Featured Post

From lack of motivation to Schooltopia (a resolution you will want to

January is the month of resolutions. The dawn of a new year when the possibility for change is fresh, and aspirations of doing better is rampant. The idea of a clean slate, or cleaning of the slate. Unfortunately for me, January has always been the time of the year when I feel the least amount of motivation...

Read More

Wait, what just happened?! (Launching a Conference)

Posted by admin | Posted in 5Sigma, Anastasis Academy, collaboration, education reform, inspiration, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, professional development, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources | Posted on 02-03-2015

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,


5 Sigma Edu Con- a truly innovative education conference!

As it turns out, putting on a conference is a whole lot like planning for a wedding. Months of preparation, sleepless nights, and dreams (nightmares?) that make you begin to believe that the world revolves around this one event. And then suddenly it is here, the big day. The culmination of all of the hard work.

A strange peace comes over you when you wake the morning of the conference. You’ve done all that you can do. If it hasn’t already been planned for, it will just be what it is.

Blink and it is over.

Wait, what just happened?!

You know it was an AMAZING two days and that the connections were incredible, but going back to sum it up in a few words…that is harder.

The crisis of the imminent creeps in (oh yeah, I still have a school to run!) and before you know it a week has passed and you still haven’t put thoughts down on paper.

I’ve struggled to neatly sum up the 5Sigma Conference. What I can say is, WOW. The 5Sigma Education Conference was one of the best professional experiences I’ve had. It feels a little arrogant to say since I’m the one who planned it, but really, what happened last weekend impacted me enormously. It wasn’t what I did. It was the connections with others who are innovative and amazing in their education space. It was the stories told, the laughter shared, it was the discovery that others are doing the hard thing in education and we share the same struggles and joys. In a way, the 5Sigma conference was like being in a foreign country and finding someone from your hometown. Only everyone at the conference was that person.

Anastasis is a very different kind of school. Even the things we do that share common education language (inquiry), look very different here. It can feel a bit isolating, even surrounded by other educators, because we do things that others don’t. 5Sigma was a great reminder that we aren’t alone. That others know the struggles. They also know the deep joy, freedom, and excitement. It was incredible to be able to share that with so many!

I’m still sorting out my thoughts…I suspect they will become several posts. In the mean time, I want to share some words from others who are more eloquent in their reflection of the weekend than I currently am.

This gem is from @yourkidsteacher (who many of you supported through the 5Sigma Pay-it Forward program to get to Colorado for the conference): Edu Conferences, Woodstock & Physicists

Check out this Storify of Tweets from the weekend to get a taste of the fabulous discussions that happened (Thanks to @rsvoigt for making that happen!): 5Sgima Edu Conference Storify

To all who attended the first annual 5Sigma Education Conference: a sincere thank you! Your presence, support, and the conversation your brought was THE highlight.

To our awesome presenters: You all are rock stars. I don’t say that lightly. You are incredible people doing important work every. single. day. Thank you for sharing that.

To our sponsors: You made so much of what we did possible to do. Thank you for supporting us with swag, donated snacks that made us feel at home, and prizes that put some substantial smiles on faces!

To Team Anastasis staff, students, and parents: You are hands down the BEST and my favorite!


Metanoia- the journey of changing one’s mind, heart, self, or way of life (basically what #edu is all about!)

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Anastasis Academy, Apply, Classroom Management, Create, education reform, Evaluate, For Teachers, inspiration, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, professional development, Reform Symposium Conference, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Technology | Posted on 21-01-2015

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


5-Sigma Education Conference February 20-22, Colorado

The problem with education reform is that we keep attempting to change surface level systems and hoping for deep systemic change as a result. What we actually end up with is new standards, new curricula (usually replacing one one-size-fits-all with another one-size-fits-all), new technology initiatives, more professional development, added “rigorous” expectations, new standardized tests, new assessment systems, and new buzz words. If you’ve been involved in education for any amount of time, you begin to see a pattern emerge. As a society, we seem to be always searching for the next best thing that is going to “fix” education; it quickly begins to feel like a broken record. I’ve often heard education veterans lament about how this is, “just one more new program.” It will get hyped, change the way everything is done, but the end result will be the same: countless professional development dollars will have been spent, there will be additional pressure and stress to get everything changed over to the “new” way of doing things, and lives and schools will be turned upside down and inside out. In the end the “new” push will end up with all the others: shoveled to the side when the next latest and greatest idea comes on the horizon. This has been the case for as long as I’ve been in education (30-year+ veterans tell me that it is nothing new). When this is the education landscape, you really can’t help but to feel jaded and wonder what the point of all of it is.

The trouble is, in all of these initiatives we never really change our minds about what education is and what it needs. We continue thinking about and approaching education in exactly the same ways, put a new cover on it, and act as if it will finally be THE thing that changes everything. If we keep looking at education with the same assumptions, no matter what comes our way, the end result will be the same. Swirl. The circling around solutions that aren’t really solutions. We have to change our minds. We have to identify the assumptions that we make about education and divorce ourselves from them enough to gain a new perspective.

Assumptions that we make in education (this is just a sampling, but you’ll get the idea):

  • Everyone needs to exit the school system with the same skill set and knowledge.
  • Academic success can be measured and assigned a number.
  • Tests show progress in learning.
  • Kids should move through learning at the same pace and, if they aren’t, there is something wrong with them.
  • That classrooms are places with desks, whiteboards, and paper/pencils.
  • That education should be rigorous.
  • That teachers deliver learning.
  • That homework is a necessary part of school.

When the above assumptions are the mind-set that we operate from, no new initiatives layered on top of them are going to make the systemic change we hope for.

We have to change our minds first. We have to begin designing from within.

As people tour through Anastasis, I often get the feeling that they are overwhelmed. What we do looks very different from the school that they operate within. There is this pause generally followed by, “we could never do this! ” There is red tape, naysayers, not enough money, and hurdles of every sort. They realize that what we do would take a fundamental shift in the way things are done at their school and that feels BIG. Unattainable.

When we change our minds, ditch the assumptions, it is truly a starting over.

As educators and decision makers, we often try to make shifts in educations by bring in a new program, adding the newest technology, changing one curriculum for another. But the truth is, to change education, we have to work at it a bit more abstractly…we have to change our minds. The real change has to happen within each of us as educators. We have to identify our assumptions, step back and take a look at education and learning from a new perspective, a new lens. This is a shift in how we think about education and the lens we consider it under.

How do we change our minds? NOT by adding “new” programs (that as it turns out have the same view of education/learning and have just altered the packaging). The more I’ve reflected on the education reform puzzle, the more I’ve come to believe that this has to start with administrators and teachers. We have to begin by identifying assumptions and then taking a fresh look at education apart from those assumptions.

An illustration of the change of mindset:

I started a school that is technology rich. We have a 1:1 iPad environment from k-8. We also have Chromebooks, projectors, robots, etc.

Do you know that I have never provided my staff with professional development to learn how to use this technology?


I didn’t even ask them how proficient they were at using technology when I hired them.

When I gather my staff for professional development, we talk about the kind of learners we want our students to be. We talk about the learning habits we want them to develop, the character qualities that we hope they leave Anastasis with. We talk about philosophy and pedagogy, and how to learn. We design for learning. All of the tools that we have available (technology included) get utilized, not because I’ve spelled it out for my staff, but because we’ve dreamed together. We’ve changed our minds and focused first on the learner and the journey that they will take. We ditch the assumptions and try new angles. The fun happens when we start to discover (together) how technology can enhance that journey. You’ve never heard so much excitement over new apps discovered, or the exclamations of “did you know it could do this?!” Suddenly my staff remembers what it is like to be a learner. They again enjoy engaging that journey and they recognize that I (the administrator) am not the holder of knowledge. They don’t have to wait on me to learn or create something new. There is freedom in that changed mind-set! When teachers realize that they don’t have to wait, they begin to help their students realize that they are on their own learning journey. They no longer feel the need to be the holder of all knowledge, but apprentice students in the art of engaging the learning journey.

What does this change of mind mean for professional development? It means that my job is to create opportunities for my staff to engage in learning together. Sometimes this means that we take a cooking class or go paddle boarding together. Other times it means engaging in meaningful conversations over drinks at the end of the day or breakfast at Snooze. When you help people step away from their assumptions by actually modelling what that looks like, a transformation happens. It is empowering. It can be scary. The end result isn’t always obvious. If you can push past the fear of the unknown, and realize that we are all learners on our own “metanoia,” the results are staggering! This is how we get the BIG sweeping changes in education. This is where culture and community are built and students learn to properly manage freedom in learning.

We would love to share with you how we design learning at Anastasis, but more than that, we want to help you change your mind. February 20-22nd you can join us for a conference unlike any you’ve ever attended. Get fired-up, iterate with world-changing thinkers, and make plans that you can launch with a tour of Anastasis Academy, a series of keynotes and break out sessions from leading visionaries, panel discussions, and adult learning excursions. At the 5-Sigma Education Conference, we will help you change your mind and offer pragmatic, applicable insights that will help you transform your own space in education. Teacher, administrator, superintendent, district leaders-this conference is for all of you!

Requesting professional development dollars #PD

Posted by admin | Posted in Anastasis Academy, education reform, For Teachers, Grade Level, inspiration, professional development, Teacher Resources | Posted on 14-01-2015

Tags: , , , , , ,


Education is an interesting beast. We are in the business of learning. We enjoy learning and connecting with other educators to improve our own craft. And yet, often we are expected to pay for our own continuing education. You would think that this would be embedded in our job description and encouraged and supported by our superiors!

We hope you can join us for the 5-Sigma Education Conference, but we know for many of you this means finding wiggle room in the already tight family budget. We want to help you approach your administration/school board/etc. to request professional development dollars to attend 5-Sigma.

We’ve created a letter that you can adjust to fit your personal request. No reinventing the wheel (we know that your time is precious!), no searching for just the right approach (we know that sometimes that equates to it never happening. This Google Document Letter is a view-only. To edit your own copy, you can either copy/paste into your program of choice OR within Google Documents, click on “File” and choose “Make a Copy.” This copy will allow you to personalize the letter to best fit your needs. Within the letter anything within the brackets should be edited. You will also find a link to session descriptions that you can copy/paste from. Find the letter here.

We are happy to contact your administration, and even offer a two-for-one for admins that come along. Just send a request to info@anastasisacademy.us and include the administrator’s email address.

We cannot wait to meet you, to learn with you, and to change education with you!

Professional Development reinvented! #edchat #coed #C4C15

Posted by admin | Posted in Anastasis Academy, education reform, For Teachers, inspiration, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, professional development, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources | Posted on 08-01-2015

Tags: , , , ,


Over the years, I’ve been privileged to meet and know all kinds of wonderful people. Rod Berger (Core of Education) is one such person. Rod is a great encourager, connector, and amplifier in education. If you aren’t familiar with Rod and his work, you should be! Thank you for your time today Rod, I appreciate the help amplifying this new passion project!


Anastasis Academy prides itself on embarking on a continual process of discovery. We hope that you will join us for this incredible conference!

From lack of motivation to Schooltopia (a resolution you will want to keep!)

Posted by admin | Posted in Anastasis Academy, education reform, For Teachers, Grade Level, inspiration, professional development | Posted on 07-01-2015

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,


January is the month of resolutions. The dawn of a new year when the possibility for change is fresh, and aspirations of doing better is rampant. The idea of a clean slate, or cleaning of the slate.

Unfortunately for me, January has always been the time of the year when I feel the least amount of motivation (eclipsed only by February). I’m not sure why this is, but I sort of dread this time of year. I can’t pinpoint exactly why this is. It could be that my formally decorated house suddenly feels bare and sad. It could be that it is STILL getting dark before I get home from work and I’m STILL waking up in the dark. Maybe it is the abundance of gray, cold days. OR the indoor recess and cabin fever that flow out of those days. Perhaps it is the tax forms that start showing up in my mailbox reminding me of the imminent filing of taxes. Regardless of the reason, the result is the same. I feel less like connecting with friends, less like engaging in conversations on Twitter that I normally love. In general, I feel much less like my glass-half-full self.

But this year…this year is different! I have something to anticipate in February. I hope for those of you who dread these months like I do, this could be just the thing to pull you out of the January/February funk. 5-Sigma Edu Conference.

4 years ago I started a school. I decided that I was going to put all of the best into one place. All those #edchats were going to matter, they were going to make a difference for kids. I reworked curriculum, assessment, structure of the day, the classroom space, the homework that would happen, the way parents and students would think of school. Basically I wanted schooltopia. Enter some absolutely incredible board members, teachers, and families and the schooltopia is about as close to utopia as you can imagine. That isn’t to say it hasn’t been without its bumps and major lessons along the way (some I would have liked to have avoided), but when you walk into Anastasis Academy, you can instantly feel that something is different in the best way possible. I realize that I am biased, but those who visit our school exclaim over it as well. In fact, those that visit Anastasis generally come back again and again. They invite friends to come see. Our students feel the difference. Our parents talk about the life they see in their kids.

This February, we are hosting our first ever conference. We want to share with a bigger audience what we are up to at Anastasis. What we do that it is different (sometimes it is simply in the language we use with students). We want you to see it first hand. We want to learn together and make Anastasis a true living laboratory. The 5-Sigma Edu Conference is more than a tour of Anastasis. We’ve brought together a truly passionate group of innovators and change makers to host conversations and planning sessions. Christian Long is our opening keynote and Rafranz Davis is our closing keynote. If you’ve ever experienced either of these wonderful people, you know that they are like instant shots of inspiration. Beyond the inspiration, these are people who walk along side educators to help them use that inspiration to inform change.

We’ve got panel discussions with students, teachers, and parents. We’ve got artists who think like educators. We’ve got master mentors. We’ve got incredible educators coming to share their insights and encouragement. We’re bringing in a team of people who have inspired what happens at Anastasis and want to introduce you to the same inspiration.

I. Cannot. Wait.

Finally, something to keep me from the apathy I so often fall into this time of year!

I want to invite you to join us. I can promise this will not be like any other educational conference that you’ve been to!

Register today at http://5sigmaeducon.com


Want to hear more? Tune in to Core of Education’s live YouTube event tomorrow!

**I appreciate that for most educators, conference fees and travel come out of personal budgets. I also appreciate (as an educator) that those budgets are extremely tight…always. If you are looking for professional development that will take you beyond the big-budget conferences that share lots of cool tools but don’t transform your classroom, this is the place. We want to spoil you as you’ve never been spoiled at a conference! If you are lucky enough to work in a school or a district that helps pay for outside professional development, I’ll be posting a request letter template here tomorrow. I’ll do my best to save you time in your request!

Professional development to be excited about

Posted by admin | Posted in Anastasis Academy, education reform, inspiration, professional development | Posted on 12-11-2014

Tags: , , , , , , ,


If you’ve ever read a post on iLearn Technology and thought, “man! That is way cool, I wonder how they do that at Anastasis?” Now is your opportunity to find out! We are hosting our first education conference in February. 5 Sigma Edu Conference

I. Can. Not. Wait!!

We have early bird pricing happening through November, don’t miss out on that opportunity to save yourself (or if your lucky, your school) a little money! This is going to be a truly awesome event, the sessions coming together are fabulous and THE Christian Long is going to be here (can you hear the squeals of excitement that are happening?).

If you still aren’t sure if you should make the time to come, use this handy little decision map:

should I go to 5 Sigma:?


Welp, that settles it! Can’t wait to meet you all face to face and geek out over education together!

Everything I Know About Education, I Learned from Big Hero 6

Posted by admin | Posted in Anastasis Academy, education reform, Grade Level, inspiration, professional development, Teacher Resources, video | Posted on 11-11-2014

Tags: , , , , , , , ,


Yesterday, Anastasis teachers took some of our students (we auctioned ourselves off to the highest bidder) to see Big Hero 6.

It. Was. Brilliant.

We give it two thumbs up and five stars.

I loved the inventiveness, the curiosity, and sheer ingenuity of the characters. I loved the development of each of the different personalities. I loved that the main character’s catch phrase becomes “just look at it from a new angle.”

During the movie, one of our students looked at me and excitedly whispered, “Mrs. Tenkely, this movie is SO perfect for us! That is exactly what we do at Anastasis! Aren’t you glad we get to see THIS movie?!”

She could not be more right, this is what we do at Anastasis. We look at problems from lots of different angles and recognize that learning is ongoing and there is often more than one way to solve a problem. I’m so excited that our students can verbalize this!

Disney is a fantastic story teller, Big Hero 6 is no exception. As I reflected on the movie, I kept making connections between the movie and the way that we teach. Like everything else I encounter, I watched with an educator world view. As such, I thought I would follow in the footsteps of my friend @thenerdyteacher and write an “Everything I know about education, I learned from a movie” post.

**Fair warning and spoiler alert, if you haven’t seen this movie yet, you might want to wait on this post.** :)

Without further ado, here is Everything I Know About Education, I Learned from Big Hero 6:

  • The main character, Hero, thinks that he knows his own path in life (illegal robotics fighting) until his brother, Tadashi, shows him a new way. Tadashi doesn’t try to convince Hero with words, instead he quietly leads and exposes him to a new way of seeing his options.
    • Lesson: Some kids need to be shown/exposed to new ideas and perspectives. A lot of kids aren’t motivated by tests and grades, so they choose apathy (in whatever form that takes). As an educator, it is up to me to help kids see their options. It is my job to help them realize that they are more than a test or grade score. We can’t take for granted that kids will see that on their own.
  • Tadashi takes Hero to the “Nerd School” lab where he works and introduces Hero to his friends. It is Hero’s curiosity and desire to tinker with new ideas that leads him to the decision to use his talents.
    • Lesson: We need to capitalize on the natural curiosity that kids have. We need to give them lots of opportunities to tinker with new ideas. We need to support them and help them to see what their talents are.
  • Big Hero 6 has two lead characters that are strong, smart females. They are brilliant! One is a little edgy and the other is a totally girly fashonista. Both are brilliant inventors.
    • Lesson: Duh, girls are scientists and inventors, too! Never underestimate what any of your students can do. Every single one of them is unique and has gifts that should be cultivated!
  • Nerd School is cool. Like, really cool.
    • Lesson: Own your geek and help your students own their geek. Help your kids see the beauty in whatever they are passionate about. Help them own it. Teach them not to apologize or feel bad for the gifts they have (regardless of what others may say). Nerd school is way cool.
  • When the friends of Tadashi come together to support Hero, they all become heroes.
    • Lesson: Together our ideas are better. Help kids understand that we can appreciate ideas that are different from ours and that each new insight adds to a bigger whole.
  • Hero needs friends after Tadashi dies.
    • Lesson: We need each other for moral support. We don’t always know what is happening in our student’s lives. Those that push us away the most, may also be the very kids who need us the most. Help students connect, help them see each other’s genius. At Anastasis Academy, one of our teachers does an activity (throughout the year) called “speed friending.” Each student is connected with another student where they have an intentional 2 minute conversation where they have to go deeper than surface level. I have never seen whole classes of students gel and support each other the way that @lancefinkbeiner‘s kids do. And these are Jr. High students. There is something to connection.
  • Human connection trumps technology (I’ll avoid the spoiler here, but you will know it when you see it).
    • Lesson: Technology is cool and can be the catalyst for amazing learning, but it is not the main thing. The main thing is human connection. As teachers, we deal in humanity. Make sure that is always the focus in your classroom.
  • “There is someone in there, I have to go in.” Twice in the movie a character makes a decision to face danger on behalf of another.
    • Lesson: No child left behind. Really! We have to have this attitude in our classrooms (failed political strategies aside). It is up to us not to leave kids behind. Our job is to do the dangerous thing and go in after them. They all matter.
  • Baymax is the greatest robot ever. The connection he makes with other characters (even with the limitations of his programming) is really fabulous.
    • Lesson: Technology can be used as a connector. I’ve seen this over and over again. See: Blogger Alliance, and even today I got an email from the production company that created the How We Got To Now series. They read my blog post and sent it on to Steven Johnson (the author and host of How We Got to Now). Excitement and joy ensued. Technology connects your students to the wider world and can enhance human connection.
  • In the movie, every character has an attitude of possible. Of, “we can figure it out.”
    • Lesson: We can foster grit. We can help students develop an attitude of possible. They can figure it out. They can find solutions, they are genius.

Big Hero 6 might be top 10 Disney movies. It really is pretty brilliant. It encourages creativity, science, math, invention, and innovation. All things that I want to foster at Anastasis.


If you are an administrator, Big Hero 6 might be the perfect movie to take your staff to as a professional development outing. Just saying.

We are hosing an education conference in February! Join us for a weekend of inspiration, conversation, and implementation. Early Bird Registration through the end of November!

Learn how to start your own school #principalcast #edchat

Posted by admin | Posted in Anastasis Academy, collaboration, Grade Level, inspiration, professional development, Reform Symposium Conference, Teacher Resources, video | Posted on 24-07-2014

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,


I had the great privilege of joining the fun over at #Principalcast on Sunday. Spike, Theresa and I had a great time talking and geeking about education and I shared our journey of starting a school. If you missed Principal Cast live, you can pretend you were there with us and watch/listen to the conversation below.

Don’t miss #Principalcast Sunday’s at 6pm MST, 8pm EST Follow @principalcast for the latest show information!

Thank you Spike, Theresa, and Jeff!

Also, in case you missed the announcement, Anastasis is hosting it’s first annual Education Conference in February!! Save the date for February 20-22 and plan to be in Colorado with us. You will not want to miss this conference. It is going to be EPIC! More details soon!

Stoodle: Instant Free Virtual Classroom

Posted by admin | Posted in Classroom Management, Create, Knowledge (remember), Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, professional development, Secondary Elementary, Subject, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), Video Tutorials, web tools, Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 21-02-2014

Tags: , , , , , , ,


Stoodle Free Instant Virtual Classroom

What it is:
Stoodle is a free, instant online classroom. Stoodle offers real-time collaboration on a virtual whiteboard with as many pages as are needed. With Stoodle you have the ability to use both voice conferencing and text chat for collaboration. All virtual classrooms can be stored for later access. Within the whiteboard, you can upload images and use whiteboard drawing tools. These virtual classrooms give you instant collaboration with students.

How to use Stoodle in your classroom: Stoodle is a great way to create an instant virtual classroom for you and your students to interact. Stoodle could be used for an impromptu tutoring session or class reviews. This gives you “office” hours that students can count on some additional support without you actually having to be in the office.

In addition to using Stoodle as a virtual classroom, it is a great place to offer students individual feedback on work that they’ve done. Walk students through their project and they can access the notes made and walk through later (as can parents).

Stoodle would be an AWESOME way to be everywhere at once in your classroom. I often set up centers and learning experiences that students could go through independently while I worked with a small group of two or three students during reading, writing, or math. Stoodle would make a great center rotation on classroom computers in any subject.

Students can use Stoodle to connect with other classes, work on homework or outside of school assignments with peers, and record their thought process for working through problems.

Stoodle is super simple to use, just create a new class session and share the link with participants. That is it! It couldn’t be easier to use. Stoodle works in any web browser AND on iPads!

If your students have a special skill or knowledge, this is a great way for them to share it with others!

If you lead professional development or sessions at conferences, Stoodle could be really useful for real-time collaboration that participants can access again at a later time.

Tips: Class sessions can be shared via email, link, Twitter, or Facebook.

Acting on hindsight #edchat

Posted by admin | Posted in Anastasis Academy, Classroom Management, professional development | Posted on 13-01-2014

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


I hate that we have to do trainings like this.  I really do. It breaks my heart that within 15 minutes of Anastasis 3 major school shootings have taken place.  I hate that I know what it is like to wait on the outside. That I know intimately how it breaks families when their child is the one.  That I also know what it is like to worry about kids I’ve known since they were 5. It doesn’t get easier.

I also hate that we have to do fire drills. The reality of why we have to do those drills makes me sad. That a fire drill exists because there were some who died in a fire is equally sad. Yet we do them regularly.  I can’t remember a time when I actually heard of a child dying in a school fire, but I’m sure it has happened.  So we run drills. 6 times every year.  We practice getting out of the building safe so that, heaven forbid, if a fire ever happened, evacuating would feel second nature.  We would all know what to do.

No matter how many times we train, when tragedy strikes it feels different. Time slows down and, at the same time, goes impossibly fast. Decisions matter. This is when we fall back on all of the training and hope that our muscles remember what their job is. We work hard to be calm for kids.  We know implicitly that we will do anything to keep our kids safe.

I was in a neighboring high school during the Columbine school shooting. This was the first time that I remember ever being in “Lock down.”  My algebra 2 teacher quickly locked the classroom door.  We turned out the lights.  We stayed out of site from the door and were asked to be totally silent.  Later we would turn on the TV (cable in the classroom was new), and watch as friends poured out of the high school down the street.  We would keep lists of those we saw so that we could tell each other who we knew was accounted for.  Afterward I would hear stories from those inside about how it went. Some hid in closets. Some under tables. All waited. In some cases that waiting led to friends dying under the neighboring table. Hindsight is always 20/20.  Now we know how quickly it was all over inside the school. Now we look at the number of law enforcement on the outside of the school with all of their armor and weapons and wonder why they sat and waited SO long on the outside. Now we wonder why those who could evacuate stayed where they were and waited…even knowing that there was a gunman in the building. Hindsight is hard. There is so much to do differently.

But we don’t really.  15 years later and little has changed about how we respond to danger. A shooter in the building and we tell teachers and students to stay put and wait.

Now I have my own school.  Anastasis Academy.  It is incumbent on me to use that hindsight to prepare differently.  I know how this goes. I still hate that it is necessary. It still gives me that sick feeling in the pit of my stomach that somehow by preparing, we would be inviting trouble. I guess this is the same reason people don’t like writing wills.  That superstition that if they don’t do it- nothing can happen because they won’t be ready.  The real world doesn’t wait for us to be ready.

Social Media has done a lot of great things for me professionally.  It pushed me to start a school.  Most recently, a connection I first made online, led to a friendship.  @laurascheer isn’t an educator.  We started talking on Twitter because she has kids of her own. She is interested in education as a parent. Then we realized we live within 5 minutes of each other and met.  Laura introduced me to a client of hers, @taconeconsulting.  I had no idea a company like Tac One existed.

Being in charge of a school is hard. It is hard to balance what you know about kids, with what you know about the world, and what you know about liability.  But I’ve seen school shootings up close. I know how they go.  I had a hard time doing lock down the way that every other school does lock down. I guess I was waiting for permission to trust my instincts.  After the Arapahoe shooting, Laura messaged me and asked if we would be interested in having Tac One Consulting come out and train us.
I immediately accepted (despite the irrational “jinx” alarm in my mind).  On Saturday all Anastasis staff went through Tac One’s Beyond Lockdown Training. I’m so glad that we did!  Joe helped us see that this is no different from preparing for a fire. The hope is always that all the training will go without a test. But, in the instance that you need it, you have it.

The team teaches what I’ve always suspected should be the case: if your students are able to get out of the building (where all the law enforcement is…or will soon be…hanging out) do it. Evacuation is the best case scenario, NOT sitting and waiting the way many of us have been told to do for 15 years. Tac One even taught us how to evacuate so that we do so in a safe, smart way.

If for some reason we can’t get out of the building, we were taught how to secure our classrooms.  Joe walked us through each room and helped us think through what could be used to do this. Visualizing what is available puts your mind at ease. You have a plan, you aren’t left sitting in the dark. We also learned about various guns. What they look like, how they work, what the bullets and magazines look like. If you come upon a hallway with discarded magazines, you now have a better idea of what you are dealing with. Knowledge is power. We were taught how to disarm a shooter in a “safe” manner (not sure this is ever safe).  We took turns practicing this on Tac One’s bad guy, John.  We learned how to more safely navigate halls, how to fight back if it all goes poorly, etc.

I’ll say it again, I pray that I will NEVER need any of this knowledge. But I also hope I will never need fire drill knowledge. I also hope I will never have to put our tornado drill to the test.  I will continue to run our staff through ALL of these drills and trainings because I haven’t figured out how to predict the future or how to prevent bad things from happening.

I am beyond thankful for Tac One’s training not only from a tactical standpoint, but also for the reminder of the truly incredible people I’ve surrounded myself with. This was a great reminder of the trust that I have in my staff. If I ever need someone to have my back, I’m glad that they are around!

capitalizing on hindsight

School administrators- I encourage you to take a good look at your lock down procedures. Are you doing the same things that have been done for the past 15 years? Even with all we know about how this goes?

Teachers- You are the first line of defense. Protecting kids falls on your shoulders. If your school has a tired lock down policy, encourage them to look at a training like Tac One offers.

Parents- Know what your child’s school does to keep your kids safe. If there is room to grow, push. This is important. Pray that it never happens, but don’t make assumptions that it won’t ever happen to your child’s school.

It is up to us to protect that which is most precious. I want to know that I’ve taken every possible measure to do that.  Before Laura pointed me to Joe at Tac One, I didn’t know such a training was available to schools. It is.  Check it out.

Thank you Joe at @taconeconsulting and @laurascheer very much appreciated!