Learning & Growth: WOW, what a painful & messy process!

Collaboration…Frustration…Student Voice…Empathy…Respect…Employability

It started with the idea that this journey would be nothing but uplifting & inspiring.  It quickly turned into extreme frustration & desperation, as I was stepping beyond the security of what I have always done.  Now it has become rewarding & meaningful, with optimism for what lies ahead.  As a coach of both golf & baseball and someone who is fascinated by evaluating both golf & hitting fundamentals, I would compare my learning journey to that of trying to change a player’s swing.  When we make changes to a golf swing or a hitter, often times the immediate result is regression, frustration & increased failure.  But, as I have encouraged my students to embrace, and as Jeff Utecht has encouraged us to embrace, this failure is often disguising increased learning.  So it is with my professional learning journey as an educator so far this school year.

Below is my story.

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1. Collaboration:

Related Blog Posts
A New and Exciting Professional Learning Journey Begins
New Perspectives About Student Learning
New Learning in a New Century:  What can we learn from each other?
Teacher vs. Facilitator of Learning: Which do I want to be?

Be creative we were told.  Be willing to take a risk we were told.  Our reflection about our own practice revealed that we were feeling as though we spent too much time “enabling” and “hand-holding” our students through the learning process.  So, we decided to “Learn to Fly” ourselves by challenging our student’s to do the same.  What developed was the “Impress Me” Project.  Gunner, Allison and I have embarked on a journey of collaboration between our three classes (United States History, English & Anatomy) to challenge our students to take on a novel & unique concept.  To find some aspect of life that interests them, explore & investigate that aspect & produce a finished product that answers the essential question: “How did we get here?”  That’s it.  No kidding!  That is it.  Scary right?  No step-by-step instructions.  No minimum requirements.  No rubric.  But most importantly, NO GRADE!  We have entertained many questions from students so far along this learning journey.  “How will this be graded?”  It won’t.  “When will this be due?”  June, if you want to participate.  “Who will see this?”  You will present the final project to your fellow classmates.  “Why are we doing this?”  Because we want to give you freedom, challenge you to be creative and provide you an opportunity to produce something you can be proud of once it is complete.  To focus on LEARNING.  Not a grade.  What an incredible learning environment we can create if the focus moves away from teacher-directed hoop-jumping for a grade and moves toward student interest, student-directed questions of inquiry, an intrinsic desire to learn and the final reward being increased understanding, skill development, improved confidence & pride.  While we are still quite early in this journey, there have been some excellent conversations and some wonderful celebrations.  However, it has not been without its frustrations.

“Impress Me” Project Resources (so far): 
“Impress Me” Project Proposal Sheet  
“Impress Me” Project Story Board & Action Steps

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2. Frustration:

Related Blog Posts –
Where do we (I) go from here??? Help!

What could go wrong?  We are taking off the chains of traditional education & allowing more freedom.  This will be great!  Until it wasn’t.  Until the students didn’t seem to buy in or want to make the effort necessary to allow this approach to be most effective.  Enter FRUSTRATION.  You see, I was attempting to apply these principles in some way to my classes in all areas, not just the “Impress Me” Project.  The problem was this was a different approach for many students and for me the teacher. We were all a bit uncomfortable & unsure.  It led to, as it often does, to irritation, annoyance & FRUSTRATION for me & my students.  Bottom line, we were not in a good place in November 2018.

Quote from my “Where do we (I) go from here??? Help” Blog (November 26th, 2018)
“On the one hand, it is a feeling of my best efforts & intentions being disrespected on a daily basis.  On the other hand, it is a feeling of extreme helplessness, as I continue to try different approaches, but none seem to make the impact for which I am searching.  To be transparent & honest, I am at a point of frustration that I am losing motivation to continue to implement some of these strategies to strive to motivate these students.  However, I am determined to overcome.  Determined to continue to fight the fight I believe in.  Determined to regain that passion & belief that we can make an impact & that we can make a difference in our student’s lives.  Determined to succeed.”

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3. Student Voice:

By the 2nd week of December, it was clear that something needed to change.  This grand idea of collaboration with Gunner & Allison was not yielding the results in my classroom that I had hoped for.  While the discussions & conversations with two good friends & trusted colleagues helped keep me grounded, I was getting increasingly frustrated with my inability to reach my students & make an impact.  It was at this point that I decided my students needed to be a part of the solution.  They needed to bear some of this burden to improve our classroom.  It is their classroom after all, not mine.  I am simply the facilitator of learning.  So, through many collaborative discussions with Gunner, Allison & Bob (I am so very thankful & grateful for these friendships) I decided to take some time to ask my students to reflect (which I believe we need to ask young people to do more often) on their own approach, performance & perspective about our class (see Google Form below).

* Posted Instructions on Google Classroom for US History (December 12, 2018):
HORNET VALUES:  Honesty – Responsibility – Dedication – Teamwork – Acceptance – Leadership

We are in need of developing a plan & understanding of not only WHAT we want to accomplish (i.e. what we want to learn; skills we want to develop, etc.), but also HOW we want to accomplish (i.e. traditional learning; self-choice of topics, etc.) these goals. In order for this to be successful, you need to be willing to participate in a certain way.

1. Be HONEST with YOURSELF & with Mr. Murphy
2. Be WILLING to be ACCOUNTABLE for your actions & decisions
3. Be MATURE enough to understand that you attend EHS to try to improve as a person/student (this is your filter)
– In other words, what skills & habits do you have that would make you EMPLOYABLE in the workforce, military, etc.?
4. Be WILLING to HONESTLY participate in a group discussion & offer SOLUTIONS to the issues

What you are being asked to complete today & what needs to be completed by Wednesday, 12/12:
1. Google Form – Complete the attached “How’s It Going & Where do we go from here?” Google Form (attached)
2. Google Question – Respond to the prompts listed below on this Google Question
3. Personal Goals – Complete the SMART goals for the remainder of 1st Semester (see the assignment on Google Classroom)

* GOOGLE QUESTION REFLECTION PROMPTS (Address ALL prompts in your response):
1. What are your thoughts after reviewing the data?
2. Why are so many assignments (40%) NOT being completed “on-time”?
3. Why are so many assignments (34%) NOT being turned in at all?
4. What is the teacher’s role in addressing this concern? What would you do if you were the teacher?
5. What is the teacher’s role in keeping student’s off of their cell phones (i.e. music, social media, games) during class?
6. How do you want to improve in your time at EHS? What would make your time at EHS valuable for you?

Word of advice, if you choose to survey your students about the quality & effectiveness of your classroom (which I ABSOLUTELY recommend), be prepared to reflect on your own practices & be willing to listen to constructive criticism.  What an eye-opening experience!  Information that I expected.  Information that I did not expect.  Comments & evaluations that made me feel good.  Comments & evaluations that didn’t feel so good.  Bottom line, it created an environment where my students felt their opinion mattered.  While I was not looking forward to it I knew that this survey needed to be followed up with conversation.  But, not classroom conversation.  Individual one-on-one meetings to discuss both the good & the bad reflections.  But, this would take too much time!  That didn’t matter to me.  I was at a crossroads & this needed to happen.  So, we spend almost two weeks continuing to work through content, but each class period taking the time to meet with students one-on-one to discuss their evaluation.  Sometimes in the classroom, often times in the new common area in our new school, sometimes in the chairs in the hall outside of my room & even sitting on the stairs.  What a powerful & enlightening experience for me as an educator! What an empowering experience for my students! For the first time in a while, I felt I could see the education system through my student’s lens.  For the first time, maybe ever for some, my students could see the education system through their teacher’s lens.  We began to truly respect one another & try to understand what we were attempting to achieve in our classroom.

Student Voice Resource: 
How’s it Going & How Do We Improve?” Student Survey (Google Form)

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4. Empathy & Respect:

Related Blog Posts –
Empathy – The role it plays in our lives, in our world & especially in our classrooms

I truly believe that EMPATHY is potentially the most significant character trait that we can develop in our young people.  In all people.  “The ability to understand and share the feelings of another.” If we have the willingness to try to understand what those around us are going through, then we have created an environment of respect.  Here is my “aha” moment:  I was not feeling respected by my students (lack of work completion, lack of attendance, cell phone distractions, etc.) and as a result, I began to treat them in a disrespectful manner.  Bottom line, neither one of us were demonstrating much empathy.  How can I expect them to be empathetic if I am not modeling this behavior?  It hit me like a brick upside the head.  NOTHING will change in our classrooms until we create this environment of respect & empathy.  Through the student survey, multiple conversations (as a class & individuals), by listening (not just hearing) my students & being willing to take a risk at a new approach to my classroom in my 21st year of teaching I have become re-energized!  I am truly excited about this new direction & approach.

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5. Employability & Student Choice:

It started with a willingness to not just HEAR my students, but an effort to LISTEN to what they needed & wanted.  Through the student survey process & the individual one-on-one meetings (which was time-consuming & challenging), I was able to find what seemed to be a common theme.  Students, just like us as adults, want to know that the work they are doing matters.  In other words, they want the work they are doing to (or at least understand how the work they are doing will) have meaning for them in the future.  Yes, they wanted the class to be more entertaining, fun, interesting, etc.  All the typical catch phrases we hear from our students, but most consistently they wanted the work they were doing to have meaning beyond high school.  What became clear to me through this realization that we both desired respect & empathy was that skills (academic, social, emotional, etc.) were at the core of what should be our focus.  I have always believed this & been driven to help my students develop these skills, but I was now aware that I needed my students to be involved in developing the direction of our learning.  We decided as a class (yes, much of this has been from student input) that we would focus on a daily & weekly basis on the skills that would make them “employable.”  (see rubric below)  We are starting with daily reflections at the end of the class period asking them to evaluate themselves as if they were their own boss or supervisor.  We use the Student Self-Evaluation of Performance (Employability Skills) Rubric at the conclusion of each week.  I add my evaluation as their “supervisor” over the weekend and we see how our two evaluations match.  This leads to good conversations on Monday.  In addition, students now have “choice” in my classroom regarding content.  They are given the option of choosing a “Traditional” learning path or a “Self-Guided” learning path.  Either path will still be evaluated through the lens of “employability,” as this is our focus, but they are given absolute freedom over what they would like to learn within our content unit.  In fact, they get to determine their assessment.  We are still in the infancy of this new journey, but so far the results, the conversations, the smiles, the respect, and the empathy have been amazing.  More work is being completed.  Higher level conversations are taking place.  More creative work is being produced.  I an environment of RESPECT has developed.  Once again I am excited to begin class each day!  I can’t wait to see where this journey takes me next!

Employability & Student Choice Resources:
Student Self-Evaluation of Performance (Employability Skills) Rubric
Unit Approach – 1920’s”  Student Choice of Learning Path (Google Form)
Unit Approach – World War II” Student Choice of Learning Path (Google Form)
World War II Unit Approach – Student Results” (Google Form)


Gunner Argo – Thank you for being such a close friend & colleague.  I greatly appreciate your willingness to listen, not judge & provide advice & encouragement.

Allison Abrahamse – You inspire me to be better at my profession.  I am in awe of your ability to connect with young people & get the best out of them.  Thank you.

Bob Kilmer – Thank you for being a mentor & friend.  Your wisdom & knowledge are greatly respected.  Thank you for making me a better teacher & person.

JB Blair – Thank you for your example of professionalism & innovation.  Also, thank you for pushing me to develop my “mission statement.” It altered my path from frustration to optimism.  Thank you.

Murphy’s Professional Mission Statement:
“To develop empathetic global citizens with a passion for service leadership.”

Murphy’s Personal Mission Statement:
“To guide young people to success, happiness, empathy and to make a positive impact in the world.”



Empathy – The role it plays in our lives, in our world & especially in our classrooms?


Blog Prompt:  “Ways we, as educators, can empower students and other educators to use technology to make a positive impact in their world.”

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Many topics regarding education have been on my mind lately, but none more so than the role of empathy in our lives, in our world and in our classrooms.  You see, the world needs each of us to practice more empathy.  Not sympathy, but empathy.  Sympathy is simply “feeling compassion, sorrow, or pity for the hardships that another person encounters” whereas empathy is “putting yourself in the shoes of another.”  To truly develop an understanding of what others are going through we must be willing to be authentic & sincere in our attempts to “put yourself in the shoes of another.”  Only then will we truly be empowered to make a positive impact on the world around us and those we interact with.  By no means am I perfect in this area, in fact, this is a current focus of attention for me in my professional life (with students & colleagues) and in my personal life (with friends & family).  It is a focus for me on a daily basis in my classroom with my students.  In a previous blog post, I mentioned my professional mission in education was “To develop empathetic global citizens with a passion for service leadership (serving others).”  This, to me, is one of the most important emotional & educational developments for our students. To develop awarenesscaring for those around them. This is my passion & guiding principle.

Technology can play a massive role in this development if used correctly & with awareness about the pitfalls that accompany the prevalence of this technology.  For example, in the article “Can’t put down the phone? How smartphones are changing our brains – and lives” author Lynee Peoples writes “The mere presence of a smartphone seemed to reduce the quality of conversations in one study.”  Additionally, she suggests “Even basic human decency may be sacrificed. Research suggests that smartphones can inhibit people from offering help to strangers on the street, reduce how much we smile at unfamiliar faces in a waiting room and even lessen our trust of strangers, neighbors, and people of other religions or nationalities.” If this truly is the case, then we have a responsibility as professional educators to help young students understand how to be conscious of these dangers and to intentionally use technology to POSITIVELY impact the world around them.  This begins with helping our students develop an informed view of the world around them, both local & global, through a lens of empathy.  The access to global perspectives, resources & information through technology, as well as being globally connected through social media, Google Hangouts, YouTube, etc. enhances our ability to increase this awareness.  The goal is to truly, truly make the effort to learn & understand those around them & the world around them by seeking out interpersonal conversations (putting the phone down!) and by using their connected world (pick the phone/Chromebook up!) to learn & understand more about those around them.

As stated earlier in this blog post, I am FAR from perfect in this area.  As a high school teacher, there are many times that frustration creeps in and a lack of empathy for what my students are dealing with leads to difficult situations.  A recent celebration for me in this area has been the past couple of weeks.  With the intent to learn more about what my students are dealing with & how they feel, we have spent time with student-voice course surveys and I have met with each one of my students in a one-on-one conversation regarding how we can best support their development personally & academically.  It has been insightful, inspiring & productive in developing an environment of empathy & understanding for both my students & myself.  It has allowed me to return to the roots of why I chose to enter the teaching profession, “To guide young people to success, happiness, and empathy in order to make a positive impact in the world.” It has re-centered me & given me direction.  There is still much improvement & work to do in this area, but I am excited to be focusing on such an important aspect of creating a better & more cohesive world.  EMPATHY! Pass it on!

How to Increase Empathy in the Digital Era” – Amy Blankson
Using Snapchat to Develop Empathy in a Technology-Driven World” – Beth Holland
Our technology is only as empathetic as we are” – Susan Lahey

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Learning Outside the Walls of our Classroom: “Let’s Take a Field Trip”

Uganda - Rachel & Isaac Mubezi 2017 (1)0313170840
Google Hangout with Uganda                         Google Hangout with Haiti

Developing empathetic global citizens with a passion for service leadership.

Steve Murphy, Mission Statement
(Thank you JB Blair for the “push”)


Global learners!  These are the students we have in our 21st Century classrooms & what type of learner we should be striving to develop.  The fact of the matter is that the vast majority of our students are already “global learners” in some sense of the concept.  Whether it be through SnapChat, Instagram, Fortnite or online gaming our students are comfortable existing in the world outside of the walls in which they are sitting.  Not only are they comfortable in a “global world”, they expect to be engaged at that level.  So, it makes sense then that they would not be fully engaged with a basic worksheet or paper/pencil assignment in class.  As stated in my mission statement above (by the way, take the time to read JB Blair’s blog “The Importance of Mission” to be inspired to develop your own mission), I am passionate about providing my students with a diversity of global content that develops in them an increased awareness of the world in which they live.   My belief is that if we can make their learning more than simply “hoop jumping” to get a grade, we can create NEW academic experiences that will spark significantly more excitement in our classrooms.

The possibilities are endless in our 1-to-1 connected environment!  We just have to be willing to take the risk of changing how we present our content & provide freedom to our students for how & what they learn.  My personal testimony is that I have seen this first-hand in my classroom the past few years & have a desire to make these global, new experiences occur with more frequency.  As with any new endeavor, there are intervening obstacles, however.  For me, that has been accessing resources, individuals, contacts, etc. outside of my classroom.  To be honest, I still have not been able to figure out how to develop these connections in an effective manner.  I am comfortable with how to organize or structure a global lesson (i.e. “A Step-by-Step Guide to Global Collaborations“) and have always believed in the incredible impact these lessons have on my students.  The obstacle for me, at this point, is simply knowing how to find these connectionsJeff Utecht has been extremely helpful as a mentor & friend in this area, suggesting using Google+, Twitter and other online professional learning communities, but I have had limited success (due to user error & infrequent attempts).

So, I would like to make a request & ask for help!  A few years ago, when I had the opportunity to present “Creating Global Citizens Through Technology” at our grass-roots ESD Boundless Learning Institute I began to wonder how many global connection resources we have within our Enumclaw School District professional learning community.  My idea was to create a shared resource where our staff & students in Enumclaw could add “global” (international & within the U.S.) connections of people who would be willing to participate to help expand the walls of our learning within our classroom.  My request is as follows:

Please let me know if you would like me to add you as a collaborator to the “Global Connections for ESD” Google MyMaps that I have created. 

I have included a screenshot below of the contacts & resources that I have added in my initial attempt to start this resource.  My hope is that this could develop into a collaborative resource for us to use within the Enumclaw School District.  If someone is interested in “going global” with a lesson they could check this resource and contact the ESD staff member who added the contact to help arrange the connection.  Additionally, please let me know if you have any suggestions as to how to improve this idea & make it a quality resource for us to become global learners.

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It is extremely exciting to think that we can create a learning environment for our students that will expand their exposure to more than just our local environment.  To help create an environment of “learning for life” with the goal of creating empathetic global citizens who will make a positive impact on those around them.  Let’s go for it!

  • Additionally, if there is anyone out there on Twitter who would like to connect with a Social Studies classroom in Enumclaw, Washington please contact me.  

Thank you. 

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Where do we (I) go from here??? Help!

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HELP!  (Warning:  This is a blog post venting current frustrations within the classroom)

I fear that I am at a breaking point.  At a point of fight or flight.  The struggle with apathy & what seems to be a genuine lack of interest in academic achievement is slowly draining me of energy for what I truly believe in.  The lack of desire, from a growing number of students, to complete work at a high level, heck, the lack of desire to complete work at all has created a tremendous amount of irritation.  The daily frustration associated with feeling as if my efforts fall on deaf ears has created a feeling of helplessness.  It used to be an aspect of the teaching profession in which I took great pride.  The aspect of “motivating students” to do their best, to become the best person & student they can be, to work hard.  But the modern classroom has created great confusion for me.  I’m not sure how to reach many (at least that is what it feels like) of my modern students.  On the one hand, it is a feeling of my best efforts & intentions being disrespected on a daily basis.  On the other hand, it is a feeling of extreme helplessness, as I continue to try different approaches, but none seem to make the impact for which I am searching.  To be transparent & honest, I am at a point of frustration that I am losing motivation to continue to implement some of these strategies to strive to motivate these students.  However, I am determined to overcome.  Determined to continue to fight the fight I believe in.  Determined to regain that passion & belief that we can make an impact & that we can make a difference in our student’s lives.  Determined to succeed.  I just don’t know exactly how right now.  But I am searching.  Any ideas, thoughts or suggestions (or simply encouraging thoughts) would be greatly appreciated.

HELP!  Thank you.

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Teacher vs. Facilitator of Learning: Which do I want to be???

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I have always believed being a “teacher” was more about helping young people develop life skills than learning our subject matter content.  This is still the driving force behind my desire to be a professional educator & mentor for young people.  My passion is helping to develop productive, passionate & quality young people who will make a positive impact on the world.  To make the world a better place.  To provide “lollipop moments” to those around them.

Maybe because I feel I can make a greater impact in these areas.  An admitted lack of self-confidence in my ability to put together the perfect (you see, I am a perfectionist) innovative & great lesson may contribute to this perspective.  But, you see, the perfect lesson or project does not exist.  The “learning,” whether about content or life, happens throughout the journey.  And on this journey, I want to move to truly being a “facilitator” of experiences & learning.

However, I also want to create & offer a productive & engaging “learning” environment

So, we need to change the playbook of education.  And we need to allow ourselves (by this I mean ME) to turn our approach to a completely new structure to our classroom & learning.  The diagram of Education in the 21st Century above is now my NEW GOAL!

I want to be a Facilitator of Learning!  I want to create an environment that is Empowering Students to take Creative Action!
–  I want to provide experiences of learning that go beyond the 4 walls of my classroom.
–  I want an authentic, student-centered learning environment.

As we continue on this “cadre” journey together, it is easy to be overwhelmed by the massive amount of information & suggestions.  I am a big believer in trying to do one thing great, rather than many things good enough.  The same goes for seeking out suggestions & thoughts.  So, I focused on exploring the postings of the following blog:

Education Rickshaw

“In order to truly reject the pedagogy of the 20th century, which may have been adequate for the time, we literally have to make a 180° turn and run the other way.”

“…learning extends beyond the classroom walls…”

“…students are inspired and empowered to act, rather than sit back and have the knowledge brought to them…”

These were just a few of the quotes from the inspiring posts I explored in this blog.  I am buoyed by the conversations I have had this past week with Allison, Gunner, Eric & Jenny regarding throwing out the “status-quo” and “going for it” to create a new model in our classrooms.  I am encouraged by the energy that my colleagues have gained from this freedom (yes, Allison, your excitement has been inspiring).  🙂

Encourage interaction & personalization for our students.  HOW???  I don’t want this to just be a cliche, 21st Century buzz-word to my students that is code for “we get to do whatever we want.”  My biggest roadblock is that I continue to have trouble letting go of having an “intended outcome.”  While the best experiences I have had in the past few years involve projects, lessons and classroom experiences where there has been no clear intended outcome, it is still an obstacle in my planning.  I believe whole-heartedly that we need to create an environment that the “teacher” is NOW the “facilitator of learning.”  That the students are empowered to direct their learning.

But, will this happen??? Unfortunately, I am skeptical, as I am concerned that the “skill” of production & work ethic will still be a roadblock for our students.  That many will still choose to not produce or focus or work, even if they have ownership.  However, this will not stop me from believing this is the correct approach & going for it.

“This learning is so nonlinear, publicly shared, and student-driven that there is no silver bullet for how to achieve this in your classroom overnight.”

There is no “blueprint,” but that is NOT going to be a roadblock for me.
It is going to be what makes it exciting!

Any feedback, thoughts and/or encouraging words would be greatly appreciated.  

Journey, here we go! 

New Learning in a New Century: What can we learn from each other?


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What is the role of a professional educator in the 21st Century?  Heck, what has been the role of a professional educator in our education system since it’s inception?  There have been so many different theories, perspectives, subjects & approaches throughout that it is easy to get overwhelmed & lost as to what is the fundamental purpose of a teacher.  It has been presented that the role of a teacher has shifted from being the “fountain of knowledge” as it was in the 20th Century to being the “facilitator of learning” in the 21st Century.  This a result of the rise of the Internet & the massive, even overwhelming, amount of information that is at our fingertips on a daily, even minute-by-minute basis.  For many professionals in education, this shift is overwhelmingly uncomfortable.  You see, we are creatures of habit & change is quite difficult.  Additionally, the vast majority of those who have chosen to work in education have done so because we desire to make a significant difference in the lives of our students who we care so deeply about.  My perception is that by moving to the facilitator or the “guide on the side,” we have a sense that our role has become less significant.  This is misguided & short-sighted thinking.  I would argue that our role is still one of significant impact.  In fact, it is of the same level of significant impact that it has always been if we truly understand our role in the lives of our students.  While content, scope & sequence, standardized tests & grades have always been present, they are not what measures the true impact we have on our students.  Don’t get me wrong, academic content, thinking/reasoning skills & knowledge are important, but let’s not be naive to think that these will define the lasting impact we will make on our students.  Regardless of the era of education, our role has been to inspire young minds & build quality citizens.  To teach these young learners to be empathetic, to be aware of the world around them & to develop the ingenuity to make their world & the world around them a better place.  While we may be fearful of the younger generations use of social media & access to massive amounts of information, it is imperative that we join in their journey & help them navigate how to use this in a way to elicit positive change.  Our Instructional Technology Learning Cadre has the opportunity to practice what we can then model & teach to our students.  In “Living and Learning with New Media” the authors present that the youth of today are consistently

“hanging out and communicating with friends, but the characteristics of networked publics do create new kinds of opportunities for youth to connect, communicate, and develop their public identities.” 

They also discuss the idea of peer-based learning, stating

Our description of friendship-driven learning describes a familiar genre of peer-based learning, in which online networks are supporting those sometimes painful but important lessons in growing up, giving youth an environment to explore romance, friendship, and status just as their predecessors did.”

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I am excited about the opportunity to join in a peer-based learning cadre, as well as “hang out” with my friends & colleagues to connect, communicate & develop our role as “facilitators of learning.”  While this is a different & uncomfortable journey it is one that will result in great impact & is absolutely possible for us to inspire one another & our students to be creative & engaged in their learning.

I can’t wait to see where this journey takes us! 

New Perspectives About Student Learning


I am extremely excited about this next step in the journey of impacting student learning in an innovative & authentic manner.  For many years now I have desired to co-teach with my incredible & inspiring colleagues.  It is energizing to work closely with those you greatly respect and the impact we can make with our students is greatly enhanced.  While we are still in the beginning stages of creation I am energized and hopeful about the collaborative risk of a journey we about to begin!  Allison & Gunner, let’s go for it and make this happen in a way that impacts the lives of our students and makes a tremendous difference in their learning & lives.

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A New & Exciting Professional Learning Journey Begins!


A new building for Enumclaw High School.  A new classroom at Enumclaw High School.  A new challenge for me as an educator at Enumclaw High School.  I am tremendously hopeful & excited to start this new journey to further the use of technology & student-centered learning in our classroom.  I am energized to be able to collaborate in a positive & innovative learning community (Instructional Leadership Cadre) with my colleagues and energized by the possibilities of authentic learning that will be created for our students!

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AP with WE: Impacting Lives in Uganda

Global…..Service…..Collaboration…..Growth Mindset…..Possible!

This year my AP Human Geography class is in the 2nd year of our AP with WE journey.  Last year the lessons learned about service by my freshmen at Enumclaw High School were abundant as we created a cooking class designed to help support those in our local community who are Food Insecure & Hungry.  Our WE Nourish: Serving Enumclaw & Black Diamond cooking class was a great success & has been continued this year as many of these students have continued their work in our extra-curricular AP with WE Service Club.  For this year’s freshmen, our AP with WE journey is focusing on helping provide Access to Health Care for those in our local community & globally.  Our chosen global focus this year is to help Something Deeper Ministries reach their dream of providing improved health care for the people of the Iganga District in Uganda.  Isaac & Rachel Mubezi are working to make their dream of building a hospital in the Iganga District a reality.  After researching the topic of health care, multiple collaborations both in person & on a Google Hangout with Isaac and Rachel in Uganda and multiple hours of brainstorming & planning my students are at the action phase of how our class will provide support to make this dream a reality.  Our focus is to provide awareness & education about the need, as well as to help raise the $1.5 million dollars needed to build the hospital.  We have multiple ideas in the works, including students organizing a local 5k event to help raise awareness & money, students helping to develop an online store to help sell aprons as a fundraiser, students applying for grants, students managing the Something Deeper website & social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) and students working to possibly produce a documentary that would include visiting Uganda to obtain authentic footage to promote this cause.  We are far from being done on this journey, but we are definitely at a point that I truly love.  The point where my 14 & 15-year-old students in Enumclaw, Washington develop a growth mindset & begin to realize that they have the ability to collaborate with people around the world.  They are beginning to see the truly rewarding side of their education & how it can lead to service that can truly help make the world a better place for everyone.  We are so very thankful that Isaac & Rachel have trusted us to help them on this journey.

I am so proud of these students & I can’t wait to see where this journey takes us! 

If you too are interested in learning more about this endeavor and/or donating to Something Deeper Ministries please check out the links below or contact me for more information.

Website:   https://www.somethingdeeperministries.org/
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/SomethingDeeperMinistries/
“The Dream of Healthcare”:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f65JcTnaVF8&feature=youtu.be

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Google Classroom’s Impact on My Educational Journey

Innovative…..Modification…..21st Century…..Collaboration….Redefinition

As the 2016-17 school year comes to a close this week, I am finding myself reflecting on the journey and the growth that has occurred for me as an educator, as well as how my classroom environment has changed.  At Enumclaw High School we have committed to the innovative journey to put a one-to-one device in the hands of each one of our students. We will start the 2017-18 school year with ALL students having a Chromebook to aid them in their education journey.  However, the groundwork in my classroom has been set this year, as my freshmen were already equipped with these 21st Century devices. The mere presence of these devices in the modern-day classroom is a game changer in education, but the biggest impact for me was the use of Google tools for education, most specifically Google Classroom.  Google Classroom is one of many Learning Management Systems (LMS), but has made a significantly positive impact on the structure of how my classroom functions each & every day.  As an educator who is always looking to improve & push myself to be at the forefront on educational opportunities for students, I was exposed the concept of SAMR throughout this journey.  This is the idea of how we can best implement modern technology (i.e. Chromebooks) into our daily learning.  SAMR is referencing the use of technology and the journey from Substitution, to Augmentation, to Modification and the end goal of Redefinition.  In other words, while we may start with simply using this technology to substitute for a textbook, we eventually want to get to where we are redefining how our lessons are structured. There are many ways that Google Classroom helps enhance this move to Redefinition.

Image result for google classroom images

As I begin to plan a new lesson in 2017 I know view that lesson through the lens of Google Classroom.  In other words, one of the first considerations for the lesson is to ask how I can create a collaborative learning experience for ALL of my students.  One great way is to use the Question posting that is available.  The Question option provides a great opportunity to start the class with an introductory blog-type discussion or to end the class wth an exit task to check for understanding.  This could be done using traditional methods, but the opportunities to see & hear each class members thoughts are limited using traditional methods.

Additionally, Google Classroom is able to be set up to provide students with the ability to contribute learning materials (i.e. articles, videos, links, comments, etc.) to our learning stream.  This feature can be turned off, but I have found this to be a pleasant surprise, having had students add instructional videos to help their classmates learn or to simply contribute a current event that connects with our content.

Bottom line, I’m a better & more thoughtful teacher as a result of implementing Google Classroom into my physical classroom.  I feel that I have just scratched the surface of how to fully integrate Google Classroom into my daily teachings, but I am excited to continue to redefine education in my classroom.  We continue to have traditional style lessons, but the addition of Google Classroom and 1-to-1 devices has modernized the learning environment & helped require skills that are necessary for the modern workplace.  I’m excited to see where this journey will continue to take me & my students!