Sunday, April 24, 2016

Kiss the cook... and the chef...

Yes, there IS a difference between a cook and a chef! My twin sister, Molly, is a chef. Sure, she has a culinary degree which makes it official, but watching her move gracefully around the kitchen vs my fumbling through recipes is the real validation! Molly loves to create, hates following guidelines, recipes, and measuring (at least that’s how it seems to me when I watch her). She can’t stand a whole bunch of structure. Give her the general idea and let her create and experiment to her heart’s content and she’ll whip up something awesome…specifically with pastries. She didn’t start there though. She began as a cook. Originally, she enjoyed the structure and guidelines given by a recipe, measuring and following a prescription. When she started her culinary adventure, just having  a general idea without details stressed her OUT!!! But for people  with Molly’s skills today (10 years into her culinary career), having too many details and too much structure would drive her nuts! 

The point is that the best implementation method is the one that works best for you right NOW! Guidelines will always be present, it’s just how you go about following those guidelines that’s the kicker. If you’ve moved to a current phase in your life of PBL design and implementation without using “all the templates” because you’ve already used them to “cook” and now you’re a “chef” in the PBL world… then great!!!! Buf it you’re still uncertain in some areas of design or implementation and need guidance, or perhaps you’re just currently tired of thinking or you feel like you’ve exhausted all your creative juices at the moment, then know that there are templates available to provide structure for you too! (For my NTN friends, check out the modules and quick guides in Echo or ask me to help you find a good recipe!) Just because the end of the year is upon us doesn’t mean it’s okay for us to serve a sub-par meal to our students. 

So are you currently a chef or a cook? (Are you a chef of project ideation but a cook of project scaffolding?) Still not sure? And if you do know, what do you do next with so many resources and information available to you?

Peace, love, and messy kitchens,


(I'll catch up to her culinary skills one of these days...)

Monday, April 18, 2016

Stick to your plan

Well hello again, friends!!!  After an incredible 3 months of maternity leave and now a month and a half under my belt of readjusting to my "new" working world, I must say… I've missed you! :) Based on conversations I've had with many teachers, Directors, instructional coaches and my own colleagues, though, it doesn't seem like any of you have slowed down in that time with your reinvention of education. So…. Thanks for making my job ten times easier…seriously…thank you! :) 

That said, I know with 3/4 of the year and Spring Break  behind you, we're all looking at our last few project planning toolkits, standards to uncover with our students and project calendar designs waiting in the wings. (Deep breath… you got this!) Actually, a few weeks ago, I wrapped up the last workout of five workouts in the CrossFit Open (…a worldwide CrossFit competition which I have NO SHOT of making any farther than my own gym, but I compete anyway and enjoy thinking I could go to Regionals or the CrossFit Games someday…) The workout consisted of 84 total reps of 65lb. Thrusters and burpees. I went into the workout with a game plan of how I was going to get through the rep scheme, but somewhere around the 54th rep. I was debating whether to wave the white flag OR pass out first and THEN wave the white flag. And as if from out of nowhere, my coach stood in front of me and said, "Stick to your plan. You're over halfway there." OHHHH I HATE IT WHEN HE'S RIGHT!!! But I was so glad for that reminder as I felt my weakest during that workout and was about to abandon my plan for a long gulp of water with a short break or even worse… throw in the towel out of mental exhaustion.

So just as Justin (my coach) did for me, I "stand" in front of you tonight…. With only a month or month and a half left to go, amidst the busy schedule of state testing upon you, and possibly mental and academic exhaustion creeping in…to say, "Stick to your plan. You're over halfway there." You have a plan. You know you do. You started the year with a curriculum map and you've held to it (mostly) with adjustments throughout based on student need or other new happenings in world news that seemed more relevant to bring into your classroom, so why would you stray from it now!?! 

So you have state tests happening this week… great! That doesn't mean your student's minds don't want or NEED to be challenged. STICK TO YOUR PLAN. So you don’t like the scenario you designed earlier in the year for your final, upcoming project but the cluster of standards is still relevant. STICK TO YOUR PLAN. There HAS to be another real world connection out there to those standards..don't revert to the "I'll just use worksheets to teach these standards for the next 3 weeks" avenue when you KNOW your students are capable of higher order thinking skills beyond memorization and fill-in-the-blanks! So your team teacher is clearly at their wits end with trying to understand how your content standards overlap and you want to say, "ya know… Let's just do smaller, separate projects for each of our content areas to end the year." Hey now!!!! STICK TO YOUR PLAN!  You've both committed to bringing real-world content area integrations to your students ALL YEAR… Not "all year until you're tired."   You get the idea…..

So before the bell rings tomorrow morning, remind yourself of your plan (review your curriculum map, project planning toolkit, team teaching contract, etc.), take your big gulp of water, and finish those reps! You'll be so proud of yourself that you did… and if you're anything like me, you'll enjoy that sweat angel on the gym floor just a little bit more because you did too! :)

Peace, love, and overuse of ellipsis,