Thursday, May 2, 2019

Stand Tall and Be Present!

To be truly PRESENT, we must be able to access our most authentic best selves....
to access our most authentic best selves....?

What does this really look like or feel like?  
And does someone truly master "Presence" overnight?
Image result for amy cuddy presence
I started reading, "Presence" by Amy Cuddy after learning about her research through another favorite author of mine, Brene Brown.  It always seems ironic how books come into your life at just the right times.  Amy Cuddy helps us understand that there is nothing more important in life than being yourself.  When we achieve greater mindfulness, treat challenges as moments and own our story, we will bring our boldest self to our biggest challenges.  Because we are more influenced by our non-verbals than we often realize, we have to allow ourselves time for non-verbal interventions such as, deep breathing, smiling, sitting up straight in your chair, posture and power posing.  Ultimately, the more we are aware of our own anxieties, the more we communicate about them, and the smarter we are about how we operate, the easier it will be to shrug off the next time.   When we control our breathing, we control our anxieties.  As Maya Angelou says, "Stand up straight and realize who you are, that you tower over your circumstances."  

Amy goes on to talk about the Imposter Phenomenon (IP), a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts his or her accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a "fraud".  The IP steals our power and suffocates our presence.  It causes us to overthink and second guess our decisions and our successes.  Regardless of our level of work, there will always be people out there who do not approve of us, who talk over us, who question our decisions, and who undermine our processes.  We have to breathe, stand tall and protect ourselves from those negative voices.  Believe, trust and own your story!

Amy is right when she says, "The reality is that people just aren't thinking about you as much as you think they are - even when you actually are the center of attention.  And if they are, there is nothing you can do out it anyway.  All you can do is, hit the ball!"  Stop adapting your behavior to match the behavior of those around you.  Stop perceiving the expectations of those around you and be who you are and who you are meant to be. 
Believe and Trust Your Story!
Approach Each Day with Confidence and Excitement!
Decide to Stay on the Board!
Stand Tall and Hit the Ball!

"You never figure out how to write a novel;  You just learn how to write the novel you're on."
-Amy Cuddy

Thanks Amy!  I appreciate your research and storytelling.  You are making differences for others...keep fighting the good fight.

Monday, April 8, 2019

Chromebooks and Proctors and Translators, Oh My!

It's 7:00 a.m. and the Testing Office at 
Thomas Worthington High School is buzzing! 

Image result for buzzing
It's the first day of State Testing and because of the leadership of our District Testing Specialist, Patty Coen, our schools are ready to administer the State Tests! 

The Testing Office at TWHS is buzzing with last minute changes, Chromebook issues, questions, proctor and translators signing in and heightened student anxiety due to State Testing.   But, most importantly, every single staff member is working together to create the best possible testing environment for our students.  Emilie Greenwald and Kathy Montag are quite the team.  First and foremost, they are taking care of kids who are stressed out about this high stakes test.  Think about this:  You have been learning English for just a few months since moving to the USA, yet you have to take the English Language Arts Test just like a proficient, English-speaking student.  No matter how smart you are, imagine moving to China and taking a literature test in Chinese.  I can't imagine the frustration this might cause our students.  I certainly understand that we must work to prepare our students for their future beyond high school, but situations like this make little to no sense to me.

I am most thankful for Patty, Emilie, Kathy and their team as they have been working for months to prepare for this day, and it is evident that they have worked hard to organize an individualized, structured testing environment for every single student.

Keep in mind, they must organize and plan for optimal testing environments with accommodations that include;
  • double time
  • frequent breaks
  • time and a half
  • text to speech
  • extended time up to a full day
  • one to one with a reader
  • one to one with a familiar tester
  • small group
  • bilingual online test
  • full classroom testing with proctors
  • access to bilingual dictionaries in 40 plus languages 
  • scheduling translators for non-ELA tests in Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Arabic, French, Vietnamese, Croatian, Farsi, Amharic, Swahili, Urdu, Russian, Hindi, Thai, and Urdu 

It's now 8:30 a.m. and the testing office buzz is near silent.  Students are in their classrooms and showing what they know as they take their State Test.  Every once in awhile, a phone call or text comes to Kathy with questions or requests for help in the testing room.  Kathy is patient and works with each staff member with positive customer service and much patience.

Thanks to the entire staff at Thomas Worthington High School for all that you do for our students and our community.  Your willingness to go above and beyond for our students is most appreciated.

While the Testing Office was buzzing this morning, every student, teacher, proctor and translator was cared for with much respect and kindness.
Isn't that truly what matters the most?

Sunday, January 6, 2019

I will Be #BOLD/Never Regular...a commitment to myself!

The start of a new year calls for a new me.  Well, not really a new me but rather a reinvented me with a new level of energy.  A level of energy that allows me to find the courage to take BOLD action to improve my life and those around me.

Why play the game of "life" if you don't believe you can win, right?  

I will commit to life's mission by doing more that is unpredictable and showing the world (and myself) that I am on a mission.  A mission to work harder, be purposeful and conquer challenges.

This is who I am
This is what I believe
This is my way
This is what I accept of myself and others
This is my most authentic self
This is me

Let's start with a commitment to the work of @JonGordon11 - #OneWord2019

It takes courage and bold action to change one's life and I am up for the challenge.  

Let's do this,  A. Adrean!  

Monday, December 31, 2018

Sense of Belonging MATTERS!

What is race?
How does it affect different people every day?
In this video, Flocabulary asked four rappers from different backgrounds to share their perspectives on that construct of race.

Having a Sense of Belonging is a human need!  It provides all of us value in our relationships, in our community and in our overall life experiences.  As school leaders, we understand the value of creating a Sense of Belonging for all of our students, no matter their background or ethnicity.  Unfortunately, the news, television, the movies and other forms of social media all contain hidden messages for our students on how they should act and be treated based on their background or ethnicity.  This video is a great reminder that...
"We're ALL connected and that every life is beautiful!"

NOTE:  Thanks to Molly Walker, Hilliard City Schools, for sharing this video and partnership in our work as educators...
She makes a difference! 

Monday, April 2, 2018

Using Readers Theater and Puppet Plays in the Granby Gator Library

Introducing Guest Blogger, Mrs. Anastasia Mayberry...

Check out what is happening in the Granby Gator Elementary School Library!

Using Readers Theater and Puppet Plays in the Library
By Anastasia Mayberry
(Librarian, Granby Elementary School)

Growing up in Russia, I was exposed to theater and particularly puppet theater from my early childhood. I remember going to the Obraztsov Puppet Theatre in Moscow, Russia for the first time ( ) and being completely enchanted by the talking puppets, a play, and how real they seem to be.  The arts have this amazing capability to send young children into another world. All the arts, particularly theater, enhance the education of the whole child.  In addition, theater involves multi-sensory learning, making learning more meaningful and therefore more memorable for students.

When I became a school librarian, I dreamed of introducing theater into my lessons, but I was not sure about the logistics.  While taking professional development classes at the Ohio State University I learned about readers theater. Readers theater is a bit different from a full theater production, because the emphasis is placed on reading of the text with expression (not memorization), and because few props are needed. Therefore, when children are introduced to performing arts, their experience is stress-free and enjoyable. There is no pressure to perform in front of a large audience. So I decided to try it.  

I noticed right away how much children enjoy performing in front of their peers. Students work extra hard to read their lines with expression. They try to act out their parts and make the story come alive.  Granby’s 2nd graders perform mini-plays based on the life of president Abraham Lincoln when they are studying American presidents. 3rd graders usually perform readers’ theater based on famous folklore stories. 4th graders perform plays based on stories from the Revolutionary war. Finally, 5th graders perform plays based on Mayan and Aztec legends, and 6th graders based on Egyptian Mythology. By working with classroom teachers, I try to connect the library readers theater productions to the regular classroom curriculum, so students can be engaged in higher level thinking, such as creating and synthesizing knowledge.  This kind of thinking allows the brain to transfer knowledge into long-term memory.

Last school year, I started offering readers theater and puppet shows during library noon options. Our 1st graders produced puppet shows based on fairy tales, such as The Three Little Pigs, The Three Billy Goats Gruff and Goldilocks and the Three Bears.  2nd graders participated in the production of Halloween plays.  What made these productions memorable was that we did two performances for Kindergarteners and 1st graders as well as for students’ parents. Students were so excited to perform for their relatives that they spent extra time practicing at home, and many of them memorized their lines, even though this was not required. Watch an excerpt from The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything by Linda Williams (script by Beth Saxman) performance by 2nd graders right here:

During the 2017-2018 school year, Worthington schools started offering 6th grade extension classes, in which all related arts teachers designed their own courses based on student’ interests.  This gave me the opportunity to take puppet theater production to the next level. I wanted to inspire my 6th grade students not only to perform ready-made scripts, but also to challenge themselves by writing their own original puppet theater scripts.  I had a small group of about twelve students who went above and beyond to create their original stories, practice them and finally perform them in front of a very enthusiastic audience of 1st and 2nd graders. You can watch a little excerpt shared on Granby’s Twitter right here:

When I asked my students what they liked best about their experience performing in a play/puppet show, they said, “Now we are famous in the whole school! It is hard to be famous!” This is because the younger kids view them as role models and look up to them now. Another student came to the library after this year’s performance of The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen and said, “Mrs. Mayberry, where are your plays located in the library? I want to do another performance with my friends at home.”  Later she asked me to make her ten copies of the Snow White script.  It was well worth it!

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Digital Detox

I'd like to introduce you to Lori Poleway, Thomas Worthington Library Media Specialist. Lori and I have the opportunity to work together as educators in Worthington Schools and I am honored to publish her story, "Digital Detox" on my Dream Big blog.
Thanks to Lori for all that she does to help the students at TWHS learn and grow.

Digital Detox                                                                                
Lori Poleway                                                                                                                        
Thomas Worthington Library Media Specialist
A Google search for the phrase “tech addiction” produced 123,000,000 results in .53 seconds on February 26th 2018.   Parents, teachers, and even students will admit that their phones are harder and harder to live without and the controversy over use/abuse in the educational setting has increased in recent years as classroom teachers compete with the entertaining features of smartphones.  We also see the benefits that technology can provide and many of us admit that multitasking is the new normal.

At Thomas Worthington, administrator Greg Garris has had discussions with students about phone use during the school day. Many students report that their phones are deeply ingrained in all areas of their lives. They also admit, somewhat begrudgingly, that their phones can be a significant distraction. Homework, studying, and reading all take longer than they should because of the frequent interruptions coming from their phone. They are not ready to hand over their phones just yet, but agree that there are measures that could be put in place to limit the distractions.

During a recent OCC high school library media conference, one media specialist shared her “Tech Free Friday” program.  I was very excited about providing an opportunity for students to shut down the tech and interact with one another. A number of elementary and middle schools have implemented Maker Spaces to support creative collaboration, but that would be a little tricky in a high school setting where most students elect to come to the library to study.  In an effort to maintain the integrity of the library setting as a work/study space, I proposed my own version of tech free Friday to the department chairs and the administrators to get their reactions.  
For one Friday a month (Final Friday), students can elect to come from academic prep to play card or board games, work on puzzles, color, craft, build with legos, or read.  If a student needed to study quietly, use a chromebook, or their phone they would stay in their prep room for the period.  Seniors hoping to study would need to report to the CARDs Center.   The staff and administrators responded with an enthusiastic and unanimous, “Yes!”
However, “No!” was the initial response from students. The week of  Friday October 27th I posted signs, emailed, tweeted, and audibly announced that Friday would be “Tech Free” in the library.  Games would be available and students who needed to study should stay in their prep rooms. The first group of student arrived at 7:45. They were asked to sign in on a legal pad using their favorite color pen. (I was committed to giving up my scanner, computer, and phone to protect the zone.)  Students were told to put away phones--even headphones.  No, computers--unless they were just printing.  One student questioned the use of lights since they used electric technology.  I quickly determined that if the technology existed in the 70’s it could be used.

“No! Wait, you were serious? But I need to…...”
“No way! I need my phone. I can’t even listen to music?”  
“I have a test and the review sheet is online.”
“This is so dumb.  The library is suppose to be for studying!”
And my favorite, “This is absolutely the very worst idea anyone in this school has ever had!”
Even as I implored them to indulge in some down time for just 50 minutes, several students elected to return to the refuge of their prep rooms and their phones.  Most students who came in were willing to give the idea a try and they timidly selected games to play.   Chess, Yahtzee, Mancala, Jenga, Risk, Battleship, and Apples to Apples were a few of the most popular.  Several decks of cards were available with printed directions for various games.  Uno was soon a favorite.  It was great to hear students negotiate, discuss, argue, hold one another accountable, and cry out in joy when they won!
And so I spent the day watching or teaching students how to play card and board games.  And then they taught me variations they have played at home.  I got to listen to them teach each other.  And they realized that 50 minutes might not be enough time to play a game of Uno with a group of 6 friends.  They wanted to stay longer.

One student who spends most days watching videos on her phone during her first period late arrival told me, very seriously, that she had been thinking about trying to read a book.  “Hmmmm,”  I said.  “Would you like me to show you some of the titles that other students have read and really liked?”   Her response?  “Yes!”  Truly a win-win!

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Worthington Students are Amazing...Coding Class at Park!

In my role as Chief Academic Officer in the The Worthington Schools, I have the pleasure of working with our Library Media Specialists. Check out the latest "Guest Blog Post" from Mrs. Jacquie Schmittauer and the coding work she is leading at
Worthington Park Elementary School.
Thanks, Jacquie!


By: Jacquie Schmittauer
Worthington Park
Library Media Teacher is a nonprofit organization that started the Hour of Code a few years ago. It was started as a way to bring computer programming into schools. The goal of the program was to increase participation in the field of computer science. Exposure at a young age would hopefully increase people in that career field. As a library media teacher who teaches all of the students at Worthington Park, I had all students participate in this international event for the past three years. It is always my favorite topic to teach, but one I find challenging to learn.

This year Google introduced their new curriculum for computer coding called Google CS First. The step by step program is free for educators. They even provide passport-style booklets with stickers, directions, and (thank goodness) answer keys to help direct a course for students. Video game creation is one of the courses they have developed and sounded like a fun, motivating option for students. I began the first semester with interested sixth graders.

After the first class, I knew that these students would easily pass my slow pace and knowledge.  As I have told them many times before, I was learning as they were learning. I told the students that I had a limited knowledge and that we would learn together. It was exciting to have students who were so motivated to learn.

At the end of the first semester, we started another class with more students who were interested. After seeing the excitement and expertise that developed with my first class’ students, I was disappointed to see my group move on. At this point I had a thought about one of my students who clearly is a natural at coding.Talking to him individually after the last class, I offered him the opportunity to be the teacher of the next class. I told him to think about it because he may want to participate in one of the other classes. He took a few days to consider it and then came to me to accept. As the new class began the new teacher was excited but nervous. We had talked through what he needed to do and what I would do to help support him. It took about 15 minutes for his peers to really believe he would be teaching. After the first five minutes, I knew this was the best decision that I made this entire year….maybe longer.

Over the past weeks I have seen my new sixth grade teacher grow into his role. I look forward to watching him each Friday and it warms my heart. There have been a couple of times I thought I needed to step in due to misbehavior in a couple other students in the class. Nope, he took care of it like a pro with the other students falling right back into learning. Watching his peers ask him questions and then his responses….best experience of my years of teaching. The things he remembers to say that he has heard me say was the greatest compliment of all. The delight in his eyes when he sees his friend/student learns what he taught….priceless.

Okay, maybe I am a bit late to the party to reach this epiphany in year 29. I know all teachers are told to not be the “sage on the stage”. Of course I have had many students explain and show and present to MY classes. This was completely handing over the reins and stepping completely back. Scary....Different...Seems easy….But SUPER HARD for a teacher at any level of experience.  I highly recommend any teacher try it! Students truly do surprise and amaze you!

**Many thanks to Hadi Partovi and Code.Org for introducing me to coding. Thanks also to Google for the CS First Program. Thank you to my student teacher for inspiring me! He is going to do great things in the future!