About DRoberts

Middle School Vice-Principal, life-long learner, evolving leader.

How Edcamp Is Like A Flash Mob

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(flickr: artberri)

I am currently working on planning Red Deer’s first edcamp, dubbed REdcamp13 (pretty cool play on words thanks to @EbertsR and since I love flash mobs, I was struck by the similarities.  I have to admit that I have never been to an edcamp but am so impressed with #edcamp talk on Twitter that I was inspired to help bring one to my city.   Here, in my humble opinion, is how edcamp is like a flash mob.  Feel free to agree or disagree, particularly if you have edcamp experience!  🙂

How Edcamp is like a Flash Mob:

1.  Flashmobs, like edcamps start with one or two people, moving to a beat, dancing to what appears to be their own drummer…at first.  The moves soon catch on and others are joining in the fun.  Edcamp, a relatively new concept in professional development for educators where the participants guide the learning, is gaining momentum.  My REdcamp13 colleagues and I know that the edcamp idea is little known or understood around these parts but we intend to shake it, boogie, learn some new moves and have fun in hopes that it will catch on with our fellow Albertans (Saskatchewanites? British Columbians?) who dare to come to our first edcamp in May, 2013.

2.  Flashmobs, like edcamps start with a little preparation by a core group of interested individuals who have a desire to share their passion (a song, a dance, a happy feeling) with the world and then amazing, spontaneous things happen.  One of the original flashmobs in a train station in Belgium which was choreographed to the Sound of Music’s Do-Re-Mi held only two practice sessions before taking it live.  The result was inspiring.  Edcamp Philly started very small, as described by Kristen Swanson HERE and the concept has spread all over North America and even Europe.

3.  Flashmobs, like edcamps, are done because people WANT to.  They are not driven by money or celebrity.  People do flash mobs, like Mila Kunis’ character says in the film Friends with Benefits, because it’s fun!  Educators do edcamps because…well, maybe those who have attended edcamps in the past can comment on why they attend edcamps??  I’m sure fun has something to do with it but I’m guessing the deep learning and meaningful conversations that encourage professional growth also are driving factors.

In Drive, Daniel Pink writes about the importance of autonomy as a factor in what motivates people.  He says that people want autonomy over task, time, team and technique.  Edcamps provide learners with plenty of autonomy over what you learn, when you learn it, with whom you are learning and how you are learning.  If this is something that also motivates you, perhaps you should attend REdcamp13 in Red Deer, Alberta on May 11, 2013.   We would LOVE to have you!  And who knows, maybe we’ll break into a flashmob at lunchtime!  😉

(couldn’t resist adding in just one more flash mob – Bazinga!)

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The Burnt Cookie: letting go of mistakes

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A new year always gives one pause to reflect on how the past year rolled out and time to consider how things will unfold in the next twelve months.  Over the Christmas break, my kids and I were invited over to a friend and colleague’s house to skate on their home-made backyard hockey rink.  My friend’s son is the same age as my middle son and her daughter is a student at the school where I am vice-principal.  The kids had a great time skating and playing outside and then it was time to come in and have a snack.  My friend’s daughter, I’ll call her Sophie (not her real name) decided to warm up her chocolate chip cookie in the microwave.  Beep, beep, beep went the microwave as we all continued talking and snacking.  Sophie opened the microwave to a billow of smoke and a completely burnt cookie.  Any other 12-year old might have become upset or have been completely mortified at her 1-minute mistake.  Though I later heard from her mom that she said, “I can’t believe I burnt a cookie in front of my vice-principal!”, in the midst of billowing smoke Sophie laughed, waved the smoke with her arms, ran to the door to open it, and continued to giggle at her mistake.  I was so impressed with her grace and composure.

As I think about how my year as a vice-principal in a busy middle school went last year, I know there were lots of great things that happened and that I was a part of and there were also a few burnt cookies.  I am the type of person who, if I allow myself to, will ruminate over and worry about my mistakes and wonder what people are thinking about what I did. I need to learn how to be more like Sophie and laugh at myself, learn from my mistakes and move on.  I have heard lots of great things about Carol Dweck’s Mindset and have put it on my reading list for this year.  I hope I can use my burnt cookies to create a growth mindset as I work on improving my skills as a school administrator.

With that being said, here is a list of what I hope to work on this year…resolutions so to speak.  Some professional, some personal.

Resolutions:

  1. Be out of the office a LOT more and in classrooms working with kids and teachers.  I think this is the number one way I can improve as an administrator and know what is going on in the school.  It also goes along with relationship building which is essential to my role.
  2. Prioritize better – this includes getting better at using my i-phone calendar.  The alert function is fantastic and essential for me.
  3. Thank people more – this means making an effort to notice and acknowledge people.  I know I appreciate when people notice what I am doing well.
  4. Listen more – this is part of my admin growth plan where I want to improve my communication skills.  In an effort to connect with what someone is saying I know that I sometimes I talk too much about my personal experience and stop listening.
  5. Focus on family – with Masters coursework now complete I should be spending more time playing with my kids, not thinking about school and work.
  6. Focus on health – I have signed up for 2 half-marathons, a 12 km and the Mud Hero (a run combined with obstacles and mud…crazy right?)  I now need to align my diet with my running goals.
  7. Care more about the world – I have a keen interest in social justice and follow the news but feel that I am often just an observer.  I would like to volunteer more, give more and strange as this sounds, donate blood.  I have never done that.

Finally, I resolve to go easy on myself when things do not go well.  I plan to take Sophie’s burnt cookie with me throughout the year (figuratively, of course!) and remember what she taught me about grace, the ability to laugh at oneself and how to let go of mistakes and move on.

Why Twitter?

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Back a couple of months ago, I presented to my staff on the glories of Twitter.  Some have since checked it out and have become true twitter fans, others not so much.  As someone who is a self-admitted twit-a-holic (My name is Diane, a.k.a. @robertsdrb and…I tweet…a lot) I find it difficult to understand why everyone has not jumped on the Twitter shuttle to the Twitterverse of enlightenment.

So in an attempt to convince more people to join and engage with Twitter, here is a list of reasons why I get so much out of it:

  • Personal Learning Network – I create my PLN by choosing who I want to follow.  When someone posts something that is interesting or useful to me, I follow them.  Contrarily, if they are posting things that do not serve my learning purpose, I don’t follow them.  Simple.  In this way, Twitter becomes differentiated professional development for each individual.
  • Twitter chats – This is where connections occur and my thinking is pushed to new places with people from all over.  Twitter chats such as #satchat (administrator chat on Saturday mornings) or #educoach (educational coaching chat on Wednesday evenings) connect me to people who are progressive thinkers and sharers within these domains.  I can also pose a question throughout the week with these hashtags and will get a response from someone else who follows these topics.
  • Learning new things – every day I come across an article, list, blog post or quote that teaches me something new.  The word plethora does not begin to explain the wide variety and depth of “stuff” out there on Twitter for educators.
  • Feedback – I can post a question or let people know that there is something I am searching for and someone will inevitably give me an answer.  When I post to my blog, people read it and respond…this blew my mind at first and it was nerve-wracking to have others read my thoughts but now I look forward to the comments – good and not so good.
  • Inspiration for blog posts – The things I read about on Twitter not only get me thinking, they inspire me to write about my thoughts on educational topics in my blog which is proving to be another way to deepen my thinking and help me reflect on my practice.  By the way, I did not have a blog until after I joined Twitter and began reading all the amazing educator blogs out there which I connected to via Twitter.  It was only a matter of time before I found that 140 characters are great for communicating brief thoughts on various topics but if I want to really delve into something, the blog is where I can get it all out in one place.

The more I use Twitter, the more I WANT to keep coming back…addiction?  Maybe.  But it is getting me connected with other educators and thinking more about my practice as a teacher and as an administrator.  Other addicts go to meetings to talk about their addictions (e.g. AA), Twitter addicts just learn more, reflect more and connect more.  In the words of Amy Winehouse: If they try to make me go to rehab, I won’t go, go, go.

P.S.  I made the above Wordle with text from my Twitter feed.

The Ripple Effect of Administrator Growth: my own growth goal

In an earlier post, I wrote about the kick-off to my school district’s administrator growth project.  In this post, I will share my goal for growth this year and reflect on how it is going so far…

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Goal: To improve my communication with staff in my interactions with them as a Learning Assistance Teacher and as an Administrator.

Guiding Question: How do I best communicate with staff (Teachers and EA’s) to provide instructional leadership which facilitates inclusion so that the learning needs of all students can be met?

Strategies:
-have focused, purposeful conversations with teachers and EA’s about inclusion and student needs
-learn more/practice communication skills
-communicate regularly with Vanessa about what I’m working on in LAT
-communicate with teachers and EA’s about what I’m working on in LAT

Indicators and Measures of Success:
-greater comfort level having focused, professional learning conversations with staff
-increased staff buy-in for the LAT model
-increased staff capacity toward differentiation
-increased teacher comfort-level in working with EA’s in their classrooms

Reflection so far:

Having been a classroom teacher for 15 years prior to becoming a Learning Assistance Teacher (LAT), I am definitely finding that the LAT role is a new and challenging experience for me. I have no real experience in special education in my past so the learning curve has been significant in preparing for my role as LAT and in the day-to-day duties of an LAT teacher. Also, the role of LAT is a new position within our school district so determining what my role actually is and finding my way along this road is interesting and not at all linear. I am often negotiating with others as to what my role is and should be: Facilitator? Helper? Team-teacher? Tutor? Assistive technology aid? Intermediary between outside agencies and the school? Coach? In fact, it is all of these in varying degrees and the exciting thing about it is that I can be the designer of my role as LAT and impact student learning in ways that are meaningful and tailored to our particular school and students.

I am finding that the most important characteristic of an LAT is the ability to build and sustain positive working relationships with teachers and EA’s. At the foundation of this relationship-building is the ability to listen and communicate clearly. This is why I have chosen communication as my goal because without effective communication skills, the LAT is little more than a resource-finder or resource room teacher from the past. I want to do more in this role than search for differentiated learning activities or do student pullouts. I want to be able to help teachers build the capacity to differentiate instruction and assessment on their own so students can remain in the classroom as much as possible to learn side-by-side with their peers. To do this, I need to listen to the needs of teachers and collaborate with them in finding answers to their questions.

A challenge that I am facing is balancing my time between my LAT role and my Administrator role. Some days, the admin hat is on far more than the LAT hat. I hope to remediate this with a greater effort to schedule my time as an LAT to ensure I am giving this role the time it needs to accomplish my goals.

As I continue to work on my goal of communication, I am exploring ways to improve my skills through reading books and articles by the likes of Jim Knight (@jimknight99) and participating in Twitter chats such as #educoach where topics around instructional coaching are discussed and ideas are shared.  As well, I learn something new everyday working with Vanessa Yamazaki, the other LAT teacher at my school.  She really gets what it means to be a learning assistance teacher and works hard everyday to make a difference in the classrooms in our school.

I am working on how I communicate with teachers and EA’s, one conversation at a time and realizing that as simple as this goal may seem on paper, it is a complex process of interactions and social negotiations. Every teacher and EA has a unique set of knowledge, skills and attitudes to bring to the table so the needs of each one are quite different. A first-year teacher and a seasoned veteran have different ideas and perceptions of what they need, why they need it and how to improve their practice. Differentiation of LAT support for teachers is the key.

So, I have chosen a goal for my own professional learning and growth in an area that is complex and that will take time to develop over time but one that will (hopefully) have a ripple effect on student learning.

So Done With That Kid

Lately I’ve heard a very troubling sentence, seven words long. I’ve heard teachers say it. I’ve heard educational assistants say it. And most shockingly of all, I’ve heard parents say it.  What is this phrase that shocks me? Irritates me? Even angers me? (and if you ask anyone who knows me, I’m pretty easy-going).

Ready? Here it is:

“I am so done with that kid.”In seven syllables this sentence says things like:

-this kid is frustrating me
-this kid is useless
-this kid cannot learn
-this kid is bad and cannot change
-this kid is beyond hope

But what this sentence is also saying is that

-I do not have the patience to deal with this child
-I do not know what to do with this child
-I do not have the skills to handle this child
-I should not be educating this child

I could add for parents, “I should not be raising this child” but that might take this post in a whole other direction and as an educator and school-based administrator that is not where I want to go with this.  I only want to vent my frustration at this phrase which most of the time is used in an off-the cuff manner.

I have taught for 16 years, the last 2 and a bit in administration and believe me, there have been moments when students have frustrated me. My patience has been stretched to a very fine thread. There are even a few students who I found difficult to like. But as an teacher and administrator, it is my JOB to be there for kids. It is my RESPONSIBILITY to do everything within my power, training and experience to ensure that my students learn. It is my DUTY as someone in a human services field to take care of my clientele (the kids!) and to never give up on them!

So to those who casually flip off this phrase in anger, annoyance, frustration or because you feel you just cannot take it anymore…be done with that kid. Go ahead. But then be done working with ALL kids because all kids deserve to learn and grow into adults guided by adults who really love kids.  Adults with the patience, understanding and the desire to work with kids because they care.  Adults who give kids second and third (insert any number here) chances to improve and learn from their mistakes who accept them for their differences; learning, behavioural, personality or otherwise.

Or…if you are in the field of education because you truly care about kids (who are, remember, future adults in our communities) and you want to make a difference, say, “what is the background story on this kid?”, “what can I do to help?”, “what haven’t I tried yet?”, “who can I ask for help?”.  Being done with a kid is not the answer.

My Convocation: an end and a beginning

I am so excited to share with you that I have officially finished my Master of Education degree in Educational Leadership and now have the paper to prove it!  I attended my convocation ceremony at the University of Calgary today along with many others who were conferred degrees and doctorates in the domains of Education, Social Work, and the Arts to name a few.  It was truly an enjoyable ceremony where none other than the Right Honorable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada was presented with an honorary Doctorate of Laws.  The Governor General’s speech was excellent as he humbly admitted that he just showed up and did not have to do the work that we all did to receive this “doctorate”.  He also spoke about how he wishes to see a Canada with smarter and more caring citizens.

As I sat in my chair, awaiting my turn to cross the stage, I reflected on how I got there.  Countless hours of reading, note-taking, paper-writing, online discussions and reflections, group presentations…This was time-consuming and often completed after my kids were put to bed and stretching late into the night.  These past two years were a demonstration in juggling: studies, a full-time job as a school-based administrator/teacher, wife and mom.  I even found time in there to train for a couple of half-marathons (but running kept me sane!)  Sometimes it was really hard on my kids such as when I had to go online at 7 pm and miss putting them to bed (a ritual that I rarely miss and that they look forward to every night) and when I had to spend some Sunday afternoons finishing papers and composing discussion postings (my degree was completed almost entirely online) while they went swimming with my husband.  My husband definitely had to pick up my slack in the parenting department and I thank him for that.  I could not have done any of this without his support.

However, as hard as this sometimes was, I am glad I did it and I’m glad I pushed myself to finish in two years…insane as that seems to me now.  The learning that occurred for me was much deeper than simply reading and regurgitating.  The discussions with colleagues and professors opened up my world to new viewpoints and ideas.  I learned what administrators and teachers in other districts, provinces and countries are dealing with.  I learned a lot about research and how it impacts the field of education.  Above all, I learned that I am not finished learning.  This does not mean that I intend to pursue a doctorate because right now I want to enjoy my kids’ childhoods and pursue other types of learning (at the moment, Twitter and blogging are filling the void left by the end of my graduate studies).  But…never say never, right?

For now, I am enjoying the feeling of being “done my Masters”, celebrating a little, and now it is my turn to support my husband as he works on his Masters degree.  I think I owe him, just a little!

The Administrator Growth Project: pressure and support

(Three Sisters Mountains, Canmore, Alberta)

This year, administrators in my school district are embarking on a journey of professional growth. It’s not that we haven’t worked on professional goals and growth plans in the past, because we have.  However, this year and for the next few years, administrator growth has been set as a priority by senior leadership and is set up as ongoing, embedded process of inquiry, professional learning and reflection.  Partnered with ‘critical friends’, Pamela Adams and David Townsend from the University of Lethbridge and Brent Galloway from Red Deer College, our administrator professional growth is being put front and center in our professional lives.  David Townsend laid it out very well in his talk at our administrators meeting today whereby we are trying to:

– know what we didn’t know before

– do what we didn’t do before, and

– apply what we learn to practice

When the admin growth project was first presented to us, there was much apprehension and worry in the room.  The project involves having a team of people including a senior administrator, one of the critical friends and a district administrator visiting school-based administrators in their building to talk about and foster administrators’ growth plans.  Talk about a buzz in the room! There was definitely fear about “evaluation” and lots of fear about opening up one’s practice to scrutiny.  A daunting proposal to be sure!  We were soon to learn that this was not to be about evaluation or scrutiny but about professional learning and growth at your own pace and for your own needs.  As Pamela Adams so eloquently put it: a balance between pressure and support.

Our journey began at our administrators’ retreat in the beautiful mountain town of Canmore where the foundation for the project was laid out for us and we were given time to reflect on our own leadership practices and work on pinpointing a goal or two to work on guided by the Principal Quality Practice Guideline from Alberta Education.  There was rich discussion along with exercises designed to get us thinking and moving forward toward our individual and in some cases, also admin team goals.  What really clinched the deal for most of us was seeing our Superintendent, Piet Langstraat model the process in front of us with David Townsend.  It was powerful to see our leader put himself in a vulnerable place and share the beginning of his own growth journey with us.  All in all, I found the process to be very positive and energizing!  When the retreat wrapped up and we returned to the prairies (boy, the Rocky Mountains are breathtaking!) we were also ready to start down the road to administrator growth and ultimately school improvement.

As a fairly new administrator, in my third year as a vice-principal, I found several areas from the PQP that I need to work on.  In particular, I was drawn to the following descriptors under Fostering Effective Relationships:

d) demonstrates responsibility for all students and acts in their best interests

e) models and promotes open, inclusive dialogue

f) uses effective communication, facilitation, and problem-solving skills

I managed to narrow down my goal to one word: communication.  Part of my job is vice-principal and the other part is Learning Assistance Teacher.  Instructional leadership plays a part of both of these roles and communication is at the heart of this.  As an administrator, I am an instructional leader through my professional conversations with teachers about teaching practice and through supervision and evaluation.  As a learning assistance teacher, I am an instructional leader in supporting inclusive learning environments for students by helping teachers with differentiating instruction, tiering activities and assisting individual students with learning challenges.

How I communicate with teachers in these roles is something I want to become better at. I am certainly no expert as an administrator and though I have many years of teaching under my belt, I do not proclaim to be an expert in all things teachers do with students.  The ways that I approach teachers in these conversations must include thoughtfulness, empathy and openness.  I also need to be mindful of how I listen to teachers and not jump to the problem-solving mode that administrators so often jump to when giving feedback on teaching practice.  I need to keep inquiry at the forefront and support teachers in finding their own answers to their questions.

I am looking forward to moving forward with my goal, learning more, practicing more and improving more.  The fact that I have a team of people coming to visit me each month to talk about my goal is exciting and will keep the accountability factor up.  I feel really supported in my admin growth and as daunting as these school-based visits with Sr. Admin and critical friends seemed at first, I now look forward to the day next month when they will return and we can continue the conversations around my goal which will push me forward in my learning.

Dispelling 3 Myths About French Immersion

   

I have spent most of my teaching career in French Immersion, first as a classroom teacher in middle school and now as an administrator.  Over the years I have heard and in some cases have even taken part in perpetuating some of the following myths about the French Immersion program.  In this blog post I hope to dispel some of the these myths based on my own experience and offer a few suggestions to ensure success for all students in French immersion.

Myth 1

French immersion is a program for elite students who are academically gifted, possessing a solid work ethic, and a love of learning.

Reality – We do have academically gifted students in FI who do very well in school but we also have students with learning disabilities, medical diagnoses such as ADHD and autism and students who are “average”.  We have students who love school and students who are not so inclined.  We have students with varying work ethics. In short, we have a diverse clientele, all of whom deserve the right to learn a second language and become bilingual.

Myth 2 – French Immersion students generally come from higher socioeconomic (SES) backgrounds  because students from lower SES backgrounds cannot be successful in French immersion.

Reality – The SES profile of a french immersion classroom is no different than an english program classroom in a similar neighborhood.  Though generally, students from lower SES backgrounds tend to struggle more than those from higher SES backgrounds, the research says that “students from low SES backgrounds in immersion perform just as well in English-language development and academic achievement as do students from the same SES backgrounds in English-language programs” (Genesee, 2012, p.5).

Myth 3 – Students with academic challenges or disabilities should not be French Immersion students because it is hard enough learning one’s first language, never mind adding the stress of learning a second.

Reality – “Below-average students in immersion perform at the same level as do below-average students in English-language programs” (Genesee, 2012, p.5).  Research does not suggest that students who struggle academically will have greater struggles in immersion than in English programs.  As a French immersion administrator, I have seen this time and again when students who are struggling in immersion leave the program and enroll in an English program only to find that they are experiencing the same academic difficulties they encountered in immersion.  Learning is learning and students who struggle with for example, reading comprehension, are not going to magically “get” reading comprehension because what they are reading is in English.

Next steps

Dispelling the myths around french immersion will take time.  These myths are fairly deeply engrained within the culture of french immersion schools including the attitudes of teachers, administrators, and parents.  In the past, students who have been identified as struggling in French immersion were allowed the possibility and even encouraged to leave the program and “switch” to English.  My question for those who want to switch out and to teachers, parents, and administrators who encourage this practice is: when the student continues to struggle in the English program (as they inevitably will) where will they go?  One cannot “quit” the English program as one can “quit” French immersion.

When a student is contemplating leaving French immersion, it is essential to call a team meeting which includes the student, parents, teachers, administrator and sometimes the school counselor .  There are always deeper issues than the student not liking French or the student struggling because of “the French”.  It is our job as educators and administrators to provide learning services to support all students whether they are in English or French immersion.

After the team meeting, it is important to create a program of support for the student.  My other hat in my job is learning assistance teacher for French immersion students so it is my job to help students pinpoint their needs and then help them with those needs.  My only frustration right now is that I do not have more help.  It is very difficult in the city where I live to find French immersion educational assistants and I would sure love to have one!

In addition to individual help, teachers of French immersion need to become skilled at differentiating instruction and learning activities.  One of the great strengths of the French immersion program is the focus on vocabulary acquisition, repetition and oral development.  These are areas where teachers can begin to differentiate to suit individual student needs.  We must begin to make decisions about teaching and learning in French immersion based on what the research says about language acquisition as well as striving for inclusive French immersion programs which meet individual learning needs.

Above all, it is important to change our attitudes around what it means to experience success in French immersion.  We need to ask what it means to be bilingual?  For some students this is full functional bilingualism with the ability to read and write comparably in French and English.  For others, this may mean being able to carry on a conversation in French or use their oral language skills for travel and work.  Success in French immersion might look different for each student.

French immersion is no longer a program of the elite whether academically or socio-economically nor should it continue to be.

Genesee, F. (2012). The Suitability of Immersion for All Learners: What Does the Research Say? The State of French Second Language Education in Canada [Executive Summary]. Canadian Parents For French. Retrieved from http://cpf.ca/en/research-advocacy/research/the-state-of-fsl-education-in-canada/

Blogging…just do it!

Hello! Bonjour!

Here I am, writing my first blog post for my first ever blog.  I have been mulling the possibility of starting a blog for a while and looking for the courage to just do it!  I had been reading the great and wonderful blogs of people in my Personal Learning Network (PLN) and wondering if I really had something to say that people would want to read.  So I put a few feelers out there on Twitter, letting people know my trepidation and was greatly encouraged by the wise words of @PrincipalDunlop who told me to “do it for yourself, not others” and @gunnellAP who encouraged me to  “write about things that are professionally important to you. Things about teaching and learning that can improve your school.”  What great advice! Thank you!

I am still struggling with the voice aspect of blogging.  I have read some really great academic blogs, some really touching blogs and blogs that are downright hilarious.  What will my voice be?  A colleague in my PLN, who works in my school district said, “just start at the beginning and speak from the heart… no wrong way to do it.”  Thanks, @graingered.  I think that is what I will do.  If I’m serious or touching or hilarious, I think that will shine through.

My goal this week was to just get started.  I didn’t actually set this goal until Wednesday’s #educoach Twitter chat where the topic of blogging came up and I met two other people who, like me, have been tossing around the idea of starting blogs.  There, we publicly stated that we were going to get on the blogging bus within the next week.  That’s the thing about goal setting and making it public.  You have to follow through.  This is exactly what I needed to get started so here I am, @smilelyndsi and @philgriffins!  I am looking forward to reading your blogs too!

Another reason that I now have for getting this blog going is that my 9-year old son wants to create his own blog.  He saw what I was working on and thinks it’s pretty cool.  He has his blog all planned out on paper including a bio, weather updates and Lego news!  He inspires me!

I know this first blog is more of an introduction, but I do want to say that I am excited by the growth that I hope to experience through blogging and about the contributions I will hopefully make to my PLN.  It is time to stop lurking and start participating!  The amazing community of learners on Twitter is so positive and I want to support and encourage others but that rings false if I am not willing to jump in and share my thoughts and learning with you too.

I will sign off with a word of encouragement to other aspiring and reluctant bloggers from @shiraleibowitz, “We’re with you when you are ready!”

**My header photo is a photo I took in the Butterfly Conservatory at the Calgary Zoo