Professional Learning

Anti-Anxiety Breathing Technique You Can Count On. by Laura Gilchrist

I'm doing the 365 Day Meditation Challenge with the Insight Timer ommunity and I couldn't be more excited -- and calm. Ha! I'm determined to help kids and adults, including myself, exercise control of their mind/body so they can relax, feel happy, and learn. I believe mindfulness and meditation (flow states) can play a key role. I blogged about it here.

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5 Reasons I'm Doing the 365 Day Meditation Challenge by Laura Gilchrist

Clarify: What is meditation anyway and how is it related to mindfulness?

Meditation is the bigger umbrella word.

“At its core, meditation is when you intentionally set aside time to do something good for yourself,” explains (author and PhD Elisha) Goldstein. And that’s all! Really. As long as you’re doing something good for you on purpose, whatever it is that may be, that’s meditation. “For instance, there’s exercise meditation, in which you intentionally set out to exercise to clear your mind," says Goldstein. "There’s prayer meditation, when you intentionally send prayers out to the universe. There’s music meditation, where the whole purpose is to relax you, and the list goes on.  ~Annie Daly, Womens Health Magazine

Mindfulness is a type of meditation.......

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Join the Teacher Leadership Conversation on #edbeat by Laura Gilchrist


A few weeks back Sean Gaillard and I got to talking, first on Twitter and then on Voxer. He asked if I'd be interested in guest moderating #edbeat on the topic of Teacher Leadership. I said YES to Sean. I think I may have shouted it! I appreciate Sean's positivity, kindness, and connectivity-genius. Leadership is my true passion and talking about teacher leadership is something that NEEDS TO HAPPEN.

I attended the 2016 National Summit on Teacher Leadership in Washington, DC on Feb 5-6 as part of the Kansas delegation, one of 20 state teams. The state teams talked around the big square summit table and crafted plans to increase teacher voice in both the long and short term. The National Summit on Teacher Leadership (#2016NSTL) was the tip-off of the big game. Discussions and action are necessary next steps.

National Summit on Teacher Leadership

Fast forward to last week. Voxer group with Sean and the brilliant Natalie Krayenvenger and Elisabeth Bostwick is formed. Ideas are flowing. "Let's do a Google Hangout." It was an epic teacher leadership conversation that lasted just shy of 2 hours. During that conversation we decided to add a blab to our chat--and it's the first #edbeat Blab. I love how it grew out of organic and spirited conversation.

Here are the questions we're talking about on #EDBEAT Wednesday night, March 9, 7pm Ct, both on Twitter and live on Blab. I invite you to join us and add your voice. Watch if you want, or join in. But be there and be a part of the teacher leadership discussion .

I will have a split screen of Blab and Twitter. You can always listen to the Blab in the background and participate actively in the Twitter Chat.

I tip my hat to everyone involved in education. Let's collide tomorrow night over teacher leadership.

#Edbeat Teacher Leadership Chat 2016 info #Edbeat Teacher Leadership Chat Questions

Invite Teachers to Write for Your School or District Blog by Laura Gilchrist

Teacher Blogging When I woke up Saturday morning, I was not expecting to find a teacher blogpost written and published less than 24 hours after sending out a user/author invite. Jason McGee had never blogged and I did not help him in any way, except to give him the platform and an inspirational nudge.

Jason McGee's 1st BLOGPOST!!

Update: Blogpost #2 by Jason. He has a gift for writing and storytelling.

The Backstory

Last week I launched a leadership blog for teachers at the two high schools where I serve as an instructional coach -- Turner High School and Journey School of Choice in Turner USD 202. Check it out. It is nothing fancy and didn't take long to setup. It a thing of beauty in my eyes because it is a vehicle for teacher voice at the school level. Our blog is called the Turner High Schools Teacher Leadership Blog. I used Edublogs, which is Wordpress based. Sue Waters and the Edublogs team answered every question I had, and did so within a couple of hours. Excellence!

The Story 

I emailed all staff about the blog and its purpose on Wednesday. You'll find the email below. I received a few bites. "Yes, I'm interested" or "I think I might try this" or "I want to but I don't feel qualified."  I went to the USERS section on the Edublog dashboard and added 10 teachers as user AUTHORS before I left on Friday afternoon. Jason McGee was one of them. He is a History/Econ teacher at THS who is passionate about authenticity and project-based learning. I added him Friday and by Saturday, he had published a blogpost.

Email Chain about Blogging between Jason and Me.

Wednesday email 2/24/16 Laura to staff: Here is our blog! I will share step-by-step instructions on how to create a blogpost and publish yourself. Your voice matters!! (Today I am working with people on process of writing blogposts from the invite stage to the publishing stage so I can write good directions for everyone.) I am the only published blogger right now. Looking for some pioneers to start us off! On the right side of the blog you’ll find the Authors section. Everyone that publishes will be listed there. I’ll move it to the top after more people are listed. It will be featured prominently atop the blog. Each blogpost will be shared on social media channels. This is another positive venue for Turner High School, where we write the narrative instead of leaving our story to TV and newspaper outlets. 

Blogposts can be short or long or medium. :) Just start writing.  They can have one picture, no pictures, or lots of pictures, videos, & links. It’s about you expressing yourself as a writer, teacher, artist.  I recommend at least one picture per blogpost but this is certainly not necessary. It can be your own picture or it can be a picture that is licensed for use. (There is an easy way to find excellent images to use and photo credit is taken care of!) 

If you are interested in writing, and I want you to know every single person at THS has viewpoints, ideas, and lessons that need to be shared, please email me. We will work through it together.

My hope is you find your (worthy) voice and that it sets you free in a new world. You may decide to create your very own blog or write books or do other creative endeavors as a passionate lead learner.


Friday emails 2/26/16

Jason McGee:  I have a blog idea... Laura: What is the idea?!!!!   (and YAY!!) You are a natural blogger/writer….I know this. Jason: But I don't really even know what Blog is? Or if I even believe in Blog.... Laura:

Saturday, 2/27/16

Jason: His response came Saturday morning in the form of a published blogpost shining forth from my phone! "The Sweet Taste of Motivation." It was something to behold. Read it and comment on it. He blogged about student motivation and feedback after serving as a judge in foods class at THS!


Why I Started a Teacher Leadership blog at My Schools

We keep telling teachers to share their stories and lead. Let's give them a tool to do that--at school. A school blog empowers teachers to use their voice. It gives them experience storytelling in a blog that's already setup. Teachers will be more likely to start their own blog after writing for their school blog, thanks to the familiarity and confidence afforded through experience. A simple user invite can be all teachers need to jump from a reserved to an empowered leader.

I attended two events in early February that pushed me from thinking about teacher voice to acting on it with intentionality. Teacher leadership/voice is the key. I am writing blogposts about both events.

  1. #2016NSTL: 1st annual National Summit on Teacher Leadership in DC. Blogpost about it here from Mark Sass.
  2. #METC16: Midwest Education Technology Community Conference in St Louis. Blogpost about it here from David Geurin.

George Couros' METC16 keynote challenged us to share our voice and to blog. One question he presented was "Where are you sharing your story?" I shared that very question that sparked my actions on the THS blog. Thanks, George Couros for the inspiration.

My bet is we'll see student blogging organically flow out of this as teacher voice and storytelling take root.

Upcoming Teacher Leadership Chat! 

Join me along with hosts Sean Gaillard and Natalie Krayenvenger March 9, 8ET/5PT on the #Edbeat hashtag as I lead a chat on Teacher Leadership. Use that voice!