Rigor, Relevance, Relationships Conference: Day 1

A few months ago our district sent out an email inviting teachers to attend the upcoming RRR workshop in Cy-Fair ISD. I love learning and talking about curriculum, I aspire to be a school leader in some capacity one so day, so sign me up! And WOW! Let me tell you, this is exactly what I needed!

The keynote speaker for the opening session was Keni Thomas. If you don’t who Keni Thomas is, you’re missing out! Keni is a combat veteran, country music singer/song writer, and author. Keni is a renaissance man. He’s a worldly guy, with wisdom and experience beyond his years. Basically, Keni is a badass.

His speech was a combination of anecdotes about life as a Ranger (he fought in the battle of Battle of Mogadishu  which was fictionalized in the movie: Black Hawk Down), advocating for combat veterans, and words of wisdom about being a leader.

What I took from his presentation: I’m not ordinary. No one is really. It’s what you do with your life that makes you extraordinary. Leadership doesn’t discriminate. Sometimes responsibilities and leadership is thrust upon you when you least expect it. Embrace it, because you can make a difference in this world. I hear a lot of people say that teachers have the most important job in the world… but to hear this guy (who has jumped out of helicopters in third world countries to defend our freedom!) tell us how important our jobs are, that made me feel important on this first mundane week of summer vacation.

(I feel like I can’t do justice to his words… they were so much or elegant and meaningful than mine! However, I’ll definitely be purchasing his book, “Get It On!: What It Means to Lead the Way“.  According to his website, a portion of his book proceeds benefit the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, which provides college educations to the children of our special ops personnel killed in combat or training.)

Other “honorable mentions” for the day include:

Georgia Heard, who presented on the importance of teaching poetry. With poetry being a new genre to our state assessment, the STAAR Test, her thoughful and engaging presentation was chalk-full of valuable insight into the standards and strategies for teaching poetry. Her book is called “Awakening the Heart: Exploring Poetry in Elementary and Middle School” and is also on my to-buy list.

What I took from her presentation: Teaching poetry can be easily implemented into your curriculum. She suggested a poem-a-week approach. Each day the teacher would guide the students through an actvity that added to their understanding of the poem. Below i’ve created a sample weekly lesson plan based on the information Ms. Heard presented, including the cooresponding TEKS (Texas Essential Knowledege and Skills).



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