#BeBetter


There’s a part of me that wants to word this very carefully so that I do not offend anyone because I don’t like ruffling feathers. Then there’s a part of me that says to just say what I want to say, and what I want to say really isn’t that offensive. I just want to say – Be Better. Teachers, administrators, educators, Be Better. 

We want respect for the teaching profession – give respect. We want students to follow classroom rules – then follow rules handed down by administration. We want students to turn things in on time – then we should as well. We want students to be to class on time – then get to work on time. We want parents and the community to value us, our word, and what we do in the classroom – then stop putting their kids, the school, the community, and your coworkers on blast via social media. The little memes that are supposed to be funny – yeah, I’m over them. They are degrading to students, other teachers, and our professionalism. 

Be better. Come on, guys! We are adults, and even though we live in an era of free speech and do what makes “you” happy – we can’t. We, educators, were made to serve others. It’s deep in our souls. If we are truly going to do that then we have to set the best possible example. Sometimes that means not posting, not doing, turning the other cheek, and making sure we do the best that we can do in every aspect of our job. Even bus duty.

We chose this profession. Let’s be the best we can for kids and our fellow coworkers. If we are not careful we will push away future teachers. Why would they want to work in a profession where the employees are seemingly so unhappy? Let me tell you something, this profession is not for the faint of heart. It’s hard, and there are some bad days. But the good days are so much better. If your day stinks call your mom. Vent to your teaching partner. That’s what they are there for. But please – don’t publicly bash my profession. Don’t publicly bash students or your community. I love this job. I am where God wants me to be, and I know that with every fiber within me. I want more excitement. I want more teachers working through the trenches to make a difference. To make a change. And regardless of paperwork, cafeteria duty, or situations that break your heart – scream the positives. Drown out the negatives. We are in this together. Let’s Be Better. 

*Thank you Bethany Hill for inspiration. 

Be Fierce

 

Screen Shot 2016-06-21 at 1.52.29 PM“Sugar and spice and everything nice; that’s what little girls are made of.” And big dreams. They forgot to add that line into the poem. I can imagine that we (young females) never said that we couldn’t wait to grow up and date the wrong guy, fall into debt, betray our best friend, make unhealthy choices, choose the wrong career, or get divorced. Unfortunately, it happens. We make big, fat mistakes, and when we do the devil cleverly smiles. He knows exactly how much havoc the repercussions of each of these failed moments will take on you. He knows just how strong the grip of guilt will be on your psyche and your soul. He knows that if you don’t turn to God, truly surrendering, that you will never quite step out to become what God has intended for you to be. What exactly is that? I truly believe that God intends for us to be FIERCE. I said it – God wants his women to be fierce.

Webster defines the word fierce as showing a heartfelt and powerful intensity. Can you imagine if all of God’s girls walked around with this mind-frame? Can you imagine if we poured our heart and souls into everything that God set in our paths to accomplish for him? If we were so passionate about our relationships, our family, our jobs, about Jesus, that no one had any doubt at all what we stood for? Can you imagine? The devil doesn’t want this. He wants to strip you of all confidence. He wants to mockingly whisper in your ear that you can’t do this because you did ….that. Sweet sister, whatever “that” is for you – it is time to let it go. It’s time to break through. It’s time to be fierce.

Women are the driving force of most households. You’ve heard the saying, “If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” It’s true. You can see why the devil doesn’t want us to break free. He wants us to live with the guilt and pain of past mistakes. He wants it to fester because when things fester – they become malignant. They take over and consume your entire life, and staying silent about these things just magnifies them. God wants us to pray. He wants us to pray out loud, and he wants us to be intentional. Specific. These past mistakes, the regrets, the “what ifs”, they aren’t of God. They don’t define you. God wants you and intended for you to be so much more. He wants you to be fierce.

Ephesians 6:11-13 states, “11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.”

The devil wants you to believe you are not worth it. He wants you to believe that you are not loved. He basically wants you to wither up and die. I have really good news. God wins. God wins, and he wants you to win with him.

 Do you want to live your life to the fullest every single day? Do you want to be a positive force in all the relationships in your life including the one with yourself? Then choose to be fierce. Be a warrior for God. Put on your armor, stand tall, and make things happen. God is holding your hand every single step of the way.

God doesn’t Require Fancy

God doesn't require fancy; he just requires a willing heart.

Sometimes taking the step to change your life or just a part of your life can be so intimidating. The constant thoughts that roll around in your head are enough to make anyone give up. It’s not worth it.  I can’t do it. I am not strong enough. Others will think that I can’t do it. It’s too hard. I am who I am.  Those thoughts are created from fear. Fear is not from God. Isaiah 43:1 tells us not to be scared. God has called YOU by name. You. God has called you. He loves you. He wants you to be successful in every aspect of your life. He wants you to live in peace knowing that He is holding your hand all day long.

So, how can we step out and make a fresh start when we really don’t even know what to say? Can someone just give me the exact words to pray – maybe a formula so I can get my life on track? Here is my advice. Just close your eyes, and ask God to give you the words. God doesn’t require fancy; he just requires a willing heart. Romans 8:26b states, “… We do not know how to pray or what we should pray for, but the Holy Spirit prays to God for us with sounds that cannot be put into words.” This is our hope. We are never alone. God will help you take that first step to change. God will utter that first word for you. God is the solution to any and every problem that you may face. I’m not going to lie – knowing that God will basically say the words for me instantly makes me feel 100% better. The need to be perfect, to say the perfect prayer, no longer exists.

It’s not going to be easy. Change is hard. So hard. But there are two things that I am certain of:

  1. God wants you to win
  2. The devil doesn’t

Today step out in faith. Don’t worry about what anyone else thinks. Pray – even if you are only saying God’s name over and over. He doesn’t care what you’re saying; he just wants you to sit with him awhile. And if you are in a situation where you are fearful of stepping out please remember the following: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Phillipians 4:13.

Say it over and over and over.

Tech Champs Progress

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The Warren ISD Tech Champs program has taken off quicker than I imagined. I quickly realized that this was going to be much bigger than just integrating technology seamlessly into classrooms. This is about becoming a better teacher in every aspect. With that being said I know how important it is to reflect, and I am going to do just that. I plan on tracking our progress throughout the whole year, so we will be able to look back next year and make this even bigger. I have a huge support system. My superintendent, Brad McEachern, and my Network Administrator, Cherie Stanley, are constantly pushing me, questioning me, giving me feedback, helping me brainstorm, and even have a few challenges lined up for my Tech Champs. So far we have had two challenges. The ladies will also be attending technology conferences throughout the summer.

Challenge 1 was pretty difficult. They had to assemble Google Cardboard, experiment with it, and then write a lesson plan for their classroom. They all did amazing. They thought of ideas that absolutely blew my mind. Of course you can go to my website and check out their ideas under my Tech Champ tab. The second challenge was in two parts. They first had to write down their small and large technology goals for the year. Cherie and I sat down together to go over them. We then brainstormed ways on how to make these goals work for each teacher. We thought of different platforms that may work for the various things that they want to do next year. I was extremely impressed with their technology goals. I was pretty much in “Proud Momma” mode. The second part of challenge two is a year long project that they will be working on. They have a Google Doc with one date a week for the next year where they will copy and paste a link to an article that they found relevant or inspirational to them (or their class). I think it is so important to grow in your profession. Let’s be honest – I am pretty much a fanatic about being in a constant state of research and how to make things better for teachers and students. I love digging for new ideas. I love seeing what other people are doing. I hope that this will give my Tech Champs inspiration and fresh ideas for their class. Get this – the articles can be about anything. This isn’t just about technology. It can be about classroom management, positivity, curriculum, etc. Anything that makes us better – makes our students better. I am actually going to be sending out challenge three very soon. It will be easy! Half of the challenge is from me and half of the challenge is from our superintendent. Stay tuned as my Tech Champs do amazing things throughout this year.

 

How to Conference

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Warren ISD Faculty attend TCEA Tots

Conferences are an absolute must for growing and recharging; however, they can be extremely overwhelming if you are not careful. The following conference “rules” will help you navigate through your sessions smoothly and have a blast along the way.

  1. Take a friend with you – Everything’s better with a friend. This #1 conference rule will fall into many of the categories below as well.
  2. Plan ahead – Seriously. Download the conference’s app and assess what classes you think will be relevant to you. Refer back to rule #1. Choose some classes to go to with your friend. Then divide and conquer on others.
  3. Start a Google Doc – Take notes! Take pictures. Share the Google Doc with your friend from rule #1. This way you have notes from the sessions that you missed.
  4. Don’t waste time – If you are sitting in a class and realize it is not what you wanted – get up and leave. Find a quiet place to sit and go over notes from your previous class. Life is too short not to be learning relevant information at your conference. 🙂
  5. Utilize your Twitter account – Even if you do not tweet on a regular basis, you need to be actively tweeting during a conference. You will be able to see updates, you will be able to get great take aways from other attendees, and you will have a live stream of all the resources that are being shared out. Plus, the power of networking in education is amazing. You will meet other “birds of a feather” and be able to learn, share, and grow with them.
  6. Take a few sessions off – That’s right. I am telling you to “skip class”. I learned this after my first TCEA conference where I tried to squeeze in so much that I left exhausted and overwhelmed. You need to plan a time where you go and recharge – yourself and your devices. Sit and reflect. Sit and talk with your friend from rule #1 on what you have really loved so far. Bounce ideas off of each other. This is one of the most important aspects of growing as an educator.
  7. Make a priority list – Thanks Crystal Fea for this idea. What have you learned at this conference that will be most beneficial and relevant to your students? I suggest starting with just implementing two things to begin with. If those two things go smoothly, then you will be able to add in others as the year goes. If you bomb those two things – OH WELL!. You tried. Move on. Reassess and do not get discouraged. Failing doesn’t make you a failure. It makes you brave.
  8. Prepare to share! Seriously. Do not keep all the neat stuff you learned to yourself. Share it with your co-workers so their classes and students are impacted positively as well.
  9. Keep learning. Plan to attend more conferences. If your school cannot afford to pay for you to go, then it is time to get brave and present. When you present you go for free! Have the mantra #CantStopWontStop – because after all #KidsDeserveIt.

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Google Cardboard Lesson – #TechChamps

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Mrs. Fea’s Google Cardboard Lesson Ideas

I introduced the Google Cardboard to my students this week. It was amazing how quick it captured their interest. Who knew a piece of cardboard and a phone could be so exciting. I made my way around the room and let them view one of the ocean scenes on the app. I started trying to think of ways that I could use this in my room next year.  One of the most important skills we work on early in the year is sight word recognition. It’s hard to get students excited about practicing their sight words independently. I used the cardboard camera app to video my students holding sight word cards. I then let students  view the video. They immediately started shouting out the sight words with excitement and of course they loved seeing themselves on video.  Their task was to read each word and write down five words to use in a sentence. I could have had them do a similar task with an ordinary video,but the 360 degree view with the Google Cardboard creates more interest. The students are able to pan back and forth for as long as they need. Plus they think this simple little gadget is awesome! I think this would be a great activity to start the year with. I can’t wait to work on more ideas this summer.

Writing Station: Students will view a video  and then they will have a follow up writing activity. At the beginning of the year they will write simple sentences using sight words. The writing expectations will increase throughout the year. Eventually I would like the students to write stories related to the videos. I would like to put the video link on qr codes so they are surprised by their video. Maybe their video will determine the setting for their story. I am still trying to get my thought together on this idea.

Sight Words: I am going to make a video using the cardboard camera app with sight words and students will then view and read and write the words they find. They could even find words and put them in ABC order.

Math: I want to try the bowling VR I am thinking my students can write number sentences while playing this game.I would like for my students to make their own VR video and then create math word problems to go with them. This would be great especially for 3d figures.

 

Google Cardboard – #TechChamps

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Mrs. Foret’s Tech Mission #1

Choosing a way to incorporate my Google Cardboard into my classroom for my first mission proved to be more difficult than I thought it would be. First, I started by letting my students each come to my desk. I put a demo on the cardboard and let each of the watch just to see how they reacted to it. They LOVED IT! Each of them begs me daily to watch something. For my actual mission, I knew it would be difficult to have each child use the cardboard and do something with it. After all, first graders are not the most patient little souls. I chose two students who I could trust to take my iPhone, Cardboard and iPad. Jaxson and Olivia were perfect for the job. I wanted them to experience something really neat so I decided I would send them on virtual field trip. I ended  up using the Cardboard “Demo” App. I demonstrated how to use the Cardboard, and showed them how to use the magnet on the side to switch between famous cities.

There were several places to choose from including Tokyo, Venice, New York, Rome, and Paris. Olivia and Jaxson chose to tour Paris. The tour started at the Eiffel Tower. From there they were able to use the magnet on the side and Google’s Street View to navigate their way around the streets and area surrounding the Eiffel Tower. Once they both experienced the “tour”, I wanted them to create a way to show our class what they saw and learned. Together, we watched a video about the Eiffel Tower, how it was formed, and some neat characteristics of it. After learning a little and making connections from prior knowledge, we decided that they would create a book. We have used the app “Book Creator” in my room a few times this year so they were moderately familiar with it. I helped them get started and they completed the rest of the book. Once they were done, they were able to pull a photo of the Eiffel Tower up on the Smartboard and present their book to their classmates.

I absolutely loved doing this with my class. I have had several children approach me and ask if they could make a team and create their own book and go on a virtual field trip. I can honestly say that every child in my classroom was engaged and excited to learn. Jaxson said, “Using Google Cardboard made it feel like I was really there.” He also told me he felt like he was walking with the people on the street. Olivia said, “ It was awesome,” and she felt like she was really there. I am looking forward to incorporating my Google Cardboard into the classroom in the future.