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A school is a special place. Not just for students, but also for the teachers who work tirelessly to engage their students and provide a memorable learning experience. Our work not only inspires students, but it also inspires our colleagues...and these professional relationships create an environment that breaks beyond expectations. 

As I explained in my last post, it is a new year, with a new, contagious energy. Teachers have jumped right back into instruction and are excited to share the awesome things they are trying or want to try in the classroom. As I worked with a few teachers this week, I continued to be amazed and excited about the way they are making instructional shifts while keeping the focus on student learning and growth. While trying something new in the classroom can be scary and overwhelming, the result will not only benefit our students, but it will also inspire others around us.

Here are a few ways our teachers are working to enhance classroom instruction and also inspire their colleagues: 

1. Teachers are Taking Risks
Taking risks in the classroom requires patience, flexibility, and most importantly, courage. In my opinion, trying something new in the classroom is a risk itself. Like most other unknowns, a new instructional practice produces many "what-ifs" and potential "hot-mess" situations; however, risk-taking in the classroom provides learning opportunities for both teachers AND students. You never know how awesome something can be until you try it. 

Numerous teachers are taking risks in their classrooms by trying something new with their students. At the Birkett Freshmen Center, Ms.  Allison Perry is learning to use PearDeck with her PE classes. She hopes to engage her students while utilizing this awesome interactive add-on. In the D wing, the Business Department is diving into Google Applied Digital Skills and utilizing this curriculum to help students in VEI classes develop their resumes. Ms. Amanda Dunham explained that they are trying to combine Google's awesome tutorials and lesson ideas with their class's curriculum. In addition, Mr. Jeff Walz is teaching a blended course this year and plans to use the backchannel option in Padlet to be readily available for his students on days when they are not in class. Risk taking in the classroom will lead to some essential educational wins: Student engagement, advocacy, academics, and access. 

2. Teachers are Asking for Help
Before taking risks, teachers might need to ask for help....and this is OK. Asking for help in the workplace isn't always easy, as it makes people feel vulnerable in front of their peers. But think about it...don't we always encourage our students to ask questions? Why are we any different? As teachers, we must ask questions because we, too, are lifelong learners. One questions can lead to more questions, which ultimately leads to learning. Teachers must continue to learn so that we can help our students learn. 

While instructional technology has awesome advantages, it takes time and experience for one to feel comfortable in front of a class full of students. Ms. Jessie Lavin has done a phenomenal job learning how to use PearDeck in her math classroom. She asks questions, actively listens, asks follow-up questions, and then takes risks in her classroom by trying out the new information she gained as a result of these questions. After working with her, I visited her classroom and was so impressed with her ability to take what she learned and apply it to her classroom. As a result, her students were engaged in the learning process because she took the time to ask questions and learn something new. Similarly, Ms. Lisa Ryder has asked some amazing questions about ideas she has for her classroom, and in turn, learned about some beneficial resources that can help her attain these classroom goals. Not only did she get answers to her initial questions, but by asking them, she gained other insight about instructional practices that she can also use in the classroom. 

3. Teachers are Vulnerable in the Classroom 
I'm sure you would agree with me when I say that one of the scariest situations for a teacher is when he/she lacks control of what is happening or going to happen in his/her class. Well, taking risks in the classroom and trying something new will make this situation a reality. Well, in my opinion, we need to stop being so hard on ourselves and make it OK for our students to see us in a situation where we have to learn and roll with the punches. If our students see that we, too, need time to learn, practice, and improve, they might have an easier time connecting to our class and seeing us as more than just teachers. While being vulnerable in the classroom causes anxiety, we must remember that being a lifelong learner means we, too, deserve opportunities to learn, fail, reflect, and move forward. I believe that our students can learn from our actions, reactions, and perseverance in these situations, and this exposure will benefit their development and connection to the class. 

English teacher, Mrs. Laura Dabezic, continues to learn how to utilize PearDeck in the classroom. During her class, she takes risks and stops on the spot when she needs help and asks questions for clarification. She is not afraid to tell her students she is learning and thanks them for their patience. I love that she is not afraid to show them that she is uncomfortable with the technology and works through the issues right in front of them. If I was a student in her class, I would respect her honesty and be impressed with her willingness to take risks and try something new in order to help me be more engaged in the lesson.

4. Teachers are Learning and Dominating their Challenges
Taking risks, asking questions, and being vulnerable in front of others will help teachers make strides in the classroom and in their professional lives. Our teachers are enhancing their instructional practices and in turn, they are learning more about themselves and their students. When new problems come their way in the classroom or with technology, they are feeling more comfortable troubleshooting and experimenting. Instead of letting adversity bring them down, teachers are dominating the challenges that come their way and modeling impressive behaviors for both their students and colleagues. The end result is pretty powerful. (I'll get there in a minute)

I was super impressed with my colleague, Ms. Alicia Dailey, this week as she worked through some frustrating issues with PDFs and the Google Drive. She took risks, asked questions, and worked through some of the issues during class but still was unable to figure out a solution to the problem. Well, after a few days of problem-solving, Ms. Dailey figured out one piece of the frustrating puzzle. While she didn't find a full solution, she worked with her options and did what she could to improve the situation. Her patience and willingness to experiment with different things was quite impressive and helped her make a frustrating situation a bit more bearable. 

So....let's get back to that powerful result I mentioned above. What is the result of our teacher's willingness to take risks, ask questions, be vulnerable, learn, and dominate their challenges? Here it is...Teachers inspire teachers. Our teachers' work inspired other teachers to take a risk, ask a question, be vulnerable, learn, and eventually, dominate their challenges. The more we do it, the more others will follow suit. I would argue that we have the best job in the world because we get to inspire and empower people on a daily basis. Not just students...but also, our colleagues. Say it with me...Teachers inspire teachers. Spread the word. #whatsup 


  1. A big shout-out to Melissa, for your enthusiastic support and encouragement. As a result, my students are now benefited from receiving their daily PearDeck takeaways!


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