Sunday, March 30, 2014

Lovin' Learning. Lovin' CUE.

Wow, a blog post about #CUE14, original Fadeji.  But that’s what we are supposed to do right?  As lead learners, aren’t we supposed to give ourselves opportunities to take risks, learn new things, and trust that we will reflect on our learning in order to improve our skill set?  Yes, we are! (And yes, I also realize that it is totally dorky how I just worked those four verbs into the intro of this post. #wordsmith #easilyamused)

I probably should have waited to read any #CUE14 blog posts until after I wrote my own, because now all I can think about are the powerful the words from two posts I read earlier this week. (Students Stand Up and Reflections & Goals) I’ve been reflecting on these blogs since Sunday night and thought I may just skip out on my own personal #CUE14 reflections all together.  Not so fast.

Karl & Diane's Stop Teaching Session
Favorite sessions:
  • Chrome is the New Black with Mark Hammons (@CAshleyWilliams and I even got a shout out!) 
  • Stop Teaching & Start Learning with Karl LS & Diane Main - what a way to mix it up team! #packedhouse 
  • Using High-Tech Tools to Create a Culture of Literary Nerds with Megan Ellis (Can’t wait to see it again May 10th at the NBCUE Event in Petaluma, CA! Registration info here!)
  • Improve Your Digital Workflow with Google Docs and Drive with Lisa Highfill (I mostly love that Lisa just couldn’t stay on docs and drive. She is beyond measure!)
  • Rock the Blogosphere! with Jennifer Kloczko (Finally we met! I have so many new ideas after her sesh!) 
People I missed the most:
New “ish” friends I can’t wait to see again:

Special Moments:
  • Feeling like I was #16again a million times but certainly when I got to ride in a friend’s mustang in the dessert evening. #sanmiguel
  • Being a part of the #EduWin celebration and honoring Isaac Raya from Petaluma! Keep your eye on, it’s going to explode this coming year!
  • #CAEdChat Meet Up on Friday night @ the pool.  So many great educators wanting to connect, to visit, to share.  What a group! Felt so lucky to hang with this crew! 
  • Hanging with Ben and the @ClassDojo crew! I am crossing my fingers they come visit us at Penngrove this spring! @MsONeil7 will go bonkers! #EduCelebrities 
  • Spending time with the NBCUE Crew.  Fireside dinners #imelt, PoolsidePD, staying up LATE night, morning walks, and all with people who I cherish and push me to be a better leader. 
  • Getting a new nickname “FoDayzG” from Diane Main (which feels like I won the lottery just so you know!)
  • Being interviewed by @mhammons and the tweet that followed by @CAshleywilliams 
  • Goodbye hugs from @MsVictoriaOlson #missyoualready

How I Fell Head Over Heels For CUE:
It’s hard to believe that just one year ago, I was a total CUE Newbie.  Last March when I attended CUE Palm Springs for the first time, I had never even heard of CUE.  I was so inspired by the things I learned and the people who were involved in CUE that I quickly found myself plugged into our local affiliate (North Bay CUE). Two months later, I attended the Connect U NBCUE event in Napa with seven teachers from my school where I was able to witness a small group of people supporting local educators to make huge shifts and changes in practice and teaching.  Before I knew it, I was presenting at the September NBCUE Marin event and enjoying life as an NBCUE “Member at Large.”  October brought FallCUE to Napa, November through February was filled with numerous joint collaborative PDParties, Techie Tuesdays, and planning meetings for upcoming events continued.  And now, one year later, I consider it a highlight of my professional career to be a North Bay CUE board member, working with an incredibly talented and generous team to provide exciting PD opportunities to educators across our region. 

Last Wednesday, I took advantage of the fact that CUE was scheduled during my spring break and I caught some 90 degree Palm Springs rays. As I lounged by the pool at the Renaissance (everybody loves a little #PoolsidePD right?), munched on a burger, and chatted casually with CUE's Executive Director, Mike Lawrence, I couldn't help but reflect on the past year and all that had occurred.  Plenty of fun times, some challenging times, tons of exciting times, and the occasional down right difficult time that shook me to my core. Despite all of these moments, what stood out to me the most is that CUE is a group of inclusive, wonderful people who are doing their best to keep up with the fast-paced changes in education. Poolside chats w/ #EduCelebs, elevator rides with @DigitalRoberto, being able to crack jokes, make new friendships, be myself, and enjoy life without worrying about formalities and rank, are all things that I love about CUE.  

If you aren't plugged into your local CUE Affiliate, I encourage you to do so! What are you waiting for? Get on it! 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Can't Help But To Help, Can't Help But To Be Real.

Educators are some of the most helpful people you will ever meet.  Wouldn’t you agree? I mean, I can think of about 10 educators off the top of my head who have gone above and beyond in the past week just for the sake of being helpful.  It’s one of the things that I love most about working in this profession.  Additionally, I constantly observe educators who are “real.”  Real people, doing every day life in real ways.  

For the past two months, mailing in my paperwork for my admin credential to be "cleared" has been hanging over my head.  One of those things that I just couldn’t cross off my “to do” list.  Despite several reminders from my colleagues, I was still stressing that I wouldn’t get everything in on time since I misplaced my completion certificates.  Thankfully, I did  find my certificates but then, all of the sudden, as if an angel sent me a personal email, I received a shared Google Doc from Sheila Garvey, one of my principal friends.  Sheila, who was going through the same process to clear her admin credential, took the time to create a Google Doc with step by step instructions on how to complete the process, and then she shared it with our team.  This wasn’t just any step-by-step instruction doc, this was legit.  Sheila embedded links, forms, payment information, the whole nine yards all in 16 steps.

Sheila’s effort and time got me thinking about how so many educators with such ease, step into a helper role just because it feels like the right thing to do. And for that, I was so grateful to have Sheila as a friend, colleague, and fellow admin credential holder. 

And then there are the "real" moments in life where I realize I work with a some very real people.  This past weekend, as I enjoyed a pedicure with my girlfriend, Jenny, (yes, the same Jenny that I referenced in my last post) I was given the opportunity to realize just how “real” most educators are.  Here Jenny and I were in a little nail salon on Third Street in San Rafael, feeling super guilty for sneaking in an hour of relaxation during our weekend.  I mean let’s be real, Sunday afternoons are for grading papers, planning for the week, and responding to work emails right?  I had to practically beg Jenny to break away from grading and report cards just to get a pedicure with me.  In fact, I asked her if we could do a little shopping as well but her response was, “I wish I could, friend, but I just have WAY too much to prep for the week.” 

And there we were, two educators, having a “real” moment together.  Jenny sat grading papers and giggling as Tom tried his best not to tickle her feet too much with his pampering. I sat using the Sched App on my phone to plan my sessions for the upcoming CUE Conference in Palm Springs.  I don’t at all want to come across as judgmental because I really try my best not to judge others but during this particular afternoon, I couldn’t help but overhear some of the other conversations in the nail salon. And quite frankly, I was bothered.

“I can’t wait to get botox again tomorrow. I just need it so badly.”

“Oh my gosh, it’s SO great to be here! I haven’t had a pedicure in TWO weeks!”

“Where is your dad this week?” “Oh, he’s on vacation with his girlfriend until April 29th.  I think they are in Morocco this time.”

“Cut that nail shorter, I said I like it short.”

Ehhhhh…..I sunk down in my chair, turned up the massage button, and breathed in the smell of acetone masked by lavender bath salts.  I sat there thinking.  I am so grateful that someone taught me along the way (my parents, teachers, family friends, my husband) what really matters in life.  I’m so glad I don’t feel the world owes me a pedicure every two weeks (although that would be heavenly).  I’m blessed that I view wrinkles as a sign of life, beauty, love, laughter, and sunshine. I’m thrilled that my dad isn’t riding a camel in the dessert for months on end, and I sure as heck am proud of the fact that no matter how important I may one day think I am, or how wealthy I may find myself in the distant future (doubtful, but who knows), I feel certain that I will always speak with kindness, compassion, and heartfelt words to those around me.

It would be naive of me to think that “helpers” and “real people” are only found in education, for we all know many people who fit this mold in a variety of locations, positions, and life stages.  But for me, I love that I get to surround myself daily with those who can’t help but to help, and can’t help but to be real. Sheila and Jenny, keep it real girls.