Being Accountable: Sometimes Crazy Ideas Help

As a teacher, I often hear the word accountability thrown around a lot. Of course, I hold my students accountable for their work, as an educator, I am held accountable to meeting certain standards, teaching the curriculum, filing out this form and that paper, etc. With all of the roles and requirements heaped upon me as an educator, I sometimes lose sight of the fact that I need to make time to take care of me, not in the selfish all about me mode, but the I need to take care of me to better help and serve you mode.

I’ve been trying to be a little more aware of my health (as in let’s try to lose a few pounds, be more aware of what I’m putting in my body, and engage in more meaningful activity/ movement) and as such connected to a Facebook group through one of my Jamberry nail friends. I’m still part of that group, but then I got to thinking “What if I created a secret Facebook group for my friends to help keep us accountable to our health and fitness goals?” Two months ago, I did just that.

Here’s what happened:

  1. I was made more accountable to my own health and fitness as just like teaching, I can’t ask my students to do something I wouldn’t do.
  2. I learned how to use Tiny Torch  to schedule posts so I can sleep in or travel without “worrying” about not having a daily motivational post or check in.
  3. I started to do 30 day fitness challenges that alone I would have stopped at on day 10 or so, but I was accountable to the other ladies in the challenge to DO IT.

So, what started as a crazy “what if. . .” has turned into two months and counting of being accountable for the actions I take towards my health and fitness. Here’s to the ladies that motivate and inspire me. Thank you!


8 Characteristics of an Innovator: How do I relate?

This week, one of our National Association of Agricultural Educators Virtual Book Club activities included this prompt:

As we finish Chapter 3 and Part I, Couros identifies what he considers to be the characteristics of an innovator’s mindset. He narrows it down to eight. Based on your answers from the discussion posts from the last two weeks, do you agree with those eight? Are there any others that would add? Before we can build our classroom’s innovation, or even our department’s mindset, we have to think about how we personally think about innovation. Keeping that in mind, you will be ranking the eight characteristics based on how you feel they relate to your teaching. In other words, which characteristic is your strongest point? What do you innovatively do well? Now, this isn’t a direct 1-8 ranking. If you feel that resilience and empathy are your weakest, put them both at the bottom next to each other. This is your scale, so “rank” them however you would prefer.

After you have “ranked” them, please add text boxes to explain why the characteristics are placed where they are. You can add one text box next to explain everything, or one box next to each characteristic. Feel free to add other characteristics if you think there should be more/different than the eight.

Upload your document to the book club.You can take a picture of the slide and post it to social media too, just be sure to use #naaereads!

(As an aside, if you are curious what the eight are, you can read Couros’ blog post about them)

As I prepared my response, I decided to be a risk taker and put my fairly non-existent artistic skills to the test. This little bit of sketching was actually inspired by my recent read of “Visual Note-Taking for Educators: A Teacher’s Guide to Student Creativity.” Before I started to add the textual part to my answer, I had a fairly decent looking juggler of traits with the arm muscles representing the date it was created. Then as I added the reflective bits, the image got a bit crowded. Once done creating, I realized that one of the concepts of innovators was networking and just recently I wrote about “needing” to blog more, so sharing this image and response was a perfect way for me to put action to those ideas.

Thinking about how or if I have those traits and which of them were my greatest strengths provided the opportunity for some reflection about my own teaching practice. I think the real question now comes with what I will do to help build up some of those areas I saw to be lower in my strengths, such as empathy.

It’s almost like the internet stalks me to help me find the answers! Or was a simply using my observant trait? Although I created this reflection on paper, shortly after it was done, a Peardeck email was in my mailbox focusing on “Building Empathy.”

Innovator Traits Reflection




Intention Needs to Turn to Action

It’s another blog post that I am writing about the fact I need to get to blogging on a regular basis. I had really good intentions to do this and even began several drafts of a variety of teaching tools and resources I had used throughout the Spring. However, I didn’t make time to finish and publish them.

Currently, I am in the National Association of Agricultural Educators Virtual Book Club and read a statement that practically smacked me in the face with a reminder of why blogging is important to me as a professional with a growth mindset. It was in the section of George Couros “The Innovators’s Mindset” about being networked in the chapter related to eight characteristics of having an innovator’s mindset. It posed the importance of modeling a sharing behavior for students, reflecting on your own practice more deeply, and both learning more and clarifying thinking through writing blogs.

So, I have reminders set for every other week in my Wunderlist app and hopefully I will get in the habit of blogging over the summer so it is a regular practice by fall when the school year resumes. Help hold me accountable, friends.


It’s FFA Week 2016 #AmplifyFFA

It’s time to celebrate what FFA is and what it means to you.  This week several state FFA associations have photo challenges that encourage their members to share images related to FFA experiences. Almost all states include a photo of official dress in their challenge. New Jersey FFA is no different. Their photo challenge also includes your FFA family, somewhere you’ve been with FFA, and other themes.

I’m encouraging my members to tell their FFA story with photos. Photos are huge for them. If it hadn’t been for one of my insistent middle school members two years ago our middle school FFA chapter wouldn’t have an Instagram account to share their stories. However, this member convinced me Instagram was the “way to go” to meet members where they are. Now Instagram is a “go to” place to communicate with members, share trivia questions, provide announcements for the chapter and of course share photo highlights of chapter activities. I’m grateful for the members who encourage me to try new things so I can help them better tell their FFA story.

How will you #amplifyFFA this week? What will you do to tell your story? What picture captures FFA for you?


#TeachAgChat is Growing

Last year, Teach Ag at Penn State (check them out on their Facebook page) begin hosting a series of #TeachAgChats on Twitter.

The movement to have virtual professional learning for teachers is growing and the #TeachAgChat concept continues in 2016.  So far this year two chats have been held.  The first was January 28 and focused on classroom management. You can see the archived Storify here. Last week the topic was Careers in Ag and Food: The Role of #AgEdu. The storify for that one is here. (Excuse the Drake face. In keeping the excitement that was generated, I forgot that Storify uses your first tweeted image as the cover.)

If you want more information on #TeachAgChat, are considering being a chat host. or are simply curious about what a Twitter chat is check out the #TeachAgChat blog here.

Hope to “see” you on February 25 when drones are the topic.


It’s Been Awhile

 Well it’s been a while since I’ve blogged and I’m trying it a different way this time. I’m sitting on my sofa using the voice feature on my iPad. This should help prevent the fact that I get ideas for blogs, think about how I should get back into the blogging habit, and get thoughts running through my head for what I  could share but then don’t take action. For months,  I’ve thought how I should jot a thought or two down about experiences in class or use my blog to respond to someone’s question about what books I recommend to a person considering education or maybe even blog about the fact that there are changes in education and we need young people to enter the field and be the future and not get scared away by the rhetoric  i’m hoping that by using this tool and letting my iPad do most of the work, I’ll just tweak here and there and I’ll be able to get back in the blogging groove. This way I can more regularly share about my teaching experiences, the observations I have about education today, and the importance of continual and consistent communication as an advocate for my career, career and technical education and agricultural education  


Feel free to comment on this blog with topics that might interest you and if I’ve got experience with them I might share my perspective in a future post. 


FFA Love – Try New Things, Be Creative (aka Career Readiness is more than current mandated tests)

If you thought I was done with the FFA Love blog posts, guess again!  I got a “late comer” today and it was so worth sharing!

“I love FFA because we are always trying new things, learning more, and being creative.”

I absolutely love this sentiment because to me it means I have done my job as an educator.  I have helped at least one student spark a love for trying new things, learning more and being creative.  I believe “college and career readiness” is more than the current round of mandated testing that our students are subjected to.  It is the untestable career skills such as the willingness to be innovative and try new things.  I recently blogged for the Association for Career and Technical Education Educators in Action with a piece called “The Path to Innovation is Full of Mistakes” As a teacher, I try to model this concept of trying new things.  This FFA Love statement tells me I have succeeded.

Career readiness is more than just the writing and math that gets emphasized over and over again on test after test (almost to the point of driving some students away from finding joy in exploring the importance and value of these skills).  It is the desire to learn more and be what some call a “life-long learner.” This love of learning more will be a critical trait for anyone who plans to have a career in the future because we are preparing our students for jobs that don’t even exist yet.  Helping them find joy in learning is vital to prepare them to meet the future we don’t even know.

The fact that “being creative” is part of the reason to love FFA gives me a little thrill, too!  I like to challenge my students to come up with ideas then take the action to carry them through.  I challenge them to sometimes think out of the box.  Isn’t that part of what creativity is?  Being willing to embrace the ability to create (an article, a poster, a display, a visual representation, a video, and the list goes on), is a skill that career ready citizens need!

This FFA Love statement represents what I aspire to help my students do – Try, Learn, Create.

PS – I didn’t start this blog with the intent of getting into the career readiness aspect of what I felt this statement represented, but as I typed, the words just flowed.  I tell my students, “Learning is messy.” Sometimes, it appears that my blogging wanderings are messy  as well. 😉