Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Where Trust Resides

“You have lost my trust.” These five words strung together were, by far, the most agonizing to hear growing up as a child.  I honestly would have rather gotten a spanking like other kids I knew, or been grounded for a year, than be told by my parents that they (for the time being) did not trust me. It spoke to my character: who I was and what I stood for. The loss of trust meant there was a break between us, and damage had been done. I knew they still loved me (they told me that both before and after they dropped the trust bomb), but I also knew I had to heal what was broken and earn their trust back…which wouldn’t happen overnight.
My father told me each time that breaking someone’s trust takes only a second, earning someone’s trust takes a bit longer, and re-gaining someone’s trust can take a lifetime. For the sake of my sensitive soul, he would also follow that up with: “But don’t worry Nonnie, it won’t take you your whole life, not even close,” and wink.
My feelings about trust have not changed through the years.These early life lessons, which I seemed to need to relearn every few years..a bit more frequently in my late teens...have stuck with me. I still hold trust in a fiercely protected chamber of my heart. Yes, it is partly made up of the trust I have for others, but the majority of the trust I stand guard over and ensure no harm comes to, is the trust others have in me, most especially the trust of my students.

Where Trust Resides Learning Thrives
When trust is cultivated in a classroom, there is no stopping the learning.
Because when learners trust their teacher, coach, sherpa, etc. they open up. They open up about what they love, what they wonder about, what confuses them, what they struggle with both inside and outside the classroom, and what they need and don’t need from you. This invaluable information helps you to create an environment in which learning can grow exponentially and learners can take off like rockets. Want to personalize instruction? Earn the trust of your students, so you can really get to know them.
When learners trust, they break down barriers. They let you in on the fact that they think teachers only see them as the “bad kid”, who always causes trouble, and that since they already have the reputation, they might as well live up to it. They tell you the reason they say not nice things to classmates is because they have been to five different schools in 6 years, and getting close to people guarantees heartbreak when you have to leave. Want to know what the best gift a student can give you as a teacher? Their trust in return.  
When learners trust, they take risks. They know they are in a safe space where failure is viewed as one of the most important parts of the learning process, and that without it, they haven’t learned as much as they could have. They set goals for themselves that push them to reach a bit further and aim a bit higher. They learn to be ok with feeling tinge uncomfortable when encountering something new. They add the word “yet” to the end of sentences and believe they can achieve. Want to be a teacher who takes risks? Show your learners they can trust you to go on the journey with them.

Cultivating Trust
Trust, like respect, is not demanded, or guaranteed, it’s earned. It doesn’t happen after one day, one week, or even one month, and it will be tested, repeatedly.  It requires patience and the willingness to open yourself up to rejection and criticism. The road to truly trusting can be long, winding, bumpy and rough, but it is a journey I set out on every year with my learners, and one that year after year makes all the difference.  
When I sat down to construct this post, a part of me wanted to be able to write, “Five Steps to Building Trust in the Classroom,” and everyone would just be able to do it flawlessly, but then that would cheapen what it truly means to nurture a relationship with a student. If it becomes a recipe, it isn’t authentic, and no one can spot a fake like a child. So while I don’t have steps, I do have thoughts about how I have cultivated trust in my classroom. 

Know it can’t be bought. I am not the teacher who gives out candy and has dance parties every Friday. Rewards don’t make you trustworthy. Rewards just make you popular in the moment. Want to know what has EARNED my students’ trust? Keep reading.

Be reflective, not reactive. We all make less than ideal choices at times. It’s easy to just react in the moment when a learner does something that disrupts a lesson or disrespects someone in the room. I’ve done it. I’ve lost my patience and just reacted, and I’ve watched as the trust I have built with that student takes a small hit. Do that enough, and the foundation of your relationship will have so many cracks that nothing stable will be able to be built on top of it. Taking the time to talk to learners about their actions, decisions, thoughts and asking them why they have made the choices they have and what you can do to help, is one of the most impactful things we can do as educators. We are creating learning opportunities in which people are still taking responsibility for their actions, but also reflecting on the behavior and its impact on everyone involved.  These two-way conversations demonstrate that you are invested in who they are and actually want to help them succeed. It may require deep breathing, but taking a few moments to think before we act can make a tremendous difference.  

Set clear, consistent, and realistic expectations.  It’s exactly what it sounds like. It’s important to have expectations for your students. Those expectations help your learners to continue to grow as individuals and should change from September to June; you just have to make sure you repeatedly and clearly tell them what those expectations are. If something changes, and those expectations shift, you can’t assume they know, you must tell them, and bonus points are awarded if you discuss WHY. For triple triple points, ask for their input as well. Have them help to define what they expect of themselves and each other. By encouraging them to take ownership, you are demonstrating that you trust them...it’s a two-way street.   

Be human/transparent. One of the things I do at every lunch duty (and throughout the day when a lesson/moment calls for it) is tell a story about my or my dad’s childhood. For roughly 7 minutes, the room is completely silent, while 95 - 100 students learn about my mistakes and misadventures. During this intimate time, they also get to see me as someone who has been where they have been. They feel the pain I felt and learn the lesson I learned. We have grown closer by the end of the story, and they feel more comfortable coming up to me in the hall or on the playground to share with me their own stories and experiences. They open up because I opened up and told them it was safe to share.

Seek out feedback from learners, really listen, and then implement the required change. It is terrifying asking your learners what they think of your teaching. You think your observations with the principal can be rough, try a group of nine and ten-year-olds. They are brutally honest, even when they are trying to be sweet about it. I have been on the receiving end of some rude wakeup calls, but until that moment I had been just that, asleep and unaware, and needed to wake up and make the necessary changes. Being receptive to feedback not only helps you better meet the needs of your learners and create a more successful learning environment, it also shows your number one priority is their learning not your pride.

Show up. Be present. Be engaged. Listen to them. Care, not a little, a lot. Go to bat for them and fight for what they need.  

Build relationships with “parents.” Trust doesn’t live in a vacuum. Nothing can erode and destroy trust more swiftly than the negative chirpings, whisperings, or unsaid nonverbals of a third party, and in this case, the third party is the “parents” of your learners. Now I am NOT saying “parents” are the enemy of trust in the classroom. In fact, I am saying the exact opposite. “Parents” are the key, the linchpin, to building trust between you and your learners. It doesn’t matter that technically we spend more waking hours in a day with their child than they do because we will never be their mom, dad, grandparent, etc. That title holds more weight than anything else, and we, as educators, must show that title respect for the sake of our learners. We have to take the time to demonstrate to “parents” we are to be trusted, that we have their child’s best interests at heart, and that we are on the same team, fighting for the same goal (assuming that goal is for their child to be “successful” in life). Will there be times “parents” are just not open to trusting us? Absolutely. Will some “parents” make earning their trust difficult? You bet. But will we ever GIVE them a reason to lose trust in us? NOT ON MY LIFE.Through frequent communication, honesty, patience, and your proven love/appreciation/knowledge of their child, I believe trust can be built between teachers and “parents”, and that it is our mission to keep fighting for that trust, no matter what.    
Breaking someone’s trust takes only a second,
earning someone’s trust takes a bit longer,
and re-gaining someone’s trust can take a lifetime.

By the time a child has started his/her first day of school, the ability to trust may be completely shattered for a myriad of reasons. We won’t know the why or the how, we will just know that we cannot give up.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Putting Positivity in Its Place

Does positivity always belong in the schoolhouse?

This question was asked in a group of educators recently, and it really made me reflect and think about the place of positivity.

Let’s explore.

Are there times where I feel a student, parent, colleague, stranger even have (for lack of a better term) “earned” an interaction that is less than positive? That I would be “justified” in letting them know how displeased I am?

You betcha.  I have even taken it a step further and given into the heat of the moment, thereby allowing frustration and negativity to triumph over positivity and patience. I have been rude, thoughtless, and hurtful. I have allowed my personal issues to affect how I behaved towards another human being because I am human. I make mistakes, and that is just what those less than positive interaction are: mistakes.

They are mistakes because they never make anything better. They just isolate individuals, instigate more negative behavior, and instill a mindset that cannot move forward or effectively create change.

Positivity isn’t a magic bullet; it IS a powerful and contagious force. Positivity cannot fix everything, but it CAN inspire change and heal emotional scars. Positivity won’t fill the stomachs of our hungry students and it won’t guarantee success; however, it will fill our students with hope and encourage them to make tomorrow better than today.   

Does positivity always belong in the schoolhouse? Indeed it does. It is essential to the foundation of any community.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Run Them Red Lights

April 1st, 1998 at 4:00 am

I am crouching down on the floor, by the back door, in our dark kitchen so I don’t wake my little sister. I am rocking back and forth and begging whoever is listening to save my dad.  42 years old and he is having a massive heart attack.  My mind is racing and no one is there for me to talk to. No one to reassure my 15 year-old mind that everything will be OK.

My younger sister, Laura, is thankfully still asleep. Hopefully the only memory she will have is that one morning she woke up after our dad had a heart attack, and he was fine.  She won’t have to try to erase the sounds of our father gasping for breath and begging God to let him live.

My mom is riding with my dad in the ambulance.  She is exactly where she is supposed to be, but that doesn’t change the fact that leaves me alone in the dark for what feels like an eternity.

But then just as suddenly as the whole ordeal started, my Aunt Laura bursts through the door and swoops me up in her arms.

“I ran all the red lights! Nobody and nothing could have stopped me!”

She then sits and holds me as I cry. She sits and listens as I tell her how scared I am. She sits and tells me that she will always be there for me.

She sits and doesn’t leave my side until my mom calls and tells us my dad is going to be OK.

I will always love my aunt for running all the red lights to get to me.
March 14, 2016 at 5:00 am

I am getting ready for school when I get a Vox from my buddy and partner, Sean Gaillard.  He has asked what our “drive up song” for the day will be, and I immediately respond with “Red Lights” by Tiesto.  I have had it on my workout playlist for months; it’s fast beat and awesome bassline always get me pumped up and ready to take on the world.

The lyrics; however, have also always spoken to me as a teacher:

We can’t back down
We’ll never let them change us
We’re gonna make it now
What are we waiting for...
What are we waiting for...

Nobody else needs to know
Where we might go...
We could just run them red lights
We could just run them red lights

There ain’t no reason to stay
We’ll be light years away...
We could just run them red lights
We could just run them red lights

They have spoken to me about the duty we have as teachers to always push forward and do what we believe is right for our students. That we cannot back down in the face of negativity and adversity.   

They have spoken to me about the fact I am never alone.  Even on the days when it feels like no one is hearing my calls to action, there is always a WE out there supporting me, rallying around me, cheering out their reply; that together “we’re gonna make it now.”

They have spoken to me about the dangers of doing something just because that’s the way it has always been done, and that sometimes we just have to go on alone and wait for others to catch up. It will be an adventure, and we may have to ask for forgiveness here and there, but in the end it will all be worth it.

But today when they speak to me, they also speak to the 15-year-old girl feeling alone and lost.  

They remind me that while we do need to be fearless leaders who are breaking through the frontier of innovation and calling out for necessary change, we also need to continue to be the supportive, caring, trustworthy, compassionate, and protective adults who will be there for the kid who needs us the most at that moment.  Whether it’s to spend 15 extra minutes in the morning to reteach a concept, help them resolve an issue with a friend, eat lunch and laugh after a hard week, watch them nail a piece on the piano at a concert, or sit beside them while they cry, no matter what they need from us, we need to be ready and willing to run them red lights.    

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Aha Moment of Thanks

As I was reading Reading Nonfiction by the ever-wise and deeply talented Kylene Beers and Robert Probst tonight, I had an Aha Moment.  Sitting there on my couch, with a blanket and mug of tea, I realized why their words just seemed so obvious (in a good way) and made complete and total sense to me as a teacher.  It is because I was lucky enough to have had teachers who taught as if they had read Reading Nonfiction 20 years ago. 
These incredible teachers instilled in me the still firmly held belief that it was my job to question, challenge, investigate and think about what I was learning. Passive learning was not an option in or outside their classrooms; you needed wade deep into it and go exploring.
The passion they possessed for their discipline was contagious. So much so that when you listened to them speak, you couldn't help but become enveloped in the moment and want to learn all you could.
They didn't teach to a test, but taught me to test them as teachers in the best way possible.
I felt encouraged and loved, and as a result trusted my teachers.
And though I never took a PARC or an MSA in order to show I had learned something during my 12 years of schooling, I was able to go to college, did well, even went back and got my masters, and now teach students of my own. Go figure!
Through the tutelage of these outstanding educators, I even got the crazy notion into my head that I could do and be anything and had the ability to change the world, if I chose to do so. I never felt limited by my education or my educators, I felt empowered.
So to Beth Ruekberg, BJ McEldery, Butch Darrell, Carol Peabody, Emily Dixon, Sue Sternheimer, Mr. Ogdon, Sue Bell, Nori Sheck, Steve McManus, and the rest of the amazing teachers I had during my 12 years at Garrison Forest School, thank you for showing me how to be the teacher I strive to be every day and the teacher my students deserve. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Much love,
Natalie (Waters) Krayenvenger Class of 2001

Monday, January 4, 2016

What Is #EdBeat Side 2 (Includes Bonus Tracks)

It has been five months since Sean asked Natalie to be what we both affectionately call “#twitterspouses,” and #EdBeat has continued to reach more and more educators, as well as been extremely fortunate to welcome an amazing and varied lineup of guest moderators. Despite this and our two previous posts explaining our history (https://t.co/VsJWFy6vpF and http://bit.ly/1U5F9Gm ) the question still remains; however, “What IS #EdBeat?!?”

We both look at #EdBeat as the 7-11 of Twitter chats. We serve all and always have a refreshing Slurpee or that pick-me-up cup o’ Joe to offer our bandmates. Instead of posting on the entrance door a sign that reads: “No shirt, No shoes, No service,” our #EdBeat sign reads: “Be positive, Be uplifting, You can do this!”

#Edbeat is the cafeteria table that saves seats for everyone. We have both participated in Twitter chats that just feel like you are not part of the “in-crowd,” or are missing some inside joke. These experiences are deflating and not what we believe Twitter is about, so it is our personal mission to make sure every person who joins the #EdBeat Band feels welcome and is treated like a V.I.P. All educators are invited and celebrated in #EdBeat. We believe that Education is the noblest of professions. It is important that we support and uphold each other like a band would during a live performance.

We are a chat that thrives on celebrating the achievements of our bandmates and are ready to jump right in and support one another when there are bumps in the road.  As Sister Sledge says, “We are family.”

Oh!  we are a chat that makes you playlists!  Talk about a rockin’ takeaway!

For those in need of a description that sounds a little more professional...#EdBeat is an inspirational chat for ALL educators that trends the positive and is hosted by two music geeks who believe education is a profession/calling that should be celebrated and its educators uplifted.  

Don’t just take our word for it!  We asked our amazing and inspiring bandmates to tell us what #EdBeat is to them and below you will find what they had to say.  

Bonus Tracks:
Eric (@mrfieldmanchs) from NJ wrote:

Sean has stated #EdBeat is like a 7-11 where everybody gathers to talk & meet up. Well I slightly disagree (in NJ it would be a WAWA!).  To me #EdBeat it’s more like the bar in Cheers. It’s a place like home, where everybody knows your name. It’s a spot where even new band members can relax and be welcomed and be comfortable. It’s a place where like-minded people can share common interests, get honest, and if necessary tough, but constructive feedback. #Edbeat is a spot where one can be comforted when down, and slapped on the back when he/she has accomplished something noteworthy (like getting through a hard day, reaching that difficult student, or executing a successful lesson). It’s not a self-massaging,”Aren't we all the best“ hiding place, but is supportive, loving, positive and real. It's a place of friendship and professional development. And, it has more cowbell than any place I know.

Sara (@SaraHolmTeacher) from NV wrote:

Sean and Natalie are positive, they incorporate lines from music into their replies, they affirm participation and mistakes, and I feel at home. #EdBeat is a place for positivity with a beat on Twitter.

LaVonna (@LaVonnaRoth) from FL wrote:

Every single day it is important to find a way to stay connected and surrounded by those that align with your philosophy while pushing you to be creative, think in a different way and cherish the value you bring. #EdBeat provides that opportunity through a weekly chat and an online presence, which allows me to keep the beat going, moving forward and deciding what instrument I want to play that week!

Michelle (@MichelleLewis70) from IA wrote:

#EdBeat is a group of people who support, encourage and inspire each other.  The chat challenges us to think about how we impact each other and students.  Just like the beat of song keeps it going, Natalie and Sean keep us going.  #EdBeat Studios has truly changed me.  Each day I listen to and from school. It gives me moment to feel connected to something bigger than just my world.

Jennifer (@jenladd) from MI voxed:

Edbeat means feeling like I belong to something bigger than just a PLN. Edbeat is more like a movement of all things positive- the positive I, as a teacher, want, need, and expect to see in education. My #edbeat band is supportive when I need it to be and they give me a push when I need that too. The band is full of real, inspiring educators who strive to make a difference and look to pick each other up when necessary. It is not lost on me how lucky I am to be a part of the Edbeat band!

Christy (@christypost9) from CT wrote:

“You got this!  We believe in you.” That is what #EdBeat is all about.  It is about having each other’s back and believing in one another.  It is about encouraging others when there is nothing to gain.  It is about finding a group with the same beliefs about kids and sharing ideas and hopes for the next day.  It is about trust and friendship without ever meeting.  It is about respect.  I am so grateful for each and every one of you all day every day!

Larry (@TechCoachZ from NJ wrote:

Sean and Natalie have developed a community of encouraging and uplifting educators who empower one another to share their thoughts openly and without fear of judgment. Through these discussions, even the most discouraged and downtrodden educator can be inspired and energized; their passions reignited. Not only do Natalie and Sean host this inspirational chat, they work tirelessly to develop engaging topics, involve amazing guest moderators, and ensure every participant has a voice and a place in each discussion. In addition to Twitter, Natalie and Sean nurture the community through their extraordinary blog posts and Voxer chats. And since the #EdBeat band is tuned to the transformative power of music, Spotify playlists have been created to supercharge any day, even a #CelebrateMonday.


Elisabeth Bostwick (@ElisaBostwick) from NY wrote:

#EdBeat is an eclectic chat with a diverse variety of educators who come together each Wednesday evening to uplift, grow, and challenge each other's thinking. This is a chat where energy vibrantly flows and educators synergize. #EdBeat feels like a family gathering where the music is pumping, and everyone greets one another with open arms. I’m fortunate to be able to partake in #EdBeat, and incredibly honored to have guest-moderated on the topic of Culture of Innovation in the Classroom. Some people refer to Wednesday as hump day, whereas I am cheering that it’s time for #EdBeat! To me, #EdBeat is an insightful part of my week, and an excellent dose of inspiration combined with tight knit friendships.  

Sandy (@sandeeteach) from UT wrote:

I don’t get to participate in the weekly #EdBeat chat very often because of my schedule. But, connecting with the band members has infused a daily rhythm of positivity. These are educators who are passionate about education and inspire kids to discover their gifts and talents. Through daily/weekly collaboration, these leaders are making a difference! They hear a “different drummer” and step to the music they hear. #EdBeat is changing the public perception of education! I’m grateful and inspired by the collective energy of this group.

Encore/Thank You

Music only gets better when it resonates with its listeners, and subsequently reaches new heights when those listeners find one another.  Together we revel in our love of the music, share memories, and create new experiences.  For these reasons alone, #EdBeat would be nothing without its amazing band members.  Whether you have never missed a jam session, jumped in every now and then, or only riffed with us once, we are eternally grateful for you.

Rock on,

Natalie and Sean

Saturday, January 2, 2016

It Will Be "Unity"

“Unity” by Shinedown

They say it's never too late
To stop being afraid
And there is no one else here
So why should I wait?
And in the blink of an eye the past begins to fade
So have you ever been caught in a sea of despair?
And your moment of truth
Is the day that you say "I'm not scared"
Put your hands in the air
If you hear me out there
I've been looking for you day and night
Shine a light in the dark
Let me see where you are
'Cause I'm not gonna leave you behind
If I told you that you're not alone
And I show you this is where you belong
Put your hands in the air
One more time

I fell in love with my husband the first time I got in his F-150 pick-up truck. No, it wasn’t the truck, though the stereo system was quite impressive and the bass from his subwoofer under the seat made it feel like you were getting a back massage.... It was the music, or rather the conversations we had through and as a result of the music. The lyrics acted as an intimacy and conversational lubricant, which allowed us to more freely divulge our hopes and dreams.  The melodies and beats inspired us to share memories and speak about our futures.  The music did such a good job, in fact that we had been driving for about an hour, and had listened to Brad Paisley, Lindsey Stirling, David Guetta, Tchaikovsky, Bubba Sparxxx, Kelly Rowland (just to name a few) when what everyone had always told me would happen, happened. I knew. I knew I could drive around in this truck, with this funny, bearded man for the rest of my life.  

Three months later we were moving in together, and Jeff had made me, not a mixtape, but a “mixflashdrive.”  It was full of music to listen to as we made trips back and forth between our houses, and he had told me repeatedly NOT to skip the first song.  

What came out of my speakers, as I drove down his old, steep driveway, and turned onto the hilly country road lined by lush green trees and farmlands, that led to our future, was “Unity” by Shinedown.

What I heard was the song I would turn to again and again whenever I was feeling scared or alone, energized and inspired, momentarily defeated or on top of the world. It spoke to me about the power of finding those people who truly believe in you, and who you, in turn, would reach out to in even the darkest of times without blinking an eye because you “are not going to leave them behind.”  That together we are never alone and can achieve anything, and it is each of our jobs to make sure no one is ever left feeling afraid or abandoned.    

So when Sean and I first started talking about #OneSong, the very first song that came briefly to my mind was “Unity,” but I swiftly pushed it aside. “Most people probably haven’t heard of it,” I thought, and my default mode to make people stop and say, “Wow! That is the best idea ever!” kicked in. This is the same default mode that puts me into a state of almost panic when someone asks you to choose one word that describes who you are. The search, therefore, continued, and I became more and more stressed out.

Thankfully my friend and partner, Sean Gaillard (@smgaillard) is FEARLESS and wrote a truly inspiring and honest post, which, as I read it, brought me to tears.  I immediately voxed Sean my feedback, and as I cried like a baby, had the epiphany that “Unity” is in fact my #OneSong, and not only my #OneSong, but my #OneWord for 2016.

To me “unity” signifies peace, harmony and balance. A lack of conflict or misgiving. It is about connecting with others and building a team striving for the same goal.  

It will be “unity” that inspires me to find peace within myself as I continue to take risks and inevitably fail in the classroom. To come to terms with the fact I will never please everyone, but will continue to do what I believe is best for my students.  

It will be “unity” that reminds me to find time for all the people in my life because balance is the key to truly achieving your goals. It is not enough to find success in one area at the expense of another.   
It will be “unity” that encourages me to continue to build and foster relationships with the families of my students because those bonds are vital to their success.

It will be “unity” that drives me to continue to pound the Twitter pavement and cultivate my PLN and the PLN’s of others.  To build up the profession of Education through those all-important connections and celebrate all we achieve every day.   

It will be “unity” that aids me in conducting a classroom full of independent thinkers, creative learners, and moving us all at the same tempo and in the same direction.

It will be “unity” that will help me to create an environment where every child knows they are loved, seen, heard, encouraged, and part of the team.  Where empathy is revered and my learners understand what it means to be part of something bigger than themselves and aspire to create a world in which they are proud to live.

It will be “unity” that will forbid me to give up on my dreams of inspiring our faculty to get connected and go outside of their comfort zones in order to meet our learners needs and be the best we can be as a school.  

And it will be my steadfast and outstanding team of Jennifer Priddy (@jnpriddy) and Diana Koska (@Koska4th) who, along with Shinedown and Sean, will be the motivating and supportive force that will help me in attaining my goal of achieving unity in 2016. They are my rocks and the refrain of my educational ballad.

And so if you hear me out there, put your hands in the air. I am not about to leave you behind.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

What is #EdBeat - Side 1

(This post is a continuation of Sean Gaillard’s post What is #EdBeat - An Overture https://t.co/VsJWFy6vpF )

That’s my cue!

#Wileychat was one of the first chats I set an actual alarm for on my phone. I didn’t know why it was called #Wileychat for the first few weeks, or that it was a “school chat.” All I knew was the host of it, Sean Gaillard, created a space that encouraged collaboration and transparency and celebrated the profession of teaching. It was my kind of scene. I dug it.

Fast forward a few months, and I get every fan’s worst news. The band is breaking up. It was a punch to the gut that left me bummed beyond belief, until I found out the band wasn’t going their separate ways.  Instead it was pulling a Led Zeppelin (originally called the New Yardbirds) and changing its name because Sean had signed with a new school (record label) and would be able to have a bit more artistic freedom under the chat's new designation. Plus, the new title of the chat, #EdBeat, spoke of Sean’s love of music and education. Again, I was hooked.

While all this was going on, I was getting my Twitter legs.  I was building my PLN, participating in other rocking chats like #4thchat, #leadupchat, #bfc530, and #aussieED, and discovering how much awesomeness exists outside the four walls of my classroom. 

I even went to ISTE in June because so many people had convinced me if I could go, I should go. And boy did it not disappoint! It was life changing - my educational version of Woodstock (minus naked people and hallucinogenic drugs). I met and heard amazing “artists” and was inspired to get more involved. I decided to start a blog, launch Passion Projects in the fall, and create digital writing portfolios for my students.  I still, however, did not have the guts to do something I had been wanting to do: host a chat...   

When I got back from ISTE, Sean, who had not been able to attend, wanted to hear all about it. He said that next year he would road trip to wherever ISTE was going to be held. 

I promised to make him a mix tape. 

Sean then did what Sean does, and told me, “Sounds like a great topic for an #EdBeat chat, you’re hosting!” 

I tried to inform him I had: 1. never hosted a chat before and 2. a bit of stage fright, but Sean’s enthusiasm, confidence, and assurance was steadfast.  A few tweets later, I said yes to his first proposal and our collaboration began. 

Our method of communication soon became Voxer, as we could not type fast enough, nor while we were driving.  Our voxes became more and more frequent, and we soon began to talk about all things education, music, movies, family, dreams, struggles...and a friendship began to develop quickly. I felt (like many people do) that Sean was someone I could be completely transparent with and share my ideas freely. 

The collaboration was empowering and energizing. I wanted to take risks and try new things.  I created S’mores (an interactive, online poster) that had embedded videos of the songs whose lyrics had inspired our questions for the chat.  People were going to be able to listen to and hopefully be inspired by music, while they discussed education. We had created our mix tape, and when that Wednesday rolled around (5 days later) I was ready to share it with Twitterverse.    

That night I had a life changing experience as I co-hosted my very first chat.  It gave me one of the biggest rushes of my life, but the next morning my hosting hangover took hold. I knew that this was a one-time gig, but Sean and my partnership, our daily talks, incredible collaboration was not something I was excited to say goodbye to.  I hinted at as much, and Sean voxed back saying, “There are no rules here, let’s co-host again next week! Whatcha got?!?” 

So we went back into the #EdBeat studios, and produced another musically inspired chat that was just as fun and exhilarating as the first. Through that second week of conversations and collaboration, I knew at that point that no matter what happened, I had a friend for life and was ready to turn in my backstage pass.      

That next day we chatted and talked about music, movies, and of course education.  We didn’t talk about #Edbeat. The following day, Friday, Sean voxed me. He sounded nervous as he said things like, “I have really enjoyed our collaboration,” “I have been thinking...,” “I was wondering…,” “You can totally say no…” When finally he came right out and asked, “Will you be the Stevie Nicks to my Lindsey Buckingham?  Will you be my permanent co-host for #EdBeat?” 

My reply was an unequivocal and super pumped, “Yes!” 

So on that Friday in July, we became permanent band mates.  Our journey as partners had begun.

Stayed tuned for Side 2!