celebrate.PNGCelebrate good times, come on! Doo doo do doo do do do do! Woohoo! This morning I woke up
with a sense of great accomplishment. I did it! I wrote for 31 days straight about myself and the small moments I found in each of my days. It is March 31st and today I  completed the Slice of Life Story Challenge: 31 days of writing.

I’ve never seen myself as a writer, especially a narrative writer. Throughout my writing life I felt most confident as a nonfiction writer. I had learned the “formula” and could do it pretty easily and without too much effort. However, it has always been the small winsopposite for narrative writing. It was too open and too personal. My mind focused on perfection and rated myself against all of the writers I loved. Last year I began this challenge and quit half way through as I quickly found reasons that writing everyday was not possible. This was my own personal hurdle. As the Slice of Life Challenge approached this year I knew I had to do it. I had to push myself as a learner and as a writer. Therefore, I
surrounded myself with some fellow bloggers who I knew would help keep me going when times got rough. And it worked!! Throughout this challenge I continued reminding myself it is about the process, not perfection.


raise the bar.PNGAs I celebrate this accomplishment I must reflect on how I have grown. I looked over my narrative portfolio of the past month and was in awe of all of the small moments that I had collected. Moments that I may have overlooked if I wasn’t looking for them, breaking them down into minuscule pieces, and writing them down.  I have grown as a human because I now notice small parts of my day that are so meaningful whether they make me giggle, cry, think, stop, reflect, feel gratitude, or the plethora of other emotions I feel.  This challenge has allowed me to open up my personal life to others and have others open their lives to me. It has been refreshing to read the comments and to read other people’s blogs to get a deeper sense of who they are. This has been a challenge, but one that I am extremely grateful for. Moving forward I would like to continue writing and utilizing my blog to share inspiring things in my life and in education. I hope you continue to join me as it will not be perfect, but it will help me to continue the process of growing as a learner and as a writer.

Thirty-one days of stories as part of the Slice of Life Story Challenge, hosted by Two Writing Teachers



Sketchnotes and Rain

fullsizerender-1On this rainy, Thursday of my Spring Break I find myself curled up on the corner of my  couch, surrounded by two over-sized pillows, wrapped in my Blackhawks blanket  with my iPad and Apple pencil on one side of me and my new book, “Hacking Leadership” on the other.  I recently taught an internal university course “Writing About Reading” where we spent two of the classes discussing the power of sketchnoting. I personally love sketchnoting, especially at conferences, workshops, and while watching educational videos/seminars.

Lately, I’ve been pushing myself to sketchnote while I read. While I’ve learned I love it, I’ve also realized how time consuming it can be. It takes me at least 3 times longer to finish one chapter as compared to when I read and highlight. However, my retention is much higher because I am thinking about what I am reading, connecting it to an image (my schema), and then writing/drawing it. It also becomes a piece of art that I frequently revisit and am eager to share with others to start a discussion or inspire them to read the book too.

Here is my artwork from today while I sketchnoted and listened to the rain.

Thirty-one days of stories as part of the Slice of Life Story Challenge, hosted by Two Writing Teachers

New Recipe

There’s something so personal about working next to your significant other in the kitchen as you both peer at a brand new recipe nervous and excited about what is to come. Today has been filled with yoga, shopping, job searching, and reading for me and stressful calls and deadlines for Steve. However, we both set 7pm as our time to come together and create a new dish, Ginger Curry Noodle Soup, from one of our favorite cookbooks, Thug Kitchen.

As 7pm came across Steve’s computer he shut his laptop and poured us both a glass of wine. I opened the cupboard and refrigerator to start pulling out vegetables and spices. We each grabbed a cutting board and placed the cookbook in between us and began cutting. Eager to see what we would create.

Volumes Cafe

Disappointed rushed over me as I stumbled out of an over packed coffee shop this morning and started wandering down Milwaukee Avenue in search of a coffee shop with open seating and wi-fi. As I walked past restaurants and workout studios, I finally saw a sign that gave me hope, “Volumes Cafe”. I quickened my pace and approached the store front which was lined with books.

I hope they have a place for me to work, I thought.

To my surprise when I opened the door it was a quaint, brightly lit coffee shop with a few tables and the back filled with books. I quickly spotted an open table and decided this would be my spot. Nestled between readers and workers, I took a deep breath in inhaling the smell of coffee beans and letting my eyes search the room and the books surrounding me. I knew this would be the perfect place to sit and work.

While my search had started off with disappointment it quickly turned into gratitude for my new found spot.File_000 (7).jpegimg_0278-5


Spring Break

Filter Cafe-Wicker Park
Picture taken by Anthony Kougkas on Google Reviews.

Today is the first day of Spring Break. Spring Break is one of my favorite times as an educator. The time off allows for rejuvenation, reflection, relaxation, and time to refocus before the school year comes to an end. However, this Spring Break is different from those of my past where I spent time on a beach somewhere with a book in hand and great people around me. This year, I am staying home. Why? Well, Steve and I will soon be moving back to Arizona and that means I need a job. I don’t want just any job, I want the job of principal. I’ve wanted to be a principal for quite some time now, but I also wanted to wait until I knew I was ready. And I am ready.

Therefore, instead of laying on a beach, I am exploring coffee shops. Everyday this week I will be finding a fun new coffee shop to cozy up and prepare myself for finding a position as principal.

For today’s coffee shop I decided to go to Filter Cafe in Wicker Park. As I walked in the door I knew it would be a perfect setting for resume writing with 70’s couches, small tables, lamps scattered throughout and quite whispering of others working and chatting.

I walked up to the counter and ordered a large carmel latte with non-fat milk. Then, looked around and found a small table nestled between two couches and close to the front window. I took a sip of my coffee and began writing.




Writing everyday is not easy. Let me say it again, it is not easy. I’ve started counting down the days until Slice of Life is complete. While I love the community, the reflection that comes with writing, and growing as a writer it is challenging.

I started to tell my colleagues who are also participating in Slice of Life that I couldn’t wait for April. While they laughed and agreed with me, one of my colleagues said something that stuck with me.

“It is called the Slice of Life Challenge for a reason. It is a challenge. It is difficult. It is not meant to be easy. If it was they would have named it something else.”

As we laughed I thought how true this is. It is a challenge. I am proud of all of us for meeting this challenge, writing each and everyday, and growing.

Thirty-one days of stories as part of the Slice of Life Story Challenge, hosted by Two Writing Teachers

Eddie Belfour

A childhood hero. Who was yours? Steve’s was Eddie Belfour. And last night we were able to witness his “One Last Shift” with Steve’s parents. Before heading to the game Steve put on his jersey and handed me his fifth grade jersey to match. It was perfect. belfour

I asked Steve, “Why was Eddie Belfour your hockey idol?”

“Because he was the goalie. And all of the chanting. Eddie! Eddie! Eddie! Oh, and his greediness and greatness. He also had a cool nickname, “Eddie the Eagle”. I don’t know, he was just my favorite.”

Even though his answer was vague. I knew he meant much more. Especially as the video explaining the awesomeness of this player started rolling and the crowd stood on their feet and erupted in roaring cheers as he skated onto the ice. The awe in Steve’s eyes said it all.


Buddy Blogging is Pretty Cool

My colleague Tarah and I held a Q&A blog post today inspired by #IMMOOC. We covered the topics of our dream job, technology, and social media. Our conversation and ideas spurred through this conversation was truly electric.


Angela on her “dream job”: My dream job would be to create a school where everyone is there to foster a love of learning and build relationships with one another. I would love to create that school. I would like to lead that school and still be able to be a teacher and be in classrooms teaching. I could see this with continuous learning through peer learning labs – learning from one another and giving other teacher leaders freedom to do this as well. Inviting people in to see lessons; coaches switching out who they work with; a flexible schedule and culture of “who is the teacher”. One thing we had explored in my last school was a time daily where students were setting their own learning for a period – you could sign up for a menu of classes each quarter; these could be taught by anyone in the school and student-taught. Learning, relationships, and passion drive everything. It’s less black and white, and we would live more in the grey.

Tarah’s Rebuttal: So, I think about constraints as far as what is keeping us from bringing your dream to life. Even though, I was going to start by describing my dream job we have many pieces in common. What we have in common is redefining who is teacher and who you can learn from. But that brings to mind the constraint of what you are learning and what you are learning about. Some things that might stifle creativity in moving forward is: designing curriculum & assessment. In our district this is such a heavy focus. Why aren’t we focused on the alternative? Who you are learning from as opposed to what you are learning. In the book they talk about learning comes first above everything. Nowhere in the book does it say that learning comes from the teacher. Thinking from an IT standpoint as I was reading the book I realized that not all of the decisions made about devices are not learning focused.

For my dream job, devices aren’t selected because someone who isn’t using them decides (IT, admin) because they have quite the opposite ecosystem. So, not only who they learn from is limitless but how they learn is flexible.

I don’t actually want to be talking about devices. In short, my dream job is working with all learners but not within a content area. Because how you are learning something can transfer everywhere and is not siloed in different context. In my dream job learning would just be learning.

It’s going back to the menu. I love the idea of offering a menu. By the time I got to college and received a menu I didn’t know what to do because it was the first time I had that choice.

Angela:The information about “tech” in Part 3 confirmed my thinking. It’s about learning first. We aren’t doing technology – it’s not a subject area and it’s not our focus. Technology is going to continue to change and grow with our time and it’s not something we sit here and study, but we look at it to serve many purposes. In our classrooms it should be natural – if I want to learn something I can just find it. If I want to collaborate with my classmate I know how to in ways other than talking across the room. Social media has to be respected I feel, but also embraced. From having tech in my classroom and using things like Edmodo, many issues arose  that we’d have to talk through and set boundaries with – I would never turn it off or ask them to stop. The same thing goes with social media – you have to be willing to create solutions to the challenges that come up. It would be ignorant to say that it would be risk free.

Tarah:That’s kind of why I agree with Will Richardson when he was referenced in the YouTube Live by saying he wants his kids to be found on the internet. Just like you said it would be ignorant to assume that nothing bad will happen when using social media it would be ignorant to say that if they aren’t using it in my classroom they aren’t using it at home. I don’t think that the kids using social media for personal use have a really great support system of mentors on how to use it. And I think as teachers we have a great opportunity to be those guides, be those mentors. So, when I have a student that is found on the internet it is like their resume, since they were in kindergarten. Think about it. Students applying for a job 15 years from now can just say, “Google me.” Because what they can do should not have to result in a piece of paper. That’s why when we make resumes now we include LinkedIn, Twitter, and that’s for adults who grew up without internet. We don’t have a digital portfolio of our learning over time. I also think that having this type of portfolio allows them to network more efficiently and networking becomes, “Oh ya, we network.” It becomes a part of learning.

Angela: That is powerful. We will help create their perception of social media to promote themselves in a positive light.

Tarah: And they should be able to use it to watch cat videos.



It’s 7:44 and I am sitting in traffic. I know I am just barely going to make it to work before 8am. The roads are always so unpredictable one day to the next. However, all I can think about is the clock turning to 7:45.

7:45 is becoming a time I cherish. It’s when Steve calls from San Francisco. He sets an alarm for 5:45am to wake up and wish me a good day.

7:45, I hear my sing-songy ringtone over the speakers in my car and see “Stephen” come across my dashboard.

“Hola!” I exclaim.

On the other end I hear his groggy, half-asleep voice saying hello and asking about my morning. In this moment I am happy.

It’s the little things that make life wonderful.


Twitter Chat


Heart racing quickly, eyes darting side to side, fingers rapidly tapping on computer keys, and a searing energy radiating from my creative inspired brain. This is Twitter chats for me. This is being a part of a professional learning network that makes you want to learn, grow, ask questions, and create. People who make you think and then push you to try and take risks.

All educators should be lucky enough to surround themselves with others who help push and inspire them.