Goal 1: Define Your Moment

Goal 1: Define Your Moment of The 30 Goals Challenge for Educators. Click the link to find out more about the 30 Goals Challenge for Educators.

Screen Shot 2013-06-19 at 11.57.27 PM“Every moment is the paradox of now or never.” ~ Simon Van Booy

This week we begin the 4th cycle and year of the 30 Goals Challenge for Educators. This year’s theme is, “This is MY Moment.” Each goal will focus on getting educators to believe their plans of action now will lead to positive changes and transformation in their teaching and learning environments.

I’ve learned a lot throughout my journey as a teacher, especially undergoing the 30 Goals for Educators. We are now in our 4th year and over 9000 educators have joined in aiming to complete short-term goals to become better educators for themselves and learners. I’ve been blessed to be the igniter of this movement and see the impact and the way this process has transformed lives. Like any other movement and action it begins with a choice and 4 years ago when I posted the first goal as a new blogger I encountered many fears and excuses for never starting this journey. I had that moment in which the idea came to me and at the time I remember thinking of all the ways this would fail. I had been blogging for less than a year and had thought only a few people read my blog. I didn’t have enough time and each year I become busier and each year I wonder if it is the last year. The 30 Goals continue to be my inspiration and get me through the obstacles I put in my mind. There will always be things that get in the way of transformational action. We will always have time constraints or many other “busy things to do” but in the end I remember that I have this moment. The idea came to me now for a reason and I can decide to either take that moment and idea and live the transformational life I want to or I can let that moment slip by and continue to live in the mundane and routine that doesn’t really make me a happy person. I can continue to do the things that make my life stressful and uninspiring or I can take this moment and make my life purposeful and inspiring.

Moments become movements and incredible memories when we seize them. Now is the moment to decide to live how you want and make it count because moments pass by and can also become seconds withered away by time. The choice is ours and when we decide to make our moments meaningful we become better examples and individuals for those around us. Our spirits are uplifted and we inspire others. We inspire our learners. We become the type of educators that walk in the room and our energy ignites our learners. We can also become burnt out teachers that are stressed. I was one of those teachers at a point in my life until a student woke me up by asking me why I didn’t smile anymore. I have decided I want to be the teacher that brings positive energy into my classroom because it is one step towards helping my learners become purpose-filled individuals.


Short-term- We begin cycle 4 by defining what we hope to accomplish this new semester with as educators and with our learners. I have began this sticky note wall where you can finish the statement, “This is my moment to….”  You can also define your moments with this on your own using the following tools:

Long-term- These statements are promises you are making to yourself for action you will fulfill throughout the year. It is important to revisit these statements again before you begin your next class with learners. The more you revisit these plans, the more successful you will be in completing them.

Educational Leadership Goal

This year we will also be outlining goals for those in leadership roles- principals, vps, administrators, district policy leaders, superintendents, instructional technology leaders, etc. Lisa Dabbs, who was a principal for many years, will be posting her thoughts and reflections for leadership in her blog, Teaching with Soul.

Goal- As a leader, define what you hope to accomplish this new semester with the educators you lead. Think about actions that support collaboration among teachers, parents, and  students. How will you uplift your staff and motivate them throughout the year? How will you ensure that students’ learning needs are met and their voices and input considered? What new routines or movements can you begin to transform the school environment in a positive way?

New Teacher Goal

This year we will also be outlining goals for new teachers or teachers in training. Lisa Dabbs, who mentors new teachers through #NTChat (new teacher chat), will be posting her thoughts and support in her blog, Teaching with Soul.

Goal- As a new teacher, define what you hope to accomplish this new semester with learners. Think about the kind of teacher you’d like to be and how your instructional practice can support this. When you prepare a lesson or an assessment, think about how it will support you in your journey to becoming the kind of teacher you want to be. We will work on ensuring that you surround yourself with teachers who support you in these goals. Who you surround yourself with and who you allow to mentor you will be a big factor in your success. If you surround yourself with teachers who do not support you and what you do then it becomes easier to allow yourself to believe that you shouldn’t aim to be the teacher you want to be.


Define what you plan on doing this year to be a transformational teacher or leader. You can add it as a sticky note wall.

Please leave a comment that you accomplished this goal by either posting your own video reflection on Youtube, using the hashtag #30GoalsEdu, posting on the 30 Goals Facebook group, or adding a comment below! All goals are organized in this 30 Goals Livebinder.

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Please fill out this Google Form if you reflected on at least 1 goal so you will be listed in a 30 Goals blog list and on a 30 Goals Twitter list.

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And Maddest of All to See Education As It Is & Not As It Should Be

The way I tackle life comes from one of my favorite books,  Miguel De Cervantes’ Don Quixote of La Mancha. Briefly, the protagonist of the story, an idealist, is told he is mad and responds,

I have lived nearly fifty years, and I have seen life as it is. Pain, misery, hunger … cruelty beyond belief. I have heard the singing from taverns and the moans from bundles of filth on the streets. I have been a soldier and seen my comrades fall in battle … or die more slowly under the lash in Africa. I have held them in my arms at the final moment. These were men who saw life as it is, yet they died despairing. No glory, no gallant last words … only their eyes filled with confusion, whimpering the question, “Why?” I do not think they asked why they were dying, but why they had lived. When life itself seems lunatic, who knows where madness lies? Perhaps to be too practical is madness. To surrender dreams — this may be madness. To seek treasure where there is only trash. Too much sanity may be madness — and maddest of all: to see life as it is, and not as it should be!

In the same way I think it is maddest of all to see education as it is and not as it should be. For decades, I have seen policies, curricula, standardized testing, instructional practices, institutional rules, bureaucracy, and classroom design destroy the joy of learning.  That is why so many of our students slip through the system and become part of the poverty or crime cycle. Our students are searching for that thing that makes them ignite, feel like they are alive and provides meaning to their existence. I believe we can help our students find their purpose and passion through education. When they learn and discover new things they continually find a piece to that puzzle. If not, they continually will seek this elsewhere. So how can we begin to have an education system that supports this type of learning where we don’t punish kids for their curiosity and where we give them the time to explore their passions?

How Do We Transform the System?

Don Quixote had two characteristics every stakeholder in education should have, vision and passion. Passionate people are contagious. They spread their vision and energy to others who become inflamed as well! My vision for education is to see educators and students collaborate with each other over dire problems, mentor each other, and spread the passion so the weary become strong.

6 Revolutionary Educational Models We Can Learn From

I also believe there are educational models out there that are on the right track. We can learn from these models and try to replicate them. I will introduce you to them in the hope that as we begin 2012 we will aim to adopt some of their characteristics into our classrooms. That is where transformation starts. We begin in our classrooms and do what we can and as we feel more empowered we transform our schools then the community. As a famous Chinese proverb says,”The journey of a 1000 miles begins with one step.”

Be Very Afraid and Other Projects by Dr. Stephen Heppell

In April, I had the opportunity to meet Professor Heppell at the Plymouth E-learning Conference and learn about the amazing projects he has been organizing to transform education. One of them is the Be Very Afraid project where students redesign their schools and make key decisions about their learning environments and how they want to learn. You have to watch the amazing interviews by the students, because it is truly inspirational. Prof. Heppell also leads projects to help us rethink the way we design our classrooms. Look at the photos here to learn about shoeless classrooms and tiered seating. Check out his other revolutionary ideas here that are taking place.

Bijal Damani’s Class Bazaar in India

In October I was at the UNESCO Bangkok ICT and Problem Based Learning Conference, which is where I met ISTE Outstanding Teacher, Bijal Damani, and learned about her bazaar project that has her students in India using information and communication technologies (ICTs) to learn about marketing skills. The students host their own bazaar, invent projects that will improve the lives of others, create advertisements for these products, get sponsors, and much more. The most incredible part is that the money raised helps children in the slums in India receive a better education.

Monika Hardy’s Innovation Lab

Monika Hardy’s Innovation Lab connects her high school students in Denver with mentors worldwide from her Personal Learning Network. Basically, the students have a curriculum built upon what they want to explore. They are matched up with mentors in the chosen field in the community and online that provide them the reading, math, and other relevant skills that are needed to explore their interests. Read more about the passion led courses here and watch a full presentation with her mentors and students here.

The Swiss School

I learned about this school through a Tweet. I loved what I saw, children learning in various languages math, culture, food, creativity, and more! They need funding and are offering language and culture courses taught by kids for a fee. Check out how you can learn and give.

The Blue School by The Blue Man Group

I learned about this school by watching an online talk by Sir Ken Robinson. This school is a Lab School that invites parents to sit in on classes and supports the creative learning of students.

The Hellerup School in Denmark

I learned about the Hellerup school in Denmark from this article that describes the concept of learning without walls, “The school’s stairs and hallways double as a space where the whole school community can gather and learn together. The school leader’s office is located in the center of the school, without walls, because he wanted to be able to see the students throughout the day and because he believed it was important for students to see adults interact professionally and respectfully with each other, setting an example for the young students.”



Think about how you can transform your classroom in 2012 and begin to set that in motion.

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What other educational models do you think are revolutionary?

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It Takes a Village by Alexander Marchuk

by Guest Author, Alexander Marchuk

Picture This! The past decade has brought great changes to the education landscape but the real challenge has yet to be tackled with the energy it deserves. Disruptive changes in technology, politics, and policies have greatly increased the value proposition of the U.S. education system and as a result improvements have been made. While dropout rates have decreased, they still remain high especially with African Americans and Hispanics. Meanwhile, high school graduation rates have remained virtually stagnant with the aforementioned groups trailing the national average by close to 15% according to the U.S. Department of Education. Given the magnitude of the efforts made in the past decade, the returns we are seeing are disappointing. So what are we overlooking or not paying enough attention to?

The answer is simple: parents.

Charter schools, vouchers, iPads, social media, mobile devices, SmartBoards have all been hailed as the solution to the nation’s education woes. While there is no denying their positive impact, without the concerted effort of parents, we will never realize the full potential of our youth. The foundation of a child’s education lies in the hands of the schools AND parents; these are the two pillars upon which a child’s success lies. The nation keeps asking “what is wrong with our schools?”, “why is our education system broken?”, “is it our teachers/administrators/unions/politicians/companies fault?” The better question to ask is “how can we help our parents?” More or less, kids spend half the day at school and the other half at home; unfortunately far too many children receive one message at school – education, values, character development – and a totally different message at home – indifference, pessimism, negativity, and worse. In order for the nation to see a significant impact, the two messages need to become a strong singular voice that reverberates throughout the child’s educational career. We can change our schools/policies/curricula/politicians/teachers/technology all we want, but until the issue of parental involvement is addressed, we will not see the reformations that we all desire.

My adolescent and teenage years were spent living in a housing project in the Coney Island section of Brooklyn. I made friends there with another kid that moved in around the same time I did. We made up just a handful of white families living in the housing complex which made it an extremely tough environment for us to grow up in. Drugs, guns, gangs, and blasting Biggie Smalls throughout the summer nights were the norm. My friend and I were very similar; we were both the same age, going to the same school, poor, and living under the same set of hard conditions. We also shared similar traits – we always tried to find odd jobs to make some extra money (a big snow storm was money in the bank), loved playing strategy games, and had a deep interest in science. Fast forward 20 years and my friend is a high school drop out that works in the back office of a real estate management company for a measly salary while I have earned a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering, an M.B.A and started my own tutoring company that employs close to 100 NYS certified teachers that serve over 1,000 students. So what happened? In a nutshell, it was our respective parents’ differing expectations. In my home it wasn’t even a question of whether I will go to college, it was how prestigious the college would be. My mother would always say “only by educating yourself can we leave this place” and boy, did I want to leave. My friend’s mother, on the other hand, would allow him to skip school frequently and constantly tell him “if you’re not going to school then go to work”; ultimately that’s exactly what he did. Two completely different expectations with two completely different results; the message I heard at home was aligned with the one I heard in school, while my friend received mixed signals with the evening message dictating the course of his life – so far. After almost a decade of no contact with him, I ran into my friend about a year ago. He’s still at the same management agency working the same job. What astounded me was when he told me that his company wanted to promote him to manage one of their buildings – and he refused; citing that it would be too much work. His life is now governed by these low expectations that were bore into him at an early age, and unfortunately, I presume, he will pass along these same signals to his children.

One elementary school that my company services is located in a high poverty area in the Bronx. Boarded up houses, pitbull dogs strolling around streets, and characters only seen in movies populate this neighborhood. Generally schools in these types of areas are marked with major discipline issues, are failing, and experience very low teacher morale. The school is struggling academically; however, they have experienced a recent surge in special education and bilingual students entering the building and they are showing academic growth. Otherwise, teacher morale is relatively high and very few incidents involving behavior problems. I was very impressed with the way the Principal had a handle on the school. After working with school leadership and teachers for a full year and enjoying many extensive discussions with the Principal, I came to realize how she was succeeding where many are failing. She demands that parents engage (a lot) with the school for the betterment of the child. When a child misbehaves, she’ll call up the parent and say “Mom, you better come up here and sit with your child in class and keep an eye on him/her”. Teachers are always made available to speak with parents about any issues a child may have, whether is it academic, behavioral, or something else. She holds parents accountable for a child’s performance by frequently asking “have you sat with the child to do their homework?”, “who is helping the child at home?”, “what will you do to better the situation?”. She offers a dose of tough love to her students and her parents and for this she commands a lot of respect from all the stakeholders in the school. She leans on parents for support and makes it clear that they must play a pivotal role, otherwise, “don’t come knockin’ on my door asking why my child failed” as she would say. As a result, the Principal is forcing parents to step up – and they are. By collaborating and holding parents accountable, she is aligning the messages students are receive during the day and evening: high expectations, education, character development, values. Here are a few reviews I found online about the school from some parents:

Posted September 24, 2008
Principal X has obviously worked very hard to get the school back on track. The worst thing for the kids is that MANY of the PARENTS DO NOT GET INVOLVED. I hear parents complain all the time, so you should spend a day inside the school system and see how difficult it is to be responsible for all those children. If the parents don’t like something, maybe they should get off their backsides and participate in the SCHOOL.
—Submitted by a parent

Posted April 16, 2009
We love this school. The Principal and her open door policy make you feel comfortable and you can talk to the teachers about your child’s progress whenever you need to. The gifted program is exceptional they really enrich the learning experience and take away some of those antiquated mundane boundaries that children don’t like. I recommend this school to any parent -to parents who want to become involved and those who if its not broken don’t try to fix it.
—Submitted by a parent

Posted September 17, 2009
The principal and staff at PS 31 really care about the children. The staff and parents at the school are friendly and make you feel welcome. They really stay in touch with the parents about their child’s progress. They have high hopes for all the children and push for respect and academic success.
—Submitted by a parent

The Principal’s strategy is encapsulated fittingly in the school’s slogan: “It Takes a Village To Raise A Child”. Indeed.

I just finished reading a book called Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell (highly recommend it); there was a chapter in the book that spoke about a KIPP Charter School in the Bronx that has shown some really great results. School is in session six days a week; classes start at 7:30 AM and finish at 5:00 PM with an after-school component available until 7:00 PM while Saturday classes begin at 9:00 AM and end at 1:00 PM. The author contends that one of the reasons KIPP is so successful is because of the extra hours students spend in a KIPP school versus a traditional public school. Because of this, KIPP students not only receive extra instruction but, equally important, they are exposed less to conflicting messages that occur outside of school. A KIPP student leaves school at 7:00PM while a traditional public school student leaves at 3:00 PM; the KIPP student receives an extra four hours per day of positive signaling while the other student not only misses out but is at risk of receiving negative signals from his out of school environment. The author writes about a student attending KIPP: “Her community does not give her what she needs. So what does she have to do? Give up her evenings and weekends and friends – all the elements of her old world – and replace them with KIPP.” What KIPP is doing is assuming the role of guardian for several extra hours per day and ensuring that their students are exposed to the right message while mitigating opportunities for the wrong message to creep in. In this case, where the community fails, the school steps in.

We need to exert greater energies on finding ways parents and schools can work together for the child’s educational growth. We have spent immense amounts of resources trying to fix the latter while almost ignoring the former; too much time is spent focusing on the first seven hours of the day and not enough on the last seven hours. There needs to be a greater discussion on how parents may be brought into the process and held accountable – schools and students have report cards, why not parents? We can keep coming up with different ideas on how to reform schools all we want, but until we recognize the magnitude of the role parents play – and create solutions through that lens – we will just keep going in circles. Let’s stop making excuses and start creating innovative ways parents and schools can synergize to engender cultural change in our education system.

Alexander Marchuk is the Founder and President at Perfect Score Tutoring, an after-school tutoring firm that successfully provides Supplemental Education Services (SES) under the “No Child Left Behind” law to urban NYC public schools. Prior to that, Alexander – who is a NYS certified Math teacher – taught Middle School and High School Math to at-risk students and subsequently went on to mentor incoming teachers as a Math Coach.  He is a founding Board Member and current Vice Chair of the Board at Invictus Preparatory Charter School located in the East New York section of Brooklyn.  Alexander is passionate about education and advocates strongly for the use of pragmatic, common-sense solutions with a twist of disruptive innovation mixed in.

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#Edchat Summary: Bringing Students into the Discussion to Improve Schools by @inquirebook

Guest post from @inquirebook in the #Edchat Category & other 12noon NYC summaries found on Berni Wall’s blog!

Today’s #edchat topic, How do we bring students into the discussion on how to improve the school environment? was intriguing. In the discussion, most participants pointed out that we cannot invite students to the table unless we are also prepared to work with their suggestions. A few focused on how a shift in culture needs to occur, one in which students take ownership of their own educations and learn to advocate for themselves. Some pointed out that students who are allowed to make their own choices often make bad choices, but others argued that the only way to learn how to make decisions is to make many decisions. The group generally agreed that if students are invited to offer suggestions, they should also be part of solving the problem, not just leaving adults to do the solving.

At a future #Edchat I’d be interested in discussing, What alternative models would allow the government to ensure school quality without relying on high-stakes testing?

Main Themes of the Chat

  • We need to listen to students.
  • We need to help students develop a sense of ownership in their educations.
  • To do so, we need a shift in school culture.
  • Students need to make decisions–many of them–and mistakes in order to learn to be problem solvers.
  • Digital solutions could give everyone a voice and provide students a format they understand.

Thought-Provoking Comments

With such a vibrant discussion, it’s almost impossible to do it justice in a summary, but I’ve picked out some of the comments that inspired me and made me reflect.

@TJwolfe_: First of all, let students speak!! Stop lecturing and start listening! #edchat
@tomwhitby: We cannot invite students to the table unless we are willing to accept what they have to offer. #Edchat
@inquirebook: I think we first ask students what the goals of school should be–a guiding question for their inquiry. #edchat
@TheresaShafer: Have open forums for students, not just elected student councils. #edchat
@jessievaz12: We recently asked our 6th gr stdts to brainstorm ideas on how to improve transition from 5th. Amazing what came out. #edchat
@tomwhitby: We need the leadership to accept the fact that the learning environment needs change, and opinions for that change. #Edchat
@davidwees: If our schools are to be representations of our democracy, they must be more democratic. All stakeholders need a voice. #edchat
@Aaron_Eyler: How about realizing that just because they are kids doesn’t mean their ideas aren’t better than those with degrees? #edchat
@davidwees: Students learn how to make decisions by making decisions, lots of them. #edchat
@tsocko: Put the discussion in a format that kid communicate…digital! #edchat
@inquirebook: If students take ownership of their education, it ceases to be something *done* to them. #edchat
@tomwhitby: Teaching kids HOW to learn seems more important than WHAT to learn. Involving kids in the decision process is a HOW to learn thing #Edchat
@jheil65: Hard to change the environment w/o first changing the culture. . .Create the kind of school you want and the environment will follow #edchat
@21stprincipal: Students have to believe they have a say in what happens in their school. #edchat
@tomwhitby: If kids own an idea, they are more likely to support it. Works for teachers as well. #Edchat
@shfarnsworth: We must teach our students to transform their voice into a mean for change. How to inspire/create action! Responsible Citizen #edchat
@monicaannebatac: Students must learn 2 be activists & advocates for themselves – in school & beyond. – & also listen 2 and consider other voices #edchat
@jaluribe: Participation has to start in kindergarten. Older students can be like birds in open cages. Believing they can’t fly. #edchat
@CTuckerEnglish: Including all student voices is logistically challenging. Using an online forum might allow for equity of voices in convo #edchat
@TJwolfe_: We need to make school decision making into a teachable moment for everyone! Students included. #edchat
@ShellTerrell: Getting students involved in edreform begins with a question & continues with implementation of ideas #edchat
@Aaron_Eyler: It is totally a heretical thing. Ppl in charge didnt get listened to in school so they don’t listen to kids today. #edchat #breakthecycle
@CTuckerEnglish: If we engage students in process of determining how to best improve schools, that creates buy in & accountability. #edchat

To follow the complete discussion visit the transcript here!

More Resources

As ever, there were some great links shared:

@readingrockets: What makes a school good? http://ow.ly/6gDjp
@Inga_Ros I spoke about that at the #140edu You can see my presentation here http://t.co/TIKYnXo
@edutopia: Worth a read. RT @kylepace: What Schools Can Learn Frm #Google, IDEO, & Pixar http://t.co/42W2sfz

New to Edchat?

If you have never participated in an #Edchat discussion, these take place twice a day every Tuesday on Twitter. Over 3000 educators participate in this discussion by just adding #edchat to their tweets. For tips on participating in the discussion, please check out these posts!

More Edchat


If you’re new to hashtag discussions, then just show up on Twitter on any Tuesday and add just a few tweets on the topic with the hashtag #edchat.

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What are your thoughts? Leave a comment!


I’m Rob King, lead author of Inquire: a Guide to 21st Century Learning. It’s a student handbook that teaches 21st century skills, study skills, inquiry, and project-based learning. I’m also editor in chief at Sebranek, Inc., the parent company of Write Source, UpWrite Press, and Thoughtful Learning. To learn more, go to www.thoughtfullearning.com.

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Happy Birthday! #Edchat Turns 2!

Part of the #Edchat Category

#Edchat turns TWO this week!

Thank You

For the last 2 years #Edchat has been the birth of  conversation for over 2000 educators weekly on how to improve education worldwide! #Edchat has created real change by igniting new projects, adding more educators to the conversation, inspiring over 400 educational chats, inspiring a new school, inspiring a free online conference with over 4000 attendees, and so much more. The conversation began 2 years ago with 3 educators- (Tom Whitby (@TomWhitby), Steven Anderson (@Web20Classroom), and (@ShellTerrell))- who desired education transformation and saw the need for educational stakeholders to discuss, debate, explore, reflect, react, and act on various issues which impact education. For this reason, I would argue that #Edchat is one of the most powerful hashtags creating real change in schools.
You can engage in the movement by:

  • suggesting topics on the poll
  • voting for topics
  • engaging in the discussion
  • blogging about the conversations
  • inviting friends to the conversation
  • presenting about the educator communities that exist
  • transforming the conversation into action at your schools

In it’s two years, #Edchat has inspired, motivated, and transform educational stakeholders. We have a diverse group of student teachers, parents, students, administrators, and community leaders who participate weekly in order to collaborate on improving our education systems worldwide!

This was last year’s Wallwisher! Please continue the tradition by adding how Edchat has impacted you!

Helpful Edchat Resources!

Edchat is transformational because of you! Here are helpful resources to become more involved or to help introduce educators to Edchat!

We’d like to thank the following for their weekly dedication to Edchat:


Get another educator involved in the Edchat conversations which take place every Tuesday at 12pm NYC EDT and 7pm NYC EDT! Participate by engaging a few and adding #Edchat to the end of your tweet.

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What would you like to see from Edchat this upcoming year?

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