The Power of a Positive Phone Call

The Power of a Positive Phone Call

March 16, 2020 is a day that I will always remember in my educational career. This day would be the first day of remote learning across the state of Arkansas which would last the entire 4th quarter. 9 weeks later, I am wrapping up the school year and taking a minute to reflect on the good, the bad, and the ugly.

As I try to identify the positives that I will carry with me one comes to mind first; the power of a positive phone call. As an educator I have had to make my fair share of phone calls, but I have not always made the time to start each year with a positive one for every student.

During this global pandemic I decided that I would not contact a single one of my ESL families about school work until I had a chance to just visit with them and see how they were doing. I wanted them to know I was here first and foremost for the well-being of their child. We could worry about academics after I knew the child was doing well. I have never had such positive reaction and strong parental involvement as I have had this quarter.

Now, I understand that parents had to be involved as their child was now doing school from home, but these phone calls really set the tone for the last 9 weeks. Each family understood I was there to come alongside them to help and not to just let them know all the areas they were lacking.

After this year I will make it a priority to always make that positive contact first. I recently accepted a job as an assistant principal and I believe I can continue this in my new role and hopefully encourage my team to join me in this quest!

Check out this graphic on tips for making positive phone calls.

Educator’s Lifesaving Tip 4: Documenting

Educator’s Lifesaving Tip 4: Documenting


Document, document, document.

Oh, and document some more.

Has anyone else felt like they are documenting more than teaching? This is part of the new territory that comes with digital learning. I do not think I am alone in saying that it has been overwhelming. As I have gotten into a routine of things I wanted to share my process for documenting that works in the building and remotely.  



When documenting for any reason it is best to have some form of data that goes along with it. Anecdotal records are a great resource, but numbers can speak volumes when working on a team. Try to find a way to quantify your data before sharing. 



Details are good, but too many can make it hard to read. Bullet points on a shared document or lists on Google Sheets/Excel spreadsheet can help create a nice system for getting the important details communicated. Now, if the details are important then definitely include. Just make sure it adds to the overall purpose of the documentation and does not take away from it. 


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I have always said that no students belongs to one teacher- when a student steps foot in a build that I work, then that child’s academic, emotional, physical, and mental well-being are the responsibility of every person there. When documenting it does no good if you are the only person who sees it. Find a system that works for your school in sharing data so that everyone can benefit from it. I have used Google Doc or Google Sheets to share with people and within my Google Drive I have created Priority Workspaces to keep all of my documentation organized. I do not know how I would be surviving working from home without these tools! 



If you are documenting a situation that has happened and it includes another teacher’s name then it is best to include that teacher if possible. There may be scenarios where it is better to not include everyone involved and to allow another person to handle that conversation. If that is not the case, then give every person included in your documentation a heads up or carbon copy them to the email thread. 



Right now documenting can feel like it is all you are doing. Find a process that works best for you. I have heard people who like to document everything at the end of their work day and that is how they wrap up. That does not work for me, I forget things too quickly. I currently spend the last 10 minutes of every hour documenting what I have done for the previous 50 minutes. This makes it so that I do not spend too much time just writing about my day and I do not forget any details I would want to include. Having a set time will help you never miss anything important. 

A Student Guide to Learning from Home: Managing Stress Edition

A Student Guide to Learning from Home: Managing Stress Edition

Today hit me hard.

I woke up, worked out, made my cup of coffee, got the kids up, made our breakfast, got dressed, and then walked 15 steps to my desk.

Real talk, as I sat there waiting for my computer to start up, I felt like crying.

I am an extrovert. Enneagram, I am a 7- the Adventurer. I love being an educator because I get my energy being with people and my passion is inspiring the next generation of movers and shakers of the world. Social distancing and isolation is a nightmare to me, but I am doing it. I know this is what is needed to help flatten the curve and to literally save lives.

As I started getting into my groove working I thought about the fact I have 30+ years of life experiences to prepare me for this; and yet, I am struggling big time! So how on earth are my 11-15 year old students handling life right now?!

Today led me to writing the next edition in “A Student Guide to Learning from Home- Managing Stress”. I want to give students tools to not only be successful academically during this time, but also stay emotionally, mentally, and physically healthy as well.

Please feel free to share any of the graphics I create and you can find my personal email on my contact page if you have questions or ideas. We are all in this together!

A Student Guide to Learning from Home: Communicating with Your Teacher Edition

A Student Guide to Learning from Home: Communicating with Your Teacher Edition

I have been getting lots of great feedback and requests for new editions and the top requested one was an example of how students can correctly email their teachers. I remembered back in my Keyboarding class we were taught how to make envelope labels and format a letter, but now we need students to know how to creat a subject line and write a short and concise email to their teachers. This is my motivation for “Communicating with Your Teacher Edition” of A Student Guide to Learning from Home.

This graphic is a two part edition. The first is an infographic with important information to help format your email and the second is an example.

A Student Guide to Learning from Home: Work Space Edition

A Student Guide to Learning from Home: Work Space Edition

This is possibly one of the trickier ones, as people are limited with what they already have in their home. So look the latest infographic from the series “A Student Guide to Learning from Home” and do the best you can. It will make all the difference in the world when you have “your” space for working/learning.

A Student Guide to Learning from Home: Email Edition

A Student Guide to Learning from Home: Email Edition

I had a slight panic attack when I looked at the thousands of unread emails in my 6th grade son’s inbox. He had asked for my help looking for an assignment from his teacher and surprisingly – insert eye roll – couldn’t find it. I realized that organizing and managing emails was not a skill he had yet, understandably so. Therefore, today infographic in my series is- Email Edition.

A Student Guide to Learning From Home Series

A Student Guide to Learning From Home Series

2020 is unlike any year that I have experienced so far as an educator. I started a new role as an ESL Coordinator for a large school district in Northwest Arkansas. Learning a new role comes with its ups and downs and continual learning from typically more errors and than successes.

Then came March of 2020- COVID 19

Nothing could have prepared me or educators across the country for what was going to happen next. Schools shut down nationwide, even across the globe. School districts shifted overnight to distance learning with not time to prepare students- Kindergarten through 12th grade. Senior experience cut short; no spring sports, no prom, no graduation, no farewells to teachers and classmates… My heart still breaks for those students and their families.

Some schools are 1 to 1 and have the capability of sending devices home with students, others are not. Some students have WiFi access, other do not. There are several children who have IEPs, 504s, and LPACs and educators had to figure out how to meet those accommodations and modifications.

What I can say through everything is I have never been more proud of my career field, my coworkers, and my community. Teachers have come together globally to answer the question of how to best reach the needs of all students; not just academically, but physically and emotionally as well. District put together meal distribution plans so that no child would go hungry during school closures. Businesses ensured that every child would have what they needed- food, supplies, internet access, online resources…

I have been thinking about what I can do to contribute and decided to do a series for students and teachers called “A Student Guide to Learning from Home” with special edition graphics and videos throughout the next few weeks. I have been fortunate in this time of uncertainty because my husband is an independent contractor and has worked from home for the last 5 years. He helped me and our children create systems to help us while working and learning from home. So I have decided to take that information and share it with my fellow educators, parents, and children in hopes it can help each of you out as well.

This first graphic is an overview for learning from home. I will post more, so stay tuned! Enjoy 🙂

Digital Age in Industrial Education

Digital Age in Industrial Education

During the early 1900s America went through tremendous growth in manufacturing and the jobs that were available. Companies such as Ford Automotive demanded assembly line workers who could follow simple directions, memorize patterns, and retain a lot of facts about different parts of a working machine. The development of factories was so significant in our cultural identity that it actually shaped the way the American education system developed its pedagogy.

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Schools became assembly lines for children. Teachers specialized in a single subject; students were ushered from classroom to classroom being fit with each part as they went down the line. Students could be seen sitting in desks placed in rows, taking notes, raising their hands to answer questions, and then working independently on an assignment. On rare occasions you may have witnessed student working in groups.

The times are changing: education is not.

Fast forward to 2018.  Jobs that are in high demand now are not factory jobs; those have all been shipped overseas. According to Business Insider the jobs of the future are in engineering, customer service/HR, data science, architecture, technology management, financial analysis, and medicine. None of these fields require assembly line skills, but rather critical thinking, problem solving, creativity, and excellent communication skills.

We have seen a huge shift in the way our society functions and the needs required in the workplace, and yet I fear that education has not made the same adjustments needed to keep up with the ever changing world. As much as industry revolutionized the world a century ago, the digital age is having an even greater impact on our world today. Leaders in education must embrace new and better ways of educating children that prepare them life after graduation.

Embracing this change is not simply buying the new technology and placing into the hands of the teachers and students. It is a complete revision of how schools should operate. Schools no longer have to be contained in a building and with pen and paper. Educational leaders need to provide appropriate professional development in technology and pedagogy for their teachers and create a culture of taking risks.

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We are all the leaders in education today; students, teachers, instructional facilitators, interventionists, principals, and superintendents. We are moving into uncharted waters as new resources are being introduced daily. Educators and leaders need to be problem finders instead of problem solvers. It is not enough to wait until there is a deficit in skills like we are seeing today. The industrial age has come and gone, it is time for the education system that was structured around the assembly line to move on as well.

Adjusting to the digital age

In the book Digital Leadership by Eric Sheninger, the author outlines several different research based tools that can be used in the classroom which have shown positive results when used. I have experience with some of these tools. Most of the schools I have visited have been privileged with interactive white boards, tablets, document cameras, Chromebooks, and mobile technology.

Apple TV is a technology that I am familiar with in my own home, but had not thought about using it in the school. One major draw to using Apple TV in the classroom is its ability to mirror images from any Apple device onto a television or screen. If you are in a school that is able to provide iPads or other Apple devices, then all you need is an Apple TV and a device to project onto a screen such as a interactive white board or HDMI projector. Students would be able to share their work on their computer directly with the entire class.

Everyone in the education world is very aware of FERPA; if they are not, then they will most likely not have a job for long. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act ensures that no student information is shared with outside parties who do not need or require access to the information. With the shift of Cloud storage schools are able to spend less money on physical servers, and instead switch to virtual servers to house all documents. There is nothing in FERPA that restricts the use of virtual servers as long as there is documentation saying that the party housing the digital data will not share information without the parent or student’s permission.

Social Media.pngCompanies such as Google, Voicethread, Prezi, Padlet and many others are releasing free tools that promote collaboration, communication, and creativity. These are all skills needed to be successful in any workplace. The worn out cliché “there is an app for that” applies with Web 2.0 Applications.There are thousands of free applications to teach virtually any skill that is needed in today’s work place. Educators should look into the different applications to help create individualized lessons for the needs of all students.

As stated before, the need to have a school building is quickly fading. Video conferencing allows students to participate in a virtual classroom from a remote location. Videos of lectures can be uploaded to a classroom website or Google classroom for student access after school hours.

These are just a few tools that can be used to move classrooms away from industrial education and into the digital age. If you have any more tools to promote a 21st century classroom environment please leave a comment below!