Saturday, December 28, 2013

Top 10 Blog Posts of 2013

If you are new to this blog, you may have missed some of these. I'm excited to share the top 10 blog posts from 2013, and I'm ready to bring in 2014! Enjoy!

10 - Five Time Management Tips for School Leaders

9 - Authentic Assessment: Second Graders visit Hoover High School

8 - "Understanding the Moment" - Lessons from Baseball for Leaders

7 - Collaboration in a High School English Language Arts Class

6 - The 7 Habits of 21st Century Teachers

5 - Using Twitter at School

4 - The Speed of Teacher Trust

3 - Praise Referrals

2 - The Moment that Changed my Life

1 - Google Search by Reading Level

Thanks for joining me for a year of learning, friendship, sharing, and reflection. See you in 2014!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Google Search by Reading Level

I'm very excited to share this awesome technology tip with you! I will show you how to do a Google search by reading level.

First, go to Google and enter the topic of choice. 

Since I'm still amazed by our marine science students who recently taught 2nd graders, I chose to enter "marine life" as my topic.

After you enter your topic, click on the Search Tools button. You will then have an option called All results (see picture above). Click on All results for more options. 

After you click on All results, you will have a drop-down list appear. From the list, choose Reading level

BINGO! Now you (or your students) can choose the reading level of the results. 

I love this tip! Have you used it before? I would love to hear how you or your students use it. 

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Closing the Knowing-Doing Gap

Heard of the knowing-doing gap? It’s a term used in education and in business… it means sometimes we know things, but we don’t always do them. Having a positive mindset and belief system will help us to DO them and narrow or eliminate that gap.

Dr. Charles Garfield is a renowned researcher in the area of high- achieving individuals. One of the main things his research showed was that almost all peak performers are visualizers. They see it; they feel it; they experience it before they actually do it.

Affirmations are positive sentences that you repeat to yourself each day. Over time, you can change your mindset.

Steven Covey, in The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People, says that a good affirmation has five basic ingredients: it’s personal, it’s positive, it’s present tense, it’s visual, and it’s emotional.

Covey uses this example: “It is deeply satisfying (emotional) that I (personal) respond (present tense) with wisdom, love, firmness, and self-control (positive) when my children misbehave.”

To make the affirmations even more powerful, visualize your affirmation in your mind’s eye or create a visual display. Brain research tells us just how powerful visualization is. If you visualize a red apple sitting in front of you, your brain doesn't know if you literally saw a red apple or not. Your brain can’t distinguish between real and imagined experiences.

Do you ever use daily affirmations?

What other suggestions would you give to someone who is trying to reach a goal or close the knowing-doing gap?

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Authentic Assessment: Second Graders visit Hoover High School

Below is a guest post by one of Hoover High School's teachers, Sara Taylor. She recently hosted a day for second graders to visit her classroom so that they could be taught by high school students for part of the day. Talk about authentic assessment! Sara was so excited and proud of her students for the incredible job they did that day.... I asked her to write a blog post describing the experience so that I could share it with you. Enjoy!

Ocean Fun Day: 2nd Graders Visit Hoover High School Marine Science
by Sara Taylor

It all started with Open House – one of my student’s parents teaches second grade and asked if I would ever want to coordinate to have our kids work together somehow.  “Yes!” was my instinctual response at the idea, and visions of possibilities began flashing in my mind.  

After many drafts of figuring out the setup, the concepts, and logistics, I came up with something I’d never done before: a plan to host a second grade class during normal school hours, with all of my students and 2nd graders in one classroom.  Chaotic?  Perhaps, but we’ll give it a whirl!  Here’s how it went down:

The setup for the day was to have my students teach the 2nd graders in a station arrangement, staying with their 2nd graders as they moved from station to station.  Since the concepts were all things they had learned this semester, it served as a fantastic semester review for them.  

Here’s a list of the stations:
·         Why the ocean is important
·         Beach safety (stingrays, jellyfish, beach flags)
·         Sand from around the world
·         Sand experiment (how to tell if it has seashells or coral in it)
·         Beach in a bucket (beach discovery sort)

Stations where the students could touch the animals:
·         Seashells
·         Sea stars
·         Sea urchins
·         Hermit crab

The day before the 2nd graders came, I had my students visit each station to feel prepared for the next day and know what they would be teaching at each station.

As a pre-activity for the 2nd graders, I sent Mrs. Galey a brief PowerPoint and video clips.  I wanted to be sure that the kids had some pre-instruction on rules for touching the creatures to ensure they were handled properly, while also cultivating enthusiasm and excitement for the day. 

Here are a few slides:

As soon as the 2nd graders arrived, it was off to the races!  My students took the reins and started teaching right away.  The “little” kids got Ocean Discovery binders to fill in as they went to each station (which, by the way, they were so excited that they were able to keep them!).  When it was time for the bell to switch classes, I noticed some of the 2nd graders were sad to see their high school buddies go.  Several of the 2nd graders watched in awe in the halls as the students traveled to their next class.  When the next period arrived, the high schoolers took over seamlessly where the last period had left off.

It was incredible to see the high school kids so confident and enthusiastic as they taught the 2nd graders.  The 2nd graders were in complete adoration and eager to learn from the “big” kids.  I found myself being impressed and pleasantly surprised many times as I heard my students explain concepts accurately and enthusiastically.  Many glowed like I had never seen!  There were many touching moments when 2nd graders stepped outside of their comfort zone to hold a sea urchin, practice the “stingray shuffle,” or ask an inquisitive question to their high school buddy.
When they returned to their school, the 2nd graders wrote thank you letters to me and my students.  It was heartwarming to see how much they enjoyed the experience and learned.  I couldn’t resist reading many of the letters to my students, and the “awws” and expressions on their faces revealed that they were just as affected.

Chaotic?  Not nearly as chaotic as I had thought it might be.  The 2nd graders were very well-behaved thanks to Mrs. Galey’s magic, and the structure of the station learning provided authentic engagement for both levels of students.  All in all, an incredibly rewarding day for teachers and students alike!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Looking for Wisdom on a Monday

Today was definitely a Monday.

The outfit I was going to wear didn't look right.

Then I picked out a new outfit, and the black hose I was going to wear had a hole in them.

Then on the way to school, I spilled coffee all down the front of my coat and scarf.

My initial reaction, I admit, was this...

Then I took a deep breath, and reminded myself what I always tell my students:

"You can only control what you can control."

I'm usually telling them that they can't control what other people say and do, they can only control how they respond to it.

So after another deep breath, I thought of the serenity prayer. 

I remember my mom having this serenity prayer in a frame in our house when I was in junior high. I've shared it with my husband. I've said it to my sister.

Today I said it to me. 

And when I got to work (and all day when I had a moment), I played my favorite Christmas song.


I think Casting Crowns is amazing... their soulful sound speaks to me! 

My day got better and I tonight I get to end it with a twitter chat with my awesome PLN.  

What are we discussing tonight?

Do you ever have mornings like this? How do you stay positive?

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

A Thankful Heart at School

Many years ago, I first heard of a gratitude journal from Oprah. She shared the concept on her show, and talked about writing 5 things down each day that she was thankful for. Off and on through the years I have followed Oprah's lead and reflected daily on the things for which I am grateful.

With the Thanksgiving holiday this week, our focus for the #ALedchat twitter 
chat was Appreciation and Gratitude. Each week my co-moderator, Holly Sutherland, and I research our chat topics to create engaging, thought-provoking questions. 

Here are 2 blog posts I discovered in my research that I want to share with you:

Can we teach gratitude to students? Is it something that we should look for in lesson plans? Dr. Robyn Silverman shares ways that parents can teach gratitude to teens, and many of those ideas can be used in education. Want some practical ideas? Just Google "teaching gratitude lesson plans" (without the quotes) for a ton of great ideas!

We are very blessed at the school where I work. We are part of a school system where character is part of the mission statement and is carried out in our school recognition programs. The school is full of building and classroom leaders who are collaborative, compassionate, and smart. The community stakeholders are supportive and involved. The students are spirited, empathetic, accepting, and eager to learn. My Thanksgiving wish is that everyone can find or create an atmosphere like the one in which I am lucky enough to work in each day.

What are you thankful for at work?

Do you have a culture of gratitude?

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Do Something


Do Something.

Do Something. Two simple words that are shared by Stephen G. Peters in his book, Do You Know Enough About Me to Teach Me? 

How often do we want to do something, but we are unsure of the effectiveness? Or maybe we aren't confident that we are doing the "right" thing? We let opportunities slip by, when all we need to do is to do Something.

How do we overcome fear and find courage to do something? 

Here are 3 ways to find courage:

1. Take baby steps. "How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time." Don't try to do it all at once. Small changes can lead to bigger changes.

2. Find moral support. Find a trusted friend, colleague, or boss whom you can share your fears and ideas. They will provide encouragement to help you take the next step.

3. Don't wait. Ask yourself, "What will happen if I don't act?" Then get started doing something.

What other ideas do you have for finding courage to do something?

Can you remember a time when you weren't sure what to do but you did something anyway? What were your results?

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Who's in Your PLN?

Jim Rohn was a fantastic speaker, motivator, mentor, and businessman. I have listened to several of his CDs, and I find wisdom in them each time I re-listen to his messages. One of my favorite quotes of Jim's is "You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with."

This is a topic that I have written about and one that I share with adults that I am coaching as well as students at our school. With the adults that I work with, this is one of my topics early on. "Describe the five people you surround yourself with the most." We then discuss whether or not those people are providing a positive or negative influence. With the students at school, I tell them about the quote and ask them to evaluate the types of influence their friends have on them. In all situations, I encourage others to make a conscience choice about whom they spend their time with. 

Creating a Personal Learning Network on Twitter is an opportunity to connect with others who may not be in your neighborhood or town but who are positive people who share your same dreams and goals. Members of your PLN can also stretch your thinking and help your personal and professional growth.

Over the last week my colleague and I, Holly Sutherland, have done three presentations on Twitter and how we use it at our school.  In each presentation, I have shared with the audience that we encourage PLNs that are not "echo chambers" but are filled with diverse opinions, backgrounds, and experiences in order to help us grow. The one thing that I think is important, though, is that POSITIVE people are in your PLN!

I believe that hands-down, Twitter is the best source of Professional Development that I have ever gotten in my career. Much of that is because of the people that are in my PLN. Rockstars who encourage me, challenge me, support me, teach me, and celebrate with me. I'm a better person and professional because of my PLN. 

What about you? Who's in your PLN?

Sunday, October 13, 2013

The Moment That Changed My Life

There is never a day that I come to work and wonder if being an educator is what I'm supposed to be doing with my life. Back when I was a young teacher, I had been teaching and coaching for four years when I decided to go into business with my husband. After 2 years of being out of education, I knew that being an educator was my calling. So since then, after getting back into education, I have a sense of purpose every day. 

Six years ago, in 2007, I left a school where I was assistant principal to go to a school where I would be principal. Two years later, I chose to leave that school system. Leaving the principalship meant that I would go to Hoover High School to return to the classroom. It was an unforeseen turn of events in my plan for myself. 

During my second year in the classroom, I had a student in my class named Steve*. Steve never really talked to anyone except for one other female in my class, Beth*. Steve wasn't anti-social, but he didn't seem to have a lot of confidence in reaching out to other students. Often, Steve and Beth and I would chat during advisory period (lunch/advisory period was part of that class period), and he had a terrific sense of humor.

One day, when Steve came to class I noticed that he seemed upset. He was sitting beside Beth during class at the lab tables, and I noticed that they were passing notes back and forth quite a bit. Realizing that he was upset, I didn't say anything about it, knowing that I would have an opportunity to chat with him in advisory. The lesson in class that day was one where I would work an example problem on the board then walk around and help students and so on. As I walked around, I noticed that Steve had his head on his desk. When I got next to him, I put my hand on his shoulder and leaned down and asked him if he was okay. He looked at me with tear-filled eyes. I asked him if he wanted to step out to the bathroom so that he could have a minute to himself. He did.

When he returned, it was a few more minutes until the bell rang for advisory to start. After the bell rang, I went to my computer to check the roster for students who would be leaving for the tutoring we offer during the advisory period. Students were leaving and I was signing passes to the library when Steve approached my desk. He asked, "Are you busy?" 

I said no and stopped what I was doing and looked at him. He said, "I see that you're busy." I told him that I wasn't too busy for him and I said, "Are you okay?" 

At that time, someone else walked up for me to sign their pass. I told Steve, "Come around here (behind my desk.)" He came around my desk and sat down and cried. I gave him a yellow notepad to write down what was going on with him while I signed a student's pass. 

After he wrote on the notepad, he handed it back to me. This is what he wrote: "I was going to kill myself today. I have a loaded gun in my backpack." 

I don't remember what else I read that day on that notepad, but I knew that I needed to act fast. I told him that I was glad that he shared that with me and that I was glad that he didn't do anything to hurt himself. 

As he sat there, I looked around the classroom and made eye contact with a student. I motioned with my head for her to come to my desk, and I continued to talk to Steve. When she got to my desk, I wrote on a sticky note, "I need the crisis counselor and the SRO. Immediately." I gave her a look that I hoped was sending the message that she needed to go quickly.

While she was gone, I continued to talk to Steve. He told me that he was upset because other students called him "Stupid." He was unhappy at home, and he had been trying to find a job but was unsuccessful.  

In my mind, I was playing through scenarios and wanted to be sure that if he got up I could get to his backpack before he could. After a few minutes, the crisis counselor and two School Resource Officers (SROs) came to my room. When they got around to where I was with Steve, I introduced them to Steve, then showed the note to one of the officers. He went to Steve's backpack, and I shared with the crisis counselor what was going on with Steve. They left with Steve so that the counselor could talk with him and call his parents.

I called my husband that afternoon and cried as I told him the story. I had always pulled for the underdog, but that moment changed my life forever. I vowed that as much as possible, I would never allow a student to be bullied again. I promised myself that I would make time for anyone who needed me, and not be too busy to listen. Now in my third year as assistant principal at Hoover, I am convicted more than ever that kids need us to be "present" for them. 

Steve was expelled from our school, and since then has contacted me with messages on Facebook. He apologized for what he had done and he thanked me. He has even shared that he wants to be a teacher one day. He found a job close to his home, and even returned to another school after the mandatory one-year expulsion period. 

After that day, I realized that my plan is not really my plan. After wondering how and why my career had made so many different turns, I understood that I was exactly where I was supposed to be and always had been.

If I had told Steve that I was busy, or if I didn't make time for him, then that day could have ended very differently. 

Next time someone asks you, "Are you busy?" I encourage you to make time for them. It could be the opportunity to save someone's life.

*Students' names changed to protect privacy.

Monday, October 7, 2013

A Simple Reminder for the Week

Twenty+ years ago, I was helping coach the softball team at my high school alma mater. For the past 5 years, I have been working at that school, and one of the players who played for me then, Betsy, now has kids who are students at the school. Betsy is a teacher in an elementary school in the same school system as our high school, and on her Facebook page she posted the following message:

     "I just had a visit from a student who I taught over 7 years ago as a 2nd grader for only a few months. She told me she has often thought of our class and has wanted to visit on many occasions but hasn't had the chance. She remembers the good times we had and the high expectations I set for her...but most of all "how much I loved her." I sure did...and still do love all of my students! My lesson to learn: we never know the impact or influence we can have on another, so make every moment count!"

I'm sure many of you have stories like Betsy's. I'd love for you to share them in the comments!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Slight Edge: Doing the simple things to lead to success

One of my favorite books is The Slight Edge: Secret to a Successful Life by Jeff Olson. In the book, he reminds us that we need to do the simple things, every day, in order to be successful. Jeff Olson calls it the Slight Edge.

From the book:

Everything you need to do to transform your life is easy to do.

It’s easy to become healthy, fit and vibrant. It’s easy to become financially independent. It’s easy to have a happy family and a life rich with meaningful friendships.

Tapping into the Slight Edge means doing things that are easy. Simple little disciplines that, done consistently over time, will add up to the very biggest accomplishments.

It’s easy to have everything you ever wanted in your life. Every action that any of these goals requires is easy to do. Here’s the problem: every action that is easy to do, is also easy not to do.

Why are these simple yet crucial things easy not to do? Because if you don’t do them, they won’t kill you… at least not today. You won’t suffer, or fail or blow it – today. Something is easy not to do when it won’t bankrupt you, destroy your career, ruin your relationships or wreck your health – today.

What’s more, not doing it is usually more comfortable than doing it would be. But that simple, seemingly insignificant error in judgment, compounded over time, will kill you. It will destroy you and ruin your chances for success. You can count on it. It’s the Slight Edge.

That’s the choice you face every day, every hour:
A simple, positive action, repeated over time.
A simple error in judgment, repeated over time.

You can always count on the Slight Edge. And unless you make it work for you, the Slight Edge will work against you.

I challenge all of you to read this book before the end of the year. It is encouraging and deliberate, and it provides a looking glass through which we can examine where we currently are and where we want to be. Let’s all be our very best in the last quarter of 2013!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Five Time Management Tips for School Leaders

Time Management Strategies

"Basic Idea: Most of our work isn’t actually based on time – it’s based on the projects and tasks that need to be done."

-Charlie Gilkey, on his blog

I read the statement above on Charlie's blog, Productive Flourishing, and thought, "Bingo!" It's exactly how I think about time. As a high school administrator, there are a lot of tasks that have to be done during a week. In this post, I hope to share some of my tips on how I get things done in my business and personal life.

1. Everything goes in a digital calendar. What are some things I put on my calendar? My daughters' athletic schedules, including practices. I put all meetings with teachers, parents, and other staff, even the "Hey, let's chat this week about that idea you had" meetings. For example, I schedule time to visit classrooms in the building. This is a priority, so if a parent or teacher wants a meeting, I schedule around visiting classrooms.

2. Touch a piece of paper only once. This is one of the toughest, both with real paper and virtual paper (email). I try to take action on a piece of paper when it crosses my desk (or computer) to prevent a backlog of items needing action. Once I deal with it, I toss it. 

3. Keep a short, High-Priority (HP) To-Do list in visible sight. I keep a sticky-note with a few HP items on my desk each day. These are things that must be done by the end of the day, and I keep them on my desk so that they are a constant reminder to follow-up, act, or complete. At the end of the day, I should be able to toss out the sticky-note.

4. Do your chores first. This time-management technique I learned from my mom. Growing up, I learned to do my chores first, then I could play or do whatever I wanted. Now, I use this principle in my work. I do the stuff I don't want to do first, then I get to do the things I really like to do that may not be productive.

5. Keep the main thing the main thing. It's easy to do things at work that aren't all that important but are easy to do so that something can get crossed off the long daily to-do list. Keeping the vision and mission as the driving force for what gets done each day ensures that what's most important gets done. 

Are there days when something gets overlooked? Are there days when everything doesn't get done? Absolutely. But using the five strategies above help me keep those days to a minimum. 

Do you use any of these time-management strategies? Which one is your favorite?

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

"Understanding the Moment" - Lessons from Baseball for Leaders

My husband and I were college athletes, and we believe in the lessons and experiences that come from athletics. We love stories of underdogs coming out victorious, stories of sacrifice and success, and stories of athletes overcoming odds. He shared with me the story that follows, and if you are a baseball fan you probably heard about it or you might have even watched it unfold. It's a story about "Understanding the Moment."

Mariano Rivera is a pitcher with one of the most storied professional baseball programs ever, the New York Yankees. Last week, the pitcher with the most career saves at 652, pitched his final game at Yankee Stadium.  Joe Girardi, who used to catch Rivera, is the manager for the NY Yankees. Joe Giarardi gets it. He understood the magnitude of the moment for Rivera last week. 

Girardi called for Rivera to come in the game in the eighth, and almost everyone in the stadium rose to their feet to cheer for baseball's all-time saves leader. After retiring 4 batters, Garardi called for a closer to come in for Rivera. But Girardi didn't go out to the mound, he sent out Andy Pettitte and Derek Jeter, two of Rivera's long-time teammates. 

  Watch the video clip here of Rivera's last game.

Joe Girardi could have ignored the moment. He could have made an excuse. He could have let it slip by. Instead he made the most of it for Rivera. He understood what pitching your last game at Yankee Stadium in your final season of professional baseball meant. And he made the most of it for Rivera. 

As school leaders, what do we do to make moments special? Are we thoughtful and intentional in our celebrations of students and staff? 

Do we understand the moment?

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Collaboration in a High School English Language Arts Class

The best part of my day each day is visiting classrooms. Some days I have "no office" days where I spend a lot of time in and out of classrooms, and some days it may be only during one class period where I get to spend time in classrooms. Spending time observing teaching and learning is second only to when I get to call a parent and brag on their child getting "written up" with a Praise Referral

Friday, one of our new teachers invited me to drop by and see what her students were doing in class that day. While I usually tweet the great things that are going on in our classrooms, I knew I wanted to devote a blog post and share about her lesson that she had designed for that particular day.

This is Mrs. Mann, who teaches ELA to 9th graders

Mrs. Mann told me that the students would be taking a quiz then they would start their activity. I visited another classroom, then went to her classroom. When I arrived, the students were already in the middle of their assignments. 

On the screen at the front of the room, Ms. Mann posted these instructions.

The students were engaged in discussion about The Most Dangerous Game by Richard Connell. Mrs. Mann was walking around the room giving encouragement and periodically letting the students know how much time had passed.

Each group had to organize parts of the story onto this large poster.

The students had been divided into groups, and they each received a diagram on a large poster (above). They also received a baggie that contained strips of paper, each with an excerpt from the story.

For the first part of the challenge, the students had to decide the correct order in which to place the strips onto the large poster. 

Once they completed that part of the challenge, they then had to meet as a group with Mrs. Mann for a Q&A session. Once the group finished the Q&A session, she would check their poster. If the strips were out of order, she would tell them to go back to the drawing board and try again. She would then start with the next group that had finished with their strips and they would move to the Q&A session. 

Mrs. Mann made it a competition to tie in with The Most Dangerous Game, and she had candy for the winners. (It's amazing what high school kids will do for a small piece of candy!)

Mrs. Mann is a new teacher this year, and I'm so proud of the learning that is going on in her room. She constantly asks herself, "What can I do to make this lesson one that will capture my students' attention and help them to learn best?"

While she could have led a whole-class discussion or had students answer questions on a worksheet, she chose to find a way that would be concrete, tactile, collaborative, and challenging.  

What is your favorite part of this lesson?

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

What does Solution-Focused Therapy have to do with Innovation?

First...... what IS Solution-Focused Therapy? It's a type of psychotherapy that focuses on the solution rather than the problems.

When first learned of this term, I think I was in graduate school. It didn't seem like anything new... it seemed like what I had done in athletics as a player and a coach. We didn't focus on the problem, but we focused on the solution. We learned that focusing on the problem keeps you status quo, but never moving forward. Focusing on the solution helped us to continually remember that we can't change what's already happened, but we can change the future. 

This makes me think of innovation. When trying to innovate, the focus has to be on the future. We can't substitute for the past, but we need to try to create a new and different future. 

How does innovation happen in schools? There are three requirements:

  • The school culture supports teachers taking risks and even possibly failing.
  • The school culture focuses on doing Whatever It Takes to help students learn
  • The staff, collectively and individually, focuses on creating a NEW future for the students we serve.
It also reminds me of the students that I serve as the ninth grade principal. I have several students who are repeating the ninth grade, and the habits they had last year that helped them to repeat ninth grade are re-surfacing as we start this new school year. Which leads me to ask myself and others around me who work with these students... 

How are we going to innovate so that these students don't have the same year they had last year?

Monday, September 9, 2013

The Sum of the Parts is Greater than the Whole

The converse of this quote, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts,” is what I believe is true in the case of teamwork.  

For a team/group/organization to be successful, the team can’t consist of individuals working independently and without cohesion. The team’s goals have to be the focus and the individual goals should be second to the team’s/groups/organization’s goals. 

The members should work interdependently towards a common goal (and, interestingly enough, individual goals are usually fulfilled when the team’s goals are met!)

I have several quotes and stories that remind me of the times that the sum of the parts is greater than the whole. 

The first quote is by Helen Keller. She said, “The world is moved along, not only by the mighty shoves of its heroes, but also by the aggregate of the tiny pushes of each honest worker.”  

On days when I think that what I’m doing doesn't make a difference, I think of this quote. 

This quote was especially helpful when my children were infants and toddlers. I had been busy all day, but it was with endless chores such as filling bottles, cleaning bottles, mixing formula, changing diapers… you know the drill! 

At the end of each day, I was worn out and I had nothing to show for my day. Each day and each action was a tiny push of an honest worker. I moved my children along in the world because of the thankless job I performed each day.

Everyone will not be a superstar, a hero, a giant. The world is full of different people with different interests, motivations, and dreams. Each person, in his or her role - whether perfect, great, good, or mediocre - is what causes our world to be a better place.

When I talk with others who are discouraged because they don’t think that what they are doing is “great” enough, I try to share Helen Keller’s quote with them, along with this quote by Henry Van Dyke:


To be impactful, we sometimes have to step outside our comfort zone and do those things that we think we’re not so good at. 

Throughout my life, I have been an encourager to take risks and step outside of comfort zones. From my roles as a teacher, administrator, personal trainer, mother, coach, wife, and friend… I have taken risks, shared my experiences, tried new things, and encouraged others to do the same. 

Just because we think we won’t be the best “singing-bird in the woods,” it shouldn't keep us from finding out how we can contribute to the symphony in the forest. 

  (My one remaining risk that I haven’t taken yet is to karaoke - in public! I’ll keep you posted on that one!)