a 22 minute break from whatever you are doing to go watch it.) Andrea's talk demonstrates the power of using your voice and as an educator I feel passionately that part of my job is to help my students find and use their voice. I want to model this for my students by using my own voice.

As you may already know, I am a high school teacher. During the four years that my students are in my building, many of them begin to identify topics they fee…

Takeaways from ADE Institute 2019

Let me rewind before I start sharing my takeaways. I have been in awe of the ADE (Apple Distinguished Educator) community for as long as I have known about it. These remarkable educators share selflessly to better others. Knowing it was a long shot, I applied this year to be apart of this community. When I found out I had been accepted as part of the class of 2019, I was in complete shock. I actually handed my phone to my husband and made him read it to make sure I wasn't reading it incorrectly. So before I share my takeaways, let me just say how honored and humbled I am to be counted among some of the most innovative, caring, and passionate educators I have ever met.

To stay up to date on the work this incredible community is doing and to join the conversation, check out #AppleEduChat on Twitter.

Top 5 Takeaways - ADE Institute 2019

Surround yourself with innovative people. My biggest takeaway from institute wasn't an app or a project I planned to create, it was the relationshi…

Takeaways from ISTE 2019

Over the summer, I have had the privilege to attend some incredible professional learning events. ISTE has been a highlight of my summer the past two years and I can't wait to share with you what I have learned. I cannot fit all my takeaways into one post, so I'd encourage you to check out the #ISTE19 and #NotAtISTE hashtags on Twitter to see what was going on during the event.

Top 5 Takeaways - ISTE 2019

You can use Pages to create self-paced workbooks! If you didn't have the chance to visit the Apple pop-up classroom, I would encourage you to visit the Apple Teacher Learning Center to see what they were sharing. It was so cool to use the Pages workbook to walk through the stations. I can't wait to start creating more in Pages this year!
Develop a coaching cycle for your school. I listened to so many tech and instructional coaches share their best practices and while all different, at the heart they centered on the same things. Ultimately, as coaches we want to help our …

Tips for a Successful ISTE

With ISTE19 fast approaching, I have been asked a few times what my recommendations are to have a successful ISTE conference. Here are my top few tips:

1. Plan for what you want to learn - ISTE is way too big to think that you are going to go and learn everything there is to learn about technology in education. You will get more out of your experience if you focus on a couple of topics. This year I will be focusing on coaching and authentic learning experiences.

2. Don't just plan for sessions - As educators, we know some of the best learning takes place outside of the classroom and the same is true at ISTE. Take advantage of social events, informal meetups, and the expo hall. These are places tat you will be able to build your network and meet people with common interests and goals.

3. Arrive prepared - Of course you are going to bring your device, but don't forget to bring a refillable water bottle, snacks, a backpack with lots of room to bring freebies home, and good walking s…

It's the Final Countdown (The end of year thoughts)

As I finish off the end of this year, today being my last teaching day, I thought I would share my end of year reflections. Reflecting is such an important practice for us as educators and if we effectively model it, our students can use it to become effective learners as well. Blogging is a reflective practice for me and is always a great way to help me share my thoughts (even if I haven't done so for a couple of months, oops!).

As I think back on the 2018-2019 school year, here are 5 things I learned.

1. Some graduating classes are harder to say goodbye to than others. For whatever reason, this group of seniors really resonated with me. While I am excited for their next chapters, I will miss the passion for learning and humor that they brought to the school community.

2. If technology is making your life harder, you're doing it wrong. We are always trying to better our practice and improve as educators. In my first year as a coach, I found that for a lot of my teachers, the …

Things Teachers Don't Learn in School - #2 Self Care

On the days that you feel your best, what have you done to reach that feeling? Can you identify the things that help you function at your ideal state? I had one of those days yesterday, where I felt like I had done right by me.

Morning- Got a great night's sleep and felt well rested going into the day.
Day- Maintained a positive attitude, despite a long day and ate a healthy lunch.
Afternoon- Spent time on the phone with my younger brother. Rehydrated!
Evening- Made a healthy dinner with my husband and then had a great 2 hour workout at the karate school.

For me, self-care means taking care of myself by eating healthy, staying hydrated, working out, and spending time with my friends and family. On a day that I do that, I feel incredible!

What do you mean you didn't learn that?
I am sure at some point during my education I was told how exhausting teaching would be, mentally and physically. I am sure someone told me that it was very common for teachers to get sick in their first …