New Kid at the FDOE

The first of my monthly visits to the Florida Department of Education (FDOE) was filled with both excitement and trepidation. As soon as I parked my car at the FDOE Headquarters Building, I could feel my heart racing just as it had at the Gala, but this time I wasn’t awaiting an announcement. I was about to begin my work as the 2017 Florida Teacher of the Year.

With Commissioner Stewart’s celebratory words, I was recognized, along with Rhonda Hunt, Principal of the Year, and Anne Beiber, Assistant Principal of the Year, (learn more about these outstanding educators here!) in the Distinguished Educators Ceremony. Our photographs hang in the lobby of the FDOE – which I must say catches me by surprise every time I see them!

distinguished-edu_95088Then, I joined Deputy Chancellor Brian Dassler for an Educator Quality meeting, where I had the opportunity to share my thoughts on the important topic of teacher retention and recruitment! To finish the day, I delivered my Developing Unique and Effective Student-Driven Math Lessons workshop to a room of about 50 FDOE staff members. (See contact form below to schedule an event.)

There is much more to this position than I anticipated, and I am thoroughly enjoying it. I quickly picked up that having a Growth Mindset is more than a catch phrase for the FDOE; it’s embedded in their culture and goals. I would need to be ready to receive constructive feedback on each of my presentations and to be regularly asked for my suggestions. I kept thinking, “There is so much I still want and need to learn; why do they want MY opinion?” But, as I reflected more on the day and the experiences that drew me to teaching in the first place, I realized just how much I wanted to share my “why” for becoming a teacher: building relationships with my students, watching them meet and exceed my high expectations, taking risks, making mistakes, learning and sharing my knowledge with others.

I can’t always be the “teacher.” Sometimes I need to take on the role of a “student.” This year, as I learn from the FDOE team, I will be reminded of how I have encouraged my students to take hold of their learning through embracing challenges, perseverance and reflection.

This year, I have decided that each day I will remind myself that mistakes will help me improve and, with each new project, I will challenge myself with the following questions:

“Is this really my best work?”
“What can I learn from this?”
“What’s another way to present this that would make it even better?”


I would love to hear from you. What are some of the ways that you motivate yourself to reach your full potential?

If you’d like to schedule an event, please complete the form below.

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