Archive for category #PTCamp


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I have been blessed with a wonderful PLN who challenge me and push me every single day.  If you don’t know what a PLN is, it stands for a Personal / Professional Learning Network.  For me, it formed about 4 to 5 years ago when I started to use social media and the platform, Twitter, to engage in powerful professional dialogue about education.  Being an educator for the past 27 years, I have been in the presence of some great people in the business, first as a music educator and then as a leader of a public school.  Once I started using a social media platform such as Twitter, I haven’t looked back.  

One of the first tweeps that I followed and who I consider a mentor is my friend Joe Mazza.  Though he may not know this, I call him a mentor because he has pushed me to realize the potential that I have within myself.  This past weekend, he did a powerful TedxYouth talk in Boston about 10 assumptions he had while growing up and becoming an adult.  As noted by my best buddy, friend, mentor and colleague, Lisa Meade, he as well as all of us are on that bumpy journey, that I call life.  So in the spirit of Joe, here are some assumptions that I am going to list, in no particular order, other than my number #1!.

1.  I thought being diagnosed with breast cancer was a death sentence,  It actually woke me up to what is important in life.

2.  Crying is a sign of weakness.  That’s not true. In my 1/2 hundred years, it is a sign of life, of happiness, of joy, pain and empathy. (And hormones.  LOL)

3.  I’m not smart enough.  That is for sure, but I work my butt off to make good for kids and humans! My mom taught me to look for the good in everyone.  (Memory Eternal Flossie!)

4.  Friends are the only thing.  Nope, have to take my mom’s advice, that friends come and go but my family stays.  That’s for sure.  My family is #1!

5.  Having the next best thing or gadget will give me happiness.  My happiness – relationships with humans, my husband (who is my love of life), my family, friends, PLN!  They are my happiness!

6.  Getting it done FAST is the only way.  I am more of a hedgehog.  Slow and steady wins the race!

7.  That failure is grave and I will be dammed, fired, hurt someone, poor performance.  I am learning to overcome this more and more.  I found out by sissy, this may be a Vissar trait but the confidence is sure in my sissy #1!

I am sure I have three more in me.  But I am procrastinating on other things that I need to get done and there are a few who nudge me to post this, so here it is in all it’s glory.  

Thank you Joe Mazza.  You are an inspiration and you have touched many with your honesty, empathy and compassion.  We are that much better to have you in our midst and in our world.  Humbled and honored to know you my friend!

What are your assumptions?

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Using the Elements of Trust – #PTCamp Week 2 Part Two

Logo: IEL & #PTchat Present #PTcamp, Free & Open Learning June 25 - July 30, 2014<br /><br /><br />

(Hump-dee Dump! That’s for you, Chad Caddell!)

We are finishing up our 4th week of #PTCamp, the brain child of Joe Mazza, and I am finishing up week 2.  That’s okay, because I needed time to catch up on all of the Vox’s from this intensive study on the book Beyond the Bake Sale.  If you haven’t heard about #PTcamp or you have, it is probably the BEST professional development I have had in some time.  (That will be a separate blog once we are finished, which will be very sad for all of us.)

Anyway, or second part of the assignment was to use the Elements of Trust table in the book and what we would use or change to implement the three part joining process .  This is all based on Karen Mapp’s research at Harvard here.

The elements of trust are:

  1. Respect
  2. Competence
  3. Integrity
  4. Personal Regard

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(From Beyond the Bake Sale.  Click on photo to see chart)

The three-part joining process, for the school community is:

  1. Welcomes parents into the school
  2. Honors their participation
  3. Connects with parents through a focus on the children and their learning.

As the lead learner for East Side Elementary School, I can see that we need improvement in all three areas.  It is evident that when you walk into our school, parents state that they have a welcoming feeling, but we can be better.  I as the lead learner also need to step back and be better at this in welcoming our parents when they come in to the office.  Sometimes we get wrapped up in the minutia of running a building that we forget we need to foster the relationships with our parents and caregivers.  The other area we will tackle is the lobby area.  We will be improving this area to be more welcoming for our parents and visitors as this is THE first area through in our school.  (Would love to get a big monitor/screen and hook up a computer to run pictures or tweets such as Visible Tweets to showcase what is good in our school.) I love this quote:  “you have to meet parents where they are, not where you think they ought to be.”  How true is that?  I think as educators, we need to honor where are parents are coming from.  We need to take what they can offer and adopt a partnership philosophy.  This even means sharing power, something that I think educators, principals and schools may have a difficult tiem with to release.  But how powerful to work side-by-side with our parents. I loved the analogy that was presented by Rick Dufour in this book.

Are you looking out of the window or looking in the mirror.

Looking out of the window is a wish list for someone else to take action.  As for parent and family engagement, the list would look like parents would have more respect for the value of education, parents would be more motivated, more money to hire staff who can work with families, etc., etc. Looking in a mirror is in contrast to looking out of the window.  It calls for leadership within a school and taking the responsibility for getting the job done!  For instance, staff would give positive phone calls home at least once a month, there would be a more welcoming school building and front office, a family center would be available stocked with learning materials that families can take home and workshops on reading and math would be offered. So, to wrap this up, as educators, we can take the easy way out and look out the window, or we can open our hearts and minds, get dirty, and work hard to embrace our families and look in the mirror.  I am going to choose looking the mirror and move forward and build the trust plan a three-part joining process!  It’s lots of work, but for our kiddos, it’s worth it!


Building Relationships with Parents and Community – #PTCamp Week 2 Part 1


I am in the best learning experience through IEL and #PTchat.  It is the #PTCamp that is running for six weeks.  It is a interactive online learning community using Twitter, ApprenNet and Voxer all around reading the book Beyond the Bake Sale By Anne T. Henderson, Karen L. Mapp, Vivian R. Johnson, and Don Davies.  To be honest though, I am late with this blog entry, so here it goes.

Our second week is all about the four core beliefs of building relationships with parents and community.  They are as follows:

  1. All parents have dreams for their children and want the best for them.
  2. All parents have the capacity to support their children’s learning.
  3. Parents and school staff should be equal partners.
  4. The responsibility for building partnerships between school and home rests primarily with school staff, especially school leaders.

All four core beliefs are important for a school building and culture to exist.  The two that resonate the most for me are Core Belief #1 and #4

All Parents Have Dreams For Their Children And Want The Best For Them

As the book stated, the first core belief is the most important of the four because it is assuming that the partnership is there to cultivate and to grow.  At East Side Elementary where I am the lead learner, our staff has embraced the philosophy of Responsive Classroom, where the social and emotional curriculum is just as important as the academic curriculum.  It is really important at the beginning of the year that we set community in our classrooms and foster relationships and expectations.  We believe it takes time to work on this and we work within our Morning and Closing Meetings to foster this with everyone, staff, students and parents.

One area that we do is work on Hopes and Dreams with our kids.  This is basically goal setting for the year.  We have our kiddos write them and then post them around the school and classroom.  We even have our parents write their Hopes and Dreams for the school year.  It’s powerful and we revisit them throughout the school year.  Here are some examples of Hopes and Dreams.

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The Responsibility for Building Partnerships Between School and Home Rests Primarily with School Staff, Especially School Leaders

This is such a powerful belief and statement that it will be a focus for me for the upcoming year.  I love this quote: “Reaching out to parents is easier for educators than “reaching in” to teachers and other staff is for parents.  We have to remember that some parents can be intimidated with the entire process of “school” and may have had a bad experience.  It will be my role as lead learner to provide the “resources, energy, and leadership to implement and sustain a partnership program.”  I will model this with for my staff as well as work with both staff, students, parents and community to work on a plan to increase FACE at East Side school.  Planning and goals, here I come! Woot!

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