At the outset of 2021 we are all anticipating a positive change, hopefully, from last year called 2020. What a year 2020 was! The year started off normal-ish on January 1st, but later that day we learned of the novel coronavirus called COVID-19 which slammed the community of Wuhan, China. We didn’t understand even what this virus was, but soon would see the impact of it a short 2.5 months later here in North America.
To say that 2020 was an unprecedented time would be an understatement. I have not blogged here since January 2nd, 2020, but have reflected on my Twitter account @bryoncar with a nearly daily @FreshAirAtFive video journal. For more on @FreshAirAtFive see my blog post from 2019 click here. I will blog about my year soon but not today.
Today is about #OneWord2021
Now it’s 2021 and looking back on my #oneword2020 I had RELENTLESS as my word for last year which you can read about below as well. How was I relentless? I pursued relationships RELENTLESSly with people due to the forced nature of facemasks-wearing, physical-distancing, and using video conferencing tools like we would have used the telephone in years past. I pursued my profession RELENTLESSly as I learned each day about being a better educator through listening to podcasts (list them here), engaging my school community as a teacher leader and attending a number of conferences. I RELENTLESSly walked into my 50th birthday back in October with boldness as I thought about my life, what I’ve done, where I’ve been, and whom I know. It wasn’t all roses as I dropped into a bit of the November blues following my birthday in mid-october, but am doing much better now. And this past Christmas, like no other due to PHO restrictions on engagement with others made for social distancing which was really hard. I ached for time with my friends and family outside my immediate family. This past year has taught me to appreciate my relationships and brought that to the forefront. Thus #OneWord2021 for me is APPRECIATE.
The Cambridge Dictionary has one definition of Appreciate as a verb:”to recognize how good someone or something is and to value him, her, or it”. The keyword for me in that definition is “recognize”. We all can see many things, but to recognize “how good” or “the value of” takes one to slow down from top speed, which I approached 2020 relentlessly with, to actually see the value in things that have always been there, not taking for granted that which we have around us.
This year I will focus on APPRECIATE in the following areas:
– relationships with my wife and children, my friends, my God.
– the work I do to not minimize the impact that I have as an educator but believe I am making a difference in young people’s lives and other’s lives.
– the work of leadership in unprecedented times
– see the value in the work that I do and publish it further with @FreshAirAtFive podcast (coming to a podcast catcher near you).
Do you appreciate, that is, “recognize how good someone or something is and to value him, her, or it”? I do. This word this year shall help me focus on appreciation and thanksgiving in every situation. That does not mean that there never ugliness and hardship, but that I will be thankful for the journey I’m on so that I can grow.
“Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:19-20, NIV)
I will sing and make music (figuratively of course as I’m not an actual musician) in thanksgiving to my God for every day. That’s kind of relentless thanksgiving or Appreciation as I recognize the good and value in every day. Is that toxic positivity? No, but looking for the light in the darkness of life. My life is not dark but shadows do come. God is good all the time.
I encourage you to Appreciate as you go through your days this year. I will.
What’s your OneWord2021? Comment below or tweet it out and tag me @bryoncar.
My one word for 2020 is going to be RELENTLESS. This came to mind late last fall as I was walking one morning and it was raining, out getting my morning #Fresheratfive walk. Relentless to me means to not stop, to not quit, to keep going in spite of obstacles because “every obstacle is an opportunity waiting to happen”. If you get distracted and let that distraction rule your day then you will stop your pursuit or task at hand. I haven’t done a lot of reading about relentless or looked into what others have said about that word, so this is my perspective at the moment.
My word for 2019 was SOAR, as I considered the high-altitude making slow progress on a number of goals that I had set for myself at the end of 2018, but as I stepped into 2019 it seem like I was soaring into a hurricane of activity. Hurricanes are typically associated with bad things but I had a hurricane of good things happening and didn’t seem to be able to relax and enjoy fully the opportunities that I was faced with as I expected. So my word for 2019 was not realized as I desired as SOAR is much more of a passive word then an active word.
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines RELENTLESS as:
“showing or promising no abatement of severity, intensity, strength, or pace”
What am I going to be relentless about?
- I will be relentless about learning.
- I will be relentless about making a difference for students.
- I will be relentless about reveling in the time I spend with my family and friends.
I do many of these things right now so this is not necessarily a goal that I am setting as it is not new but a reminder to not let up and to be present wherever I am.
Between now and the end of June I have three conferences that I will be attending and participating in. First off is the Shared Learning Conference here in Abbotsford. Second, the Digital Learning Symposium, happening in Richmond from April 19-21, where I will be presenting on something Googly as well as Adobe Spark. Then at the end of June, I will be attending ISTE in Anaheim for the very first time at this international conference. I am very much looking forward to this professional development that will happen in a very concentrated time period. But as for other Pro-D I am involved in listening to a number of podcasts regularly (TeachersOnFire, TeachBetterTalk, Educational Duct Tape, Shukes&Giff, StemEveryDayPodcast to name a few, which I very much enjoy and listening makes a difference in my daily practice as well as my daily attitude.
I will also continue to be relentless about self-care because I matter to me and a better me healthwise and in my own mental well-being makes a difference for my students, my workplace and my family.
Relentless is a daunting word, but I am up for keeping it in front of me so that I can strive to be a better me every day this year.
I was listening to a podcast this morning and the guest spoke of a book she was reading, Relentless: Changing Lives by Disrupting the Educational Norm by Hamish Brewer which, as I was walking, opened my Amazon app and ordered it. I had heard of his book earlier this winter break and have not done much thinking about what other people have said about being relentless but now that I’ve gotten this written I will start reading Hamish’s book when it arrives on Monday.
What is your one guiding word for this coming year? Whatever your word is I want you to relentlessly keep it in front of you. Put a Post-it note in your car, at your desk, change the desktop on your computer to reflect your word, and make sure you are sharing your one-word with others around you.
January 2nd, 2020
Early in the morning on April 16, 2019 I went out for my routine walk around my neighborhood. As I got back from my walk I tweeted out #FreshAirAtFive for the very first time. The next day I repeated the process and thus began #FreshAirAtFive.
I’ve been using this hashtag ever since and find that it is a way for me to reflect on my exercise, reflect on the podcasts that I listen to while walking and be accountable to myself by posting on twitter often my success in these areas.
The routine of consistent exercise has been a challenge for me. Finding a thing that works and that will sustain me for a long while is important. Going to the gym to get some cardio and do weights doesn’t thrill me. I was semi-successful at this over the past two years but found that when life got stressful with work it was too arduous to get out of the house to go to the gym early in the morning. It also cost me money which hurt even more when I didn’t go to the gym.
We all know that exercise is important for our own self-care and wellness. It’s not news. Having a workout partner can help, but I don’t have one and besides, I’ll let them down. Having a home gym can help, but I don’t have one of those either.
It was in the summer of 2018 that I heard Sara Johnson (@SarahJohnson) interview on @TeachersOnFire Podcast Episode 34 with host Tim Cavey (@TimCavey). I was listening while I painted the bathroom of my house. I initially listened as I was a guest on Episode 33 of @TeachersOnFire. I haven’t stopped listening since. What I didn’t expect listening to Sarah talk about the book was that this would be a life-changing experience. Sarah Johnson, Jessica Johnson (@PrincipalJ) and Jessica Caben (@JessicaCabeen) wrote a book together called Balanced Like A Pirate: Going beyond Work-Life Balance to Ignite Passion and Thrive as an Educator (#BalanceLAP). I promptly ordered the book which arrived in my mailbox and then it landed on my shelf; not life-changing at this point. Then in November 2018 I picked it up and started reading it as I was headed to a conference in Victoria British Columbia. Getting started for me reading a book is challenging as I am not a quick-reader and I find it hard to complete a book unless I have a goal. My goal was to read and reflect on each chapter on Twitter with an image which was relevant and uses their hashtag #BalanceLAP. As I continue to read slowly the opportunity came for me to generate my Professional Growth Plan (PGP) as a teacher. This was an opportunity in our school district to go through a PGP process with our administrator compared to the sterile teacher evaluation process. One of the goals that I set for myself was to improve in my life-work balance. I work hard as an educator and find that I can let it become all-consuming. But outside of my work at my school district, I enjoy presenting at conferences, I am heavily involved in my church, and I am a husband of 20 years now and father to three children (16, 12 and 11 years old). How to balance all of these things and not lose your mind was why I continue to read #BalanceLAP.
The importance of self-care and wellness is very important for educators. Actually, it’s very important for everybody in any career. It’s important that you be completely present at your work when you are working. Then when you come home it is important to be completely present with your family. When you play it’s important to be completely present when you play.
I knew that self-care was important but didn’t have time to do it at the level I should have been. Going through life I saw myself it’s kind of invincible and that I can wait till until last to take care of myself. It’s been over the past five or six years that I’ve seen the effect of not taking care of myself in minor ways which puts stress on relationships, affects health and reduces satisfaction.
#BalanceLAP focuses attention on four quadrants of life as educators. Whether you are an educator or in a different professional career these four areas are present. The four quadrants are Professional, Positional, Personal, and Passion, not in the order of importance of course as each one is very important to well-being. As I read through the book I completed the little reflection assignment in each chapter and took notes in Google Keep and my Rocketbook as I read each chapter. I would tweet out my learning briefly, and I knew the importance of going through this book methodically and slowly as that would be a benefit to me. I don’t care to read self-help books and I don’t believe that this is a self-help book, but a self-care book.
Professionally I am an educator and a chemist. A chemist came about when I completed my Masters of science and chemistry in 1999 and started working at a small pharmaceutical company in Langley British Columbia called AnorMED Inc. Our small company was bought out and I was laid off, causing me to think about what I want to do with the rest of my life. I always enjoyed working with people and teaching people things which led me to pursue my Bachelors of Education through the Professional Development Program at Simon Fraser University. I completed that program In 2008 and was hired into the Abbotsford School District at the beginning of 2009. Professionally I am an educator and that means that I think about life through an educational lens almost all the time. When I go on vacation I like to learn things, so that I can tell others about them and learning helps me stay engaged in the world around me. Professionally I enjoy improving my craft. Professionally leads into positional.
Positionally I am a teacher at the Abbotsford Virtual School, teaching science and math, digital media and literacy, and serve as the library learning Commons teacher. Positionally means that I am in a location and have a position in an organization.
The personal quadrant is about myself, relationships outside of work, including wife and family and the normal things of life. Self-care fits into the personal quadrant and if you don’t take care of yourself it’s difficult to take care of those around you and have healthy relationships. Stress management is critical to maintaining healthy relationships and health on its own. Exercise is one way to manage stress and have an outlet for working your body to deal with the effects of stress. As I get older I’m almost 50 years old next year and need to consider being active and doing regular exercise. I tried running, but that doesn’t work for me. As I mentioned above also tried working out at the gym, which lasted a while, but then ended. So I decided that I would start walking, as it’s right where I am anytime I needed to walk. Being regular in my walking is important. I recently acquired an Apple Watch which helps me track my movement, exercise and standing time in the day. Closing the exercise ring requires me to exercise (at an elevated heart rate) for a minimum of 30 minutes per day. Being a scientist, measuring and recording metrics are important to me. Seeing my progress in a graph or chart helps me stay focused on the tasks before me. Keeping the exercise streak going is motivational.
The last of the four quadrants is Passion. What do you do outside of the other three that makes you tick? What do you enjoy? For me, that’s being in nature and fishing. So I try to fish for the sake of being in nature and not necessarily about catching.
Okay, back to #freshairatfive. While I walk in the morning, which is personal time for me, I chose to learn professionally by listening to podcasts with my headphones. I teach digital literacy and over the past four years have grown in this area of understanding by attending and presenting at conferences (EdTechTeam Summits, CUEBC, and our local Shared Learning Conference in Abbotsford). So I enjoy using technology for creating digital content from taking picture and video to create videos for my family and at school. I teach digital literacy at my school and need to stay current with my learning. So I listen to podcasts about educational technology and teacher stories. I’ll list the podcast I listen to later. All this to say that as I learning reflections on what I hear is important so I do that a little bit on Twitter with #freshairatfive.
So the point of all of this is to say that #freshairatfive is my way of recording my walking, reflecting on my learning from podcasts and seizing the day with exercise. When I miss my walk, I feel lethargic and blah. So I set my alarm for 4:40 am and try to be on the sidewalk in my neighborhood (or wherever) by 5:00 am.
So, I encourage you to find some way to get some exercise, get your-learning-on with the valuable resources present in podcasts (my list at the end), and to connect with those around you as you learn.
If you like I encourage you to get going with #freshairatfive and get learning and get exercising on a regular basis and most importantly to share your journey with others.
Thanks for reading and if you would like to connect you can do on twitter with @bryoncar.
Podcast I listen to regularly are: Teachers on Fire with Tim Cavey, Shukes And Giff with Kim Polishuke and Jennifer Giffen, House of EdTech with Chris Nessi, Educational Duct Tape with Jake Miller, TNT EdTech Podcast with Scott Nunes and Matthew Ketchum, TheWhyCast with Jeff Belt, The Wired Educator Podcast with Kelly Croy, Teach Me Teacher with Jacob Chastain and Check This Out with Ryan O’Donnel and Brian Briggs.
This will be my one word for 2019. I learned about #oneword2019 on twitter with my PLN, thank you, as it’s a way to challenge you to have a focus word that can give direction and inspiration to your actions and thoughts. It’s a short time, one year, but coming back to my one word will grow me as I SOAR.
“To soar means more than just to fly; it means to rise swiftly, to feel the wind slipping below you as you ride it higher, higher, higher. Flying is just moving through the air. Soaring, though, suggests exhilaration, even joy.” (https://www.vocabulary.com/dictionary/soar)
As I have already walked into this year I will focus on SOAR or soaring as I work and live. Doesn’t mean that I will arrive at perfection (unatainable goal) but will excel in my growth. I will rise higher than today.
I could have chosen a word like “fly” or “grow” but those things are already happening. I’m not an expert flier but am off the ground in many areas in my life. I sure hope so as I’m almost 50, but that’s not always a given. I’m thankful for the full and rich life I have.
I will soar as I grow in three areas this year. I will soar as I become a better leader. I will soar as I become a better presenter. And I will soar as I understand my work/life balance more. These there areas are part of my Professional Growth Plan that were set in place in December.
What’s your #oneword2019? Let us know.
Ten years ago today I started my first day as a teacher. I have taught in various schools in different contexts and all of that brings me to today as I write my reflection on teaching for 10 years. This day is important to me as it’s a long time ago that I started my career as a teacher. My full-time teaching work began this day in 2009 as I stepped into the classroom at WJ Mouat to teach Science 9 and Chemistry 11 on a short term contract that would take me to June. I was to finish off the semester with the student and get ready for Science 10 in the second semester. I enjoyed my work and saw my students like being in my class learning science. I had arrived after changing careers from a research scientist at AnorMED.
But that arriving was just the beginning of my journey and looking back, I can’t believe what I’ve seen and learned. I’ll try to catch a bit of this here as I reflect.
- January 2008 to December 2009 – Professional Development Program at Simon Fraser University – B.Ed.
- January 2009 to June 2009 – WJ Mouat Secondary – Science 9, Science 10, Chem 11
- September 2009 to June 2010 – Yale Secondary – Science 9, Science 10, Earth Science 11, Essentials Math 11
- September 2010 to January 2015 – Abbotsford Virtual School – Science 9, Science 10, Earth Science 11, Essentials Math 11, Foundations and PreCalc Math 10, Math 11, Math 12, Chemistry 11, Chemistry 12
- January 2015 to June 2016 – District Helping Teacher for Technology – STaRT Education
- September 2016 to January 2019 – Abbotsford Virtual School – Science 9, Apprenticeship and Workplace Math 11, Chemistry 11, Chemistry 12, ADST 9-10, K-2 Science, Grade 3-5 EdTech, Fusion 6-8, Fusion 9-10, Library Learning Commons, Secondary Department Head
I have learned the craft of teaching and apply it in my space as I work with students at all levels from Kindergarten to Grade 12 and Adult Learners currently. The diversity of people and levels has challenged my thinking about pedagogy and how to scaffold learning to meet the needs of those I’m teaching.
My space has included Secondary schools, Abbotsford Virtual Schools and many of the schools in the Abbotsford School District. Professional Development has grown me in my craft over the years in significant ways. My significant growth and shift to tech integration came as I had settled into being a good teacher at AVS and in the January 2013 was challenged to integrate an iPad into my practice to augment the work I was doing with paper and online courses. I used it for a year and on February 21st, 2014 presented my first workshop at the Share Learning Conference 2014 called “Paperless: A Paperless Workflow for Teaching and Assessment using an iPad” and later in March 2014 I repeated a more polished presentation at the Distributed Learning, then again at CUEBC 2014 (presentation). It was so cool to be able to get up in front of peers and share my learning. I was nervous but overcame that after much practice. In my early years I couldn’t figure out how teachers could present at a conference with so much to do in the classroom but then learned that having a passion project outside of your regular teaching assignment sharpens your skills as a educator as you are growing professionally to be serve your students better.
I had a short experience for December 2014 as the Acting Vice Principal at the Abbotsford Virtual School where I learned more about leadership under my Principal, Brad Hutchinson. Brad has mentored me from the very beginning is still with me today.
Then, enter my time (Jan 2015 to June 2016) at STaRT Education as a District Helping Teacher for Technology as I worked with Shelley Wilcox, David Ennis, Gary Toews, and Deirdre Degagne. I learned so much about technology integration as I was one of the “experts” on a team in our district. Each of these people challenged my thinking and were there to grow me. I learned how to present technology skills and information to adult learners and would often invade certain classrooms to try out new tech ideas and lessons. Over my time at STaRT, I grew as that was my job to take in Pro-D so that I could offer Pro-D to teachers in my district. We had a pilot project that had begun before I arrive with Google Apps for Education that set a base for my desire to learn about Google and how it could be integrated into our space. I attended my first EdTechTeam Summit featuring Google for Education in Vancouver at Mulgrave School. My mind was blown as I saw passionate, I mean crazy passionate, educators tell me things that were possible with technology and different ways to approach education. Well that’s the beginning of my EdTechTeam journey which I will talk about in a moment. My time at STaRT came to an end as there was not sufficient funds to carry my contract into another one. I was bummed out at the time, but carried on. I returned to AVS in the fall of 2016, and this past 2.5 years has been fantastic and would not have been possible had I stayed at STaRT.
Since returning to AVS I have been integral in our “face to face” learning at the Secondary and middle school levels as I was given a teaching space and had about 10 Grade 9-10 student who came to learn technology skills. I taught them all things Google that I had learned at STaRT and dug into Google Classroom and content creation webapps to further their growth with 21st Century skills. Our program has grown and changed from 2 mornings to two full days per week as students learn academics and technology. I’m not the only technology teacher at AVS but do focus attention to online webapps, whereas Craig Amendt pushes into the physical realm with 3D printing, coding drones and virtual reality.
EdTechTeam has been a significant influence on my learning from my first Summit in 2014. I have attended 7 summits, hosted 2 in Abbotsford and have also lead a custom workshop recently in Ottawa for EdTechTeam. I have watch many presenters at these Summits share their learning about technology integration from all the Google apps to other tools that can engage students and deepen learning. EdTechTeam-ers who have had a significant impact on me are: Michelle Armstrong, Charity Helmen, Sandra Chow, Tracy Poelzer, Trevor McKenzie and Holly Clark. There are many other EdTechTeam-ers who have presented who have made a difference in my learning, but cannot mention them here for fear that I would miss too many.
My journey has brought me to NOW. And now is the time to begin the next ten years.
Thank you to the Abbotsford School District for taking a chance on me and I am grateful for the teachers and administrators who have poured their lives into this work of education that I could follow and grow in my own practice.
I’ll stop now but know that this is not the end. I may not blog much but this post is important to me as I reflect on the journey. Thank you for reading.
Bryon Carpenter BSc, MSc, BEd
Abbotsford Virtual School
Things I’ve learned this year doing a Teacher Log every day:
- I can do this – something that takes discipline
- Having a place to share your thoughts is important – regular reflection
- Being proactive and doing something with a real audience
- Challenged myself with technology – see Day 72 how I record this teacher log
- Being thoughtful and reflective everyday
Watch to get more insight into these five ideas…
Thank for watching over this past year.