Thank You For Learning With Me

Below is a combination of emails and letters sent to Albemarle County teammates over the past month around a new and exciting professional change over the horizon this year for me. While directed at ACPS staff members, the message really applies to all of those with whom I’ve had the privilege to connect while serving various roles in the division over these past 13 years. The overall message reminds me of a post that marked the most recent previous change from classroom teacher to district administrator, and it felt important to commemorate here on the Learning to Lead Learning Blog (if nothing else than for posterity’s sake).

Teammates-

I wanted you to let you know that starting July 1st, I am taking a year’s leave from ACPS for the 2015-16 school year. It will certainly be strange not to be a direct member of the community that’s served as home over the past 13 years, but I have come across an opportunity to explore a position with another organization that feels professionally like a good fit.

There’s obviously way more to say in this kind of circumstance than any asynchronous mass media tool would allow for, so I will simply say: Thank you for learning with me. I notice that we as professionals are at our best when we engage our curious nature and allow it to drive us forward to develop new understanding about our practice, our students, and ourselves. Thank you for the time you have spent alongside me engaged in that learning process. In so many different contexts, I have learned so much from so many, and I only hope that I have been able to share at least a fraction of that energy back into our community in the work we have done together.

As far as the new opportunity goes, I will be working with Advanced Learning Partnerships, an educational consulting firm partnering with school districts engaging in a variety of different instructional initiatives. While based out of Chapel Hill, NC, the work itself will be in a variety of different districts around the country, working with leadership teams to lay out strategic roll-out plans and then implementing the job-embedded professional learning opportunities that help to bring the initiative to life. It should be pretty exciting work- certainly a change of pace, and lots of learning on all sides- though it’ll be very different from being “home” with ACPS.

All in all, the fit feels very closely aligned to my own personal mission statement as an educator on a mission to create communities of learning by connecting people, bringing shape to ideas, and seeking to understand. That’s a mission that this community of learners has helped to shape, for which I will be forever grateful.

I will still be living in the greater Charlottesville area so those locally will still have ways of touching base, though I know it  won’t necessarily be in the context of the work we might normally get into. Thank you again for the opportunity to serve you and your teammates in this capacity, and for being my teammate within the larger Albemarle community.

See you soon-

–Tony

Year In Review: My Most Popular Storifys of 2014

Inspired by Patrick Larkin‘s reminder from the “Blogger’s Rulebook” about the annual requirement to highlight the most-viewed posts of the year, it seemed appropriate to do the same here on Learning to Lead Learning. Sometimes there’s nothing better than looking back and reminding yourself of where you’ve been in order to figure out exactly where it is you might be going.

Earlier this month, I shared my 14 most retweeted and faved tweets of 2014 (as well as a post that shares how you can make your own list), and I’ll likely do a Year In Review post of the most-read posts of 2014 sometime later this week. For now though, I’ll focus on Storify.

2014’s Most Viewed Storifys

2014 might as well be known as “The Year of the Storify” for me, as it quickly became my go-to digital curation tool. If you haven’t used it, it’s a pretty powerful resource for collecting content from diverse media – twitter, Facebook, Google+, YouTube, Getty images, Flickr, and Instagram, among others. I tend to use the site whenever I’m collecting a variety of content sources, as I find its searchable drag-and-drop interface to be pretty easy to use.

Without further ado, here are the 10 most-viewed Storifys I created in 2014:

1) #EdLeader21 4th Annual Event – Atlanta 2014 (October) – This year’s EdLeader21 event focused on student voice, empathy in design thinking, learning spaces, and performance assessment as levers toward promoting the 4Cs. I’ll remember it fondly as a great reconnection with colleagues from across the USA, a valued “bi-coastal” collaborative presentation with teammates, and the time I almost won $5 from Steve Saunders for taking a selfie with 5 Seconds Of Summer.

2) More Important: Questions or Answers? (January) – A collection of contexts (predominantly from January 19th’s #sunchat) in which I asked educators to agree or disagree with the following statement: As teachers, having the right questions is more important than having the right answers. Seeing this post reminds me of the need to ask this question in more contexts, as well as the need to ask more questions.

An image from #ACPSCAI14 displaying the importance of focusing on both what students know and what they can do.

3) #PowerofPLN: The Power of a Personal Learning Network (published in July, most recently updated in November) – A collection of “Why Connect?” responses based on a serendipitously-timed trio of PD sessions. On July 9, 2014, Chad Smith in Gastonia NC, Kerri Williams at #EVSCREV14 in Evansville, IN, and I were all leading PD sessions around the power of professional learning networks, and engaging our PLNs in the session. This PD session was a reinvigorating one in many ways, and I still have many “next steps” to tend to based on what I learned from facilitating these sessions.

4) #ACPSCAI14: Changing Our Perspective When Assessing Student Work (June) – A collection of tweets, links, and posts shared during Albemarle County’s Curriculum, Assessment, and Instruction (CAI) Institute, in which interdisciplinary teams across multiple grade levels collaboratively assessed student work as evidence of relative mastery of lifelong learning competencies. I promise: it was a LOT more fun than it may sound!

5) #PubPriBridge: The Inaugural Chat (January) – The archive of the inaugural #PubPriBridge chat, a connection of public & private school educators connecting to make a difference for the benefit of learners everywhere. Moderated by Peter Gow, it was a connection with Chris Thinnes from 2013’s EdLeader21 event that brought me to the discussion.

#ACPS selfie: MESA representatives cheesing with Del. David Toscano

6) AHS’s MESA at VMSC’s Programs That Work reception (January) – Director Jeff Prillaman and recent alum Eric Hahn represented Albemarle High School’s Math, Engineering, and Science Academy (MESA) as recipients of Virginia Math & Science Coalition’s Programs That Work award in Richmond, VA. So many of my favorite pictures are in here, including this selfie of all of us with Delegate David Toscano, and this painstakingly staged “physicsy” pic of the award.

7) #AVIDchat: Summer WICOR HW (June) – The archive of the June 25th #AVIDchat where educators came together to focus on ways of incorporating WICOR into their summer professional learning. The conversation was inspired by this post by Craig McKinney on AVID’s Adventures in College and Career Readiness blog.

8) 14 for ’14: My Top Tweets from 2014 (December) – The aforementioned reflection on “the year that’s been” by looking back through my most favorited & retweeted tweets of 2014. This post is a great collection of people & ideas focused on leadership, teaching, and learning.

9) #AVIDchat: Valuing WICOR process skills (February) – An archive of the February 5th #AVIDchat, inspired by @alyssa_ruther’s question: How do we help students value the WICOR process skills that they develop in the AVID elective?

10) My First Graphic Recording (August) – Tweets around the creation of a graphic recording of ACPS Superintendent Pam Moran‘s welcome message to Albemarle County Public School’s new teachers at New Teacher Academy 2014. This Storify includes tips on #graphicrecording from members of the #sketchnotes community like verbaltovisual’s Doug Neill, Sketchnotes Handbook author Mike Rohde, and noted graphic facilitator Rachel Smith.

That’s the year in a nutshell – thanks for everyone who has been a part of it!