Monday, June 23, 2014

#YouMatter Panel at #ISTE2014 w/ @techbradwaid @angelamaiers @techminock @stevemesler and ME!

**this post was co-written with Drew Minock.

If you’ve been a connected educator for very long you’ve probably heard of the #YouMatter movement.  The movement was founded by Angela Maiers and seeks to help celebrate the potential that each individual has and to remind others of their value.

In preparing to go to ISTE, Drew Minock and I, had an idea of putting a panel together to discuss ways that we’ve taken the You Matter mantra and incorporated it into our classrooms to affect change within kids.  Our first thought was to get Angela on board.  Through social media, and video platforms like Google Hangouts, Drew and I both had a pre-existing relationship with Angela, and convincing her to jump on board couldn’t have been easier.

After we got Angela on board we also invited our good friend Brad Waid because of his work with inspiring his students as well.

Then, a good friend of mine, Olympic Gold Medalist and co-founder of Classroom Champions Steve Mesler had an opening in his schedule and was now going to be attending ISTE.  Steve was a perfect addition to the panel with the amount of work that he does bringing in professional athletes to help inspire kids.

We are honored that ISTE has given us this opportunity to speak about inspiring people to own their genius.  More importantly, we can’t wait to share our stories and hopefully inspire many others to help unlock the potential that lies within every person.  We hope to give ideas on how anyone can change someone’s life just by letting them know they’re valued, their voice matters, and that they matter.  So don’t miss our Panel Session on Sunday, June 29th at 8:30am in B206 or join in on the conversation using the hashtags #ISTE2014 and #YouMatterPanel.

This is just the beginning for @NavasotaInt....

The past week has been a whirlwind.

Last Sunday evening I left with about 15 of my new staff members on a 4 day trip to Corpus to learn about the "Engage Learning Model" that we would be using to transform Navasota Intermediate this year.  I must say, I was a little nervous heading into this trip.  Why?  Because it would be my first "real" interactions with my new staff.  The most I'd ever spent with any of them was the interview I had done with them!  Well, except my Assistant Principal, who I've worked with for the last 7 years.

So we loaded up cars to carpool on Sunday and headed on our way to Corpus Christi.  Getting there was an experience.  We had one other car choose to follow my car.  About 30 minutes into the 4 hour drive I get a text telling me their tire is losing pressure.  After filling it up and then having to stop again 5 minutes later, we knew we had a tire issue.  So Terry (our fearless AP) told us there was a little gas station we could pull over at up the road a little.  Well um let's just say it was one of those gas stations in the middle of no where out of a horror movie that hadn't been used in years.  So we pulled over and Aaron (our Instructional Coach), Brandon (a new 4th grade teacher), and I helped change the tire.  Elaine (a new 5th grade teacher) was driving the car and knew how to change the tire too, but we had to convince her to let us change it haha.  So suffice it to say that it was our first "team building" experience, with lots of laughs, that I think we will remember for a while.  It truly was a great start to the trip, all things considered.

After changing the tire, that car full of women, decided to head back to Navasota and switch cars.  So we left ahead without them.

On our way to Corpus we also had to make a stop at Bu-cee's.  Now, if you're not from South Texas and you've never been to a Bu-cee's, you are missing out!  Truly the largest gas stations ever with more bathrooms then you can imagine.  It's like a Wal-Mart gas station!  Aaron had never been, so we HAD to stop and take a few pictures of his first Bu-cee's experience.

After arriving in Corpus we spent the next four days learning about and experiencing the Engage Learning Model.  We were immersed in it.  It was challenging, frustrating, engaging, and creative.  It was everything I hope my class was like.

But more importantly, to me, was that I got to see my new teachers bond.  And I got to bond with them.  I got to begin the process of being a part of this new family at Navasota Intermediate.  Because truly that's what we are.  We are a family.  It will take every single one of us to help transform this campus and turn it around.

Each night the entire staff went out to dinner and did fun things as well!  Some of us got to experience our first Geocache!  Aaron, who we found out is like a Geocache expert, taught us the ropes.  We got to see the Lexington, the Selena Statue, experience gail force winds at a restaurant on the shoreline, and so much more!

I also got to spend a good time bonding with my new leadership team.  Terry, Aaron, and I got to experience some leadership training of our own that really helped challenge us.  But what was the best part about that training was how we came together and worked together.  With leadership like Terry and Aaron I believe there's no way we can fail.  They are both incredibly witty, kind, intelligent, and so much more.  I am honored to get to be on the same team with those two.

The week was spent learning a lot of things.  But the biggest thing I leave with after coming home from Corpus, is not just the learning that took place.  We started to connect and gel as a staff.  To say I'm excited even more about this school year, is an understatement.  We had 6 teachers who couldn't make the trip (we could only take 10) and I can't wait to get to know them more and connect with them as well!  I feel like I have helped build the best staff imaginable and I can't wait to continue learning right along side them.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Summer Learning Series

This summer I wanted to find a great way for my new staff to start learning things before we even were at our new campus together!  I have heard the phrase recently and I totally agree, that we are "Professional Students".  What better way for me to model that I am a continual learner then to have my staff learning along side me.

So this summer I am going to send out weekly (voluntary) challenges to my staff to get them thinking and trying new things!  I will also be completing all of the challenges.

If you would like to be included on the emails, and join the challenges with us, please click HERE and fill out your info on the Google Form and I'll add you!  Come join the fun!

Friday, June 6, 2014

A New Chapter Begins...

There is no reward without some risk involved and nothing easy is ever worth having.  I completely believe that.

As you may have read in my recent posts, I took a new position in a new district.  Yesterday was my last day ever as a classroom teacher, and today I said goodbye to all my co-workers.

I have taught for 7 years.  All 7 of those years have been at Fields Store Elementary in Waller, TX.  I've worked with the most amazing people.

Trying to put into words what I'm feeling, is difficult.  I cried yesterday saying goodbye to my kids.  I tear up every year because I get so attached to my 75 kiddos.  But this year I didn't just tear up, I cried.  I have loved being a classroom teacher, and knowing this was the last group of kiddos I'd have as a classroom teacher made it all that more meaningful.  I hugged each one of them, I told them I believed they were gonna change the world, and I sent them off to do just that.  And I can guarantee you one thing, my students WILL change the world.

One story I have to share is this one....I always wonder if I'm leaving an impact.  If the words I say, the actions I take, the things I do, will they matter in the long run in someone's life?  Did I truly do more with that child then just teach them my subject area?  Today, was proof of something.  As I was leaving today a parent came up to me.  At the beginning of the year, before school started, I sent out a letter to my students telling them how much they mattered to me, and I hadn't even met them yet.  I told them how much I cared about them already and how together we were going to make this year the best year ever.  Well today a parent told me that after doing #YouMatter day this Spring, her son came to her and said, "Mom, do you know why Mr. Nesloney matters to me?".....he said, "he matters the most to me because he believed in me before I even set foot in his room.  He knew I would succeed this year.  He pushed me hard, and he believed in me before I even believed I could do it".  Wow.  I sat there and just cried with the mom.  You see this child was a child who has struggled for years in school.  One who for the first time ever found success in a grade level.  We hugged tightly.  I will never forget that moment.  That was a true reminder of the power of even the littlest things.

Then, today, I hugged my goodbyes to my fellow staff members, a lot of which have been there the entire ride with me.  Lots more tears were shed today.  I love the people I have worked with and will cherish those memories for a lifetime.  That's where I started my career.  That's where I grew.

I have so many fond memories that I could sit here and write out for days.  There were struggles as well, as we all have, but I am choosing to remember the fond memories.

As I set out on my new position as Principal of Navasota Intermediate in Navasota, Texas, I am excited.  Let me re-phrase that. I am ecstatic!!!  I can't wait to work with even more kids and also adults.  I can't wait to bring my ideas and energy to a new position and a new district and make many more great memories.  Be on the lookout people....we're gonna do amazing things out in Navasota!