Friday, May 27, 2016

How #lastbell has inspired a district - Guest post by Rhonda Roysden

Today's guest post is by Rhonda Roysden, Instructional Technology Specialist, in Fentress County Schools, Jamestown, Tennessee. You can find her on twitter at @rroysden.

I want to thank Jennifer for asking me to do a guest blog post.  I warned her that as much as I am on Twitter, I am not blogging yet! She encouraged me to get started with this post!  

Inspiration and motivation began in my district with this tweet from Jennifer Hogan (@jennifer_hogan) on April 25th.  

I saw her tweet, read her blog post, and immediately retweeted.  I thought on it a day or two and revisited Jennifer’s post on April 27th and decided to retweet it again. Leadership Lessons from Dancing Guy by Derek Sivers automatically popped in my mind on starting a movement and I thought, why not?

I felt compelled to tell others.   While attending a leadership workshop on April 27th, I enthusiastically shared with district/school leaders and instructional coaches.  We decided that we can join this great movement of making May matter and teach to the #lastbell in Fentress County.  This movement came at a critical time for us, with the issues and pressure of state testing in Tennessee, we felt this would be an awesome way to motivate teachers to share the great things going on in their classrooms.

Our instructional coaches, literacy leader, Federal Programs Director, and I met and began researching and brainstorming some ideas of how we can bridge the idea of #lastbell along with Teacher Appreciation Week.  Ms. Kristi Hall (@kristi_hall), Federal Programs Director, was excited about the idea and eager to support this movement!  We used tips from Jennifer’s blog to get started and decided to use her “I commit to teach” design to print cards for our teachers.  

We started out on May 2nd with the card and a letter explaining the movement to make every minute matter in Fentress County.  We challenged teachers to commit and use Twitter to share the great work going on in their classrooms. (note:  I have been trying to get them on Twitter since 2009!)  

We encouraged the use of Twitter by putting their name in a drawing for a prize for each tweet they tweeted.  We didn’t say what the prize was.  We put together packets to give to teachers and parapros throughout the week for motivation and appreciation of their hard work.

Here are some of the things we shared with them:

Monday, May 2nd:
Teachers--receive note with info and #lastbell badge
Your EXTRA effort in May Matters!  #lastbell (gave to parapros with a pack of Extra Gum)

Tuesday, May 3rd:
M & M s = May Matters! #lastbell (gave to teachers with a pack of m&ms)

Wednesday, May 4th
Use your SMARTS!  Make May Matter! #lastbell (gave smarties to teachers and parapros)

Thursday, May 5th:
Keep Students BRIGHT in May!  #lastbell (gave teachers tealight candles)

Friday, May 6th:​
Stay SHARP in MAY!  #lastbell  (gave to teachers with sharpie markers)

Thanks for being a KOOL AIDE!  #lastbell (gave to parapros with a bottle of Kool Aid)

I was so excited on May 2nd to see the tweets start coming in.  I had mentioned that I could tweet for them, but their name wouldn’t go in for the drawing unless they tweeted themselves.  It was fun to watch the emails and Google hangout chats asking me to check and see if they tweeted right or if I could see their tweet.  That was the highlight for this instructional technology specialist! 

The power of becoming a connected educator along with sharing meaningful student work throughout May was most inspiring!  

Since so many teachers were new to Twitter, I would storify the tweets regularly and share out via email so they could see what was being shared on #teachFentress.  Here are links to the storified tweets:

May 2nd-9th
May 6th-18th
May 19th-25th

May 24th was our last day of school and we ended our #lastbell tweets. We now have 36 teachers, instructional coaches, district/school admin, and parapros that have tweeted!  This is so exciting!  Since May 2, we have had around 280 original tweets(not counting my tweets).  Can I just mention how nice it is to have others using the #teachFentress hashtag rather than just a couple of us!!

On May 25th, an email was sent out announcing the winners for the prize.  We had two donated $25 gift cards to give away and five 8 GB flashdrives for the top tweeters.  For each original tweet, their name went in for a drawing.  So, if they tweeted 43 times, their name went in 43 times.  I did a screencast using snagit to draw for and announce the winners as well as the top 5 tweeters!  I shared the 2 minute screencast to present the news!  

Prior to seeing the #lastbell tweet from Jennifer, another tweet from Bethany Hill (@bethhill2829) resonated with me.

This perspective on counting down the days until summer is powerful and moving!  What a difference we can make in the lives of our students!  Both of these tweets, the #lastbell movement tweet along with Bethany's tweet, urged me to share within our district and hopefully inspire teachers to continue making a difference in the lives of students in May!  Kids matter!  Becoming a connected educator is an added bonus!  

Thanks to both Jennifer Hogan and Bethany Hill for the inspiration!  We never know what tweets might touch someone’s life!  Get connected!


  1. So I, a HHS teacher, read this on my way to a family reunion in...wait for it...Fentress County, TN! It's a small world after all.

  2. Hey Lisa! What a small world it is! Did you happen to attend the York Reunion? It was in Pall Mall at York Park this weekend. Hope you enjoyed your time here!

    1. No. We were at Banner Springs. It is a yearly thing for my family. None of live in the area any more it is a chance to reflect on where we have been as a family and where we are going. Always a great time.

    2. My first and most precious teaching experience was at Grimsley Elementary where we had most kids from Banner. Glad you had a great time!