Saturday, March 12, 2016


As an educator you are always saying you're a life long learner but many of us get stuck in our comfort zone and push back when opportunities for change are presented. Well, I am determined to not be that person! I got into education to make a difference and positively impact the life of every student I came in contact with. That being said, I had the opportunity two summers ago to participate in the Area 3 Writing Project Summer Institute. 

Before attending the institute a fellow teacher, who had already participated, told me that it would change my life. Now that scared me a little because it put really high expectations on something I knew I wanted to participate in, but wasn't sure it would meet a "life altering" experience. Now almost two years later, I was given a chance to present at a Super Saturday event for the Area 3 Writing Project on a topic that has come to form my belief in teaching along with my daily routine with my students. 

After presenting today in front of about 25 Sacramento based teachers from multiple districts, I can now say I had that "life altering" experience I was told about two years ago (thank you Petra)! I went into this morning a little nervous and not completely knowing what to expect. I was presenting on STEAM and that was not the topic I had originally presented on in my institute demo, which made it a little more intimidating. However, I kept telling myself what I was presenting on was fun and engaging and more importantly my principal (Jennifer Kloczko) who presents all the time, said I really had something to offer other teachers. She couldn't have been more right! 

By the end of my two hour presentation, teachers were coming up with ideas on how to incorporate technology into their classroom (may using similar tools I use), they had made either a boat or the Great Wall of China and most importantly they all seemed excited and motivated to try at least one thing I had presented on. You could see the inspiration, excitement and eagerness in their eyes and in the way they were talking to one another. SUCCESS!! That was all I kept thinking. I had a smile on my face, I felt at that moment that I had made an impact on other teachers (even if it was only 25 teachers). EMPOWERMENT was the next feeling that set in. I can't completely explain the high of feeling like you reached a group of people for the greater well being of students in those teachers classrooms. I walked away from today feeling grateful for this experience and opportunity and more importantly I walked away thinking I finally made that impact on education that I wanted to make when I decided to become a teacher. 

By choosing to step out of my comfort zone and challenge myself to do something I would ordinarily shy away from (I hate talking in front of large groups or being put up on a stage), I allowed myself to see what I have to offer to others. I can truly say this is the beginning of what I hope to be a life long commitment to changing education for the better of students. I also have to give credit to my principal Jennifer Kloczko for encouraging me two years ago to apply for the A3WP and for her help and support over the last couple of months (and really years). 

Additionally, I had the opportunity last weekend to attend a CUE Rock Star event for the first time. It was great! It couldn't have come at a better time! I attended four sessions all on different technology based ideas you could use within teaching and even some outside of teaching (google photos... awesome). The atmosphere was energetic and motivating and really portrayed a movement in training that every educator should push for in any conference/ meeting they attend. One big take away I had from last weekend was from a session on presentations. Wow, can you say there is no reason for people to still be presenting in the "death by PowerPoint" fashion anymore.  I took away some great tips and tricks from the presentation session and applied them to my presentation for today. What a difference... even my husband liked my presentation (he is use to Army "death by PowerPoint" presentations... 100 plus slides filled to the brim with small text).
In the end opportunities are what you make of them. No one is going to just hand you an opportunity. You have to put yourself out there and try new things... you will never know what you are capable of, until you try! 

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

1, 2, 3, 4, 5 Challenge

 Thought, Reflection, Inspiration, Growth & Achievement

What has been your ONE biggest struggle during this school year?

This has been my most challenging year of teaching in about three years. With my class size up to 28 students it brings in a whole new set of challenges. To further this, I have some very active and demanding students that take much of my time and energy. But as challenging, overwhelming and exhausting as some days are, I still love teaching and my students! There is nothing more special and heartwarming than seeing a student be successful, believe in themselves or recognize how much they have achieved. Furthermore, this class has allowed me to try new ways of motivating, while also allowing me to pull from my tool box of ideas and to use all of these strategies and tools I built in previous years.

Share TWO accomplishments that you are proud of from this school year.

1. My biggest accomplishment this year would have to be the relationship I have built with one very special student in my class. This student came to me with everything working against him and a mountain growing in front of him. Connecting with him has been no easy feat and he is proof of how much a student can grow when someone takes the time to get to know him, accepts him for who he is, and truly works with him to help him reach any goal put in front of him. This simple, cute picture says it all!

2. The second thing I am most proud of this year is that I have tried new things! From introducing choice seating, to choice in workshop stations, and choice as one workshop station, to our STEAM challenges— building the Great Wall of China and our boats that sailed and held weight. It has been a year of experimentation and every one of my students has thanked me for letting them be involved.

What are THREE things you wish to accomplish before the end of the school year?

1. To successfully present my first Super Saturday "STEAMing Through Common Core" Area 3 Writing Project workshop.

2. To make connections to students and teachers through a bigger leadership role.

3. To design at least two more STEAM based engineering challenges for our last two continents.

Give FOUR reasons why you remain in education in todays rough culture.

1. To make a difference in students lives by giving them a positive and motivating learning environment.

2. To make a positive impression/contribution to the education system for the greater good of student success.

3. The drive to challenge myself to do new things and step out of my comfort zone.

4. To help others be successful in what they do— this goes for both students and fellow teachers.

Which FIVE people do you hope will take the challenge of answering these questions?

Because they are up for anything:
Hope Kloczko @misskloczko
Julie Torres @mrsjulietorres
Carly Rohrbacker @mrsrohrbacker

And these two wonderful teachers because they need to reflect on all the good they are doing!
Karen Duley @KTKinder1
Alex Gauthier @AlexGauthier3rd