Friday, April 29, 2016

Finding Common Ground to #sharetheawesome

So, I'm wrapping up from an amazing conference and reflecting on how completely blessed I am.  In so many ways.  But I'll begin at the beginning.  I just finished a fabulous 2 days of learning at Common Ground in Ocean City, MD.  Not only did I get to learn from amazing educators and leaders, but I also had the honor of presenting a topic about which I am passionate along with my super librarian friend, Brittany Tignor.

Brittany and I met at ISTE last summer in Philadelphia and connected over a session.  I don't actually remember what that session was.  No, maybe I do.  I *think* it was a "birds of a feather" session for teacher librarians.  Though I could be wrong about that.  Regardless, I *think* we were asked to share an idea of something we wanted to try, based on things we had learned about at the conference.  I shared about TED Talks and Brittany shared about PD While You PP and we paired together to learn more about what each of us had shared.  A partnership was formed.  We stayed in touch and decided that these two ideas might be powerful, but sparked even more ideas that we wanted to share with others.  As a result, Brittany applied to present at her state's library association's (MASL) annual conference last October.  And the presentation was accepted!  I did the same for my state association's (PSLA) annual spring conference and it was accepted again!  Brittany went out on a limb and submitted to Common Ground and (as you may have realized from above) it was accepted there too!  The presentation was well received at MASL and now at Common Ground too.

#sharetheawesome at Common Ground 2016
None of this would have been possible, though, without the support of administrators and teachers at my school and my family at home, and for that I am so, so grateful.  My administration has mentioned that there is a clear benefit as I bring back information on tools, resources, and ideas to our district.  But still.  Their support has been invaluable.  And my administrators' innovative ideas have continued to shape our presentation.  I included videos that highlight the work that my principal, Brian Swank, and my Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Professional Development, Julien Drennan, have implemented over the past year that really reflect progressive and personalized PD and fit right in with our message of sharing the awesome work our teachers are doing on a daily basis.  Likewise, with almost a year of some of these ideas in action, I was able to include feedback from some of the teachers who have participated in TED Talks 4 Teachers this year at my school and I think their voices lent credibility and real world application to those who were listening and participating in our audience yesterday at Common Ground.  And really, the ideas we share are to help teachers share their awesome.  I am so fortunate to work in a place with teachers who have so much awesome going on in their classrooms.  We are full to the brim with ideas to share at Pine Road and LMTSD.

So, shortly after I asked permission to present at and attend Common Ground, I received word about an opportunity to speak on Capitol Hill at National Library Legislative Day, and I don't know about you, but that seemed like an offer I shouldn't refuse.  So I asked permission to extend my time just a smidge.  And I get to go!

Now, the clincher for all of this is the expense beyond the opportunities, like lodging.  And that's where I have two more (extremely generous and kind) people to thank.  My friend and colleague, Karen, happens to have access to lodging in Ocean City, MD and I was able to weasel my way in there.  In fact, that's where I am sitting RIGHT NOW as I type this post.  THANK YOU KAREN!!!  And (more to the point) Karen's dad!!  You guys rock!  Tomorrow, as I continue my journey to the DC area, I get to make a family visit with my sister, my brother-in-law, and my 6 month old twin nephews and stay there for the balance of my trip.  I'm also missing my home away from home, my school library, but I know my library aide extraordinaire, Andrea, has it all under control there!

The last person I want to thank is my husband, Jeff, who gets to spend six full days flying solo with our kids.  Now, he is an expert at this, don't misunderstand.  I'm not the kind of mom who considers it babysitting when a father is spending time with his children.  Nonetheless, parenting solo is exhausting, and he didn't hesitate to agree to my crazy plan for this trip.  My kids, who did not agree to any of this, are being awesome (so far anyway) and we have been face timing to keep up with day to day communication, bedtime stories, and homework check-ins.  We live in a truly awesome time when I can practically teleport home to read stories with my kids.  And if you have never face timed a fiercely independent two year old, I highly recommend it.

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