All the Excitement of a Wonderful Christmas Gift

Can we all agree that a teacher starting a new job in education has a tremendous amount to learn in their first years on the job? In 2016, the number of full-time-equivalent (FTE) teachers included 3.2 million public school teachers and 0.4 million private school teachers according to the U.S. Department of Education. Across America, an estimated 9.3 percent of a district’s teaching staff is composed of beginning teachers. Roughly, that would be about 364,800 new teachers each year! “This number varies substantially across districts, however. Large differences are also evident at the state level. State averages for first- or second-year teachers in our sample varied from a low of 5.5 percent in Michigan to a high of 22.4 percent in Florida, with Washington, DC employing 41.9 percent beginning teachers.” (Gagnon and Mattingly, 2012). During my twenty-six years as a principal, I worked with many first and second year teachers and often wished our mentor and professional learning opportunities were individualized to match their specific needs. Is there some way to use technology, the Internet, Twitter to help even a small percentage of these 364,800 new teachers? I wonder …..

learning growth

Fast forward my life to being newly retired and wondering, “What should I do that would continue to contribute to the work I love?” Meggin McIntosh @MegginMcIntosh recently wrote an article about how important it is for people, “To feel like they are making a difference and that what they do matters.” I didn’t want to feel underwhelmed, which is the result of spending time and energy on tasks, projects or events for which I didn’t see any purpose. I did have a fear that I would dash aimlessly from one project to another, month after month, or fall into depression having lost the part of myself that had been my main purpose for forty years. Meggin speaks of “taking grace and space and pace to uncover what a person really values.” I took that time and for months reflected on what core values in education were the most important to me. Over time I realized it was helping educators, especially those new to the profession, with learning experiences they identified were motivating for them to know more about, when they could work collaboratively with their peers, centered around books they had read. Of course, educators at any year in their education journey, who are excited to learn more about a topic, are also important. I was as excited as a young child opening a large Christmas gift. A new beginning for me that would provide purpose and excitement for years to come.


Key elements started to emerge – professional learning, books, Twitter, educators new and experienced, collaborative, sustained over time, motivated, peers, purposeful, authors, and journey. The key ideas evolved into a Twitter chat and now into a website. Something amazing has begun to happen! The ideas, suggestions and creativity of those who have been involved in the Twitter #PLN of #BookCampPD will help mold the future development of the website as their vision as educators will take it to the stars and beyond! Teamwork makes the dream work!

Perhaps in the next blog posting I will explain how each of the elements fit together to provide a cohesive professional learning experience for an educator if they choose to take advantage of all the aspects available.

Happy Learning 😊


Gagnon, D. J., & Mattingly, M. J. (2016). Advanced Placement and Rural Schools. Journal of Advanced Academics,27(4), 266-284. doi:10.1177/1932202×16656390

McIntosh, Meggin Ph.D (2018). Just Whelmed. Just Whelmed Wee Workshop. Underwhelm: When You Rarely Get a Chance to Work on Projects of Importance

U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. (2018). Digest of Education Statistics, 2016 (NCES 2017-094), Introduction and Chapter 2.


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