Archive for June, 2012

Advocating for Local Programs Big Brothers/Big Sisters

Please take time to review the attached article and video of a local agency that operates out of federal grants and private support from donors and volunteers in the Fredericksburg area. As educators we must continue to advocate for programs that support our children.
This story highlights the 2011 Rappahannock Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Year.


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Tackling Large Tasks: The Elephant

With the demands of family, work and challenging course work for my doctoral program, I was reminded of the large elephant
I often make the mistake of focusing on the big goals and lose sight of the small ones that lead me there. As I grow as a person, mother, daughter, student and educator I appreciate the feedback and support of family, friends and colleagues.
How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. We have all heard it before, but we fail to apply it to our personal lives. This week I was told by a friend to enjoy the bites along the way.
I really needed to hear this, and I will dip mine in chocolate.
Any other advice is welcomed.
This message was especially written for my two AMAZING daughters. I love you and thank you for being my cheerleaders.


Technology Plans, the Policy by the People: But is it for the People?

My initial thoughts on the topic of Technology Plans in schools were very chilling. My low technical reasoning score propelled me to emphatically and unyieldingly throw out a variety of other topic ideas. Nevertheless, my colleagues felt this is a topic that is drawing local and national news attention in the public education arena, and a great topic for discussion. My group members went through a questioning process of “How?, Who?, Where? and When?”.

The “How” questions dominated the conversation and lead to very specific questions that forced us to narrow the topic by examining how technology plans and programs work in our respective school divisions. The “How” questioning series gave insight on how long, how often, or how many challenges lie ahead. The “How” questions allowed the group to select a topic that we could speak to intellectually and with confidence, excitement and enthusiasm. One of the easier ways to narrow the focus of our WIMBA discussion was to quickly brainstorm, asking questions and quickly ruling out topics of noninterest. The prepared questions provided by the professional faculty of Virginia Commonwealth University also aided in the topic selection. With the brainstorming activities and the guided questions, the group was able to select the topic of Technology Plans and Virginia Public School Authority (VPSA) Funds.

The group discussed the implementation of the “Who” questions related to stakeholders affected by decisions of the plan and which groups or communities are most affected by the plan. The discussions lead us to the subtopics and agenda items of who benefited from the plan and which groups were marginalized by the plan. The group was eager to share who were affected both positively and negativity by the initiatives of the plan in our schools divisions.

The technology plan was a bit more challenging to narrow down our topic with the “Why” questions and responses as to why we selected this topic. Albeit a difficult process, it allowed the team to brainstorm ideas as to why we selected technology plans as the focus for our topic and ultimately our WIMBA discussion. We asked what drives the decision making bodies to allocate resources and make the decisions on hardware and infrastructure to name a few. Several of my teammates found this to be an easy topic to discuss because their current profession. Once we approached the “Why’” questions, we were truly able to narrow our topic of discussion to Technology Plan Implementation and VPSA Funding. This type of questioning provoked us to think about how resources could be allocated. It allowed us to look at the topic through different lenses and do a self- reflection.

Where? and When?
Understandably, the “Where” questions were related to LEAs and smaller locations within a community. This type of question leads us to a very involved discussion of how prevalent inequities were with the dispersement of resources in different Local Education Associations (LEAs). The topic did not lend itself to an involved discussion on the “When”; however the processes of question lead us to narrow our topic and begin the building of resources for our Wikki site.

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Advocating for Technology in Schools

Please take time a moment to listen to my reflection on advocating for Technology.

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Last Call: VASCD Call for Proposals

VASCD Call for Proposals
Annual Conference — November 29-30, 2012
Williamsburg, Virginia

The Virginia Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (VASCD) is pleased to announce this year’s Annual Conference, “Taking on Challenges in Teaching, Learning and Leading”, to be held November 29-30, 2012 at the Williamsburg Hotel & Conference Center (formerly Williamsburg Marriott at Kingsmill) in Williamsburg, VA.. With the success of last year’s conference, we look forward to another gathering of 700 teachers, building administrators, central office administrators, and higher education faculty from across the Commonwealth.

Conference sessions are 1 hour and 15 minutes in length.

Program Abstract: Please provide a 50-word description of the objectives, content, and techniques to be included in your presentation. Indicate how participants can use the information. This description will appear in the conference program if your proposal is accepted.

Deadline for Proposal: June 30, 2012

Save Proposal as Word Document or PDF and e-mail to Conference Chair, Juliette Myers at:

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Active Listening Reflection

As I reflect on the active listening process and class assignment; there were many elements to listening that I was not aware of that were required before beginning a formal interview process. My colleague, with whom I was teamed, shared a very interesting topic that allowed me to learn of a new academic endeavor that worked the system to produce college ready students. What was helpful was a handout from a training that crossed my path. It reported that true active listening means a “ready-to-receive” attitude, and “attentive behavior”. This does “not only involve taking in what is said, but also developing an ear for the background, and what is not said, as well as the semi-tones or emphases.”

There are 4 preconditions associated with active listening:

1. Interest
2. Readiness to listen
3. Ability to listen
4. To be completely present   or “all there”

Furthermore, it is also important that the person I am listening to, knows that I actually am listening to him/her intently. Listening is a difficult skill for me as my pace and energy level is fast. This will now be one of my professional goals. This means that I will look and give signals of readiness to listen. As an active listener I must find ways to use non-verbal signals (eye-contact, body posture, gesture) or a verbal expression to encourage, and use complementary/explanatory statements and/or questions. The most challenging component for me is that true active listening demands attentiveness, interest, receiving of the message and embracing the message.

Active listening is supposed to complement speech and evolve around the discussion framework. The connecting of speech and active listening creates genuine discussion.  Nonetheless, due to my personality, interruption is an avoidance behavior pattern I need to address immediately, especially if it’s a topic of non-interest.  Interruption is the converse of active listening, and one that can cause the most damage. Listening is an “active form of silence” and is nonverbal and wordless. Silence can also signal to the speaker that you understood, and appreciate what was said. If you haven’t come to the realization by now, it sounds like our class discussion on being present in the moment.

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VASCD is pleased to announce this year’s Annual Conference: “Taking on Challenges in Teaching, Learning, and Leading”.

November 28 – 30, 2012 Williamsburg, Virginia

VASCD is pleased to announce this year’s Annual Conference: “Taking on Challenges in Teaching, Learning, and Leading”.

The pre-conference and keynote line-up includes:

Annual Conference, November 28th Preconference Keynote: Heidi Hayes Jacobs, President of Curriculum21. She is internationally known for curriculum mapping and for developing 21st century approaches to teaching and learning.

November 29-30th Conference Keynoters: Opening Keynote – Seth Kahan, author of “Getting Change Right: How Leaders Transform Organizations from the Inside Out.” He publishes the blog for Fast Company magazine, Leading Change, which provides practical insights and tools for change leaders. He is also a columnist for the Washington Post. Afternoon Keynote – Anthony Muhammad, President of New Frontier 21, is the co-author of “The Will to Lead, the Skill to Teach – Transforming Schools at Every Level”. He has served as a middle school teacher, assistant principal, middle school principal, and high school principal. Anthony has presented at our conference once before. Friday – Morning Keynote – Diana Laufenberg, a teacher at the Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia, one of the city’s newer high schools, in partnership with the Franklin Institute.

Students at SLA learn in a project-based environment where the core values of inquiry, research, collaboration, presentation and reflection are emphasized in all classes. Go to and watch her presentation where she shares 3 surprising things she has learned about teaching — including a key insight about learning from mistakes. Friday – Afternoon Keynote – Andy Hargreaves, Thomas More Brennan Chair in the Lynch School of Education at Boston College. The mission of the Chair is to promote social justice and connect theory and practice in education. He is the co-author of the Second International Handbook of Educational Change. Andy’s current research is on successful educational change strategies in high performing schools, districts and countries; organizations that perform beyond expectations in business, sport and education; and special education reform strategies achieved through whole-school changes that also benefit all students.

For further details please visit:

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