5 Things Making Me HAPPY in Education!



Today I’m excited about so many great things I see and hear happening in schools. Here’s five things that are really making me HAPPY in Education:

1)   Celebrations of Innovation

It’s so exciting to see innovation not only being encouraged, but being celebrated in education.  Groups across the nation are offering “Innovation” grants to teachers for projects within their classrooms, simply to promote innovative practices to improve the education/engagement/learning outcomes for our students. Students are being awarded scholarships to go to “Coding & STEM Education Camps;” it wasn’t long ago these weren’t even available to our students, much less available with cost-assistance. There are even AWARDS for innovation in education: ie., Reimagine Education Awards, ISTE Honors, & many more.  Y’all…this didn’t happen before! You can look back 3-5 years ago and innovations we are seeing as “mainstream” were “cutting edge” and not accepted in most schools. Seeing not only acceptance of innovation and new thinking by educators and students, but Celebration of it brings a HUGE Smile to my face!

2)   Student Voice is LOUD & PROUD

“Back in my day…kids sat in rows and stayed quiet when they were in school!” –said every Generation X person I know! If anyone asked me what “student voice” was when I was in school I probably would have answered, “choir” (& I graduated with High Honors).

Today I see students doing GREAT THINGS! Personally, I’ve had students provide some of the most valuable professional development my staff received; yes…students.  Some of the biggest trailblazers of the student voice movement are the students of East Leyden High School in Chicago, IL.  Encouraged by their Principal, my awesome friend & fellow NASSP Digital Principal, Jason Markey (@JasonMMarkey) these students, along with the staff, faculty, and community of East Leyden drive the Hash Tag  #leydenpride . Through this they tell the story of their school. Check out this hash tag and you will see what is going on at East Leyden…24×7. Many other schools have replicated this amazing creation; I hope every school tells their story as eloquently as East Leyden does. Seeing students with their own spots on committees, their own voices in meetings, and the ability to have their own agenda when it comes to their education is a source of HUGE Smiles for me!

3)   Social/Emotional Learning Matters

When I send my 6 year-old to school he’s not going into a learning factory…it’s not “drill & kill” like some articles/news might have parents fear. He plays more than I thought he would (3 recesses- of course he counts the time before school as one of those & he always wants to be early so he gets this time), he loves his teacher (“she’s nicer than you mom”), and he’s learning…reading great, loves math, and makes change like nobody’s business.  Students are taught about socialization and their emotions from a very young age; teachers use activities like the “morning meeting,” “Freshman orientation,” and High School “Advisory” programs to address varying developmental issues. Treating others appropriately and understanding social norms is not something students arrive at our campuses with.  They often arrive having been taught the opposite of what is correct by someone’s behavior around/towards them. Bullying is something that is unacceptable to do or to watch, it won’t be tolerated in today’s schoolhouse. It makes my heart smile that our education system that is so taxed with standards, testing, and measurable data FINDS TIME to educate the WHOLE CHILD! Huge Smile!

4)   Educators Share

When I started my teaching career I was teaching 2 classes out of my content area. There was no formal mentoring program through my state for novice teachers at the time, however, my school assigned me a mentor teacher (who taught a different subject), her advice was, “Just use the teacher’s edition, you’ll be fine.” Those poor students! I’m not sure what it was about educators, but for some reason everyone was playing “I’ve got a secret.”  I always wanted to know what the “Best” teachers did; What did learning look like in their rooms? It wasn’t that they wouldn’t tell me…it was more like I didn’t know how to ask? I can only imagine how much better my first few years of teaching would have been had I seen a Master Teacher using sound pedagogy with students. #gamechanger Today, technology & culture allow educators to share freely with each other. It might be through Twitter #Edchats & reading Blogs, watching videos posted online or buying teaching materials from each other on TES or TPT, or maybe even using GHO to share with each other face to face. Educators have a mentality unlike that of other professionals; we see our practices as working for the good of the WHOLE (all students), thus we are willing to share them with the world. Another huge SMILE just crossed my face!

5)   There are GREAT Voices for Education in Washington

I am sure there have always been strong advocates for education in Washington, DC…but I didn’t know them…and I didn’t know they were actual EDUCATORS. Now I know we have real Educators who want what’s best for our students, not political careers or fame & fortune…who are in Washington working for kids…just like mine; and I know some of them. (@thomascmurray @smarterschls @andycinek @KatrinaStevens1) THAT MAKES ME SMILE!


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