Friday, June 28, 2019

Determined Demitasse and Salon

Each year I like to develop a theme for my instructional space. This year as I began to think of what new theme to explore I struggled. I didn't really want to throw out everything (ideas and stuff) and build from scratch. But I also didn't really want to repeat a theme. I like to engage students and staff with their senses in the room that is #OurSTEAMCafe. I thought. I read. I thought some more. I searched Pinterest. I still struggled. I reached out to my PLN on Facebook. I have to love the connections we have made. One bright friend suggested like a Parisian Cafe. That idea sparked yet another for me. I will be employing a French Salon theme. As I wrote to her: "Oh Dacia, I love you. 1 idea leads to another. French Cafe - Like the old Salon's of Paris... forward thinking and gathering informally for discussions. Très bon." As in the period during The Enlightenment. Women would host gatherings to discuss Art, Music, Mathematics, Philosophy, Science, etc. These female hosts were called salonnière. I look forward to serving as a salonnière to share some of these concepts (aligned to STEAM - Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics).

Many years ago when I was in a different location within our school, I hosted informal gatherings for technology discussion. Come gather and talk about what you need. It was sort of a variation of #CoffeeEdu / #CoffeeCue concept that was going around then. I was reminded of this when two different friends hosted #CoffeeEdu sessions near them. According to the guidelines suggested by CoffeeEdu at, session can be flexible, informal, anywhere gather is possilbe (coffee shop or non-coffee shop) but generally an hour. I'd love to bring this back during the school day for teachers and staff. But I don't think an hour will work for our needs and scheduling. So the ideas continued to swirl. I believe I have landed on a way to make this work.

I would like to host "Demitasse CoffeeEdu". For those unfamiliar, demitasse, which is a French word, means "half cup". They are usually only large enough to hold 4 ounces or less of espresso. Espresso is usually a thicker, more robust version of coffee. Branching off of this idea, I will offer half hour sessions to gather and converse in #OurSTEAMCafe. These sessions will not be formalized PD. They will be informal discussions to better support what teachers and staff need and want. To try to meet the needs of more staff I think I will also vary the day of the week that they are held. This way more people can attend these Demitasse CoffeeEdu sessions instead of missing every one should they fall on a day that teachers are always unavailable.

With the salon theme, I hope to also showcase/host a more structured, formalized theme as well. Not sure if those will be weekly themes or monthly themes for exploration. But that salon topic concept is still brewing in my brain. For now though, I think I like this concept of a "Demitasse CoffeeEdu". What do you think? If you were a teacher in my building would you be interested in something like this?

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Intention and Audience

Attended and participated in several great learning moments so far and #ISTE19 is only beginning. Enjoyed viewing posters of educators showcasing their work and ideas. Love connecting on Twitter, Facebook and ISTE Connects to continue conversations. Heard one presenter discuss the difference in methods of using devices. Are your devices a "Digital Worksheet Storage Hub" or a "Pathway to Unleash Genius". Technology opens the world to our students. What a great tool to unleash their individual genius! Coaching/Teaching them how to successfully navigate the digital world is important work. Working together on collaboration and intentional creation are important. These are skills students will need all their lives. Engaging students in conversation and practicing putting a jumble of thoughts into a succinct expression is vital for adulthood in our current world. There are so many great teaching strategies out there to enhance our instruction and enrich student engagement. I love exploring the #SpotlightOnStrategies myself to gain new ideas for how to encourage interaction.

I was a member of a different audience recently. The speaker asked everyone immediately to stand up. Yes, this was less than 5 minutes into the start of their speaking session. Great way to keep the audience energized. This started everyone quietly chuckling since standing up and pairing with a stranger is not a comfort point for most people. But that helps to further connect us to the moment instead of passively sitting and receiving. The speaker asked participants to find a partner next to them and stand back to back. One problem... there was an odd number of participants.

Yep, picture me - standing in the near middle of a quite populated room without a partner. I'm willing to say outloud, "Does anyone not have a partner?" No response. Okay. Stand there awkwardly and quietly chuckle to myself about the uncomfortableness and we discuss school culture. I admit - I didn't like the feeling in the moment. But I'm also glad it happened. It reminded me to be more intentional and empathetic to my students (be they children or "grown-ups"). Activity continues, we sit down, people share out thoughts from the activity.

Speaker continues eloquently reminding us about the importance of how quickly our roles can impact several. The butterfly effect is strong in schools. Each day we have a choice to make a difference. I hope that I choose wisely, at least most days.

Okay, everyone stand again. This is now maybe 15 minutes into the session.  Great way to keep people awake and activated. "Return to your partner without talking." Hmmm whom should I return to in this exercise? (Remember above comments about not having a partner the first time). Stand there awkwardly the second time in the session while the speaker shares their directions for the next activity.

Luckily as I scan the room sooooo uncomfortably trying to figure out what do. Do I - escape? sit? continue to chuckle ridiculously? A lovely woman behind me asked, "Should we make this a triad?" Her kindness was noted. "Thank you, that would be great." However, the activity involves shaking hands and simultaneously performing another activity... um ever try that in a group of three in the US where we all shake with our right hand...

Being placed in these uncomfortable moments definitely reminded me of how our students may feel at times. Have you ever had to say, "Oh well just look on with ____." or "That's okay, I'll be your partner (um just a thought by the way)." I know that this experience will have me be more cognizant of my audience in the future. We discuss differentiation, customization, and adapting lessons. Not to mention teachable moments. I believe moving forward I will be looking around my room more as an activity is underway. Does everyone have the ability/opportunity to participate? Do we all have the tools we need to succeed? Is everyone receiving the message that was intended? Are all members of the audience able to be engaged in some way? Some may chose not to engage. Let's remember not to embarrass them with comments and/or facial expressions. But let's provide the equity needed for a successful experience for all audience members (be that audience 26 children, 15 adults, or 50 members or more).

Always learn so much from attending #ISTE19. Some learning moments are intentional, formalized sessions. Others are quick, informal learning moments. Never quite sure which has more impact. I enjoy finding both kinds of personal and professional growth moments.