The Game You Play

I know, it may seem like I have ghosted you but I haven’t. I promise! I have just been waiting, wrapping my brain around everything crazy that is going on in the world around us. Waiting for the right words to speak to me through the screen. If I’m being completely honest, waiting to catch my own breath to even find the time to put words on paper.

Guys, I’m not going to lie. Times right now are rough. They are exhausting. They are nothing I would have ever imagined living through.

But, I refuse to lose.

I spend many nights debating what more I can do. I spend days researching new ways to support teachers. Really, I spend every single day searching for answers that seem impossible to find.

But, I refuse to lose.

I keep thinking this is a game. A very long, strategic game filled with chutes and ladders. It’s frustrating. It’s tiresome. It’s a gosh darn-it, can I just forfeit already kind of game.

But, I refuse to lose.

I can let my opponent play the next move or I can outplay my opponent. I can find another way. I can step back and take a different approach.

Because I refuse to cave

Me and my competitive-self refuse. Refuse to lose. I will compete. That is my choice. My tiebreaker mindset.

No matter the moves, the cards dealt, the unlucky roll, I choose the game. The game does not choose me.

Which game do you choose?

Want to play?

3 Things I’ve Learned from Gamification

Gamification = Culture change

Gamification has the potential to shift the culture. It won’t happen overnight, but the key is to listen. Listen to your colleagues and build the gamification that supports the culture you want.

There is no ‘I’ in team.

Gamification is never about you, it is about the team. When envisioning a gamification, you think about what would interest your colleagues. How would you grab their interest? What do they need right now?

It is not for everyone.

Many people ask me, “What if no one plays along?” It is a great question! Listen Tiebreakers, gamification is not for everyone! I am not saying that everyone played my gamification. They didn’t; and, at first, I took it personally. Then, I realized, it is not for everyone. And, that is okay. My goal is always to reach at least one person. If I can do that, I call that a success.

Guest Blog – The Secret

Jodi Houseknecht Giger, Instructional Coach and Technology teacher K-6 at Millville Area School District in Intermediate Unit 16

After 23 years of teaching, I have learned the secret… there is ALWAYS something else I can learn! Sorry to spoil it for you. Honestly, I guess when I finished college I thought I was done with that part. Boy was I WRONG! As an Instructional Coach at Millville Area School District, I have realized that learning and reflecting go hand in hand and is a must when teaching anyone. Gamification helped me work with teachers by making learning fun, educational and of course meaningful; all while developing their reflections. A few years ago, I was able to attend a PIIC conference with other coaches from around the state. Rebecca Gibboney was presenting on Gamification, the moment I heard her talk about it I was hooked! That’s where Gamification came in for me

Somehow, I found myself stuck in a teaching rut where it wasn’t as fun as it used to be, especially now teaching adults. Gamification has changed my outlook on how to work with and teach, both adults and students. My first game was during the Olympics, so my theme followed suit. I have to be honest, at first some teachers did kick and scream. But that actually helped, because others saw how ridiculous that was and worked harder at the game. It became a great way to build teams and encourage others, not to mention egging them on a bit in some friendly competition. We also had unexpected teachers step up and shine. They now help me get others motivated and lead within. 

So, I know you’re wondering how do you get started, right? I have a few easy steps for you to follow which will help you with the key areas.

1st: Find out what your district goals are for your teachers to focus on. 

2nd: Pick a Theme; maybe sports, a season or holiday, your choices are endless.

3rd: How will you present this to your teachers? Will it be face to face, team meetings, emails, or a faculty meeting?

4th: How will you collect reflections? Always make sure your asking your teachers to reflect on what they are doing. Make sure you gather this information. It’s a great way to start conversations and help to deepen the reflections.

5th: How will you be grouping teachers or making teams?

6th: How long will your challenge last?

7th: How many will win?

8th: What is the Prize?

We have a Golden Unicorn Trophy that travels to the winner(s). Then when we start a new game, I get it back and give to the new winner(s). I always give other prizes as well. I want my teachers to know how much their work is appreciated. 

If you want to up your game in either teaching adults or students, I highly recommend Gamification. It has breathed new life into me as a professional and I don’t know where I would be without it. A special thank you to Rebecca Gibboney for inspiring me to try Gamification. I know she will inspire you too with her book, The Tiebreaker.

Peaceful Chaos

My classroom is bare.

I stare at empty blank walls. I listen to the awkward silence of the ticking clock.

I breathe in peace.

My classroom is alive.

I stare at vibrant walls. I strain to hear to ticking clock over the eager voices of my students.

I breath in chaos. A good chaos. A peaceful chaos.

The countdown is on; the sleepless night are starting. As I enter my 8th year of teaching, something has changed internally. Instead of dreading the last day of summer, I’m embracing the first day of school with open arms. Why? Am I crazy?

Instead of calling myself ‘loco’, I prefer to think that this year is a new year: I have a plan of attack. I have 5 actions steps to keep me focused on a positive school year.

  1. Control what I can only control. What does that mean? I can only control what is in my classroom–my teaching, my students.
  2. Surround myself with positivity. I have realized that positivity breeds positivity. This year, I have no room for negativity. Instead, it is time for me to share my positivity the world. Positivity is a choice.
  3. Value ‘ME’ time.  It’s okay to put work aside and spend time with the family. My work isn’t going anywhere.. After all, family is one’s strongest support system.
  4. Immerse myself in PD. No, not professional development, personal development. Read a book, listen to a podcast, join a PLN.
  5. Why I do what I do. This year I will have a brief explanation on my wall reminding me why I do what I do. Everyone needs a sunshine box–pack it full of ‘feel good’ memorabilia; because, lets face it, not every day is full of sunshine.

So, I ask you…

Are you gripping onto that last day of summer or are you eager to enter your room of peaceful chaos?

Will you choose positivity? Will you focus on fueling you first before others?

Most importantly, do you need to be reminded of your why?

I challenge you to find your why, choose positive vibes and put you first.

This is the year–the year for you to embrace the chaos.