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September 16, 2018 / JaymeJ

What are you going to do about it?


By kallerna [CC BY-SA 3.0 (, from Wikimedia Commons

Each Sunday, I send an email to my faculty with the calendar for the upcoming week, links to professional development offerings (articles, webinars, interesting sites, etc.), and a quick note containing whatever musings are on my mind. Sometimes these notes are brief, quick snippets of my family life. Other times they are more thoughtful, and rattle around my head for a while after I press “send.” Today’s note was one of the latter. I’m sharing it here because these are the types of questions that inspire me and, I hope, will light a spark of inspiration for you.

Happy Sunday,

Friday, I fed my inner mathematician and attended a workshop presented by YouCubed based on the work of Dr. Jo Boaler. It was inspiring to hear research that promoted all students’ ability to develop a mathematical mindset by encouraging/developing a growth mindset and through regular exposure to number sense activities. If you are looking for a PD activity, I encourage you to explore this website, read some of the articles, and use the information to examine how you make learning visible in your classroom. The research extends beyond mathematics and can be applied to how we present any subject matter.

Yesterday, I read Little Fires Everywhere. In one scene, a teenager named Izzy becomes upset with the treatment of another student by a teacher, reacts inappropriately, and ends up suspended from school. An adult, instead of criticizing Izzy’s behavior or expressing disappointment, simply asks, “What are you going to do about it?” The scene continues:

It was not a question Izzy had been asked before. Until now her life had been one of mute, futile fury…What was she going to do about it? The very idea that she could do something stunned her.

The novel presented a number of character studies examining how one’s past influences the present; how small decisions shape lives; and how the influence of others can shift tides and ignite sparks, setting “little fires” that encourage questioning, action, or retreat.

Both the mathematical mindsets workshop and the novel made me think about how we, as teachers, shape the lives of our students. How do we motivate them, encourage independent thinking, promote a growth mindset, shape their futures? How do we teach them that they have the ability to learn anything and the power to spark change?

Some lofty questions for a Sunday afternoon,

August 29, 2018 / JaymeJ

Summer Reading

I binge read books like most folks binge watch Netflix. Once I crack open a book, I find it difficult to put down. Case and point, I read 22 books from June through mid-August. What follows is my somewhat meandering reflection of my school’s summer reading book Dignity by Dr. Donna Hicks. All pages referenced are from this book.

This summer, in my continued quest to read a book a week in 2018, I powered through a number of titles. Most were “fluff,” some were serious, and all were enjoyed. Three books I read in immediate succession were The House We Grew Up In, Dignity, and Tending Roses. While diverse in genre and theme, I found one informing the next; connections bubbling up where least expected. Had I not happened to read the titles in this order, I would have missed recognizing some of the common threads that tied the stories together and which made my takeaways that much more meaningful.

Typically, it is difficult for me to connect with non-fiction reading, but book-ending Dignity with fiction pieces provided emotional stories that helped me make meaning of the practical, real-life lessons presented in Dignity.

The key message in Dignity was that every person is “worthy of care and attention” (p. 4), but that there should be a clear distinction between a person and their actions. People always deserve respect, as they are “beings with inherent value and worth” (p. 4). Their actions, though, may or may not be deserving of respect. An individual should always be valued and honored, but respect is earned through actions and behavior. This can be hard to put into practice. Sometimes people are hard to like, but distinguishing between the person and their action allows us to honor the dignity of others even if we don’t agree with their words, deeds, beliefs, or behavior.

In Dignity, Dr. Hicks shares that “emotional wounds don’t automatically go away with the passage of time” (p. 188). This was exemplified in The House We Grew Up In, as family members buried the pain of a tragic loss for decades, their relationships crumbled. For one character, the pain manifested itself through hoarding, where she distanced herself from others and built walls around the emotional wounds, both literally and figuratively.

The lessons presented in Dignity also parallel the generational lessons in Tending Roses, a story in which a grandmother passes wisdom to her granddaughter through quiet interactions, subtle conversations, and covertly placed journal entries that appear and disappear without warning.

Lisa Wingate writes in Tending Roses:

We are born somewhere small and quiet and we move toward a place we cannot see, but only imagine. Along our journey, people and events flow into us, and we are created of everywhere and everyone we have passed. Each event, each person, changes us in some way. Even in times of drought we are still moving and growing, but it is during seasons of rain that we expand the most-when water flows from all directions, sweeping at terrifying speed, chasing against rocks, spilling over boundaries. These are painful times, but they enable us to carry burdens we could never have thought possible.

Everything counts: every day, every event, every person, every interaction. Our experiences make us who we are. They make us valuable. They make us strong. And because of that, because of who we are as unique individuals, we are valuable. We deserve dignity.

As a school administrator, I strive to listen to and value the thoughts of each person with whom I speak, be they parents, students, or colleagues. People may make requests I cannot grant, but I always want to them to leave our conversation feeling heard. I never want to “miss an opportunity to exert the power [I] have to remind others of who they are: invaluable, priceless, and irreplaceable” (p.3). “When we care, we learn…Once we are aware, we are responsible” for “holding ourselves accountable for our actions, especially those that are hurtful to others” (p. 112-113).

“Truth exists only in the plural” (p. 186). This quote by Günter Grass, as shared in Dignity, reminded me of Bolman and Deal’s leadership frameworks and their book Reframing Organizations.  It is important to examine people and situations from multiple perspectives. Understanding each other’s reality is the first step to valuing and preserving the dignity of one another. We each hold our own version of truth. When in conversation with others, I must step back, look at a situation through their set of lenses, and appreciate their unique perspective. The act of honoring others requires that we value individual experiences, avoid personalizing events, and reframe conflict using a variety of lenses or perspectives.

Circling back to the heart of this post — Meaning and context are created through the experiences and perspectives individuals bring to the table. Oftentimes, the timing of content informs our interpretation. Meaning is important. Timing is influential. Dignity is imperative.

August 28, 2018 / JaymeJ

Recommitting to reflection


Reflection by Andrea Hernandez via flickr

I believe that reflection is one of the most important parts of the learning process. As a teacher, student reflection was a key piece to any long-term project I assigned. Unfortunately, though, reflection is a process that is often overlooked or skipped due to lack of time.

As a school administrator, leading by example is key. To say I value reflection is not enough. My actions must demonstrate the importance of reflection, of taking the time to consider, digest, ponder, and assimilate information, the practice of making learning meaningful.

During our first all-school meeting this August, our head of school asked each of us to reflect upon our personal action plan for the year. We were tasked with making goals, but also developing action steps for each. One of my three goals was to make my own learning a priority — to commit to learning something each week. I may watch a TED talk, attend a webinar, participate in a Twitter chat, read a book, or peruse a blog post or two. It doesn’t have to be grand, it just needs to be a priority. As part of that, I am also recommitting to reflection. Not only should I make learning a priority, but I should reflect upon that learning.

So here I am. Returning to my blog to share my goal publicly. Holding myself accountable. Sharing my journey with you. Recommitting to reflection.

January 17, 2017 / JaymeJ

Technology Tips for Parents

child-1073638_1280Technology keeps advancing, ever encroaching on family time and creating parenting headaches our parents never imagined. The beauty of having elementary age students in this age of technology is twofold – first, we as parents still control their access to technology and, second, we are still their primary source of factual information. While managing our children’s digital lives might seem daunting, here are five tips to make parenting in the digital age seem a bit less overwhelming.

Model positive media use. Put the device down. Don’t check your phone at every stoplight. Be transparent about your own technology use. As adults, we use technology to access information, to keep ourselves organized, to stay connected with others, and to decompress. When using a device, disclose what you are doing. Communicate with children about how you are using technology so that they see you aren’t always “playing” but are using it as a productivity tool. I often say, “Mommy is going to spend 15 minutes responding to work email, then we can read together.” Or “Candy Crush time!” Also, consider how you communicate about and model your own use of social media. If you are constantly checking and liking things on Facebook, documenting every moment with photographs, or over-sharing about your children’s accomplishments on Instagram, what message is that sending?

Establish a device parking lot. Set up a central place to charge devices. All devices, including Mom’s and Dad’s phones, should be parked here during family time and overnight. Keeping devices out of the bedroom will preserve quality of sleep for all family members, both children and adults.

Make #DeviceFreeDinner a priority. Ban digital devices from the dinner table. Use this time as an opportunity to connect with your children about their day and to share the ups and downs of your own day. Not only will this encourage engaging conversation, but it will also allow everyone to enjoy their food and be mindful of their eating habits.

Be prepared – have answers to questions you know are coming. You know the inevitable questions are right around the corner — “When can I have a phone?” or “Can I have an Instagram account?” Talk with your partner and have answers to these questions long before you think they will be asked. Your family values should dictate how and when your children will have access to technology. Resources, such as those provided by Common Sense, can help inform your decisions and answer some of your questions around parenting, media, and technology use. If you are prepared ahead of time with not only a “yes” or “no” but also with rationale as to why you made the decision, it will make parenting in the digital age a little more manageable.

Ask questions and keep the conversation going. Allow your children to be the teacher. Ask them to show you their latest favorite app or, for older children, what videos are trending on YouTube. Have informal conversations about how their friends are using technology. Watch shows together and discuss how the characters are using technology – both positively and negatively. And clearly communicate how your family values inform how both adults and children use technology in your household. These conversations should be regular and ongoing. Keeping the lines of communication open is the best way to promote positive, healthy media use for everyone.

Photo by alphalight1 

December 14, 2015 / JaymeJ

Guest Post: Girl Scout PSA

My daughter created this Check, Call, Care PSA as part of a requirement for her First Aid badge. She is my guest-blogger today. Enjoy these safety tips!

November 13, 2015 / JaymeJ

Minecraft for Moms and Dads

Notes from our October parent education morning on Minecraft, MinecraftEDU, and Minecraft Pocket Edition. Reposted from Village School Tech Bytes.

We had a great turn out for our parent technology morning “Minecraft for Moms and Dads.” Thank you to those of you who attended! Links and resources shared are listed below or shared in this printable PDF.maxresdefault


from Sarah McManus 

What is this game my kid keeps talking about?

It’s like Legos online.
Those little blocks are like Legos that don’t hurt your feet. Kids can build freely in creative mode. In survival mode, they have to defend their builds against attackers.

On computers, Minecraft is a piece of software that, once installed, can be played in stand alone mode or connected to a server for group plan.

On iPads, iPods, or tablets, Minecraft is an app that can be played alone or with others, only if they are on the same wifi network.

Is it scary?
In survival mode, zombies,skeletons, and creepers stalk the players, forcing defensive moves and cooperation. The violence is extremely unrealistic, but kids under 7 or with vivid imaginations may be creeped out.

Is it teaching anything?
Yes! Play requires critical thinking and delayed gratification, and cooperation makes it more fun.
Kids learn online etiquette. Minecraft gives you the chance to discuss online behavior before the cell phone years.

Is it safe?
It can be. Kids are at risk for abusive play called “griefing:” think of one kid smashing another’s Lego creation. Kids need to know game etiquette.

Strangers can play with and talk to kids, too, in certain settings. Kid-safe servers and setting the Pocket Edition to Single Player may be right for your kid.

Truths to Teach

Have Fun the Smart Way

  • To play, create a safe password and a username that is not your real name. Keep this private information private!
  • Servers are public places, so playing online is like playing at a playground. Act and speak in a way that’s right for a public place.

Avoid Grief

  • GriefingTaking or breaking something that isn’t yours online. Bullying someone in words or actions online.
  • Don’t grief! If you accidentally do,apologize and offer to make it right.
  • Avoid griefers! If someone’s mean to you in Pocket Edition, open a new single player world…or create a newMultiplayer world and uncheck “Server visible by default” as you create it.Your world will be invisible.
  • Playing on a desktop? Consider a kid-friendly server. They have games and no griefing or bad language.
  • Trust your gut feelings. If a player starts talking to you and it’s awkward or scary, tell a trusted adult.

Balance the Time

  • Being online all the time makes you boring and unhealthy. So find some friends who like to do Minecraft, go outside, and play Creeper Tag!

Wrap Your Mind Around Minecraft

Tutorials & Articles for Parents

Parent’s intro to Minecraft

A more complete guide

The 10 Best Kid-Friendly Minecraft Channels on YouTube

Educational benefits of Minecraft

Minecraft glossary for parents

10 things parents need to know about Minecraft

10 problems that parents can have with Minecraft

Learn to play (video)

Kid-Friendly Servers for Desktop Play

Intercraften (most popular)


Sandlot (recommended)

February 26, 2015 / JaymeJ

What’s so great about Chrome?

Parent Technology Academy • Google Guru Workshop #2SNP_B2C03ED616BF779F63F0C9A9A1DF94298ACD_4411560_en_v0

During this session, we discussed the benefits of using the Chrome browser, including signing in to access your bookmarks, apps, and extensions from any computer, anywhere!

Apps – They’re like desktop software programs you install on your computer. The main difference is that you use apps directly within your browser. If you use Gmail, Google Maps, or sites like Pandora, you’re already using apps.

Chrome – a simple, secure web browser

Extensions – Extensions are small software programs that can modify and enhance the functionality of the Chrome browser.

Find These in the Chrome Web Store

Read More