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The Value of Coaching (or how I learned to ride a 10 speed bike)

This past weekend, my husband and I took an anniversary trip that we had been putting off for a little while (in favor of getting some travel in with the kids and out to see family). Our destination for this anniversary trip was Napa, California and I decided I wanted to do something active and scenic: bike riding. So, I told my husband to find us a nice bike tour of wine country without thinking much about what a bike tour might entail. We were with friends (my high school friend/college roommate/ maid of honor and her husband) and they had some pretty good experience with cycling. My husband, though more of a runner now, had done some cycling in his earlier years. This left me as the wild card in the group. No experience. How hard could it be?

Let me just get this part out of the way: I didn't die or otherwise hurt myself. When I say I didn't die or hurt myself, that probably sounds dramatic. Ok, it is dramatic. Truth is though, that it wasn't but a few minutes into the r…
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Iron Chef New Tech: Cooking With Authenticity In Your Projects

Written by Steffany Batik with many thanks to the instructional leadership team that helped make this learning experience happen: Norrie Brassfield (a special thanks to Norrie for setting up the contacts with our Coppell neighbors and for considerable legwork on getting the baskets set up), Carolyn Daniel, Anthony Hufford, Brandy Osterberger, Raheela Shaikh, Garrett Voelker.

This past summer, I had the opportunity to attend my first New Tech Annual Conference (NTAC) with a few of our staff members. One of the sessions I went to was a competition-based session dubbed PBL Chopped. In the session, school teams competed against each other to create the "tastiest" project using secret standards, a project slide template, and about 20 minutes on the clock. After observing this session and sharing with the other members of our team at NTAC, we felt that this could be an experience we could use for the facilitators in our building in a future staff development.

Fast forward several mo…

Reflection Bingo: A Strategy for Reflection, Connection, and Sharing

My district is one of the lucky districts that had the week before Christmas off (shopping was completed, parties attended, and I was rested!) which meant that we had to return the day after New Year for our professional learning. As the person kicking off our staff for a day of learning, I wanted to make sure that I was helping everyone to start in a positive and productive mood.  To that end, the idea for reflection bingo was born. 
I am a fairly reflective person and I have seen a lot lately about the oneword2018 hashtag. I've seen "one word" language used a lot in the last couple of years, and to be honest, I am somewhat resistant to it right now. As someone who is always stretching and trying to find new possibilities in so many corners of my life, I find the idea of one word to be very limiting. At the same time, I will also admit that while I find it limiting, some people find it very freeing in that it helps to provide focus and direction. So, no judgement, just n…

Wishing You Warm Memories

One of my fondest memories from childhood could have been one of my worst. I can't tell you how cold it was outside but I remember that there was a lot of snow on the ground (memorable because it is North Texas) and that the propane tank had run low. Since our heating came from that propane, it meant that my parents had to find another way to keep us warm. I imagine it was a really stressful time for my parents but it ended up a fun time for us kids. To help us all stay warm, we all piled into the living room where my parents started a fire in the fireplace and we layered up in clothes and blankets. I don't remember much else about that time, but what I remember is that it was a lot of fun and silliness in that living room until we could get a refill on the tank. Our bodies were warm enough because of the efforts my parents went through to make sure that was the case. More importantly though, we were a family, building warm memories despite the hard time. 

I can't experienc…

Fun Staff Holiday Idea: Up-Cycled School Shirts

This post is a bit of a departure from my usual musings, but I hope you'll find reading the content to be as fun as it was to live it!!

A week before the Thanksgiving break, I was sitting in the cafeteria with a couple of coworkers and our minds began to wander to the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas break. Well, once that started to happen, it wasn't long before we were talking about ways to make that time fun since it would otherwise be filled with end of semester projects, exams, and grades. From that conversation, was the birth of the idea to up-cycle some of our old school t-shirts. 

The rules of the staff shirt up-cycle game:

use an old staff or school shirtdecorate it for the holidaysbest decorated shirt wins a prize (and honestly, it was so much fun I am bringing everyone something on Monday who participated)When you throw something like this out, you never know who will participate. Some educators received a little (cough) help. Some decorated their shirts on thei…

You Know, We Really Like You This Year

This past week, I was sitting in a classroom at night working on a paper for my doctoral program so I could be on hand while the school's Haunted House was taking place. During that work, a learner walked in and asked to talk. We chatted about a few things and at the end, she gave me one of the greatest compliments that I have had all year. She said, "You know Ms. Batik, we really like you this year." I of course laughed because it is a pretty blunt statement, but also because it is a funny and true one. The learner felt the need to explain immediately, but to me the explanation wasn't necessary. I knew exactly what she was talking about.

It can be really difficult to follow a leader who was well-loved by her school community. This is true for anything: a band program, an athletics program, a theater program, and yes- even a school. The hardest group to win over in a situation like that are the upperclass-persons because they are the ones who have been around the lon…

Drinking Water From A Firehose

One of our favorite phrases in education is that new things are, "like drinking water from a firehose." I think the analogy is a favorite because there are a lot of instances where an educator steps into a situation and faces demands that are not only instant but high in quantity. Are you a teacher in a building with a new principal? Give them time, it's like drinking water from a firehose right now. Got a new superintendent? It's like drinking water from a firehose. Maybe you are the new principal or the new superintendent. Believe me, as someone who was a new principal last year... it's like drinking water from a firehose!
While the analogy is a good one and can apply to so many situations, it can be just as overwhelming to hear that. The question is, how do we turn the constant stream into something that is usable? I'm no firefighter (and my thoughts and prayers go out to the ones in California right now who are battling blazes), but I imagine that the way …

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