Good morning and Happy Friday to you all.  I’ve discovered that after my wife leaves for work, a cup of coffee, a book, and a spot in my new addition (a four seasons sunroom) is spectacular! I’ve got the overhead fan on, the a couple of windows open to listen to the wind blow, the birds twitter, and it’s just a great way to start off my day.

As my title suggests, I’ve had the experience to be able to participate in some professional development this week, three days actually, which is pretty darn good!

First, our regional conference, Keystone’s Premier Educational Conference, or KPEC (#aea1kpec), was held on Tuesday and Wednesday. I made the decision a while ago not to attend just simply because of time. It was a long year and usually in June, I travel to our church’s annual conference and this conference. I took a pass on both, but was able to follow both via Twitter.  The PD part for me comes from the keynote speakers at KPEC. Todd Whitaker was the keynote on Tuesday and my will was sorely tested when I heard that come out. I’ve read many of Todd’s books and follow his antics on Twitter.  If you do not know about him, he’s the author of 40 educational books like What Good Teachers Do DifferentShifting the Monkey, and many more.  I so wanted to see him speak because I do respect that great things he’s done for education, and many have talked about his ability to connect with audiences. Well, I’m not going, how do we get this done?


If you don’t know periscope, it’s a free app that allows you to live stream using your mobile device. Enjoy Jarod Bormann (@jbormann3) to the rescue. I’d tweeted wondering if anyone was going to periscope the keynote, and Jarod tweeted back saying he’d been thinking the same thing. Next thing I know, there’s a link to Jarod’s periscope of Todd Whitaker!


I won’t go into a ton of stuff about Todd’s keynote, but I will leave you with my three takeaways:

  1. Be intentional: Don’t allow things to just happen (while that’s not always a bad thing). Have a plan, know where you are going, and why you are going there both with the education in the classroom and the relationships you are building.
  2. Be with your students: Don’t sit behind the desk! Get to know them, ask questions, worm your way past the walls they’ve build up, and let them know that above all, you care. We do a #youmatter chant everyday as sixth graders and we talk briefly about why they matter. The relationships you build early on help when it gets to be February and everyone is tired of each other.
  3. Build the relationships: Goes right along with #2. But it’s not just with the students. Build the relationships with those you work with as well. Let them know you care about them, who they are, and the things they are going through as well. Be the positive person in the hallway, the team, or the building. People see your positive energy, they can’t help being drawn towards it and it rubs off!
  4. Bring it everyday day: One of the things he talked about was “10 days out of 10”. He referred to this in treating students with dignity, but it goes to how you bring it to work, every single day. We owe it to our students to be there, present, and to be the best we can, period. For some, we are the positive role models, the safe place they have, and if we lose that trust, we lose that student.

After the keynote, I was able to follow the tweets of so many of the attendees that it was like I was there. Many tweeted out pictures, quotes, or links to presentations.

The next day, we had the opportunity to hear Trevor Regan (@trainugly) speak about growth mindset.

All I can say is


What a killer keynote, talking to us about growth and fixed mindsets, how to recognize them in our students (and ourselves), and how to really grow our own minds to be able to push forward. I was not familiar with Trevor or his message before this keynote, but am certainly now!  My takeaways:

  1. “Getting better is not pretty.”: We fail, a lot. In order to get better, we have to be willing to dust ourselves up, pick ourselves up, learn from the mistake to get better. That’s a message we have to keep pushing in our classrooms because how many times do we hear “oh this is too hard” or “I can’t do this”, followed by a lack of work?? It’s a tough message, but one we must continue to give our students.
  2. Praise for the effort: The outcome may not always be what we want, but if students can get around the “it’s for a grade” mindset, and see how they grown from the experience, we are doing the right thing!
  3. It’s ok to be scared: I struggle mightily with this as a person. I know I’ve not taken opportunities handed to me because there’s a fear of failure, looking stupid, or just not performing at a level I see acceptable. I get this one totally, and have started to worm myself away from it.  So I see a student who’s not doing anything because they are afraid of looking foolish, I get that. But we have to be able to move past that fear, because that’s where the true learning takes place.

Again, Jarod was able to periscope this out which was totally awesome!

And finally, yesterday, I took part in my first Blab, dealing with a web app called DocentEDU. If you’ve not looked into this app, I highly recommend it. It gives teachers the power to take almost any website, pdf, or google doc, and add in all kinds of questions. Whether they are multiple choice, short answer, or even discussion questions, this app gives the teacher the power to do that, assign it to students so they can annotate it as they see fit. It gives a dashboard on their website so you can view student answers, check understanding, and comment yourself.  They play nice with Google Classroom (which is great for us) and have updated a few things I had issues with as I used it last school year. All in all, it was a great Blab to see some of the features I was familiar with, but also so I didn’t use, along with finding out that Google Classroom had been added to their list of things it talks with. is the website to check out. I’d also add, this is one of the best services I’ve come across in term of customer service. If I had a problem, I had either solution or someone to talk with in a very timely manner!

So, who needs to travel when you can have PD in your house!

I will say though, I’ll probably be back a KPEC next year. I heard so many good things about the conference, I need to get back! 🙂

Plus, I miss seeing all those awesome Iowa educators gathered in one spot! 🙂