During these tough times as an educator–as a person–I often find myself sitting, sipping coffee, and reflecting. Frozen in the moments of silence and disbelief. Simply frozen in the stillness.

Just a month ago I was answering emails by the hour while returning missed calls. Just a month ago, I was preparing presentations, attending trainings, scheduling upcoming events. Just a month ago, I was planning our summer getaway, frantically meal prepping, and fitting in quick 20 minute workouts.

One month ago.

Just a week ago, I finished my second book that I’m reading for pleasure. Just a week ago, my husband and I spent our first night with his family on a virtual game night (we’ve had three now) and we were also able to zoom family from afar. Just a week ago, I picked up skills I never knew I had–arm-knitting (Grandma would be proud) lego building, etc.

One week ago.

Just yesterday I binge watched 24, I slept until 9:00am, I went for an extra run, I cuddled by dogs a little longer. I poured an extra cup of coffee. I ate chocolate chips out of the bag. I appreciated the simple things of my husband, instead of making everything so complicated.


I gave myself permission.

It’s sad to admit it; and, quite frankly, it’s a tad embarrassing to confess to you–the public–that I have to give myself permission to do those simple tasks. Yet, is that not the truth? We busy ourselves in the minute. We make the simple, complex.

We create a life where we feel the need to grant permission to enjoy the little intricacies of life.

And…that is my fear. People always say don’t lose sight of these moments you have right now–when life slows down, when you have no choice but to keep life simple. People ask, “What will life be like when we get back to normalcy?” I fear I go back to a life where I need to grant myself permission, where you might feel the urge to grant yourself permission.

Yet, no matter my fear…

I won’t. I can’t. You can’t.

My challenge for you, for me, is to move forward and live a life full of extra cups of coffee, lost in a good book, and unknown adventures that lead you to new discoveries.

Go, live a life where you are (and I am) granted full permission, without the guilt and the ‘what-ifs’.

Let Your Teacher-Self Bloom!

It is time to let our teacher-self BLOOM with our teacher gamification challenge! Collect as many petals as you can to help your flowers bloom.

How can you grow some petals? Complete a challenge below and share your evidence on Twitter using #tiebreakerEDU @gibboneyrebecca. You can post up to 8 petals a day; however, you can only post one of each petal each day. For example, you cannot post connecting with students two times in one day. What does evidence look like? Snap a picture (blur out student faces if you do not have permission) or tweet a reflection! We will practice integrity – I trust you are being honest with me!

  • Connect with your students virtually
  • Connect with your colleagues virtually
  • Get out and exercise
  • Connect on Twitter with your PLN
  • Try a new skill and share it
  • Try a new tool during remote learning instruction
  • Share something for the #tiebreakerEDU community on Twitter
  • Share what you are thankful for during these times

You're Doing Great! Really!

10 free resources. 50 free resources. 100 free resources.

The list keeps g r o w i n g.

The more it keeps growing, the less I can breath. Is it a panic attack? Surely, not. I mean I’m working from home in my pajamas, how panicked could I be?

Remote learning. Social distancing. Zoom. Google hangouts.

Sweaty palms. Yes, I believe I’m having a minor panic attack.


B r e a t h e.

Educators around the world are working 24:7 (plus more) to figure out how to best reach students. Academically? Yes. Moreover, emotionally. Educators, you are doing great…really!

Education community, all of these resources are fantastic! I love seeing our education community come together. It’s just all so … NEW and that ‘newness’ can be overwhelming sometimes. It is like when I got my iPad for teaching for the first time. I downloaded every cool app I could find. For what? Those apps just took up my storage, and I maybe used 5 apps for instruction.

So, if you find yourself panicking like myself, pull yourself back and breathe and use these helpful tips that I have used to process these resources.

  1. Think about your style of teaching style. Just because you are practicing remote learning, it doesn’t mean you need to lose how you teach. Does the resource support your teaching style? If so, dig a little deeper!
  2. Does this resource enhance your content? A big fear right now is that teachers might lose content because instruction is not face-to-face. This is not the case! We must instruct intentionally. Please do not just give your students a website because it seems ‘cool’. If you are going to provide students with a resource, there needs to be a purpose that is tied to your content.
  3. How new is the technology for your students (and the parents)? If the technology tool is too new, this is not the time to introduce it. Keep with the familiar for your students. Remember, this is just as new for most students.

When we first started in the digital age, we practiced SAMR to enhance and transform student learning. Now, I cannot help but refer back to TPACK to help shape instruction remotely. I have also found these questions helpful to balance the endless resource list and slow down the panic.

Will we be overwhelmed? Sure. Yet, it is important to remember that, as educators, we can only control what we can control. Not to mention, you are doing great. Really, you are! Just take one thing at a time…We’re in this together!


Friday hit me with panic.

10 days without my normal routine. 10 days without full socialization.

My type-A personality started to scream. The little “Miss social butterfly” in me started fluttering anxiously. What am I going to do? And…I know I am not the only one that had this state of internal panic. As creatures of nature, we have learned to busy ourselves with color-coded schedules. We have indulged ourselves with the immediacy of social media.

We have lost touch of the beauty of the slowness, the uncertainties, the simple.

The funny thing is that while my inner self felt lost and frantic, I started to feel a calm come over me. The way I see it, I have a choice. I could look at these 10 days in fear of boredom or I could look at these 10 days as a chance to enjoy the simple; and, I have chosen the latter.

I will embrace the 10 days of the simple by challenging myself to try new skills, find the beauty in the calmness, and enjoying the little moments with my barking furbabies (below, volume up) and my sports-fanatic husband (who might lose his mind without sports).

So, I challenge you. Find the simple–whatever that may be for you–, embrace the beauty, and pick up some new skills you never knew you had!

A glimpse into my 10 days of simple:

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**This post was inspired by an Italian woman who was challenged to see the beauty in all of this!

Lightning Bugs, Shine On…

Screen Shot 2019-07-20 at 11.29.44 AM.pngWhen I was younger, one of my favorite activities was catching lightning bugs. No matter how hot and no matter how late, my brother and I would always catch them in a jar and keep them in our bedrooms as our ‘night light’ until morning. Hoping and praying that the lightning bug would make it to through the light, it never did.

Fast forward twenty years and I can’t help but enjoy watching the night sky light up by these flickering childhood memories. Are they the prettiest pets, no. Are they the most reliable, no. Yet, they always bring joy and a smile when their spark, their light.

Their light shines until someone (innocently guilty) captures them, quickly extinguishing the little light they have.

As educators you hold light within, a spark deep inside, that brings joy and smiles to many. Like lightning bugs, that light goes through seasons, at timesScreen Shot 2019-07-20 at 11.29.57 AM.png brighter than others. Yet, it is always there. That light is there to make a colleague smile behind tired eyes. It’s there to light a path on a lost child’s journey. It’s there to flicker joy in a classful of students who feel captured by textbooks and state exams.

You have a unique flicker in your eyes, in your smile, in your heart that is only yours. While some days may be brighter than others, I pray that you never lose that flicker. It can be hard. You want to be that ‘night light’, but it is also important to spread your wings and fly. Fly beside those that make you shine brighter; never flying close to those that fly you into darkness.

Like everything else in life, you have a choice to get wrapped up, captured, in the darkness. Avoid the jar of fate. Shine in your own way; no one says you need to conform to the norm. You only have so long to shine.

So, my little lightning bugs, shine to new heights and let your light flicker in the darkness.

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