RRR: Day 3

(First, my apologies for the tardiness of this review… a certain 5-year-old’s birthday, anniversaries, and a trip to the beach interfered with my  blogging! It was a happy distraction though. Please enjoy my final review of the RRR conference.)

On Day 3, Todd Whitaker and Jason Ryan Dorsey (The Gen Y Guy) were the final presenters at the Rigor, Relevancy, and Relationship Conference I attended earlier this month in Cy-Fair ISD. (See my reviews of Day 1 and Day 2)

The morning’s keynote address as given by Todd Whitaker. He spoke mostly about his book, “Leading School Change.” All week-long, I heard other participants talk about Todd and say things like, “I don’t want to miss that guy!” so I knew his keynote would be great. I wasn’t disappointed.

His book is not trying to convince you to change something about your school. We all know that each school, and heck, education as a whole has its flaws. His book is nine step-by-step strategies a school leader can use to lead change at their school. I wish I could have listened to Todd speak all day and get through the entire nine steps! Before I knew it, I looked at my watch and it was time to go, and we were only on the third step!

If I learned anything from Todd Whitaker’s presentation… it’s to make sure that a person’s first exposure to a new idea or program is great. So I’m going to avoid going into a lot of detail about how awesome and informative his presentation was and just encourage you to visit his website, “youtube” him, and read his book. “Leading School Change” is sitting on my desk, marked, highlighted, and sticky noted. I’m intrigued to also read: “50 Ways to Improve Student Behavior” and “What Great Teachers Do Differently.” And I have to wonder, am I a “superstar” teacher?

Jason Ryan Dorsey gave the afternoon keynote during lunch. A neat little factoid: Jason grew up near the Cy-Fair area, which made it really neat to hear him speak about how one special teacher really shaped his life.

Jason’s presentation was a little different from some of the other keynote speakers or session presentations I attended. Jason isn’t a teacher or former teacher, but he still managed to captivate the audience with his anecdotes about different generations. He studies the generations and speaks to business and school leaders on how to unify a team of people from multiple generations.

What I learned from Jason Ryan Dorsey’s presentation is that you can’t treat people from different generations the same or expect them to act the same. They have different attitudes, beliefs, and unique behaviors and talents. A school contains at least four different generations of people, all trying to work side-by-side. That’s a lot of attitude! His website gives more information about “Gen Y” or people born from 1977 to 1995. This is probably a big bulk of a school’s teaching staff. This would be younger, newbie teachers to veterans with around 10 years (maybe a little less) experience. Here is a video (not from the RRR conference I attended, but of Jason Ryan Dorsey speaking about the different generations. This speech was definitely on par with the quality of the presentation he gave at the RRR conference – in which he also received a standing ovation!)

You can purchase his newest book, “My Reality Check Bounced” or “Y-Size Your Business” on Amazon.com

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RRR: Day 2

Day 2. Amazing.

I have a teaching crush on John Samara! Jon Gordon was equally impressive as a motivational speaker.

It’s funny how both men spoke about different topics but the resounding theme was the same: Relationships matter.

John Samara mostly presented on the instructional categories for an effective classroom. In the short time he had to present, he placed an emphasis on building a positive classroom environment through having a clear objective, making the content relevent to the students and implementing predictable procedures.

What I learned from John Samara’s presentation was how to write a really outstanding objective. John encourages teachers to always be mindful of the cognitive verb that teachers are teaching to. Pay attention to your state standards. Often time, the depth of understanding required by the state is very clearly stated in the standard. The objective shouldn’t be written on the board and ignored. Involve your students in reading, writing, and evaluating the objective everyday. Can they do what the objective states they can do? Below is a template, presented by John Samara, on writing objectives. (Also included is a helpful chart of Bloom’s cognitive Verbs.)

An example of an objective for this blog post might be: Today we will being to recognize the parts of an effective objective using resources from MrsMandySager@wordpress.com and John Samara’s presentation over instructional practices.

Jon Gordon was the keynote speaker on Day Two. Jon mostly discussed the importance of being positive. According to Jon, you can’t go to work expecting your job to make you happy. Instead,  you go to work with purpose and passion for what you’re doing and happiness will find you. He talked about having a “rookie mind-set.” Have you ever noticed the young professionals in your building seem to enthusiastic and eager? On the other hand, the “veterans” (notice I didn’t call them “old” because young people can fall into this “veteran” mind-set too) always talk about the good ol’ days. You know before STAAR, or TAKS, or TAAS, or whatever state assessment they deemed to be less intrusive to their teaching. Jon talked about having the same passion and purpse as that rookie teacher. He encouraged all of us to come up with one word to focus on throughout the upcoming school year. One word to focus our attention, help us make decisions, and improve our attitude. He suggested words like: purpose, focus, perseverance, intentional, kindness…

What I learned from Jon Gordon’s presentation is to be more patient and positive. Sitting there, listening to his presentation, made me realize that the root of a lot of my negatively comes from my lack of patient. I want everyone to see my vision for our school or department and jump on board rightnow. Let’s go! Carpe Diem! So my word for next year is: patience. I need to be patient. I need to slow down and do a better job of building relationships before I expect my students, parents, or co-workers to jump on board with some new idea I’ve dreamed up.

I’ve got the rookie mind-set. Now I just need the veteran’s patience.

P.S. You can visit Jon’s website at: http://www.jongordon.com/

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).

Aside