Siloed and Silent No More

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Conversations in my workplace and among my peers from other state departments have me thinking a lot about silos lately. They seem to be literal and figurative these days. We want more collaboration in our own workplaces, among different teams, and between PK-12 schools, service agencies, postsecondary, and business/industry. Yet we remain siloed and silent.

We claim to be working together…and some of us are. There have become great models of collaborative relationships that are mutually beneficial and support students. Which is why we are all here, right? Yet, we have so much more to do.

It was such a great experience to partake in the Instructional Improvement System workgroup with the Education Information Management Advisory Consortium through CCSSO. It is my hope that the conversations that took place, carry on, and move in a forward progression to be able to work with one another. It makes me giddy at the thought…states working together to share valuable resources. We would model the very thing we’re asking our schools and students to do.

I envision siloed and silent no more. I promise to try to make this happen.

Not Reflecting

February 4th, 2015 was the last time I sat down to blog and reflect through writing. I started off strong this year…and yet here I am 57 days after my last post. So what went wrong?

I can blame time. I can blame not wanting to write. But if I’m being honest, it’s because I’m not reflecting or even taking the time to reflect. And there have been some amazing things that have happened in 57 days. No, really.

Highlights would include: completing my first Whole30, not stopping, and committing to a Whole100; speaking at my first international conference in Mexico where my Spanish quickly returned; celebrating the 10th anniversary of the YP Summit with some of Omaha’s best Young Professionals and learning some great things in the process; enjoying the 5th anniversary of EdcampOmaha with our highest number of attendees; and finally joining Bellevue Public Schools’ first student authors showcasing their published iBooks for the NeBooks Project.

These are big events, folks. And I let them slip by without taking the opportunity to process things learned, seen, felt, or heard. For that, I am sad. It is in this process that learnings become concrete and memories become very tangible pictures. I am not reflecting, and therefore I am not allowing myself to grow.

It is my hope to change this. I want to grow. For me, that starts with reflecting.

We Don’t Coast

When Josh and I started thinking about things we wanted to do for EdcampOmaha’s 5th anniversary, we thought about swag. Naturally. Come on, we’re teachers that still like a solid shirt that we can proudly wear and talk about. We have certainly been able to do that with the past two EdcampOmaha shirts. They have been logos that we are proud to wear in an effort to spread the word about EdcampOmaha and the Edcamp movement, as well as recognize the educators that have been a part of EdcampOmaha.

It is in that same spirit that we wanted to include Greater Omaha’s new campaign “We Don’t Coast“. This campaign gets at why it is we are Omaha. We chose to be in the center. We Don’t Coast.

So when it comes down to bringing these two powerful movements together…

EdcampOmaha … We Don’t Coast. We Empower Educators.We Don't Coast EdcampOmaha

This is a bold statement that captures the spirit of EdcampOmaha and Edcamps in general. We believe teacher-driven learning can change professional development. It is about choice and empowerment. We hope you choose to join us for this learning opportunity at EdcampOmaha on March 21. Registration is open:

Oh, and don’t forget to get a shirt that you can proudly wear!


#youredustory Week 4 prompt: What is the best thing you do in your classroom/school/district/job?

I struggled with writing this last week. There were so many other things on my mind and I couldn’t narrow my focus. I love my job as the eLearning Specialist & School Library Liaison. It is certainly not a classroom teacher role. In fact, sometimes I can’t even tell you what it all is.

Last week, NDE employees were invited to an open meeting to discuss “projects, people, processes”, as part of some work that the Commissioner is doing after reading Ken Miller’s The Extreme Government Makeover. Those that attended, worked in small groups to list the responsibilities of our specific roles and the barriers we face. Our responsibilities varied, but our barriers were all pretty much the same. When it was my turn to talk about my responsibilities, the one word that kept coming up was relationships. I don’t “do” relationships, per se. But developing relationships has been my greatest priority and responsibility.

Relationships play a vital role in my job. They have allowed me to work with almost every team at the department in some capacity. They have allowed me to take part in conversations with key stakeholders across the state. They have allowed me to participate in dozens of trainings, workshops, and in-services at the educational service unit (ESU), post-secondary, and school district levels. They have provided me the ability to still get into the classroom when I just need to be around kids again. They have led me to where I am. These relationships have helped me develop this role into something that didn’t even exist 20 months ago.

My relationships have challenged me. Allowed me to take risks. Encouraged me. Allowed me to be a voice. Helped me see my potential. And do it all for Nebraska educators and students.

How are you developing relationships? With your students? With your colleagues? Beyond your school? I challenge you to look at the relationships in your professional and personal life. What do you see?

19/365: Joy. Spending the day with friends and colleagues at #yorkmlk15 This is a small part of why I do what I do. Oh who's kidding, this is a huge part! This is my tribe. #eduawesome #educatorsunite Thanks to @coach_sautter @mrbadura @wolfep for your ph16/365: BLENDIT1 Cadre. Worked with our BLENDIT1 Cadre in Norfolk that are working on understanding and implementing blended learning in their career Ed courses. They humored this former elementary teacher when I made them get up and create a human contin

My Father’s Arm

Parenthood will air its final episode tomorrow night and I’m terribly sad by this thought. It’s just a show…I know. But it somehow manages to feel so real.

Last week the oldest Braverman daughter, Sarah, told her dad, Zeek, that she was engaged. He just elected to not have another heart surgery, so he is not in great health. When he said he couldn’t wait to walk her down the aisle, it really hit her…and then it really hit me.

The previews for the final episode show the wedding taking place and both of them walking down the aisle. And I can’t help but get incredibly emotional as I see even this brief clip.

I walked down my sandy beach aisle four years and eleven days after my dad passed. It was painful to not have my father’s arm. It still is.

I have so many other wonderful men in my life, whose arms are available. For that, I thank them.

So, I will be watching with tears, as I think about how I missed the chance to walk down the aisle with my dad. But I will also be comforted in knowing that other arms will walk with me now…until one day I am reunited with both my father’s arm and Heavenly Father’s arm.

How Will You…?

How will you make the world a better place?

How will you let every person that you meet know that they matter?

How will you share your passion?

How will you spread your joy?

Life is precious. Lives matter. I want to bring passion and joy to whatever I do. It’s refreshing. It’s hard to do sometimes. It’s the message that most of us need. So why not share it.

Passion drives me, even when obstacles get in the way. It is what pushes me to “be the change I want to see in the world.” Remember The Starfish Story? Even if it’s just one starfish…it makes a difference for that one. So if it’s one student that hears that they are a genius, one teacher that is recognized for sharing their failure, or one stranger that is told they matter…it makes a difference.

Joy fuels my soul. There are so many reasons to be joyful or moments to find joy in. We need to slow down and recognize them. They will provide us the rays of sunlight on our darkest days.

So how will you…?


The greatest part about it being a new year is the potential. Resolutions are made to change habits or introduce new ones. Expectations are set or raised. And we make plans to implement these things because it’s a new year and it has potential.

For me, I have been hesitant to write anything down because I always end up disappointed in myself. I’m not alone either, as I was reminded by the The Super Sisters in their weekly email that studies show 95% of people have already broken their resolutions by January 15th. But I want it to be different this year.

Personally, I am doing a body reset. It’s time. I’ve had the same horrible eating and inactivity habits for 31 years. So that is changing. After reading It Starts with Food by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig, things made sense to me. This has led me to my first round of Whole30. I’m a week in and it’s been a challenge withdrawing from sugar and carbs. I can tell that I’m already feeling better though…so I will make it the remaining 22 days and possibly beyond. I also started the Super Sisters Fitness Challenge for the month and have maxed out in most of the workouts (even with modifications). So when I look at my start in January, I see positive changes coming.

Professionally, I want to continue growing and expanding my network. My position at NDE has afforded me with wonderful opportunities thus far and I have developed great relationships with many Nebraska educators. It’s even fair to say that word about me providing (free) professional learning opportunities is reaching administrators who are curious how I can help their teachers and students. 🙂

I will continue with my role on the NETA Board of Directors with my friend Josh Allen as President-Elect. We are moving to the CenturyLink Center and have high expectations of our largest Spring NETA Conference. Ever. This is very overwhelming and exciting to be a part of…which is why I’m happy to have Josh leading.

EdcampOmaha will have its 5th anniversary on March 21! My co-organizer, Josh Allen, and I planned for some new events to take place this year and are looking forward to a great day of learning in a new space. My role with the Edcamp Foundation Partners Program has been very rewarding this past year due to helping several people get edcamps started. The Edcamp Foundation is on the verge of more greatness with our new Executive Director, Hadley Ferguson, leading the charge. Happy to be a part of this organization and spreading the edcamp love!

Beyond education, my involvement with the Omaha Young Professionals in planning for the YP Summit has pushed me beyond my education world. The planning committee is comprised of many that are in corporate and non-profit. At first this was intimidating because I was unsure of commonalities. Now I look at it as one of the best opportunities for me to work with those that aren’t in education and continue to give me a more global perspective. They each teach me different qualities that I aspire to develop in myself.

There you have it. When I write it all out…I’m involved with some fantastic projects that I’m extremely proud of. These same projects are the ones that I learn from, grow from, and ultimately help me see my own potential.