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Thirty years ago today, Christa McAuliffe took the ultimate risk to try something new…to be the first civilian in space. Her spirit of breaking boundaries and living a passionate life inspires me daily. Because of her, so many other children and adults have dared to dream big, to reach for the stars, to take that risk to try something new and to live life to the fullest. I am so grateful for her time on earth and how her reach continues, even in 2016. I honor you, Christa.

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We are half way through the school year! This is where all educators say, “Where has the time gone?” High school students are finishing up mid-term exams and projects and teachers are frantically grading them. These summative assessments are supposed to measure a half a year of learning somehow. In one class at Concord High School, students will be engaged in performing improvisation for their assessment. Tomorrow, they will be in their small groups, each student will be one fictional character they have studied throughout the semester and will now interact with other fictional characters in a pre-determined setting they chose. The rest will unfold in the moment. When preparing, the students have reflected on how difficult improv is. Being present in the moment, really listening, setting others up for success, problem solving, using “Yes and…” attitudes while showing their knowledge of the characters and the context of the characters…this is challenging work. Not to mention performing in front of their peers! Students need to practice this type of work, and often. Semi-planned improv is a metaphor for life. We all have plans, but situations pop up and we just have to deal with it. We go with it. Teachers know this more than anyone. Yes, improv is challenging, but so is life. Let’s help students practice improv. By practicing improv, they are learning how to be flexible in life.

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I love reading quotes from Edutopia and when this quote came to me through Facebook, I read it to myself.  As I was reading it, it seemed very familiar.  When I saw MY name for the quote, it all came together.  It was my quote!  At first, I thought it wasn’t real.  That it had to be a Facebook trick of some kind.  But there it was.  It was real.

A day later, I am trying to figure out why this meant so much to me.  Is it because I admire Edutopia as an amazing educational resource?  Is it because I felt heard and understood and acknowledged?  Is it because my quote was the inspiration for dialogue?  Was it the totally unexpected element to this post?  Is it a reminder to myself, like a mirror, that I am on the right path of trying something new?  Whatever it was or is, this posting of my quote for all to see in the education world made me so happy and grateful.  Thank you, Edutopia, for this reminder and for all you do to inspire educators everywhere!

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I had an epiphany the other day.  For 22 years, my teaching world was largely scheduled for me.  I showed up before 7:30 am and my traditional teaching day would end at 2:50 pm.  Sometimes I had scheduled faculty and department and parent meetings.  I knew exactly what class I was teaching, when it was scheduled to start and stop, where it was held and most of the time, what I would be teaching.  I knew this info for the whole school year.  This year is exactly the opposite.  I schedule every one of my meetings, who I will be with, what school I am going to, how long it will take me to drive there, what the needs are, and most of the time, what we will be talking about is left to on-the-spot collaboration.   Getting ready to jump into this year, I hadn’t given much thought about the actual “scheduling” skills I would need to pull this off.  I knew I would be scheduling my whole year, but I did not anticipate how that would feel. (more…)

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It’s been a little over a month since schools opened for the year and so far I have traveled and collaborated with schools in the following towns or regions: Londonderry, Manchester, Pelham, Auburn, Bow, Peterborough, Bethlehem, Contoocook, Monadnock, Tilton, Kearsarge, Nashua, and Concord.  Each meeting has been unique.  Sometimes I know what I will be doing, but more often than not, I meet with teachers or administrators and have a conversation to come up with a wish for that school or teacher and a plan to help achieve that wish.   (more…)

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I love new beginnings.  I love clean slates and do-overs and do-betters and the excitement of the unknown.  I have spent every fall of my whole life starting school with a new beginning, first as a student, then as a teacher for 22 years.  This year I am embarking on something completely different. (more…)