Interviews: nerve-wracking, right?

Hey interviewers! I’m a nervous wreck talking to you, hiding behind a confident smile, my best business outfits, and an earnest desire to paint you a picture of who I am and where I’m at in my professional growth journey. I know I’m supposed to be studying your toughest questions, but I wanna share the questions I’ve been asked that get me talking excitedly and candidly about what I’m REALLY all about:

-Tell me about your current class.

-What was the last educational blog post/article/book you read that you connected to?

-What do you bring to a diverse community of collaborators?

These are the questions that make me forget about my blazing insecurities and fears for a moment, and speak candidly about what I really know, think, and wonder.

What are your favorite interview questions?!

BUT WAIT! My thoughts are sending me a bit deeper still, though: Why are interviews so un-innovative? It’s a traditional model that frequently ignores a need for trust, relationship-building, and connection. What else do teacher recruiters do to find out if a candidate is truly a good fit, in spite of the sparkle of extroversion and woo, or lack thereof?


Learner-driven goal setting

As a student of learner empowerment research and best practices, I would like to share with this community of practitioners for your feedback.

Acknowledging our prior knowledge

My colleagues and I have taken the time to share and name some of the stuff we already do that honor student agency through choice, voice, and ownership. We are already doing so many great things! (Choice of product for summative assessments, leading morning meetings, keeping a learning portfolio on Seesaw, continually reflecting on and adjusting the classroom setup, etc, etc…)

Adapting what we are learning

This week, we have Parent-Student-Teacher Conferences, and my students were EXCITED to share their learning, but WORRIED to share their strengths and goals. Here is how I decided to scaffold student goal-setting:

-I told students that their parents just received their reports and NWEA results, and that we are working together to use all this information to learn what to teach them next. I asked them if they thought it was only fair then for them to write me a report card too. They helped me plan what the report card would look like and in gave it to them the following day.

– I introduced conferences as a way to get support for student goals based on strengths. Students tuned into ATLs (Transdisciplinary Skills) as a way to approach content (UOI, Literacy, Math). Learning Intention: How can I use my strengths to achieve my best learning?

-I copied Taryn @makinggoodhumans , remembering her first week of school engagement to have students share their honest feelings about learning different content.

-My grade level team used a common goal-setting sheet that I initiated with my students by having them choose an academic goal and a personal goal. I checked in with each student to clarify their goals and elicit and suggest possible actions they might try to target their goal.

-As a whole group and in partners, we shared what actions we might take to support our goals. Students determined they would use our anchor charts and learning intentions slides to pick strategies to match their goals. I offered to consolidate and print these for them. I did this and charted the strategies according to the skills that guided their initial personal and academic goal-setting.

-The next day, I put students with their partners to circle, highlight, and star strategies that would help them choose actions to meet their goals.

-Our EAL coteaching expert and I supported conferring with students about their choices, and partners teamed up to offer feedback.


Students were given the scaffolding they needed to successfully choose specific and personal goals with actions they understood. Tomorrow they are excited to share these with their parents in our 3-way-conferences. We will visit them along the way and formally check in in January to reflect and make new goals.

Would love to hear any suggestions about how to deepen the process or honor more student ownership!

Sharing my story

I’m feeling myself go through a transformation right now. I feel empowered and excited. I believe it started with Taryn BondClegg’s agency workshop, which put me down all these divergent paths at once, and here I am learning all this stuff about innovation, empowerment, and student agency. (That woman really walks the talk on learner-guided learning)

Up until this very moment, I think I had felt a bit sheepish to share my story as a teacher, but now I am connecting it to my much longer story as a learner, and it seems valid and important.
My story in a bit of a ramble: I am an unrelenting optimist and agreeable person. So as a child when I really, really wanted to learn Spanish and certain math concepts that were “too hard” yet, I accepted “no, wait till you’re older” as an answer. I did try a few things: I pretended to speak Spanish to Claudia, through Martha, in 2nd grade. I would go back and forth running between the two girls, having a disjointed conversation to the bewilderment of both. I also wrote a letter to a magazine I loved to read, Highlights. I asked the editor to help me learn exciting math concepts, and they sent me a workbook of problems that I eventually found boring, and decided my nay-sayers were right. Ultimately, I accepted that I couldn’t gain access to the learning I was after until later when my traditional school setting had programs for that content. When I did enter middle school and got to study this stuff, I had not lost my interest at all. I excelled in these classes and was excited to learn. I did well in school, by the measurement available: grades. I mostly got A’s and was consistently told this meant I was smart, which I now identify as being the source of the fixed mindset I developed and still have to reflect and challenge myself on continuously. Later in college, I had some engaging professors and my continued love of Spanish that put me on a solid path of studying Political Science and Spanish. Despite my consistent declaration of majors and mostly really good grades, it took me a staggering 7 years to graduate from my undergrad. This was mainly because I loved learning, and had been conditioned to believe that lecture-style coursework was the only pathway for this. In addition to my Spanish and Poli Sci coursework, I practically studied for minors in Women’s Studies, French, Arabic, Geography, Geology, and Physical Education. In the 6th year, my grandfather, who supported me partially toward financing this expensive ongoing education, got fed up, said I had no direction, and cut me off. I promptly applied for graduation. This was scary. I still didn’t know what kind of jobs I would want to do, and there was an economic recession limiting my opportunities. After almost a year of post- graduation bartending, I decided to go spend some time with my sister and her husband in South Korea, where they were working to successfully pay off their own US undergrad debts. While I was there, I happened upon an emergency opening for an internship in an international school, where I was surrounded by a community who helped me discover and develop my interest in education and my strengths to be successful.
Fast forward to almost 8 years later. I am realizing that my identity as a learner is way more important than I ever thought to fully acknowledge, and that I need to nurture this identity. This means learning from the global community that I never had access to as a curious child learner. It’s time for me to connect with my counterparts around the world, share and learn. I’m at the beginning of something powerful, I can tell. It’s very exciting!
My actions so far:
-I am signed up for the L2Asia conference by and for international teachers in Tokyo, with a focus on innovation and on making teaching and learning personal
-I am reading and almost finished with George Couros’ The Innovators’ Mindset and Sir Ken Robinson’s Creative Schools, with a few more titles queued up.
-I am looking for my next step as a teacher, and working to identify and match a school community that supports where I am in my growth.
-I am taking risks in my classroom to apply what I’m learning about agency and innovation. (Indeed to share this and build on this! This is the entire WHY of this all being exciting)
-I connected to Twitter and started following inspiring people in education.
What I want to do:
-Figure out the best way to share my practice and my journey (blog?-which one?, social media?)
-Read, connect, and make specific goals for myself