Are you feeling stuck and unsure of what to do to get you back on your preferred track?
There have been plenty of times where I have felt like I was plodding through mud or as though I was hitting a professional brick wall, so you are not alone.
How do you move past the feeling of being caught in job-embedded quicksand so you can continue to develop in your work life? Below are some tips gained from personal experience and outside inspiration that may help you move past the bog and into your the next phase of your career:
- Set goals. Where do you see yourself going in three months, six months, a year, or five years? Setting clear goals for yourself, no matter how audacious, that are broken down into accessible increments will provide you with a road map to get you from where you are to where you would rather be. To that point, make sure you write your goals down. Studies have shown that those who write down their goals and dreams are 42% more likely to achieve them than those who just keep them in their heads.
- Switch it up. Do you teach in a classroom? Try a new project like PBL or Genius Hour. Consider having your students teach a lesson or two. That would offer them the opportunity to showcase their learning and to reinforce it by teaching their peers. You can even pair up with a colleague to do an interdisciplinary project. If you work in another capacity, small things like playing music, taking on new projects, or gaining new certifications outside the field of education (such as Adobe certifications) or take a free online course on a platform like edX. It’s always fun to learn something new.
…and if you feel as though the only answer is to leave your job/post/position/school…
- Remember that wherever you go, there you are. Whatever the challenges you are experiencing, it is paramount that you take a good, hard look at yourself. What aspects of the challenges can you control? What negative experiences are you feeding into? Changing job positions, roles, schools, companies, etc. will not guarantee that things will get better. Sometimes they will, especially if you are leaving a toxic environment. That said, you must be sure that you have worked through whatever “funky stuff” you bring into the equation or else it will follow you around like a stinky fart in a shower. I highly recommend the books Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck and The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor to help you see the brighter side of things.
Additional Suggested Readings:
- The Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand in the Sun and Be Your Own Person by Shonda Rhimes
- The Energy Bus: 10 Rules to Fuel Your Life, Work, and Team with Positive Energy by Jon Gordon
You can and will move past this point and things will get better. Take some time to pause, figure out your next steps, and put one foot in front of the other.
What steps do you have to get “unstuck”? Share those in the comments below.
As I write this, I am making the best use of my time during a substantial layover en route to Atlanta. Though I am tired and my body isn’t sure exactly what time it is, I had such an enjoyable experience the four days that had the opportunity to spend in Hawaii presenting and learning at the Hawaii International Conference on Education. First of all, the complimentary breakfasts were DELICIOUS. (Be honest, free food excites you too.) Beyond the great food that provided a brief culinary taste of Hawaiian cuisine (for example, banana apple fritters), the people who descended upon this conference were so friendly. Then again, all of the Hawaiian people I encountered were also very warm and friendly. I guess it isn’t too hard to be nice when the weather and sights are so breathtaking.
Some of the standout sessions I was able to attend included titles such as:
- P-20 Collaboration and Instruction Practices: Enhancing Teacher Preparation in Georgia, by Vicki Luther of Mercer Univeristy;
- Indigeneity: What is it and Why is it Important for School Leaders, by Dr. Ijeoma Ononuju of Northern Arizona State University;
- Recruit, Retain, & Respond: Addressing the Elephant in the Room-The Teacher Shortage, by Kelly Olson-Stewart and Michael Stewart of Ashford University; and
- Decoding Disney: Translating Imagineering Tricks into Teaching Strategies, by Mick Charney of Kansas State University.
It was so refreshing to see such an expansive array of topics being discussed and researched. Furthermore, I found that there were a number of sessions that did not stray away from touching soft spots in education, more specifically the national (and international) teacher shortage as well as the importance of strong teaching practices (a.k.a. pedagogy) as more learning goes digital.
Without a doubt, I know that I will be able to translate and repackage this information to share with my Cobb County colleagues. Furthermore, I am excited to see what national and international partnerships teachers within the CCSD can form with educators and researchers I met while in Hawaii.
I’ve gotta admit: I am really excited to have started the year with such great information that I can’t wait to share with you as well.
To quote the CeCe Penniston classic from 1992, “finally it happened to me/right in front of my face/and I just couldn’t hide it.” My two proposals were accepted at a conference. It wasn’t just any old conference, because I have presented at conferences before, but an International one…in Hawaii. Yes, Hawaii.
CeCe found the real man of her dreams in 1992, and I found out about this conference in the Fall of 2015 and submitted a couple of proposals. They were accepted. I was elated. Unfortunately, I had to pull out of presenting because apparently it takes money to send someone from Atlanta to Honolulu.
The Fall of 2016 rolled around and I applied again. This time I planned ahead and used my savings from my side job (we can talk about that bit at another point in time), and travelling to Hawaii went from being a dream and became a reality.
Being a rabid fan of the recent “Hawaii Five-0” reboot, I was ECSTATIC that I would be able to travel someplace new and augment my memory banks with more Professional Learning awesomeness. (No lie, I totally made sure to stop by all of the landmarks shown in the show beforehand, especially the famed King Kamehameha Statue which is in front of Five-0 “Headquarters”, which is really the Justice Building.)
So today, I begin this adventure of “Professional Learning in Paradise” here at the Hawaii International Conference on Education in super sunny Honolulu. I can’t wait to learn, present what I know, and expand my professional learning network which will, in-turn, help me help my CCSD colleagues more.
Seriously, STEM is so much fun! I just can’t seem to get enough of collaborating with teachers on STEM-y projects and I love delivering PL (Professional Learning) to share what I know with my colleagues.
Yesterday and today, I was honored to present to my fellow Cobb County educators (and many awesome educators from other districts here in Northern Georgia as part of STEM-a-Palooza 2016. This three-day STEM bootcamp and PBL conference brought together presenters from the High Museum, Zoo Atlanta, as well as Cobb County School District, and many more.
I presented four different sessions:
- Creating a Community of Exploration
- Session Summary: Learn how to reset the culture of your classroom, team, and school to embrace exploration as a means for teaching and learning.
- Cultivating Visual Literacy in the STEM Classroom (Co-presented with King Springs Elementary School STEM teacher Joannah Shoushtarian)
- Session Summary: Learn how to construct student-driven lessons that integrate video production tools such as TouchCast as a means for developing digital and media literacy skills.
- Genius Hour Quick and Dirty Tips
- Session Summary: Do you want to try Genius Hour but don’t know where to start? In this session, learn how to present Genius Hour to your administration or staff and guide students (and their parents) through the process and expectations while maintaining a safety net so students feel comfortable in their exploration.
- Harness the Power of Virtual Reality (Co-presented with Floyd Middle School 7th grade Science teacher Daniel Harbert)
- Session Summary: Learn how to use and create virtual reality experiences to enhance classroom instruction. Join us in exploring this new medium and come prepared to step into a new dimension in teaching and learning!
Over the next few days I will publish each session’s resources. In the meantime, you can find them housed here.
Many thanks to the wonderful Dr. Sally Creel, STEM Supervisor for the Cobb County School District, for inviting me to participate in this event!
Has there been any one thing you have come across recently that has gotten your brain bubbling with excitement? Recently I’ve been having fun geeking out on…
(…and there are so many good ones!)
Podcasts, short for “portable, on-demand broadcasts,” which can come in video or audio form, have been in existence for some time now (learn more about the history of podcasts here). Podcasts are typically produced as episodes in a series, and are published on a regular basis. They allow for you to get information such as news, listen to interviews, or be entertained on your schedule. Personally, I tend to listen while at work, cooking dinner at home, or even when I am exercising. Podcasts actually keep me more motivated on a run around the neighborhood than a music playlist would. During those times I have been able to learn more about a variety of subjects directly or loosely related to my work in education ranging from recent research on supporting student literacy, to information about social media marketing, news about the world, and even nutrition.
Below are some of my favorite podcasts that I just cannot miss each week.
- Freakonomics Radio: As an off-chute of the empire built upon the Freakonomics books by Stephen Dubner and Steven Levitt, this podcast features Dubner exploring the “riddles of everyday life, and the weird wrinkles of human nature” each week. The stories are insightful, well-researched, and engaging.
- TGIM by Shopify: This podcast, produced by Shopify, is beautifully produced and worth listening to for that reason alone. It presents short vignettes and stories to illustrate a general strategy to help entrepreneurs enhance their businesses. Though I am not an entrepreneur, I find that much of the advice I have encountered for entrepreneurs is very applicable for educators as well.
- The School of Greatness with Lewis Howes: Created by a former professional Arena Football player who has since re-branded himself as a motivational speaker, author, and entrepreneur, this podcast features uplifting interviews with leaders in various industries.
- The Tim Ferriss Show: Sometimes called “The Human Guinea Pig,” Tim Ferriss has taken the same approach he used in creating books such as The Four Hour Workweek, The Four Hour Body, and The Four Hour Body to deconstruct world-class performers, athletes, and business people. Each episode presents a deep conversation that always has me hooked.
While most podcasts producers have a website hosting them, they are much easier to consume when you use a program/app such as iTunes, Stitcher, or SoundCloud. (Stitcher is my personal favorite, because I’m an Android phone girl, myself, and Stitcher is available across platforms–iOS and Android.)
This summer, as you find yourself kicking back at the pool, or running around the block, check out a podcast or two. Next, tell me what you think of my recommendations comments below. Do you have any others you think I would like too?
Until next time,
I LOVE professional learning! Seriously. I always have…even the boring sessions. When I was a college student working as a beauty adviser for Aveda, I remember being so entranced by the fancy training sessions held in the meeting or conference rooms of a semi-swanky Atlanta hotel. The materials, the knowledge, and the new friends all put a smile on my face. It is no mystery to me these days of how I have ended up in my role as Digital Transformation Coach. Learning from others, training others, traveling around and collaborating with my classroom colleagues is not too far removed from learning how to sell the Spring eyeshadow collection made from “pure plants and minerals.” The only difference is that the “product” is education, and that now I vacillate between the role of the travelling session facilitator and that of the student. When I attend conferences, I relish the opportunity to become a student again.
Not only are conferences great for learning from others outside of your geographical community, but they also offer great opportunities to network with other educators. I often find inspiration from the sessions presented. The ideas or projects presented might not be what I wish to recreate in my District, but they may set off a spark in my brain of a divergent idea.
Conferences and professional learning summits/forums/symposiums also work like a great professional carrot on the stick of self-advancement. If you are looking to expand your skill set and augment your resume’, conferences also offer you the opportunity to travel and build upon your credibility and influence within the education field. If this is something of interest to you, go for it!
From personal experience, I have found that it helps to start small if you wish to become a presenter. Attend local EdCamps (or plan one!), fellow Georgians of mine reach out to your RESA to see if they need someone to serve as a presenter, or even present to your colleagues at your school during Professional Learning sessions. No matter what, keep your eyes open for presentation opportunities. Yes, you may fail. We all stumble at times. But as we would tell our students, that is where learning occurs. Remember, mastery comes from the repetition of picking ourselves up and plowing forward.
Over the course of the 2015-2016 school year, I have been grateful to have either present at or attend the Georgia STEM Forum (Athens, Georgia), GaETC (Atlanta, Georgia), and SXSWedu (Austin, Texas). I would have loved to have attended ASCD, which was here in Atlanta the weekend before our Spring Break, but unfortunately, already had plans. That is quite alright though. I was able to attend last year and was so excited to have had the opportunity to get my brain juices going. More importantly, some of my colleagues attended and you better believe that I will be picking their brains to see what they learned.
In the next few posts I will be sharing some of my more specific observations, thoughts, and general notes that I gathered from the conferences I have been able to attend. Hopefully you will find these as inspirational as did I. If so, I would love to hear how they got your brain juices going.
Until next time…