Fueling Your Colleagues In Ninety Minutes…Or Less


I recently wrote a post about paving my road to leadership.  I still don’t know the exact destination.  What I do know, however, is the feeling of being in my element and that I would like to be there as much as possible.  Two weeks ago, I was given ninety precious minutes to run a staff meeting. This was a chance to share my passion and hopefully fuel my colleagues to find theirs.

Since Lead Like a PIRATE and Start Right Now (still reading!), I have put tremendous focus on inspiring my colleagues to lead.  I knew I could do something impactful with the time I asked for and teachers leading teachers was priority.  In fact, as I enthusiastically created the structure for our meeting, I realized I had an important goal. I wanted this powerful statement from Start Right Now to come to life in one room, for every staff member.

“Excellent teachers and leaders…have in common…a zest for lifelong learning, a need to share what they know and learn from others, a desire to associate with other educators who are equally energized about our noble profession, and a willingness to change and take risks.”

Here’s what happened.

3:30 All staff members and administrators were asked to join Quizlet Live to play what turned out to be one competitive game.  The terms were based on 21st century learning as well as tools and approaches they would have an opportunity to explore. Curiosity, intensity, and pure determination to win spread across the room as each team worked together.

We listened intently when the winning team shared strategies that contributed to their success, which I highly recommend trying with students. I also encouraged teams that disagreed with any definitions to let me know as I believe arguing in the classroom can be healthy!  Here is the Quizlet set in case anyone wants to use it or edit as I did originally.
IMG_6545  IMG_6542

3:50ish  We dove deeply into the benefits.  How did this activity help in terms of previewing  content?  How did it help us tap into our soft skills?  How could we potentially use it in the classroom?  I was able to unleash my passion for 21st century teaching and learning, compliment my colleagues on the amazing work they do every day, and at the same time, ask them to reflect.

How could each of us shift our mindset just a bit to do an even better job meeting our kids where they are?  Since it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the vast amount of digital tools we have at our exposure, I spoke of technology as an avenue to empowerment. And as we continued our afternoon mission, I prompted my colleagues and administrators to think about the following slides.

21st Century TeachingLearning (3)

21st Century TeachingLearning (4)

4:00ish  Five teachers courageously shared a risk they have taken in the classroom.  They provided us with the process, the challenges, and the undeniable positive results. Passion based learning, STEAM, innovation, Kahoot, Seesaw, BrainPOP Jr., and Quizlet were all hot topics. Through sharing real stories and revealing engaging videos, the crowd was hooked.


4:20ish  We were able to take the potential energy that had been brewing and transform it into kinetic full force.  For thirty magical minutes, teachers and administrators chose to learn about their topic of choice.  Most followed a “techspert” that had just presented and went to work.  If someone had an idea they were even more passionate about exploring, however, I told them to go for it AND share.  Discussions sparked, accounts were created, playful assessments were developed, and a tour of passion based centers was given.  By 4:50 the enthusiasm for learning was still going strong.



Normally right before 5:00, keys start to jingle, coats are grabbed, and our minds are on something else.  It’s human nature to be exhausted after a long day of work…or is it?

4:50ish  It took three tries to get everyone’s attention and to be completely honest, I didn’t want to.  It was important, however, that my colleagues not only acknowledged their accomplishment for the afternoon, but celebrated it.  In addition, I wanted them to make a commitment to it.  What I found was astonishing.  Teachers joined a Padlet I had created so they could share what they would put into action.  Many went above and beyond.

Here are just a few responses and I love that a teacher actually made a promise to explore a tool right after dinner!

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5:00ish  We walked out of the building with new energy.  I was given the chance to share who I am, because I asked and because I created a structure that aimed for success. I grabbed an opportunity to inspire my peers and most importantly, push them to inspire each other.

NOW-So what’s happening just two weeks later?  What I share below and what’s yet to come I have no doubt are direct results of teachers stepping it up.  In just one staff meeting they led, shared, responded to each other with enthusiasm, and demonstrated immense trust and support.  They are expanding their ideas, exploring new ones, and diving into what they’ve never tried before.  I used to say, “Let me come to your class and model this lesson!” Now I can say, “Go check out what ‘so and so’ is doing!  You don’t want to miss it!”

Several first grade and kindergarten classrooms are experiencing BrainPOP Jr. for the first time EVER!  They are even joining forces so kindergarten students have first grade tutors to help!


In the video below, you can clearly see how BrainPOP Jr. has become a game changer for a first grade classroom leading the way with this wonderful tool.

A class of first grade students AND their families are LOVING Seesaw! (In addition to the learning specialists who introduced it and continue to inspire.)

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First grade classrooms are engaged with Quizlet Live!



As Kahoot was a tool many teachers had already experienced, they have taken it a step further and have created their own accounts.  Every day I hear of another quiz someone tried with their students.  Teachers are also starting to recognize the ease and power in the feedback Kahoot provides.  STEAM activities are spreading as well and next year, another first grade class will be launching passion based centers thanks to the brilliant group of students below and their amazing teacher.

See these young innovators in action.

My hope is that teachers continue to fuel each other with sharing what they’re passionate about.  The ideas, lessons, tools, and approaches that get us running into school are the gems that empower us, that empower our students.  If you are an educator, whatever role you are in, I challenge you with this quote from the number one selling book in educational leadership.

So don’t be afraid to put yourself out there.  Share who you are, what you’re passionate about, and how it motivates you to lead. -Shelley Burgess and Beth Houf, Lead Like a PIRATE

I’m learning that you never know the impact you might have unless you do, in fact, put yourself out there. Whether it’s a ninety minute staff meeting or five minutes at the beginning, whether it’s through social media or face to face, whether we start with one individual or many, we can all do it.  As Beth Houf tweeted just the other day, “empowerment matters.”


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