“Ouch!” said my ego


This is a lesson in mindset. YET is the key word to remember. So I tell my wounded ego, as I leave the tennis lesson and drive back home.

I set out to be proactive and focus on my health more closely so I decided to take some tennis lessons, have some fun, and get myself moving more. I played tennis as a hobby with my kids, but never had lessons in the game since my 6 week high school tennis class (30+ years ago). When I signed up for the class, I called to get some information about which class I should join and I thought I would be fine in the Introductory Tennis 456 :”An introductory program for those who have played tennis but haven’t picked up a racquet in years or have advanced beyond Tennis 123.” Tonight was the first of 12 lessons and I was super excited to get back out on the court and feel as though I was doing something good for my body!

Apparently I overestimated my ability level. As I walked out onto the court and found the group that was starting to warm up, I asked a woman hitting balls if I was in the right place. She asked my name, introduced me to the others and invited me to start warming up in her spot. She was the teacher tonight and she watched me start to hit the ball back and forth. Now I know I wasn’t hitting all the balls back over the net but it was just 5 minutes into the warm-up when she came over and asked to see my racket.

Embarrassment #1: She held up my racket to hers and mine was about 2″ shorter. She said this racket is a Jr size, you really need to longer racket. She handed me hers and then started to ask me questions; have you played tennis before? How long has it been since you played? I answered honestly and just told her I signed up to get back into the game.

Embarrassment #2: Very gently she started to say that she didn’t believe this was the right ability class for me. That she thought I would be better suited for the 123 class and that I’d enjoy it more.

So I’m going back now to Tennis 123 at 8:30-9:30. Hope I get to stay this time 🙂

Habits That LEAD to Change


“Words cannot express how grateful I am to be at a school filled with educators who believe in the power of their work and its ability to help reach the potential of each and every student.”

~ Excerpt email from a Kipling Elementary School parent

A Message of Gratitude to our Teachers

The sincere words of gratitude of a parent validate the passion and commitment educators at Kipling Elementary School bring to work every day. The email excerpt is evidence that our teachers change students’ lives by inspiring, empowering and engaging them in the classroom, on the playground, and beyond. Teacher leaders, administrators — educators everywhere — save and re-read precious letters like these as a reminder of why our work is important, and the impact we have on families and children every day.

Kipling Elementary School, in Deerfield Public Schools District 109, is honored to have won the IL ASCD Whole Child Award this year in the category of student engagement. In an effort to pay that honor forward, I am sharing the habits we live by in hopes that it might inspire you to continue to be change agents for your students and families. This article also is a tribute to the amazing teachers and staff at Kipling.

Habits that Lead to Change

Kipling Elementary School is a Leader in Me school; in our transformation, we have thoroughly adopted and built into our culture “The Seven Habits.” We are proud of the environment we have created and the impact and change we are leading in educating and engaging our students.

Our teachers are proactive and take initiative with the way they positively communicate with students, parents, and colleagues.

Our teachers begin with the end in mind and lead with inquiry and seek out to understand their students learning styles and social emotional readiness and availability in order to personalize learning.

Our teachers put first things first and establish caring relationships with their students and families and how they convey empathy and understanding.

Our teachers think win-win by embracing change and respond flexibly with confidence to new ideas that bring our students stimulating learning experiences and environments.

Our teachers seek first to understand and then to be understood when engaged in their own professional learning with coaches, colleagues and administrators. Their ability and willingness to listen and consider others viewpoints gives them the courage to challenge the status quo and change teaching and learning.

Our teachers synergize and interact with the whole school community. They value and seek out input from all adults that interact with students during the school day. They embody the mindset that diverse perspectives lead to richer stronger solutions.

Our teachers sharpen the saw outside of school that makes them stronger and more prepared to face each school day and each student with a bright smile and contagious energy.

At Kipling, those seven habits are the pieces that, every day, in every classroom, combine to build the whole child in every child.

Like it or Not…


Wax-leaf begonias are often used in borders or planters to add a colorful accent to yards, berms, or parks and are very hardy in sun or shade and can even tolerate cold to hot temperatures. So why don’t I like them?

One morning on my drive into work, from a distance, my eyes caught this beautiful display of red, pink, and white flowers bordering the entrance to a golf course. It was a resplendent show of colors and greenery! I was looking for flowers to plant in my mostly shady yard and these would be perfect. As I came closer and past the colorful arrangement, I was able to see that they were wax-leafed begonias. Really? “But I don’t like those flowers!”, I recall saying in my head, full of disbelief and disappointment. Why didn’t I like them when they were exactly what would make my yard look amazing?

I started to reflect on how we all have things we like/dislike and have no real reason for it other than we just do. And that’s ok (to a point). But what happens when we dislike something that might actually be good, NOT for us, but for the good of the whole. Those flowers, whether I liked them or not, would really give my yard that pop of color and beauty I would enjoy. So why wouldn’t I just plant them and get over my dislike for them. Next summer, I will, and it might feel weird for me at first to have them in my yard but I’m sure I will revel in the beauty they’ll bring to my shady yard.

I started to think about our work in education and looked for examples of this dissonance in our everyday work or interactions. Does it matter whether we like the curriculum that was purchased, the technology apps students use, the life science unit, flexible seating purchased for classrooms, STEM labs in our library space, the disheveled teacher whose student growth is through the roof, the new teacher who chose to not have a desk in her room, the colleague that’s engaging students differently in learning? In all of these examples, the focus shouldn’t be on our likes/dislikes but on the outcomes! Do our students benefit/grow/achieve in their learning because of these things? Can we learn something from it? Then get over it! It’s not a matter of liking, it’s a matter of putting kids learning first, participating in the outcome, serving others above ourselves, being open minded. Covey would say this is thinking Win-Win. What would happen if we moved past approval or disapproval TO acceptance, curiosity, and trying? We all would benefit and grow. Isn’t that the outcome we all want in the end?

I caught myself thinking in this way and I’m raising this to your attention. Stop. Think Win-Win. Try it! No one needs to know you like it or not, they just need to know you are behind them, supporting them. That’s what matters.

Hello wax-leaf begonias!

It’s what you focus on that matters: Make it the right thing!


IMG_4982“Always remember, your focus determines your reality.” George Lucas


Harvard’s Graduate School of Education offers professional education programing opportunities throughout the year. I was fortunate to participate in Improving Schools: The Art of Leadership through The Principals’ Center last Summer and I often reflect on that experience and the learning I gained. The experience was so multifaceted, dense with information, and profound that it has taken some time to internalize, express, and put into action. Learning at that level was engaging, inspiring, and forced me to look at education and leadership through many lenses. The stories that educators and experts from across the country shared in discussions were an essential component and contributed greatly to shifting my paradigms.


One particular event that was planned, as part of the learning, was a high ropes course. The placement of this learning was purposeful in that it took place on the second day of the program. As a group, we had only one day to meet and greet, listen to an overview of the program for the week and get a general frame and focus for the learning ahead. The next day we were divided into smaller learning teams and off we went to meet our high ropes course facilitator (leader). Some of us, including myself, embarked upon this day with some trepidation and questioned if we would be able to fully participate in all the obstacle course tasks, particularly the high ropes traverse, 40 feet in the air. I personally wondered how this activity applied to our purpose ‘Improving Schools and Leadership’?  That purpose was very quickly revealed to me: what we as leaders focus on matters in the outcomes we seek to achieve!  

Leadership doesn’t manage the whole process, it focuses on the most critical step.

When our facilitator was teaching us the process and various roles for climbing and traversing the high ropes, we all played a critical part.  We created a safe environment, encouraged the hearts of those who questioned their ability (ME!). This activity purposefully put us in a position of challenge, rigor, and dissonance (elements of learning) that absolutely propelled us forward. The facilitator simply explained the process and different roles and then during each person’s accent, focused on the most critical step, which was the person holding the belay and locking system carabiners. She steadfastly stood in front of this person and never took her eyes off the handling of the belay and tension in the line as the person ascended the tree and crossed the wire. If the belayer was not ready to lock the line or if there was too much slack, the climber would fall.  She verbally guided, reminded, questioned and positively encouraged us in our role. All the other roles people played, holding the rope, making sure it wasn’t tangled and serving as backup, managed themselves supported by the leaders trust. What critical step are you focused on as a leader?

Leadership focuses on perceived limits, it sets a safe environment to overcome & grow.

As I reflect on the terrifying experience I had climbing and crossing the ropes (my heart was racing, my mouth was dry, my head was pounding in my ears), I was literally soaring beyond my own perceived limits. I was brought to that moment through careful scaffolding, teaching, and team building artfully executed by our facilitator. How we create these opportunities for people to face their own limits and learn through them is critical to the change process because it affect behaviors not just thoughts. Are you aware of your organization’s perceived limits?

Learning is enhanced when we focus on the team’s experiences and authentic application.

Experiencing the climb up the tree and being able to traverse the ropes to the other side was only made possible for me because of the group encouragement and informed feedback they were freely providing me from the ground. My thinking was literally frozen by fear and I couldn’t even remember to put one foot in front of the other! My team was centrally focused on my success and could only offer their words of encouragement and direction. The rest was up to me as an individual to accept, trust, internalize and act upon their words if I so chose. Learning communities have a soul purpose and that is to inform in order to change. The team as well as each individual acts in unison around a shared goal. I may have been the one on the rope putting in the effort to cross but everyone on the ground also felt a sense of urgency and accomplishment when we collectively achieved our common goal; to get each member across successfully.  It was my personal achievement as well as our team success! Deep learning, the kind that last you a lifetime, that is an enduring skill does not happen in isolation.

I am proud to say that many of us are still in touch and continue to challenge, share, learn and push our professional growth through blogs, twitter chats and voxer. I am grateful to my professional learning network and friends!

‘AUTHENTIC Learning’ Mindset




A week vacation skiing in Whistler with the family, suitcases full of clothes for 5, including bulky ski gear and a return home only to find that when I went downstairs to put the first load into the dryer…it breaks! F01 error code I learned, means panel control malfunction. So needless to say, I marched upstairs to my computer and what did I do? Yup, I Googled it!! I found a YouTube video of a 20 minute repair with a link to AppliancePartsPros.com and ordered the part. Two hundred and seventy dollars later, I  waited a week for the part to come in and then took my tools and went to work. I didn’t lose any parts or screws and the best part was when I plugged it back in and pressed that sweet button, sending the dryer drum rolling again! SUCCESS is a sweet reward!

This exact situation demonstrates all the components necessary in what is called authentic learning. “Authentic learning is a relatively new term that describes learning through applying knowledge in real-life contexts and situations.” as defined by Audrey Rule of the State University of New York (SUNY) at Oswego. There are four components to authentic learning and if we take a look at my experience we can identify each:

Real-world problemssmelly clothes, a family of 5 and no means to wash them. I was naturally incentivized to save some money by not paying for a plumber and do it myself. The satisfaction came when I accomplished what I intended and it worked. Even if it didn’t work, I would still have had the sense of satisfaction.  

Inquiry and thinking skills…Research! This was not my first home project so I had some background on where to start my research for an answer and how to go about solving my problem. I was also confident in my skills and abilities based on my previous successes. I have to say that it is getting easier and more convenient for do-it-yourself projects because of the internet and access to information both textual and visual. I had some initial trials and errors when trying to find the right ratchet wrench size I needed for the bolt screws, analyzing how best to pull the dryer away from the wall without detaching the exhaust vent hose (didn’t want to attach that again) or the gas line, not to mention once I removed the cover from the machine I needed to figure out how to unhook each wiring component and dismount the old control board.

Discourse in a community of learners…My earlier projects involved hanging out with my friends at Lowes or Home Depot asking for explanations of how-to-do this or that and then I’d go home to read the directions that came with the kit or ‘fix’ it project. I would not have been able to successfully fix the dryer if I went into it with my own thinking. Why do we always put kids into learning situations with their limited life experience bank thinking they will be able to figure anything out on their own without access to information, conversations and a community of other learners. That’s not the real world. We have to remember the needs of a learner in the moment of their learning…provide the opportunity for them to communicate, collaborate, question, grapple with their problem.

Student-directed learning…Open-ended and choice driven are the key to student learning. I may not have had the choice of my dryer breaking but I did have a choice in how I would solve my problem. The situation was open-ended in that it provided opportunities for… “divergent thinking, heuristics-based learning, and exploring fuzzy, ill-defined, and ill-structured problems”. I said earlier that I didn’t lose any screws…well I didn’t lose any but I did have an extra one left over. I had to think on my feet and make a judgment call when one of the screws needed for securing the control panel to the metal interior plate didn’t want to go back in its place. I determined that it was secure enough without it and didn’t want to risk forcing it in or having it fall down the side of the dryer as I struggled to ‘make’ it fit.

We must start providing students with opportunities to experience learning in this way. We must start to build their confidence, background and repertoire of learning.

We must start thinking of students as drivers of their learning. Learning is finding the best ways to access and internalize information in order to create/apply it to something new.

Let them do it! Get out of their way!

Because they CAN!

Please read this article for more information on authentic learning.


Testing Time vs LEARNING Time


As if the frenzy of the beginning of the year isn’t enough, we add in student assessments for the fall to get benchmarks of where our students are and how much learning was lost over the summer. I’m in full support of testing and benchmarking! It is a very integral part of teaching and learning. What I am in more support of is every day learning between testing.  

Here are a few things we are busy doing and focus on prior to and during testing:

  • refresh/reboot student devices and test for tech capacity,
  • open optimal assessment windows,
  • communicate to parents that testing is coming up and kids need good night sleep and breakfast, and perfect attendance is encouraged
  • set testing schedule for classes,
  • identify alternate locations in the school to best assess certain groups,
  • pull all available hands on deck to support students with accommodations and modifications,
  • rework precious learning time around testing block,
  • remind/review with teachers how best to use the data we will receive,
  • deal with technical hiccups that disturb the testing process,
  • practice the use of mice and drag & drop strategies with our youngest learners,
  • field phone calls from parents eager to find out scores and enter their students into any gifted opportunities
  • communicate with parents again and remind/review how to interpret data and that this is only a small snapshot of their child’s ability used to gather benchmarks and set growth objectives
  • complete testing, reward students with recess, sigh of relief, and return to teaching as usual

Immediately after students take the test we rush to see how they did in this one moment in time.

This rush of urgency, pressure to perform, extreme collaboration with colleagues to help and cover each other and students, urgency to motivate and pump kids assurance that they will do and can do a great job, constant maintenance of technology to perform, transparent communication with parents about expectations, should be the norm every day IN-BETWEEN testing days. I contend that if we approached everyday LEARNING with this same intensity and send the same message of its importance; the day of testing would look and feel very different for our students.

Can we imagine, that one day students would walk into their classroom, look at the day’s schedule, see the words “Formative Assessment’ (nationally normed or good old fashion check for understanding), grab their device, sit down anywhere of comfort in the room, put their headphones on whether to listen to music or just create more quiet, and start the test. No fuss, no stress, fully confident, and excited for the challenge to beat their previous score knowing that they are active engaged learners everyday! What if we could get kids to approach a test like they approach playing video games against each other and encourage each other?

It’s time to shift the focus. Off of testing day, to ALL the other days of learning. What needs to change in our teaching, classroom culture, evaluations to make this happen for our kids so we can finally get the REAL information we need to change instruction? I’d love to hear your ideas! I have a few of my own.

The average # of school days in Illinois is 176 X 5 hrs a day = 880 hours of learning.

Let’s just say (I’m inflating) that PARCC (ELA & Math) will take the average student 12 hours and NWEA (ELA & Math)  3 X a year will take another 18hrs total = 850 precious engaging LEARNING hours in a school year are left to US! How will we use them?

(Even if my math is totally off, I hope you get my point)

This is what we should be focusing on and having an urgency to utilize to the best of our ability to ensure our students DO learn and grow.

Advocacy: Is it a choice?


“Never be afraid to raise your voice for honesty and truth and compassion against injustice and lying and greed. If people all over the world…would do this, it would change the earth.”

William Faulkner

As a parent and an educator, I have always considered my primary role to be an advocate for children, mine and others… ALL!. Recently, I had an experience that caused me to pause and reflect on what advocacy for children really means. Take a moment to think about the last time you advocated for your own child or someone else’s. It was likely at a time when the child either did something wrong or something wrong was happening to the child. Whatever the situation, it is always at a crossroad of decision making. We, as advocates, have a choice to make. Do we step up and have a hard conversation or do we walk away assuming others will take care of it? What advocacy really is, is a choice and willingness to have a hard conversation on behalf of a child or adult in an unjust or learning moment.

There are many real situations where walking away is the right thing to do, and many times in which walking away is a critical teaching moment missed. “John” Quiñones is an ABC News correspondent, and currently the host of Primetime: What Would You Do?,  who’s show highlights situations where people are faced with a choice to advocate when they witness something unfair or unjust happening. Many times they use situations where a child is involved. We need to ask ourselves one critical question before making the choice to walk away…”Am I certain that someone else other than myself will do what this child needs them to do?”  I’m not so sure many people are comfortable or feel it’s their business to step in and be a voice for a child and turn that situation into a teaching moment.

Let me add some context. Who will have the conversation with/or on behalf of a child or your child: when they are caught in a fight on the playground, bullying another child, ‘accidentally’ stealing a pack of gum from the grocery line, when a parent insists their child has a disability and having difficulty embracing their child as they are, finding out your child is sexually active or using drugs. OUR children are learning beings who don’t YET know right from wrong. They are SUPPOSED to make mistakes and fail. It’s a necessary step in learning. BUT they can’t do this alone. They need advocates who are willing to make the choice to have a difficult, and likely, awkward conversation with the child or their parent or a complete stranger. An advocate faces the situation no matter the person because a child NEEDS us to. If we don’t, then how certain are we that someone else will.

As parents, we often play the game of “Just wait until your father/mother finds out!” As an educator we fall back on, “It’s the parents problem not mine.” As a bystander we often just don’t want to get involved. What I’m suggesting is that children don’t care WHO will be their advocate…they just need someone, anyone to help them have a voice and learn how to be their own advocate one day. Advocacy is a short lived moment that just serves the purpose of voicing another side to the situation, a learning moment, an explicit teaching of what just happened so a child can understand the importance and learn that others care, they matter, and that they too can have a voice and can be empowered.

I am not suggesting that it’s appropriate to stick our nose in matters that truly don’t concern us but I am suggesting that our children need us more than we are sometimes are willing to acknowledge. I’m asking all of us, when faced with a situation of advocacy, to make the choice to have the hard, awkward conversation and teach.



“We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.”

Abraham Lincoln

After sitting in a meeting recently, I came away with one word. PERSPECTIVE. It’s amazing what you see and hear when you actively watch, listen, and collect information. It’s beautiful! Let me start with some reasons for ‘why’ we have meetings. The simple answer is that they serve as a forum to bring diverse groups together to share knowledge, problem solve, make decisions, foster relationships, and build a culture of learning in order to move systems forward. PERSPECTIVE is the ‘what’ we get that makes meetings valuable and productive. When we set our norms for ‘how’ we will meet, what we are doing is ensuring that we create a safe environment where we can all come to the table ready to share our PERSPECTIVES and learn. It struck me today that ‘perspective’ is the step necessary before ‘vision’. There is also a difference between having a perspective and having an opinion. In my mind, perspective informs an opinion. LEADERS at all levels are charged with inspiring a shared vision and in order to do this we need to understand what informs our perspective and others.

PERSPECTIVE – “the state of one’s ideas, the facts known to one, etc., in having a meaningful interrelationship” dictionary.com 

If one component of leadership is inspiring a shared vision then another is the ability to infuse PERSPECTIVE into every situation. Here are a few reasons I can think of why perspective leads to a shared vision…

PERSPECTIVE causes others to look at a situation through another lens previously not considered and critique or judge its validity. According to Bloom’s taxonomy, this level of cognitive thinking would fall under ‘evaluating’ and leads to ‘creating’ which is when our meetings become productive. LEADERS intentionally design situations where different perspectives can be heard. Twitter, EdCamps, gallery walks, learning rounds, mini conferences, PLCs…the list goes on. Opening the windows to let some fresh air in.

PERSPECTIVE is the value we all carry within us. We need to remember that we are all shaped by our experiences, knowledge, and culture. We need to honor that when a person speaks we listen past their opinion and understand the perspective that informs it.  LEADERS that place value on others perspectives start to tap into a deep collective resource that is needed to formulate a shared vision. We start to identify our collective moral purpose.

PERSPECTIVE informs change. Change can not occur in isolation or be informed by one perspective. We know this type of change is not systemic or systematic. If we change perspectives, we can change opinions.  LEADERS that are change agents understand how peoples perspectives inform the process of change and how to leverage those perspectives to activate change.

Because we all have a PERSPECTIVE, we all have an obligation to share it, to inform, to teach, to show evidence of  it to others. LEADERS are privileged with a unique perspective because they observe the whole system.  A leader’s perspective needs to be shared and communicated so all are empowered by their perspective. I liken it to the critical communication between a seeing eye dog and their blind master. “I entrust my life to my seeing eye dog. He has never failed me. Neither has the seeing eye.” (seeingeye.org)

One final reflection…sharing your perspective is also an opportunity to celebrate, uplift, inject humor, lighten the spirit, build trust and relationships. Nothing is ever as dire as we perceive it to be…thanks to others experiences, knowledge, and culture.


“It may mean everything or it may mean nothing. You’ll never know until you decide to look at it from a different perspective.”

The Curveball Round

It’s such a thrill for me to present my sons first blog!! Children really do learn by example from the adults around them especially their parents. Mine have been watching me learn and grow as a parent and in my profession…they are a huge part of my accountability team. Counting my blessing as I reblog this great piece of writing from a man with great character.

Hitting From the Rough

There you are, standing on the elevated tee box of the par 4 11th with a wide open fairway in front of you just waiting for you to stripe one down the middle cut line. You get to the ball and put a great swing on it; the loud “ping” of your driver erupts as you follow through and watch your little white speck of urethane cruise up and out towards the fairway. The feeling of confidence fills your head and chest and you start strolling to your ball thinking, “Well now this just got a whole lot easier”. You finally get up to the estimated resting point of the ball and its not in the short stuff, you stand slouched over and confused, then your buddy (who is three holes up and is soon to be fifty bucks richer) says from the rough with a smirk, “Hey! You’re playing…

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Are we there yet?


When the kids were little, we use to drive the 21 hours from Chicago to Florida for our family vacation. Not an hour into the drive would one of the kids start with the oh-so-familiar phrase, “Are we there yet?” that would then be repeated for the remainder of the trip. My responses would begin with something mild and motherly like, “no honey, not yet, it’s going to take a long time” to a more impatient, “no, please stop asking, you’ll know when you see the beach”. Now the kids are grown and in our recent trip to visit my husband in Abu Dhabi, it struck me that not one of them ever asked the question! Not that I missed it, but it made me stop and reflect on why that might be and I made a connection to how people view a journey.

Personally, I feel there is great value in the process of a journey rather then the actual destination. When the kids were small and had little understanding of the process of taking a trip, they were not interested in how we get there but just that we get there. The importance was in the end product; beach, pool, and playing in the sand. I would have to say that working in education, many educators hold this same focus on the end result, rather then the journey we take together. The journey process holds the greatest capacity for learning; take for example a family vacation with little kids. Remember all that you learned about packing, mapping out the best route, the ideal time of day to leave so the kids would sleep most of the way, places to stop along the way to break up the trip, states to watch your speed (NEVER speed through Georgia!), car games to teach and play with the kids! Countless opportunities to learn, understand, and appreciate the journey.

If I viewed the adoption of the Common Core with the same regard, I could say as well that the journey to adopt and implement is full of learning! Teachers involved in every step of the process of unpacking and understanding a standards-based education, powering the standards with colleagues, rich conversations to prioritize the learning outcomes, articulating standards between grades to ensure fluid learning for students, mapping the power standards into quarters, using standards to design pre and post assessments to measure student learning, and reporting out to parents using a standards based report card. How rich are all of these opportunities for a system of educators to experience together. How often do we still hear the cry, “Are we there yet?” I’d like to presuppose why this phrase is used; the learning journey is hard! From sitting in a car as a child, for 21 hours not really knowing where it is you are going; to educators spending a substantial amount of time changing their mindset and practice to meet the new standards. It’s not easy…it’s hard…and worth it!

Why have my grown children now stopped asking the question? I would say it is because of all they learned about the process of a journey. They have an appreciation for and trust in the process enough to know that there is great value in how you get there, as in arriving! Just in this one trip alone we have met dynamic people from all walks of life that we will remember forever, who have confirmed in all of us how truly amazing peoples stories can be and how rich a journey is when we take time to notice and learn. Some examples; a 27 year old man who sat next to my son who was flying for the first time in a plane back home to New York for Christmas; the cab driver, Faisal, drove us from LaGuardia to JFK, one of 22 brothers and sisters native to North Sudan, who entertained my simple Arabic phrases and shared his view of the dyer situation currently gripping his nation (I could write a whole blog just on our conversation alone); the three Serbian (my national background) flight attendants on Emirates and the young man Amir, also Croatian, who all made the 12 hour flight more bearable by sharing in speaking (and me practicing) Serbian. Was the trip hard….YES…exhausting, frustrating, uncomfortable… but we are profoundly changed because of it!

I would encourage my colleagues to not be so concerned and quick to come to the end of their journey of just saying they have adopted the Common Core but rather to allow the uncomfortable, exhausting, and sometimes frustrating work to profoundly change how we teach! My hope for all of us would be to grow up, like my children, having an appreciation for and trust in the process of the journey…the reality is, if you’re too focused on just getting there, you miss many opportunities to venture off the path and deepen your learning as you go.

Bon Voyage!