Friday, November 25, 2016

More Than a Score

The ISTEP+ scores were released to the public last week. The scores were from the last school year. The newspapers have a breakdown of all the scores, how each school and district compare to each other and a bunch more data. That's what gets in the paper. Shoot, it's even the top story.

Let's take a look at what isn't in the newspapers:

  • The teacher that stays after school to help students with reading.
  • The money given and raised by the parent organizations to the classrooms and students.
  • The presents that teachers buy with their own money to give to students.
  • The teacher who just spent 30 minutes in line at the Dollar Tree to get Christmas stockings for all her students.
  • The teacher that gave up family time to attend a sporting event of one of their students.
  • The teacher that arrives early to help students with their math.
  • The teacher that bought a student's lunch because they didn't have any. For a week. 
  • The teacher that took a student aside to help them understand a life lesson.
  • The teacher that acts as a father/mother to a student going through a hard time.
  • The teacher that holds students accountable because there isn't accountability at home.
  • The teacher that opens the eyes of a student to show them that education is the way out of poverty.
  • The teacher that lights up a room with their presence and gets students to love learning.
  • The teacher that gives up their lunch hour to help students work on their Genius Hour projects so they have extra time.
  • The teacher that makes test days fun.
  • The teacher that hugs students (and other teachers) every day to brighten their day.
  • The occupational therapist that has helped a student finally figure out how to grip a pencil the correct way after 3,457 times of going through it.
  • The special education aide that gets paid next to nothing, but would give an arm, leg, kidney, or whatever for a student that needed one. 
  • The aide that has never raised their voice once to a student. 
  • The custodian who takes a student under his wing and shows them how to take pride in their work by being disciplined and teaches them a skill that they can use forever. 
  • The custodian who "had a little extra time this evening" and decided to wash and dry the basketball team jerseys while working her normal night shift load.
  • The teacher who consistently gets berated by parents in emails and is so stressed out they regularly have to see a therapist.
  • The counselor who daily listens to all of the middle school drama and somehow makes sense of it all.
  • The lunch ladies that consistently make lunches for everyone in a school twice a day. I think it's hard to make supper for my family. How about 500 students every day? Twice. 
  • The bus driver that says, "Good morning!" every day to all the students. 
  • The coach that takes his team to a funeral viewing of someone that all the players know and teaches them how to comfort a family, grieve with something, and that it's okay for a man to cry. 
  • The teacher that has lost a loved one, but doesn't take any days off of school so the students don't miss a beat. 
  • The teacher that comes in on Saturdays or Sunday evenings. 
  • The coach that takes the time to know all of his players and has visited their houses. 
  • The secretary that is always there for students.
  • The bookkeeper that always has change for a $5 so the teachers can get something from the vending machine.
  • The lay coach that runs before and after school practices and still works full time. 
  • The teacher that is never satisfied and learns more and more and more from getting involved in professional development on their own time to better meet the needs of their students. 
  • The administrator that is lining up families that are in need so they can have a meal and toys for the holidays. 
  • And on and on.
One could say that yes, all of these people signed up to do these jobs. But none of them deserve their work, their skills, their positive attitude, their hustle, their work ethic, their character, their tenacity, their ferocity, their occupation, their whole existence to be measured by a single score. Education is more than that. 

That list are the stories that need told. Not the scores of a test. 

Oh, and by the way, that list are things that I have seen or heard of happening in my district so far this school year. There are more, I just got tired of writing. 

So, on this Thanksgiving evening, I give thanks for all the employees that work at schools everywhere. You make a difference. You don't do things for the newspapers. You do things for children. Here's to you. 

You are more than a score. Much, much more. 

Friday, November 11, 2016

Daddy Hero

It's basketball season. I love it. It pushes me and challenges me and I really enjoy it. Due to the wanting of my team to become more closer, I tend to ask them a question that each of them have to answer during practice. One of the questions the other day was, "Who is your hero?" It couldn't be a superhero or a make-belief person.

I got one "Michael Jordan," but the majority stayed pretty close to home. In fact, most never lost their home.

Out of 13 players in the 8th grade, I'd say 9 of them said their dad, mom, or parents were their heroes. Most of them said their dad was their hero. 

They also had to back it up and say why they chose them. These are some of the things that I remember from the conversations. I don't remember them word for word, but these are close.

  • He spends time with me
  • He teaches me things
  • Teaches me about life
  • He taught me how to fish
  • He's always there to listen
  • She works really hard for me
  • They love me a lot, even when I screw up
  • We go on road trips and do stuff together
Our kids are always watching. They see and hear everything we do. 

This is something that really hit home for me as I'm super busy all the time. My own kids are watching who I am: What I do when no one's looking, how I treat others, how much love I show, or don't show, and how much time I spend with them on a regular basis,  There isn't a substitute for time with my kids. My phone needs to be put away more. My eyes, they need to look in theirs. They crave attention from me. They are eager to learn new things from me. I need to teach them more. 

Not one player said anything about material things. Nothing of monetary value. It was just time. T-I-M-E. Time together makes you a here. 

This is just a reminder to myself that I need to do better. May we all be a hero to someone.

Photo by Amanda Trebley Photography


Sunday, September 18, 2016

Innovate Anyway : First Week of #IMMOOC

Even thought I'm already behind in this :) I hope that I can keep up. Between family time, teaching, coaching, designing, and photography time is not on my side. So I'll be brief.

1. What do you see as the purpose of education?  Why might innovation be crucial in education?

I believe that the purpose of education is to prepare and develop students to be successful at life. To prepare and develop students with the intellectual, emotional, and physical skills necessary for them to flourish in an ever-evolving world.

Innovation in education is the ability to imagine what the future will be like and try to replicate that environment in order to prepare and develop students for the future.

2. “Change is an opportunity to do something amazing.” How are you embracing change to spur innovation in your own context?

Personally, I'm more reluctant to change. I like things simple. I don't like new things or new ways of doing things. I don't like new surroundings. Change is not convenient. 

Let's stop there. 

If our actions, our decisions, our thoughts are always about what's convenient, then we're not innovating. We're not moving forward. We're stagnant. We're not evolving. We're not improving. We're stuck. 

As a 6th grade social studies teacher, I have tried to shift my teaching away from content and more into the creative side of learning and thinking about how I can teach students to learn no matter the content matter. I have become more interested in how the students' are thinking instead of what they are thinking. I've emphasized creativity after deeply consuming content. This last couple of weeks have been spent on latitude and longitude in the classroom. Instead of stopping at that, I wanted my students to be able to use latitude and longitude in a setting that can help them later in life. Each student created a flyer to an event of their choice that incorporated latitude and longitude. Being able to tell someone how to get to a location is a life skill. Wanna host a party when you're older? Learn the skills now. (The purpose has to be more than just "its a standard." Here's some samples of student work of that project. 

The only caveat to this is that who knows what technology will be available in the future? What if what I taught them this week is already obsolete. Shoot, I start teaching latitude and longitude with atlases and globes.  Do I even need to start there? Then, I advance into Google Maps. I want them to know the why and how behind GPS even though a lot of students already have GPS receivers (phones) in their pockets anyway. 

Maybe innovation is to bridge the gap between what was, what is, and what will be? 

Getting out of your comfort zone is the first step into making an impact through change. 

It's awkward. 

It doesn't feel right. 

The status quo is the status quo. 

Innovate anyway. 


Sunday, July 17, 2016

10 Interview Tips for Educators

I was able to sit in on the interviews for a position on our team. Over the last five years, I have had some opportunities to be on an interview panel, but was never able to do them for a different number of reasons. Anyway, this was my first one. It was going to be my first time on the other side of the interview. This brought back many memories and how I was reminded that being interviewed is not easy. So, I kept this in mind as we prepared for the interviews.

My principal had given us copies of the resumes of the individuals.

Cool, great.

Actually, no. Something was missing. Two things were really missing for me. No, wait. I'd say three things weren't there. (After writing this, I added another, so there ended up being four.)

  1. Where was the mention of your professional (maybe personal also) twitter handle? I feel I'm a pretty connected individual. Not because I like it, but I feel that it is a necessary part of being an educator in today's classroom. You need to be connected. You need to learn from others. You need to have developed a PLN of people who push you, who ground you, and who you can bounce ideas off of.  I needed to see what you were learning, what you were making, who you followed, who you were interacting with, what your conversations looked like. 
  2. Where is your blog? No, this is not a requirement, but I would have liked to see your reflections on your work? Forget that last sentence. I'd almost say that a blog is a requirement. Especially to a young, just fresh out of college candidate. What your thinking process is? What are you trying in the classroom? What is going well? What are your frustrations? How do you write about your frustrations? What are you reading and how do they influence your own classroom? Mainly, are you a reflective person? Are you willing to change? What is your thought process? How well do you write? 
    1. Where is a link to a classroom website or your teaching portfolio? I want to know what learning looks like in your classroom. Brand spanking new teacher? You still had experiences while student teaching to take pictures of. Experienced teacher? You've had time to at least take pictures on the "best" days of teaching where everything comes together perfectly and the cosmos opens up and unicorns fly over leaving rainbows and then a leprechaun finds the gold, too. You know, the awesome days of teaching? 
    2. I'm also going to add a list of people who inspire you. I want to know where you get your inspiration? No one ever says, McGraw-Hill textbooks inspire me. What blogs do you follow? What podcasts do you listen to? What books do you read? Who do you follow on twitter?

    Now, I know you probably can't list all of that on your resume. It's a lot. But what about a link to an page? a google site? a weebly site? a blog? (wordpress, blogger, edublogs) an actual website? All you need is a starting point to put all your links to your "stuff." It doesn't have to be fancy, but the content needs to be there.

    Coming in, I figured there would be questions to ask of the individuals interviewing. Our principal had brought in questions they had used in the past. We chose some off of the sheet. I added one that I stole from John Spencer as I asked a few in my PLN before hand what were some of their favorite interview questions. William ChamberlinJon Samuelson, Josh Stumpenhorst, Brett Clark and some others suggested similar things to John.

    Mainly, they wanted to get to know the person, as a person. Not necessarily a teacher. What do they do in their spare time? What passions outside the classroom do they have? Are those things that others on the team will relate to? Are they creative? Are they problem solvers? Are they someone who will work well others?  Are they driven? Are they humble? What type of drink would they order at a bar? This one might not be totally appropriate, but I imagine you could learn a lot from this answer. Are they smart in the way they work with others?

    "Tell me about something that you made in the last year that you are ridiculously proud of."

    That's it.

    Can you do it?

    I didn't even specify if it was personal or professional? Although looking back, I really wanted both. I wanted to see if you did anything creative? What it was like? How you persevered? What interested you? Could you tell me about the process you went through?

    After asking this question, which was actually a command, I got a lot of different answers, which was expected. I enjoyed them. I learned a whole lot about the person from their answer.

    If you have made nothing that you're proud of, then I'm assuming that after a year with you at our school, you won't create anything you're proud of over that amount of time, either. Why would I want you as a colleague?

    Bring examples of student work. Or at least be able to talk about student work. I want to see (digital or on paper) student work. What are students creating with you as their guide? How deep are their thoughts? How reflective are your students? Do you weave life lessons into your teaching? How can you take some boring content and make it fun, engaging, and memorable for your students? I want examples of this.

    You say in your resume, "Create engaging standard based lessons." Ok great.

    Prove it.

    I want to see it. Saying you do it, isn't enough. I've only known you for about 15 minutes. That's probably not enough time to trust you. I need to see evidence. Where's the examples?

    There are some things that I think are important when hiring.

    1. Competency - Is the person competent? It's fairly easy to determine this. It's hard to fake competency in an interview if you can give multiple examples of things throughout the interview process. I have to feel that I can trust your competency in your content area. Also, just because you're talented in competency doesn't necessarily mean that you are fully competent. How do you work with parents? How do handle an administrator that is on your case about something? How do you handle data collection? What's your way of dealing with classroom management? What are ways that you reach students? Which brings us to...
    2. Consistent (Trust/Integrity) - I need to be able to trust that you will come through on a day to day basis on our team. Do I see this through talking to you? Do I see it through your examples? Do you seem like someone who will follow through?
    3. Humble - If you begin all your sentences with "I" this is good indicator or someone who is selfish. I need to see that you are okay with not being the center of attention. You do remember that we teach for the students, right? I need to see that in what you say and how you say it. I need to see that you are confident, but not cocky.
    4. Hungry - I need to be able to feel that a candidate is hungry. No, not for food. For teaching. I need to see passion. Desire. A hunger to persevere, to adapt, to push the limits of the "box."
    5. Smart - How well do you work with people? Are you people smart? Do you have common sense around people? Are you cooperative? Do you share? Are you willing to share? Do you play well with others? How effective are you at working with and through others? 
    6. Culture - Will this person fit into our current culture? Two candidates with the same competency can really be entirely different in relation to the culture of the school and current team.  Culture trumps a lot. 
    Numbers 3, 4, 5 come from this. (Thanks to Bob Dillon for tuning me into the EntreLeadership Podcast) While these are things that I already believed, I listened to this the other day and Pat Lencioni puts it very well in this podcast and in his book "The Ideal Team Player".

    I say these things because I'm not sure that there's very much out there about how to interview well in this age of education. It's different from 2009 when I graduated from college. I don't really remember anyone telling me these types of things, either. I also am going to tell you that I think I have been interviewed about 30-40 times which would include multiple interviews for the same position like call backs and screening interviews. So in other words, I wasn't very good at it. I also tell you that I'm not very good at talking to people. I struggle with "small talk" and carrying on conversations. I struggle with maintaining eye contact with others. I struggle with talking highly of myself. I don't necessarily like talking to people that I don't know. All of that together doesn't make for a good interviewee. I understand that. 

    There is hope. 

    I had my best interview in my current position in which I'll be starting year 3 in two weeks. I was confident and competent because I had already spent 3+ years running a classroom. I have developed my style of teaching and how I do things. I shared a lot of my process of how I learn, who I learn from, where I want my classroom to "go," the flow of my room, how I work with others, etc. I had experiences and examples to back up my statements. I also shared my twitter handle, my class twitter handle, my blog, my class website, etc. so that everyone would get a sense of what my classroom "feels" like and looks like. I felt like this interview felt more like a conversation, instead of an interview. 

    Come prepared to an interview to speak highly of yourself. Most teachers don't do it regularly. It's in our DNA. This is your time to shine. Just be humble about it. Put the focus on the students and what they did, how they took ownership of the room, how you facilitate the classroom for maximum efficiency so the student can do _______. 

    Older people always say, "Be yourself." when you ask for advice about interviewing. There is a lot of truth to that. What you have to understand is that yourself at 22-23 right out of college is different than 26-27 after a few years of experience and so on. 

    Press on.

    I subbed for a year after graduation.

    I got a maternity leave for a semester. 

    I then left education for a year because I couldn't find a full-time teaching job. I worked as a screen print production artist/designer. 

    I liked it. Shoot, who am I kidding? I really liked it. I saw things that I had designed or had a part in on TV. 

    But, I missed the classroom. I felt I wasn't making a real difference. 

    I started applying again. 

    I got lucky and got a full-time gig. I was a runner-up the last time for a spot at that school. 

    It was hard. 

    6 years later and one more interview I'm where I am now. 

    No one said it would be easy.


    Sunday, July 3, 2016

    Learning Never Stops: PD Summer

    This year, I will teach in all 12 months. My last day was June 2nd. My first day will be July 27. While I get that all those out there in the "real" world do this, it's not the norm for teachers and students.
    Side note - Most teachers are only paid for the time that they are in the classroom. 180 days plus other mandatory days. For me, that's 182 days. Our checks get spread out the entire year. That's right, I don't actually get paid for the summers.
    With all that being said, I don't know any teacher that takes the summers off. We are always learning and doing. That's who teachers are. A lot of us take the summer to dig into our personal passions a little more than what we do during the school year. Some relax.


    Let's be real for a second. Teachers are just as ready for a break as the students. I said it. It's true. This year, I was so excited for school to be out. I missed my own children. I missed my wife. I coached the awesome throwers on the track team this year, as well as basketball. That guarantees me 10 hour days + more on meet days. Basketball season is more like 11 hour days + more on game days. I don't say this for pity. I say it because I get tired. I get exhausted. I need a break. Teaching sometimes can be a drain on your emotional well-being. Have you ever locked yourself in a room with 30 6th graders? 180 days of that will leave you with more than a flesh wound.

    Let's move on from that now. It's making me tired.

    So, while I'm taking my summer off I'm also...

    • Reading 3 books on education that will probably end up taking me about 80 hours. That may seem like a lot of time. Yes, it is. I take notes on them, in them, and also try and think about how it will influence me teaching. I go back through my lessons, rework them based on the new knowledge I just obtained to make them better. 
      • Play Like a Pirate by Quinn Rollins
        • Adding games and toys to the classroom
      • The Innovator's Mindset by George Couros
        • Thinking liking a leader
      • Launch - Design Thinking Cycle ... by John Spencer and AJ Juliani
        • How to implement the design thinking cycle into my classroom
    • I will attend a conference where I will meet up with some edu-friends from my PLN and not only get caught up personally, but learn from them, as well. That's two whole days. 
      • I used to attend a lot of conferences. 
        • I now have two children. :)
      • I attended a "Canvas Learning Day" that my district put on because we are switching to Canvas as our LMS this year. 
      • I also presented at that conference on "Creating Graphics for Canvas"
        • You can find that here
    • Scan the twitterverse for twitter chats that are relevant to my teaching. This is a nightly and daily thing. 
      • #tlap
      • #sstlap
      • #weirdEd
      • #LaunchBook
      • #ditchbook
      • #PBL something I want to learn a lot more about this summer
      • and others that interest me
    • Participate in Voxer "chats." I do this throughout the day. 
      • Voxer has probably been the best personal PD besides twitter that I have come across. I am so blessed to be a part of one group that challenges my thinking and holds me accountable in the education realm. I do a lot of listening and learning from them. 
    • Podcasts
      • Podcasts are something that I've really gotten into this past year. I have found that I like listening to them more and more. I try to switch it up between life, leadership, coaching, and school topics. So far, these are the ones that I have enjoyed. I'd like to branch out even more as time permits.  I've probably listened to about 30 or more podcasts this summer already. That's probably roughly 30 hours or more.
        • DadsInEd
        • Hardwood Hustle
        • EntreLeadership
        • ESPNU College Basketball
        • Positive Coaching Alliance
        • Techlandia
        • Coaching U Podcast
    • Coaching
      • I haven't done a lot of basketball related things this summer. My players can go to weights and then to basketball workouts if they want. I did help run youth camp this week. That's about 4-5 hours a day for four days. 16-20 hours. 
    • Side jobs 
      • because teaching doesn't pay the best. Remember, I'm technically not getting paid for the summer. 
      • I also have done some freelance design work as well. Most teachers also work in the summer or have something they do to gain more money. I coach two sports and do design work. I used to do a ton of photography work as well. 
    • I've also posted a few things to my class Instagram to keep kids in the loop and for fun of course. 
    All of that happened in June. 

    I'm not sure how many professional development hours I am putting in, but it sure looks like a lot when it's put down on paper. 

    Like I said, I don't tell you this for pity. Most teachers are doing the exact same thing I am. 

    Learning doesn't stop. Developing as a leader doesn't stop.

    Please stop assuming that teachers are sitting around all summer doing nothing. 

    We're not. 

    One more tidbit. Don't forget that when school starts, I have to be at school 45 minutes before the students for PD opportunities. Everyday.


    Monday, May 2, 2016

    Sunday, May 1, 2016

    Teacher Appreciation Week

    This is teacher appreciation week. Over the years, I have read a lot of books and articles. Mostly on education, coaching, parenting, living, running a business, and leadership. It seems that I have came across a lot of things lately on feeling valued or appreciated as an employee. People tend to work harder when they fell valued or appreciated.

    I have had a rough year. It's not been easy. It has probably been the hardest year of teaching that I have went through. There have been days that I didn't want to go. My stress level has been off the hook. I'm tired. I'm ready for this year to be over. I wonder if I'm doing anything right? It doesn't feel like it. Am I doing anything right?

    I have written on this topic before, but this is another example where I feel that I'm at least doing one thing right.

    I'm not really sure what the topic in Connections class was, but for some reason on Friday, I got a few emails from students. Below is one that I received. It helped me realize that among all the negativity, all the stress, all the weak-sauce attempts, that I am doing something right.

    If there is anything that makes me feel appreciated is a note. Thank you to this student that wrote it. Thanks for noticing. Thanks for seeing others. Thank you for thanking someone.

    Who could you thank today?


    Friday, April 22, 2016

    I'll Never Forget Mr. Trout

    I have just received some bad news. My 6th grade teacher, Mr. Trout, is not doing very well health-wise and the end is coming quickly. (He passed away on May 1, 2016) His daughter has asked that others share stories so that she can read them to him in his final days. I could share a few, but this one has shaped my life and I think of it often.

    This is my Mr. Trout story:

    One day, I had earned a "pop." I can't remember why I had earned it. I just remember that he would give you two quarters of his own money to go get a pop/soda/coke/whatever from the vending machine. This was back when you could drink soft drinks in school. I went and put the two quarters into the machine and grabbed my Mountain Dew. I was headed back down to the classroom. I say "down" because the hallway has two long angled sections of roughly 50' or so.

    I stood at the top of the "hill."

    I looked around.

    I didn't see anyone.

    I put my Mountain Dew on it's side at the top of the ramp.

    Gave it a little tap.

    Off it rolled.

    I start to run after it to stop it before the bottom of the first ramp.

    Right then, I hear, "Matt!" from Mrs. Neier, the secretary.

    I was caught.

    I grabbed the Dew and walked back up the ramp to her. She asked the stereotypical interrogation questions and sent me on. Mrs. Neier was going to call Mr. Trout.

    I walked down to the room. Opened the door slowly. Walked in trying and tried to not get noticed.

    That didn't work.

    His glare shot disappointed rays at me. He told me to put the pop on his desk and finish my work. I did. Without a sound. I was hoping that was it. Recess was happening in a couple minutes.

    The minutes went by. He told everyone to line up for recess. He then told me to get in the back of the line.

    The line started moving towards the door that he was standing at. Everyone was going to recess. Mrs. Newell, the other 6th grade grade teacher, had recess duty that day.

    He stopped me at the door. Looked at me right in the eye and said, "Walk with me."

    We were walking side by side up to the front of the school and he put his hand on my shoulder and squeezed some. He was very strong. I can assure you of that.  He talked about choices and consequences, expectations and living up to them, doing what's right, how the impact of one little splash can ripple across an entire lake, how all it takes is one mistake to really mess something great up.

    He then took me to look at something that was on the wall. He talked about the significance of that thing. The price that needed to be paid to earn it. That goals matter. That things are attainable for those that work hard. That the future is determined by our actions. To think deeply about things and their impact on your future self.

    At the end, he then told me he believed in me and that I could be successful if I didn't do dumb things. He then released the grip he still had on my shoulder. I then determined him to still be really strong, even in his last year of teaching.

    The two words I said the entire time was spoken then: "Thank you."

    Those are the same words that I want to say today.

    Thank you, Mr. Trout.

    For all the lives you have impacted.
    For your humor.
    For your laughter.
    For teaching.
    For loving.
    For taking the time to tell us what kind of weather it would be in the winter by looking at the persimmon seeds that were by the playground.

    Thank you,

    Matthew Miller

    (You were one of the few people who have called me Matthew.)


    Friday, January 1, 2016

    Joy: My One Word for 2016


    That will be my #oneword for this year. 

    Past year's one word is HERE AND HERE.

    The Word - 

    The word joy means to bring great happiness. 

    The Logo - 

    What's better than they word and a smiling balloon to represent joy?

    The Verse - 

    Nehemiah 8:10 The joy of the Lord is your strength. 

    The Why - 

    I struggle with being positive at times. Yes, most people probably see me as happy a lot. I like to joke. I like to make people laugh. Internally though, I'm a pretty negative person. I plan to seek the joy in everything that I do. I plan to see the joy in my kids and get off my phone. I plan to spend quality time with my wife without any distractions. I plan to see the great things that my students are doing in the classroom and try to look past a lot of the negative things that go along with teaching. I plan to not only push my basketball players, but to show them that I see their joy as well. I plan to focus on relationships and try to see what makes others joyful. I plan to work on how I use my joy to help others' joy. How can I spread joy? How can I make life meaningful? How can I not postpone joy? 

    I my own life lately, I've noticed me being grumpier. I don't want my kids to see me as grumpy. If I happened to pass away tomorrow, would that all they remember me as? My wife and I watched a movie last night and a guy was searching for his grandfather. He didn't know a lot about his dad, either. I want my kids to remember me and know me. Not as someone who is grumpy, but someone full of joy. 

    A couple weeks ago, the senior pastor at church spoke on James 4:13-17. These were his main points.
    • None of us know the future
    • Life is brief
    • Live with eternity in mind. 
    I think that we should bring joy to our lives and others lives to help live with eternity in mind. I need to focus on the root and not the fruit. 

    Also, my friend, Dean Shareski's keynote at the Clark Connected Connected Conference put on by my friend, Brett Clark, was centered on finding and celebrating joy. One of the biggest messages was a sticker on his laptop that said,
    That pretty much summed it up. He also mentioned counting smiles instead of grades. I like that. One other thing that I have noticed about Dean after getting to know him more is that he truly lives joy. He seeks out joy in others. He wants to really get to know someone on a deeper level. That's something I'd like to try and work on this year. He also challenged the audience to be interesting adults. No one likes boring. Joy can help that. Another takeaway was that the amount of silliness you let in to your lives determines your amount of happiness. I know a lot of people that think I'm silly. All of the 6th grade teachers in our building went out to eat and enjoy the company of each other and their significant others before Christmas. One of them told me I was acting weird. I wasn't sure what that meant until after dinner we were waiting for a small group of the large group to leave and I pressed my body up against the window. She then said, "Ahhh. That's better!" I tend to be reserved in public places. Maybe I need to work on that more.

    I got a drink at a gas station last night. I paid. The lady behind the register, in a boring, blah voice says, "Have a good night." I replied quite happily, "Thanks! You as well! and Happy New Year!!" She cracked a smile. That's joy.

    Here's to year a seeking joy, seeing joy, and being joyful.