Best PD Ever! USM Summer Spark 2018

One of my personal passions has been to consistently improve my teaching.  Sometimes I think we as teachers get stuck in our routines, finding something that works one year, and seeking to replicate it each year.  I used to be on that path. I bounced from idea to idea, reflecting on it, and then getting into something “hot and new” in education, or going “all-in” on a district initiative.  While I still believe that each change was an important step, I was always searching for that “magic pill” that would ease all my stress, turn my classroom into an amazing happy place where all my students would consistently turn in their work and always walk in with a smile.  Sounds ridiculous, right? I know that now, though I am sold on gamification and am committed to it in my classroom, but will always look to improve my game, rather than constantly changing strategies every year.

That said, personal professional development has been a game changer for me.  It started in the Spring of 2017, as I entered my 2nd consecutive year of having a student-teacher take over my classes for the semester.  I have been blessed to have two amazing student-teachers who jumped in with both feet and made the classes their own, leaving me with time to observe other teachers and seek out growth on my own.  After diving in headlong into the Dave Burgess Consulting books (all are amazing! Pick one up today! #NotASponsor), I got back on Twitter and found some chats to help me get better. After reading Explore Like A Pirate, I joined the   #XPLAP chat on a Tuesday night and found a great community of educators and learned about this awesome summer event in Milwaukee called Summer Spark.

I decided to go, and it was amazing!  I learned so much not only about gamification, but also about sketchnoting (still not a great artist, but loving the process of it!), blogging, Google Classroom, and so much more than can be contained in a single post (Check back later for more on the sessions I attended.) Best of all, I met an incredible bunch of educators from Wisconsin and several other places.  It is an outstanding two-day conference with a great community of educators. If you get a chance, you need to go! Follow them on Twitter @USMSpark.

Summit Seeker of the Week: This week I’m shouting out Erin Mueller. Erin is a high school English teacher from Illinois who I met at Summer Spark during some sessions on Google Classroom and gamification.  She is currently beginning the process of launching a year-long game in her 12th grade English classes with a dystopian-1920s theme. Her storyline is outstanding and her enthusiasm for this challenge is absolutely the spirit of Summit Seeking. Follow her on Twitter @emueller1860 to see these great ideas in action!