It started as a fun thing to do on a whim. I saw a tweet from @HeckAwesome  and thought, “Why not? I’ll sign up!” By the way, if you don’t follow @HeckAwesome, yet, you need to do that immediately.

I like to sketch, draw, and doodle. Never did I imagine the community-building aspect this would provide.

After signing up, I received an email on January 10th with my team members’ names; @foglia_mario, @MistyKluesner, @mrs_m_granger, @gadgetsgarcia, @AnnBruckerTIS, and our Team Leader @mospillman. I WAS FIRST ON THE LIST! I was hesitatant and a little nervous to be the first sketchnoter, but after seeing the talent on my team, I was thrilled that I was first.

The sketchnote started, and was passed along throughout the day bouncing all over the world.








Below is the final product of Team 10!

@AnnBruckerTIS brought us home!

This reminded me that sometimes the things that may appear small have a large impact. Due to #passthesketchnote I followed many folks that I hadn’t followed, yet. My PLN became stronger. I was challenged and inspired to grow. These are the types of experiences I want for both my staff members and my students.

Many thanks to @HeckAwesome and @mospillman for a great day on January 11!

What are some activities that at first seemed “small”, but that after implementing had large impacts on your classroom or school community?

My One Word 2018

Confidence – If I had to choose, that would be my one word for 2018.

Image created with @WordSwagApp

That’s not to say I’m never confidant, but as I reflected over break I realized that I can be more confident in some of the things I do.

My staff needs my confidence. When they come to me for guidance, when I have to make quick decisions, and even when I need to process things before making decisions – I need to exhibit confidence. The chance of making a wrong decision is always in the back of my head, especially in the position I am in. But I need to practice more often what I preach – that it takes failure to learn.

A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor. – Franklin D. Roosevelt

I also am aware I need more confidence in my writing. Writing is a huge goal of mine for 2018. I have blog post ideas as well as short story ideas. My buddies and I have ideas for Dungeons and Dragons campaigns. But when it comes down to it, I just need to write! I need the confidence to not overthink my blog posts and just hit “Publish.” I need more confidence that my voice will continue to develop as I write.

Confidence will come with experience. In order to gain that experience I need to just “do”. Do it. Write. Blog. Achieve the goals I have set for myself.

Community That Eats Together…

Wednesday was our last day before Winter Break. Thanks to one of our Evansville Teacher’s Federal Credit Union branches, I was able to provide a breakfast for my staff before the business and excitement of the day began.

I’ve  had the pleasure of serving Vogel as principal for 7 months now, and since day one I’ve been impressed with the sense of community around the building. Many of the children who attend Vogel have parents and grandparents who attended Vogel. The staff absolutely loves their jobs and is loyal to the school.

As staff came to the media center to get breakfast, I couldn’t help but smile when they sat down at tables together to eat. With the demands on our time, I wouldn’t have blamed them if they got food and went back to rooms to eat while prepping for the day. But my staff sat down together, as a community, as a family, to enjoy their breakfast. I don’t even think they realized the message they were sending.


Image created with @WordSwagApp

Simply providing food does not build or curate a culture within a school. However providing opportunities for people to talk, laugh, and recover creates a culture in which we all can sustain the compassion that we innately have that led us to our careers in education.



Is My Teaching “Sticky?”

An oldie, but a goodie! This was awesome when I utilized it in my 4th grade classroom!

As I was browsing Pinterest one evening, scouring the boards for pins with ideas to enhance my practices, I saw a pin with a board that read, “What Stuck With You Today?”. I’ve always been a proponent of student voice and every voice being heard. Even children who are typically quiet or shy have much to say.

I immediately put a board up for my students. We love using post-it notes for writing, so I knew they would like using them for this board. We also use a variety of formative assessments in class. The “exit ticket” is used quite often to get a gauge of understanding. This board provides yet another formative assessment.

There was a bit of a curve when introducing this to my fourth graders. The first time they wrote on the post-its, many of the “sticky” items were vague. Some said “fractions”, while some said “Main Idea.” I used that as an impromptu teaching point for descriptive writing. Now that the children are becoming a bit more comfortable with using this board, they are writing clear, descriptive items. One child recently wrote “Why the denominators stay the same when adding fractions”. This is a gauge to let me know what’s sticking and what is not. Plus, it’s always nice to allow children the chance to express themselves.

Have You Thought About?

While browsing old blog posts, another one of my favorites was “Is My Teaching Sticky?” I realized that I have put into place something similar this year for my staff. After one particular staff meeting earlier in the year, I remember reflecting and realizing that I wanted teachers to have an opportunity to speak up without fear or anxiety. Being new to the building and being so early in the year, I was sure teachers weren’t quite comfortable with approaching me with concerns quite yet.  I also wanted to honor anonymity if that’s what they wanted.

Enter the “Have You Thought About?” board!

Anytime after a staff meeting, or anytime in general, staff members can place a post-it on a “Have You Thought About…?” board to express concerns. Let’s be honest, we don’t think of everything!! This not only allows staff to share thoughts and concerns, but it has helped me adjust and refine my practices. One time after sending an updated Recess/Lunch Duty Schedule, a staff member had a “Have you thought about?” concern around the placement of adults on duty. Turns out I overlooked something on the schedule that needed fixing!

Another time a staff member submitted a concern that I HAD thought about, but my decision on the matter had to remain. This concern being submitted did, however, showed me that I needed to communicate the WHY a bit clearer.

My staff begun to realize that I am approachable and have an open door policy. I will always be transparent when it comes to concerns they may have. The “Have You Thought About…?” board remains intact, as it still provides an avenue to relay concerns.

Objectives Board

We’ve all seen the “board.” I’m sure it goes by different names. Objectives Board. Learning Target Board. I Can Board. The list probably goes on and on.

As a 4th/5th grade teacher, when the I CAN movement made its way to my district, I had a board and did my best to make it useful for my children. My team and I broke down standards into bite-sized targets, and that’s what I put on my board each day. Some content areas would have a new target each day. We boxed key words from the targets…I felt my children truly knew what our purpose was. And I’ve seen these types of boards utilized very effectively in different content-areas and grade levels.

The other day I observed a Kindergarten teacher. This is the board I saw in her room.

Objectives board in a Kindergarten room.

During the lesson I saw children using the board. They knew what letters they were working on. They knew which site words were the focus. They knew what the focus was for math.

Are the actual “I Can” words necessary all of the time? Would you say the target needs to be spelled out on the board? Or is it enough that children know how to use the board?

Why Use Twitter?

I constantly spread the message of Twitter to those who will listen. (My coworkers have heard that message….a lot.) There are a few who utilize Twitter at my building, but I’m on a mission to encourage more people to use it. So, I sat down in a notebook and compiled a list of reasons to use Twitter. Here is what I came up with. 


It’s Free & Easy to use!
There’s not much else to say about this fact. IT’S FREE! Create an account and get started. There really isn’t much of a learning curve with Twitter.

Connect with other educators
There is nothing better than connecting with other educators who share your passions, love to collaborate, and challenge your thinking. In my opinion, those are three essential pieces to any quality PD: collaborate, share passions, challenge your thinking.

There are weekly #chats where educators come together to discuss ideas. I’ve been involved in many and have never walked away without a new idea. #chats can be grade-level specific (#5thchat, #1stchat, etc) , or can just be about an educational idea/revolution (#tlap, #llap). There are so many chats, and it’s easy to take part. You can post any tweet with those hashtags, as well, and anyone who searches the hashtags can see it.

On your own time & 365 days of access
No one tells me when to logon to Twitter. No one tells me how long I need to spend on Twitter to earn a “PD point”. But despite these things, I find myself constantly logging on to read and discuss different topics and ideas relevant to education.

Sense of community
This point ties in with connecting with other educators. The individuals I’ve encountered on Twitter have been nothing but helpful. I’ve tweeted requests for resources, and I’ve tweeted questions, and each time multiple people respond. Although your tweets initially are seen by your followers, your followers can retweet it to their followers, and BOOM, you’ve just reached more people within minutes of posting.

In the current era of PD-driven education Twitter is invaluable. Twitter is not a burden. It is not “another thing” to do. It’s really become a part of the “dough” of my teaching. Start small, and as you become comfortable with it tweet more often, get involved in #chats, and have fun! Share your experiences.

The question should be: Why not use Twitter? 


This is another one of my favorite posts from my old blog. It was written a couple of years ago, and the content still holds true! I love Twitter and over the past couple of years I’ve connected with even more great educators. My Twitter PLN inspires me to be better! Are you on Twitter, yet?

One Cafe Manager…Serving Culture for Breakfast

This was a post from last Fall, but as I’m moving my blog to a new platform, I’m moving over the posts that I feel are most important. This is the first post I’m moving. Enjoy!


Lisa Garrett. Cafeteria Manager at Stockwell Elementary. Many would consider her job a small part of the school environment – but I have news for you, all of the staff at Stockwell would wholeheartedly disagree with that statement.

Lisa greets the staff each and every morning with an email. Her energy and voice come through the email and invigorates us all for the day to come. Below is an example of such an email:

Sorry Peepsters – I just couldn’t start out the day any other way after last night.  It’s been 108 years in the making but my Cubbies finally pulled it off and cancelled the curse of the Billy Goat.  Can I get a big old Wahooooo…..  (Sorry Ms. Brocato!)

Now that I have that out of my system (well, not entirely!), what can I do for you today?  Pizza and turkey and cheese sammies are going to be sliding across the serving line today, but if you fancy something else… know what to do.  (Oh yeah, the tuna salad got lonely and swam away with the pimento cheese spread, but I still have plenty of chicken salad.)

Have a stupendous kind of day Folks.  GO CUBS!!!!  Toodles J

Trivia:  Who won the first American Nobel Prize for science in 1907?

**The head of the University of Chicago physics department, Albert Michalson. The University of Chicago has more Nobel Laureates associated with it than any other institution (64). In 1942, the University of Chicago became the site of the world’s first controlled atomic reaction. (Kapowwie!)

Not only is she a shining face and personality for the children, but she also takes care of the staff. We can’t say enough how much we appreciate her.

The following happened yesterday:

Lisa sent out an email saying that she had a batch of scrambled eggs with bacon, and that if teachers wanted some all they had to do was walk to the cafe and get some. Well, in my role, I serve two buildings, and that happened to be a day where I was at my other building. I playfully emailed back, “WHAAAAATTTT?!?!?!? I’d be all over that if I was there today.”

I went about my business at my other building. About 20 or 30 minutes later, guess who I see coming up to the building? ? ? That’s right….LISA GARRETT! In her hands are two bags, each with a helping of delicious eggs and a cup of fruit. Hand delivered. I was speechless. Absolutely speechless.

The positivity that she brings to our school culture could never be accurately expressed with words. She doesn’t do any of these things for recognition, but she more than deserves some!