31 January 2020

Bring It On

So, if I've done this correctly, I've posted 31 times in 31 days. I won't claim all of them were done well or were my best pieces of writing. What I can say is that this has been a useful muscle to build again, no matter the quality of my form. I think that it has also made me a bit happier about things in my life, as odd as that sounds. I believe it's important to be creative and creativity takes inspiration, courage, and practice. I'm using old tweets from this day for inspiration, plain old discipline to make myself practice writing each day (as I once did with piano), and well, I'm not sure about the source of courage. I suspect it's just plain stubbornness. But one always has to be willing to take a risk with anything that is shared publicly, even if it's just a crappy blog post.

I am not quite as far ahead with my organization as I was on this date four years ago, but the sentiment remains. February? Bring it on.


30 January 2020

The Serendipitous 20

A very good friend of mine often says that there are only 20 people in the world...you just meet them in different configurations. And the older I get, the more true I find that to be. For example, the principal who hired me when I first moved to Washington in 1996 has turned out to be a good friend of someone I didn't meet until 2013...long after she'd moved on to other things in 1999 and I'd lost touch with her. Maybe it's to be expected and shouldn't feel so coincidental, but it always does when those things happen.

And here is an example, of sorts, of another:


I know it doesn't look like much. But when I first started blogging, or shortly thereafter, I ran across another blog by a Washington teacher who was also writing under a pseudonym. I don't remember when we finally put real faces with real names, but we had been friends over the Internet for a long time.

And now, we work together. Weird, huh? Oh, and before he came to our district from a neighbour district, someone in my office told me about how she'd been his mentor when he did his student teaching in her classroom all those years ago.

Because hey, there's only 20 people in the world, right?

I also love this tweet from the list from this date because of the #olywa reference. One of my counterparts in a neighbour district says that her family refers to things as "VO," meaning very Olympia. I don't know how to explain it other than this is a very different sort of town and in the best possible way. The serendipity of the place is second to none. I never know what I will see when I'm out and about. Sometimes it's a teenage boy in a tutu joyfully dancing with a sign to advertise his family's garage sale. Or a big, bearded, flannel-encased northwest dude complimenting the choice of purse for the man in a dress who just sat down at the bar. Or even a couple of weekends ago, I ran across a funeral procession as block party—people with beautiful bird and butterfly penants and a little band playing hymns while they all milled in the middle of the street to celebrate a life. So, if there's any place more perfect for all the disparate pieces of my life and past to come together in one neat package, it's here. I can hardly wait to see what happens next.

29 January 2020

Not Easy Being Green

I don't know what it is about this time of year, but my fridge always ends up looking like this:


This picture is from a couple of houses ago, but the interior of my refrigerator today doesn't look all that different. I think it's from a combination of lack of farmer's markets, winter doldrums, and overwork. (Full list of today's tweets)

If you see some farm-fresh leafy greens out there, send them my way, okay?

28 January 2020

Remember When

My post is a little late today. I just got home from having dinner with a friend that I used to work with when I wrote this tweet from 2009:


When people asked me what it was like to work for the state education agency (SEA), I try to be diplomatic with my answer. I really didn't enjoy the lifestyle that engendered the tweet above. Being on the road a lot is not my idea of a good time. Also, when you're out in the field, people never separate you from your role. You are always the SEA...which is akin to Big Brother. You have to watch every word you say because people treat it like gospel. You are always "on." I remember my very first day of work with the agency, which was on the road, and getting to my little room at the end of the day and crying myself to sleep because the enormity of it all was overwhelming.

But I don't say these things when people ask. Instead, I try to remember that it was a very unique gift to be able to see what "school" looks like across the entire state—from gigantic districts to ones with just two teachers (one of whom drives the bus, too) and 25 students. I saw districts that still use their one-room school house. And I saw three-story buildings housing a couple thousand high schoolers. Very few people get to see school in such a variety of settings. I've also gotten to see large-scale testing in a way that almost no one has—from the writing of an item all the way through scoring tens of thousands of student answers.

And when I'm asked if I miss any of that, I can honestly say that I don't. I appreciate the opportunity I had, but I don't want it again. I am also grateful to transition to the role of support and friend to those who still work in the agency. I understand what the pressures are and I let them just be themselves for a little while. I try to see them for who they are, not what they do.

Today's tweet was selected from a list provided each day by On This Day.  The account shows a user's full history of tweets for the given calendar date. Just a reminder that I'm going to post a tweet a day from a previous year and expand on it a bit as a way to get back in the habit of sharing via a blog. You can see my full list of tweets posted on this day, or start seeing your own by following that account.

27 January 2020

On the Internet, Nobody Knows You're a Dog

by Pete Steiner as published in the New Yorker (1993)

I have been on the Interwebs for a long time. I think I started using it regularly in 1995. And, like anything else, it has changed quite a bit in the intervening years. Not quite ten years after I first got online, I started blogging. At the time, it was very common to use a pseudonym and avatar. There were—and are—tradeoffs in doing so. But here was a benefit I liked:


I get that anonymity can confer a lack of validity, but it also offers a means of protection and a different type of engagement. When I first got on Twitter, I ended up following gay and transgender and non-binary people...and people from other countries and cultures...and people with disabilities...and in very few of those cases, I knew any of that information when I first added them to my list. I followed them because I liked what they had to share. I like to think the same thing would happen now, but I don't know if that's true for everyone. The online world feels far more polarized, and I always wonder if that's because people get written off for the way they look or their way their names appear before anyone even takes a look at what they're about. Maybe honesty doesn't engender authenticity the way we think it should.

I wish I knew now what the web would look like in another 20 years. I suspect there will still be blogs and tweets and facey-space pages. There will be new ways, too, to interact and explore. But as concerns around privacy keep mounting, I also suspect that we will see a return to anonymity.  Woof.

Today's tweet was selected from a list provided each day by On This Day.  The account shows a user's full history of tweets for the given calendar date. Just a reminder that I'm going to post a tweet a day from a previous year and expand on it a bit as a way to get back in the habit of sharing via a blog. You can see my full list of tweets posted on this day, or start seeing your own by following that account.

26 January 2020

Once Is Enough

In this house, if the tv is on, then Turner Classic Movies is what's showing. There's something comforting in the familiar...although I discover plenty of new-to-me movies all the time. I've ended up seeing 25 in this category so far this month.

Today's tweet from this date has something in common with #25. I don't think I can watch it again.

I have a small list of these films (e.g., Schindler's List, Legends of the Fall). They are the ones that are good films, but the stories are so wrenching (or there are scenes that stick too close to me) that I just can't take myself to that same place emotionally again.

This morning's edition was The Sound of Fury (1950). It is your typical film noir—decent guy led astray with disastrous results—until the last 10 minutes. You can watch the whole movie on YouTube, but the embedded player below begins where the all-too-brutal mob scene starts to crank up. This scene is the reason I can't watch the film again.

I have an entirely different list of films I won't watch again, because they suck. And then there is also a list of films I love to watch over and over. Maybe there will be time to share some of those, too, over the course of this year.

25 January 2020

How many words is an action worth?

Honestly, I have no idea what inspired this particular tweet 11 years ago...


...but it caught my eye for today's post from the list for this date because I am still asking this same question on a regular basis about a host of other things. For example, on Friday I had a conversation with someone about how we look at first semester grades, notice that the student population with the most Fs is boys who are in special ed...and then we just go right into second semester. As Ashleigh Brilliant has said, "I don't have any solution, but I certainly admire the problem." We admire things, but don't act them.

I'm not sure why. Is it because we don't care about that particular problem (out of the many we have to face)? Is it because we don't know what to do? Or that we think it belongs with someone else? Is it because we disagree on what the actions should be or the order they should go in?

Right or wrong, I feel like most of the problems we see as school leaders are things that we can take action on. I don't feel like that for the world at large. There, I feel like I have to choose...that I can't care deeply or effectively about everything that deserves that level of attention. But in a school...in a classroom...with a student...we can do something. I hope that we are celebrating all of the things that we accomplish, and build stamina and resilience for the others that are still waiting for our action.

24 January 2020


When I was three, my grandmother's sister, Elsa, asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up.

Elsa had always been a fiercely independent woman, moving to New York City by herself (from Kansas City) in the early 1940s where she forged a career in the diamond trade. She ended up living in an apartment down the hall from Kurt Vonnegut and his family and stayed single until she was 73 years old...when she married a multimillionaire and enjoyed several years of that lifestyle. After she was a widow, she moved back to Kansas City to be with another sister. She continued to write stories and plays and make five year plans...even when she was diagnosed with terminal cancer at the age of 90.

But, I digress. I wanted to give a little background to Elsa because the question she asked me when I was a tiny tot came from a different place. She wasn't just passing conversation. She represented a very different example of womanhood and expected something more. I told her what I wanted. I said I wanted to be a firefighter...and a magician...and a host of other things. She then asked how I was going to manage doing all of that. And I replied...

Womans can do anything.

I really felt that way, too. I still do now, but it is different. I believe "womans" can do anything. I am just sadder, but wiser, for understanding all the ways in which we're not allowed to do them.

But the word "womans" is on my mind for another reason at the moment. I was testing a first grader this week. The test consists of me saying a word and then the student has to use the word in a sentence. We got to the word woman. The young white male in front of me paused and then said, "Womans like to clean." And I died a little inside.

I also felt a bit like Steve Martin's character from Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid, who goes into a rage every time the term cleaning woman is used.

Maybe it's turning 50. Maybe it's just the right time. But even without this last prompting, I feel a real sense of urgency about ensuring that three-year old girls of today don't reach my age and still face all of the barriers I see. Oh, I will clean up all right. Just you wait, son.

Today's tweet was selected from a list provided each day by On This Day.  The account shows a user's full history of tweets for the given calendar date. Just a reminder that I'm going to post a tweet a day from a previous year and expand on it a bit as a way to get back in the habit of sharing via a blog. You can see my full list of tweets posted on this day, or start seeing your own by following that account.

23 January 2020

These Are a Few of My Favourite Things

In a couple of weeks, I will begin teaching my first course for a university. I find this exciting in both positive and challenging ways. On the plus side, I am very much looking forward to working with almost-teachers around effective data use. I got to supervise a student teacher this fall in one of our kindergarten classrooms and had such a good time. Having never had a student teacher during my classroom career, it feels good to be able to mentor and support someone who is just starting this journey. Now I will have a different role with a group of them, and I get to talk about data...which is what I'm most passionate about. All good things. And I am also a bit terrified. I haven't been in a college classroom for 25 years. Sure, I've taken some classes since then...but they've all been online. I have absolutely zero idea about what college classes look like now. I do a lot of professional development with other educators, so I'm just going to start out teaching this course as if it's a series of five two-hour workshops. I'm hoping the students will be generous and help me shape things along the way. This feels like a big opportunity and I don't want to waste it. I'm sure I'll have more to share about all of this later. (If you have any tips for me, please help a sister out and send them my way.)

For today, however, this tweet from this day of four years ago is a reminder that as I guide conversations about data use with teachers-to-be, that ethics has to be integral to our work together.


And not just the FERPA'y compliance stuff. We need to think about what and who gets included or excluded...reflecting on the choices we make in terms of how we represent data...and all of its communication.

The link referenced in the tweet above is no longer live, but here is a summary, if you're interested. I also have a series of similar links stashed on my Pinboard account. A few of these will land in my course materials for sure.

What will it be like to have a few of my favourite things—beginning teachers, responsible data use, workshop time—all together? Guess I'll find out very soon.

22 January 2020

It's Still There

Apparently, I need to tweet better on January 22 each year, because there is a total lack of blogworthy moments to select from. Here's the best of the bunch for this day:


Here the picture that I did, indeed, put in my office window and still have there today:

I can't claim that it's made my office foolproof (after all, I still occupy it), but I like to think that it has headed off some issues.

21 January 2020

Habit-forming 20s

There is an adage that it takes 21 days to develop a habit (or to break one). I have no idea if that's true, but I do feel a certain sense of accomplishment in completing 21 posts in 21 days...especially since I haven't written that many over the last few years. I am taking my inspiration from the daily list of historical tweets generated by On This Day and that is helpful in terms of both being reflective and developing something to share. My one complaint is that whatever time zone the bot is in, I get a mix of tweets tagged for the current and previous day. They all fall within a 24-hour period...but I am bummed that some of the ones I've most wanted to pick for a given day haven't shown up until the next day. I'm not sure what to do about that. Part of me wants to stick with ensuring tweets match a given day...part of me wants to just adjust and pick from whatever list is generated. There are two ways around this, of course. One would be to delay writing these for 24 hours. As it is now, I write them the evening before to post the morning of. Another would be to go into my settings and request my full Twitter archive...then just sort by date and find the tweet du jour.

We will also see how much I need to stick to these prompts. There may be some other things to share along the way as I teach my first university course (starting next week) and coordinate a large-scale project between now and the end of April.

But today, I am smiling while I remember this (including the autocarrot my phone made in terms of Buster Keaton's name):


I admit that I am not the biggest fan of silent movies. Maybe I just need to develop an appreciation for them, as I have done for films from the '30s forward. But I do have a few favourites from the silent era. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (which will be 100 years old this year) is a story I can never look away from. Alfred Hitchcock's first film from 1927, The Lodger, is riveting. I will always stop what I'm doing to watch Lillian Gish's performance in The Wind (1928). And, of course, I can't resist Rudolph Valentino in The Sheik (1921).

But it is always Buster Keaton who I admire the most. The films are so very clever—stories well-told and the stunts are second-to-none. I enjoyed seeing Sherlock, Jr. (1924) for the first time last year. And The General (1926) is far and away the very best of his...in my opinion. But the tweet above references what might be his best known performance as Steamboat Bill, Jr. (1928). Fast-paced and full of the human experience, from familial bonds to forbidden love to home, I never cease to see new wonders. Getting to see it on the big screen with an audience and live accompaniment was a fantastic experience. I hope these films continue to be appreciated over the next 100 years.

20 January 2020

Early to Bed, Early to Rise

According to my adoptive mother, I have always been an early riser. It wasn't enough to be a newborn with it's own exhausting schedule, I had to have others in the house up well before dawn, too.


I can't say that much has changed in the last 50 (!) years. Most work days, I am up around 4:15 am and out the door about an hour later. I often run an errand or two on the way to work. At 5:30 in the morning, I can put gas in the car, mail packages, do banking, or small runs to the grocery store. I realize this sounds like hell to other people. It's not my choice to be wired for my most alert times to be this early. However, I have to say that it is super-nice to just be able to come home at the end of the work day, as opposed to having worked all day and then having to run errands with the rest of the crowds. I've made my peace with things.

On a holiday like today, when there is no expectation of being anywhere, I might sleep in until 5 and then ease into the day more slowly. It's nice to enjoy some coffee at home, putter around, and do things along my own schedule.

Today's tweet was selected from a list provided each day by On This Day.  The account shows a user's full history of tweets for the given calendar date. Just a reminder that I'm going to post a tweet a day from a previous year and expand on it a bit as a way to get back in the habit of sharing via a blog. You can see my full list of tweets posted on this day, or start seeing your own by following that account.

19 January 2020

Forever Young

I have not been a classroom teacher since 2008, which means that by now, nearly every student I knew that year has now graduated and moved on into adulthood. I did work with Kindergarten students at that time who would be seniors this year, but I have had no connection to them since then.

I am still in contact with several former students. We exchange Christmas cards or connect on social media. I enjoy getting to see where their lives have taken them as they started completed college and started careers...been married and had children...bought houses...and faced their fair share of challenges, too. There is a bit of cognitive dissonance in all of this, of course. In my mind, these people are frozen in time—forever 16 - 18 years old. I remember them as high school sophomores, with all their goofy energy. I recognize that they have more than moved on by then, but I hope they appreciate that someone still sees them in that light...someone who remembers that kid.

The tweet for today is a reply to a former student:


She works in a school now, has met my office staff at a conference they all attended, and is still as full of life and energy in her late 30's as she was in her teens. I love seeing her well and happy. It's what we want for all of our students.

18 January 2020

Where's the Party?


I've been out in a few of our elementary schools this week to do benchmark testing. I, and a small army of paras, sit with K - 3 students one at a time to test some basic skills with reading and math. It is exhausting, and monotonous, and your body gets sore from sitting in little chairs and hunching over low tables all day. But it is also one of the most fun parts of my job. I love listening to the little things kids want to share, the excitement of a kindergartner who recognizes that the letter on the page is one that's in their name, or the third grader who just can't help but sing "row, row, row your boat" when they see it in the reading passage.

A tradeoff in doing this is that my to do list for all the other parts of my job starts to become monstrous. So, we may have a three-day weekend in terms of what is on the calendar, but that just means it's a holiday from going to the office. As I sat in my office at 4:30 yesterday afternoon, after getting there before 6 am, I generated quite the list of large things (build the repo for the college course I'm teaching to teachers-in-training about using data) and small (email the final round of logo edits so I can launch my new business). There's a mix of personal, work stuff, and a couple things that straddle both worlds. Time to party hearty at the To Do Bar. Hope it's got some good happy hour specials.

Today's tweet was selected from a list provided each day by On This Day.  The account shows a user's full history of tweets for the given calendar date. Just a reminder that I'm going to post a tweet a day from a previous year and expand on it a bit as a way to get back in the habit of sharing via a blog. You can see my full list of tweets posted on this day, or start seeing your own by following that account.

17 January 2020

Hi! My name is...

Over the years, I have written a few times about my Internet handle. I even have some background on it on one of the pages for this blog. While my reasons for keeping it have shifted over the years, I realized several years ago that if I give it up, then that makes it available for someone else to use...and then have all my content associated with them. So, while this consequence was unanticipated when I first started blogging, it's a fact of my online existence for as long as it lasts. I have no regrets and I have nothing to hide.


Looking at this tweet (full list here) from this date 10 years ago, reminded me of the power and pitfalls of aliases. While I originally addressed my comment to @scicurious...she has since rebranded (@BeeBrookshire) to reflect her given name (Bethany Brookshire)...but someone else has taken up the original mantle and is using her first username now. (Confused yet?) While I doubt she really cares at this point—she has 63.5K followers, after all—it is only one of several examples of changes I've seen over the years as people adapt their username to new purposes. And who knows what the future holds? Maybe there will be easier ways to update our usernames and retain all of the previous associations. Right now, I'm just going to sit tight on my claim.

16 January 2020

Early to Bed, Early to Rise


According to my adoptive mother, I have always been a morning person. Even now, I am up early (around 4 on workdays) and am much more productive and focused at that point. I realize that it is not the norm, but over the years I have learned to accept that I am just not built for a more typical schedule.

Today's tweet (full list here) from seven years ago reminds me not just of my oddball circadian rhythm, but I also like it because these are my favourite sorts of tweets: strange little connections I make in my mind and then someone else joins in. People on the interwebs are far more clever than I. It's great to make connections with others, if only for a moment in time.

I must admit that I am looking forward to the upcoming long weekend. Not because I will be sleeping in, of course, but for the opportunity to set schedules aside, listen to some music, and find that path to peace.

15 January 2020

A Kind of Hush

It's been a challenging forecast this week. Monday night, when I had insomnia and was wandering around the house at 1 a.m., there was no snow falling or accumulated. But at 4:30 when I got up again, there were lots of fat, fluffy flakes to enjoy. I didn't realize it at first because I could hear the traffic outside and there were no changes to the speed of cars heading down the street.


There is very rarely much snow in this spot, but 20 miles to the north in the town where I work, there is often a different story. Tuesday was no exception. School was canceled. And while I was still expected to work, I decided to stay home until the sun was up. While I don't know what today will hold (I suspect it will be an icy morning and we may open late), I like remembering times when I can stay snuggled up at home and enjoy the peaceful view out the window.

14 January 2020

Eyeo, Eyeo, It's Off to Learn I Go

I started blogging 15+ years ago because there were conversations and connections I wanted to have that weren't available through my day job. Did I find what I was looking for? It has been so much more than that. I have had so many opportunities and met so many fantastic people from this small start. It has changed my life in ways I could never have anticipated.

A few years ago, I was fortunate enough to go to the Eyeo Festival. It is not an education conference, but one that sits at the intersection of code, data, and design.


Why did I go? In part because even all these years later, I am looking for conversation and connection that I don't find at work. Because schools shouldn't be a separate unit from the world we produce in the students who leave our walls. Because I want something bigger than what I have right now.

If it wasn't for this conference, I would not have pushed my data stories project forward. I would not have become someone that others seek out for ways to communicate with data. I would not have a vision of what I want to do with my life over the next 10 - 15 years.

I have been thinking about going again this year. When I went last time, I paid all of my expenses, asking my work place to let me count attending this as work (i.e., I didn't have to use vacation days). I suspect that if I go again, I will have to make the same arrangement. But it is an investment and I think it's worth it. I will check out some costs and then make a decision in the next week or so.

Why don't you meet me there?

Today's tweet was selected from a list provided each day by On This Day.  The account shows a user's full history of tweets for the given calendar date. Just a reminder that I'm going to post a tweet a day from a previous year and expand on it a bit as a way to get back in the habit of sharing via a blog. You can see my full list of tweets posted on this day, or start seeing your own by following that account.

13 January 2020

Why so serious?

A threat of snow for the next few days is looming in the forecast. I am always a bit dubious. Sometimes, a large event is predicted and we barely get a dusting...and other times, like last year, it's only supposed to be a couple of inches and we got close to two feet of the fluffy white stuff. But I am just going to treat this week like all of my plans will be on track (but keep a backup plan in my pocket).

This means that starting on Wednesday, I will be heading out to all six of our elementary schools over the course of six days to do benchmark testing for close to 1600 K - 3 students. I don't go alone, mind you. My office assistants and I take a small army of paraeducators and "sweep" a school each day. It is intensive and exhausting work, but I have to say that I really enjoy it. I like being in the schools and I especially like meeting students.

I also like the serendipity of it all—like the snowfall amount, there's no telling what I'll see or hear along the way. That's why, when I saw this tweet from four years ago, I knew it was the one to post for today (full list here):


The office where I took this picture no longer exists, but I am forever grateful for this random bit of fun as I attended a meeting. These bits of creativity and play are more commonly found in elementary schools. I'm not sure why secondary schools take themselves so much more seriously. Secret smiles (especially ones with googly eyes) sprinkled about a building always make for the best memories.

12 January 2020

I Just Can't Quit You

Before I started my current job, I had my 8 - 5 gig and a side hustle. The side hustle was to build presentations for a variety of clients (more on that in a recent post). They hired me for Prezis, but my favourite presentation tool is PowerPoint.


While I am in a very committed relationship with Excel—one which is occasionally stormy and requires couples counseling—my PowerPoint sidepiece is always a pleasure to be with. I use it to build documents, create simple graphics, and of course, develop presentations.

Although I haven't officially had my shingle out to accept commissions for design work for 5.5 years, I have two clients who consistently check in with me to see if I am accepting projects. Both of them contacted me on Friday...and for whatever reason, I decided to help this time around. I have been pretty firm about turning down extra work, even if I enjoy it. But I have some projects of my own that I hope to launch this spring, and perhaps a little extra cash would motivate me to breathe life into them. Being creative on a deadline is a muscle I need to start exercising again.

Today's tweet was selected from a list provided each day by On This Day.  The account shows a user's full history of tweets for the given calendar date. Just a reminder that I'm going to post a tweet a day from a previous year and expand on it a bit as a way to get back in the habit of sharing via a blog. You can see my full list of tweets posted on this day, or start seeing your own by following that account.

11 January 2020

It's Five O'Clock Somewhere

In my current role, I oversee testing throughout the district. If it's required by the feds, the state, or by us, it's in my wheelhouse. This includes gathering data for student placement in our Highly Capable (HiCap) program. For kindergarten and first grade students who are nominated, we use the Peabody Picture Inventory as one of the data points. I schedule time with teachers to go and work with individual students to complete the testing.

There is a spiral bound book that we use. Each page has four pictures, like the one shown below. I say a word like laughing and then the student either points to the picture or says the number underneath the picture. There are sets of 12 pages and we keep going through the test until the student misses 8 or more in the set. Then, I score it so the committee can consider this information, along with a host of other data points, to determine placement.

I love doing these tests...and students are always very engaged. I always spend time chatting with the kids prior to starting the testing. Even though not all nominated students are identified for highly capable services, they are all very bright and they have different things to share than other students their age. One first grader turned out to be so mature, I wondered if we should grab a beer and talk about the economy instead of looking at the picture inventory.

The tweet below comes from this day two years ago (full list here) when I was doing this testing, and it is a story I have told many times.


I don't know if his parents would have appreciated his oversharing as much as I enjoyed it. I will say that he has not been the only student I have tested that associated the term beverage as something that is the exclusive province of adults. While this has absolutely no bearing on the testing or its outcome, it's just been an observation for me about how students pick up vocabulary.

One thing I am hoping to do in the next year or so is expand our identification of students for HiCap in grades K - 2. Right now, we are in compliance with state law...but that is also a very low bar. We don't have an identified program and because identification is dependent upon nominations, we are no doubt missing many students who don't have an advocate. That has to change. I don't know what that will look like just yet, but it's on my radar.

10 January 2020

Winter Is Coming

This year, I am trying to get back into the blogging habit by using a tweet from this date in a previous year as a writing prompt. I have no idea how this will all turn out, and I suspect that there may be several days along the way that are a bit of a Twitter desert. That is, nothing from the last twelve years is really worth of comment. Today is one of those days. Here is the best of the lot:


Snow is on my mind at the moment, as the forecast for next week looks promising in that regard. Since I have a contract to work year round, I am not as tuned in to snow days and make up days...but I admit a childlike interest in the first opportunity of the year. There is something magical about getting to stay home with a cup of cocoa while the snow falls outside. And there is something not so magical about having to do grown up things like make sure there are enough supplies for a week and worrying about whether or not you have to get to the office.  There are so many plans for next week that it makes me tired to think of trying to reschedule them. But I will cross that bridge if we come to it. For now, I will just try to focus on the possibility of a pajama day.

09 January 2020

The Big 5 - 0

Yes, the rumours are true: today I am 50 years old. 😲 Not much else to say about that, other than tomorrow evening, I am going to celebrate properly with some friends. One is hosting and we are having four different types of cake and eight different types of bourbon...because that is what sounds good to me. Wherever you are, I hope you'll drink a toast!


This year I am posting a tweet a day from a previous year and expand on it a bit as a way to get back in the habit of sharing via a blog. You can see my full list of tweets posted on this date, or start seeing your own by following On This Day.

08 January 2020

Good Night

While reviewing my tweets posted on this date over the last 12'ish years, this one stood out to me, mainly because I experienced this again on Monday night:


Bouts of insomnia started in my 30s. For a long time, they upset me. I had, up until that point, been a good sleeper...never had any trouble falling asleep and staying asleep. It was very frustrating to not be able to do something that should be so natural and simple. And over the years, I've made my peace with it all. I sleep when I feel ready...and if I'm up at 3 am (like in the tweet above), then I do other things. I make a full breakfast for myself or fold laundry or pay the bills. Obsessing over my failure to be asleep at a particular hour of the day is not helpful. I've also come to realize over the years that there isn't a reason for the insomnia: It just is. So I embrace it on those nights of the year it comes to me and am grateful the rest of the time.

Monday night, I was bone weary at 7:30 and slept until 11'ish...then didn't fall asleep again until 2:30...then up at 5 (I typically get up at 4, so this was "sleeping in") and had full day in the office and errands after work on Tuesday. Sleep should be simple.

Someone once told me that they thought the second day back from a break was harder than the first. I think they might have been right. The first day is full of adrenaline and goes by in a flash. But the realization of the necessary routine weighs heavy on the second day. It's not so special to have the yoke on anymore. (As an aside, I've long said that when someone dies and makes me queen, I will have all three-day weekends be Friday - Sunday. That way it feels like you have two Fridays during the week. Who the hell likes this Monday and then Monday-on Tuesday, business?)

But we're back and moving forward and at some point, sleep will return to me.

07 January 2020

Leading Me On

I struggle with the term "leader," especially as it applies to education. Is it tied to power or responsibility? Knowledge or expertise? Big picture or details? Is it strictly a function of job title or is it the ways others view you, regardless of your role? Is it how you act in the moment or how you live your life? When I am in a meeting where the people in the room (including me), and we are referred to as leaders, I am never sure who is being included...not even me.


I have learned to become more diplomatic over the years, although this 9-year old tweet makes it appear that I have been working on this for awhile. I have also learned that while my email inbox may well be a to do list created by other people, I control how I spend my time. And if a reply needs to sit overnight or another day, so be it. I don't know if that is a function of age or leadership skills. I just know that my early career self would have been so much less stressed if she knew this.

This year I am posting a tweet a day from a previous year and expand on it a bit as a way to get back in the habit of sharing via a blog. You can see my full list of tweets posted on this date, or start seeing your own by following On This Day.

06 January 2020

Lighten Up

I love living in the Pacific Northwest, but I have to admit that winters are a challenge. We don't often get significant snow, but the days are very short and when it's daylight, the skies are grey.


In the 10 years since I've tweeted this, I've figured out a few ways to manage my winter wardrobe boredom. I have a bright yellow felt coat that I love. It's soft and warm and bright, and I often get comments on it when I'm out doing errands. I've also acquired some of my grandmother's jewelry. The crystals from the 1950s really sparkle and shine. I am sure that she saved them to wear for special occasions, but I love having something cheerful to put on just because it's Wednesday and is raining for the 23rd day in a row.

I can't do anything about the minutes of daylight, but it is always a relief to get to this point in the year and know that the sun is sticking around a little longer each day. It might not be noticeable yet, but it will be soon.

This year I am posting a tweet a day from a previous year and expand on it a bit as a way to get back in the habit of sharing via a blog. You can see my full list of tweets posted on this date, or start seeing your own by following On This Day.

05 January 2020

Creature of Habit

I always tell people that my favourite hobby is eavesdropping. There are few things I enjoy more than being in a coffee shop or restaurant and listening to conversations at other tables.


I bought a house last year in a new-to-me town. One of the habits I've developed is going to the local sandwich spot on Saturday afternoon for lunch. The cost of a tuna melt and a bag of chips provides cheap entertainment while I listen to a group of 70+ year old women talk about "hookers," to old friends catching up to the restaurant staff sharing their joys and sorrows.

I usually take my bullet journal with me, and as I engage in my aural hobby, I review my accomplishments from the previous week and build my schedule and goals for the upcoming one. There is a certain satisfaction in the predictability of it all...from the food to the buzz of tables to the personal organization. I suspect that most people have their own rituals that keep themselves centered, with or without tuna.

This year I am posting a tweet a day from a previous year and expand on it a bit as a way to get back in the habit of sharing via a blog. You can see my full list of tweets posted on this day, or start seeing your own by following On This Day.

04 January 2020

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose


This tweet might be 11 years old, but it is evergreen. What's different, however, is the nature of the work. In 2009, I was just barely 6 months out of the classroom and into my role with the state education agency. In 2020, I'm back in a school district (although not a classroom) and still have plenty of work to bring home.

I have been thinking about a conversation I had over Christmas. The daughter of a friend of mine is an executive with a company. She's a very successful high-level executive and the company moved her family to England last year so she can oversee operations in western Europe. Over Christmas dinner, one of her brothers asked when the family would be coming back to the states. And she replied that she hoped they never would. This was not necessarily a comment on the state of affairs in the US as much as it was work and home life. One of the things she liked best about being there is that people don't email in the evenings or on weekends. Work is for work hours...and that's it. She has a job with very large responsibilities, but doing it in Europe has meant that she gets far more time with her family.

This week, I had to almost beg a friend of mine to not check in on his work email on New Year's Day. I tried telling him that there would be nothing in there that couldn't wait until January 2nd. What I didn't say that is that doing so also sets an unreasonable expectation for others to be working, too. If we're in leadership, we need to set better boundaries and examples. It's not that all work and no play might make us dull...it also makes us unhappy.

I do my best to not bring work home these days. But I also like to take care of "future me" by ensuring that she's not overwhelmed and stressed out when the machine at work gets cranking again. Another friend of mine also reminds me to "not burn up on re-entry." I think that's good advice for all of us. Please rest and enjoy this weekend. Do the things that make you think about work the very least.

03 January 2020

Six to Grow On

I have been an old movie weirdo for a long time. My father loved watching them when I was growing up, but I wasn't very interested in them until I started teaching nearly 30 years ago. At that time, American Movie Classics really was a channel that showed classic films from the Marx Brothers and others. And I remember a Christmas on my own when I was 20 where I watched Meet Me in St. Louis on TNT. Both channels changed formats long ago, but I have been watching Turner Classic Movies almost since its inception 25 years ago. And my tv has rarely been tuned elsewhere.

I do go to the theatre and see new releases. I get my money's worth from my Amazon Prime Video account, as well. But there is something comforting, especially in these times where all of the news is bad, about sitting down to work in the evenings and having Cary Grant keeping me company.

I suspect that many of my posts this year will reflect my interest in film, but for this first one, I'm sharing some data I posted just last year. This was the board I have in my office:


While I certainly watch more movies than are reflected in this data set (it only tracks things I see for the first time), it's always a good conversation starter. Many people love going to the movies or watching things at home and are anxious to share their recommendations. On the board, I show data by decade of film release and month I watched them, as well as a list of my favourites and information from the previous year.

I did fill the board with new data for 2019 (143 new-to-me movies). I will continue this over the course of the coming year. So far in 2020, I have watched six...and the list will grow.

Do you collect and share any personal data?

Another reminder that I'm going to post a tweet a day from a previous year and expand on it a bit as a way to get back in the habit of sharing via a blog. You can see my full list of tweets posted on this day, or start seeing your own by following On This Day.

02 January 2020

Old Tools in the New Year

Some things are not so different than when I started blogging 15(!) years ago. Blogger is still here, my avatar and username have stayed the same, and I am still a big fan of paper calendars and appointments written with a soft lead pencil. A few things are different, though. I have learned a lot about Excel (just ask my other blog), data, and design. And one of the tools that kicked me down that particular path was this one:


Prezi (formerly "Zuiprezi") was in beta 10 years ago. And while I don't use it too much these days, getting that beta login was a launch point to thinking differently about organizing and presenting information. Prezi also became my side hustle for a few years. I built presentations for CEOs, insurance agencies, pharmaceutical companies, auto parts resellers, medical students, corporate consultants, and others. After a lifetime in education, it was nice to see the world through other lenses. I learned to be creative on a deadline, but more importantly, I learned to ask good questions. It was no small thing to understand someone else's personal vision and then reflect it accurately in a presentation that they could show as their own. These days, I ply these skills when I work with teachers and principals to learn what it is they really want to know from the data.

Speaking of tools used then and now, I had used Delicious for the purposes of social bookmarking. But now, everything is in Pinboard. So, if you're looking for my favourite things for presentations, data, or other topics, head on over there.

Just a reminder that I'm going to post a tweet a day from a previous year and expand on it a bit as a way to get back in the habit of sharing via a blog. You can see my full list of tweets posted on this day, or start seeing your own by following On This Day.