Monday, 2 March 2015

The Start of Something Truly Inspirational!

At the beginning of the month, I received an invite from a friend, mentor, and colleague Joanne, asking me to go on a blog date with her. Her intention was to celebrate Friendship Month by going on blog dates with her friends separately, and then all together at the end of the month to make time for each other and a common interest of blogging. My immediate response was that I would love to! February quickly passed us by and before we knew it, was coming to an end. This is when we made the decision to do a group date first instead of individual ones...a decision that would later prove to be the start of something truly inspirational!

Sitting around a cozy table at Starbucks in Indigo surrounded by three amazing educators; Jocelyn, Vanessa, and Joanne; each of which I have had the pleasure of connecting with throughout my five years with the school board, I couldn't help but smile. How lucky I was to be in the company of individuals that I admire and look to as sources of inspiration in my own career.

Jocelyn Schmidt has her Bachelor of Education in Primary/Junior divisions, her Intermediate Qualifications and Reading Specialist. She is currently teaching her fourth year of FDK and is excited to be a Learning@Schools Classroom for a second year. Jocelyn is excited to be teaching at a brand new school this year, Robert Munsch Public School, since it is also a unique  K-3 school in our board. She is passionate about the early years, play and learning through inquiry and is an innovative explorer of technology to promote 21st Century learners.

Jocelyn of Our Kindergarten Journey and I began our teaching careers in FDK four years ago, coming together over a collaborative math hub within the school board. I can remember, even then, being in awe every time she spoke. Having reconnected with her over the last year through classroom visits, social media, networks, and inquiry, I couldn't be more delighted to share in this exciting new adventure with her. Her ability to articulate her thinking, her sound knowledge of the program, her dedication to her learners and to her own professional development is utterly remarkable and something I strive to emulate in my own practice.

Vanessa Bianchi is an educator for the York Region District School Board, who is currently serving as a Grade 5 Homeroom Teacher. Through various leadership opportunities, workshops, conferences and collaborative efforts with colleagues, she has gained an interest in building positive and collaborative climates within the school environment. This collaboration allows for the design of intriguing spaces for students and teachers to learn, as well as construct curricular expectations around student-interest and passions, allowing for a dynamic educational experience.

I first connected with The Evolving Educator's Vanessa through social media. I was captivated by the fluidity of her writing and could feel her enthusiasm for education in every post. Soon after our connection, I had the pleasure of meeting her face-to-face and embraced her as if she was a long lost friend. I am fortunate that our paths have crossed at this time in my life, when I am seeking to be challenged in my teaching practice, as I feel that she is someone who can definitely push my thinking forward.

Joanne Marie Babalis is a Teacher-Librarian, Early Years/Inquiry Lead Teacher, PhD student, and Kindergarten Additional Qualification instructor at York University.  She is passionate about designing spaces that inspire inquiry-based learning and creative innovation for twenty-first century learners.  Her blog, "TransformEd: Transforming our Learning Environment into a Space of Possibilities" continues to reach educators throughout Canada and beyond. With each post, she hopes to make visible the power of inquiry, as well as the strong potential of all learners.

I officially met Joanne during an Open House Event she had hosted at her former school. Little did I know that through the sharing of her classroom transformation that evening, I would leave feeling inspired to transform, not only my classroom, but my entire teaching practice. Having had the opportunity to know Joanne at different capacities throughout my career, one thing that has always remained consistent is her humbling nature and her ability to make you believe that anything is possible. I admire her desire to share her own journey and her genuine love of learning, and I look forward to joining her on this pursuit of inspiration!

Trista Dutt (that's me!) has a degree in Early Childhood Education, as well as her Bachelor of Education in Primary/Junior divisions, Intermediate Qualifications and Kindergarten Specialist. She is currently in her fifth year of FDK at Moraine Hills Public School, where she is a K-2 Lead Teacher and Learning@Schools Classroom. She is passionate about the early years and enjoys exploring the world of play- and inquiry-based learning.

Our conversation, passion, and cute stationary that evening even drew in complete strangers who wanted to "be our friends." The energy at the end of a long work week was contagious and uplifting- we were recharged and ready to inspire! THIS was definitely something I wanted to be apart of- if not for the mere opportunity to be surrounded by likeminded individuals, than for the chance to step out of my comfort zone and allow myself to be challenged by educators who have shown me time and again the true meaning of what it is to be a lifelong learner.

A mosaic of creativity, learning, and dreaming.

#4EverInspired is a group of four educators and friends who have come together with a common desire to search for innovative experiences. Follow our stories as we collaborate and share our unique perspectives and personalities. We hope to take you on a colourful journey of art, inquiry, classroom design...and more!  

For our first post, we decided to spill our workbags and share their contents. I had mine filled with some Kate Spade goodies including my 2015 Day Planner, Pencil Case, Wallet, and MacBook Air Case. I also carried along my MacBook Air, Martha Stewart Notebook, Headband from M by Mendocino, and iPhone 6 Charger. I couldn't leave Indigo without making a purchase, and these Tenzi Dice just happened to match the Michael Kors handbag I was carrying all my goodies in!

The story continues...

...visit Jocelyn Schmidt to see what she spills on her post, Always Learning; Fourever Inspired
...visit Vanessa Bianchi to see what she spills on her post, Forever Inspired: A Collaboration
...visit Joanne Babalis to see what she spills on her post, 4Ever Friends

Be with those who help your being!

Reflectively Yours,
#4EverInspired xoxo