aha moment, assessment, assumptions, being a teacher, being me, conferences, connect, Passion, student voice

How Can I Make This Better For You?


For the past three days my students have read.  They have sat wherever they wanted, immersed in the book of their choice.  They have book shopped.  They have reflected, but mostly just read.  Whispered about their books.  Handed those in they have finished.  And waited for me to call their name, knowing that soon it would be their turn.

I have sat at a table and spoken to them all, one by one, taken the time it takes.  “How is English going…How can I be a better teacher for you….What is not working…”  Armed with the survey they have takes as we finished our very first quarter, they have told me their truths.  They have looked at me and then gladly told me everything I have needed to change.   And I am so grateful.  Think of the guts that it takes to look at your teacher to tell them that something is not working for you.  Think of what that says about the community we have.

So for the past 3 days, I have listened.  I have nodded and taken notes.  I have asked for further explanation, and I have also asked for help.  How can we make it better?  How can we find more time?  How can we make it easier?  More engaging?  More of what they need?  How can we…

We read books to become better teachers.  We ask colleagues for help.  We meet with administrators.  We reach out to parents.  We connect and we ask and we ponder together.  Yet, how often do we ask the very kids that we teach?  How often do we stop what we are doing simply to conference with them?  Not about their work but to uncover how things are going?  What they need?  How we can change?  How often do we stop so we can learn from them?  Not often enough, but that can change.  It starts with us.  And it starts with a simple question; how can I make this better for you?

If you like what you read here, consider reading my book Passionate Learners – How to Engage and Empower Your Students.  Also, if you are wondering where I will be in the coming year or would like to have me speak, please see this page.

being me, conferences, education

It’s Time to Pass the Reins For #EdCampMadWI

Four years ago, I caught a tweet from the incredible Jess Henze wondering if anyone would be interested in bringing an EdCamp to the Madison, WI area.  Figuring I had nothing to lose, I immediately replied yes not knowing what to expect.  Soon Kaye Henrickson and Emily Dittmar joined our team and for the past three years we have been the driving force behind this incredible event.

Now with huge moves (Goodbye Jess, Montana will love you), almost new jobs (Emily spreading her magic in Muskego) and crazy busy lives (how many things can Kaye magically organize?), we are ready to pass the reigns.  This event should not die out, but instead should be taken over by a new team of amazing people that love EdCamp as much as we have.

So leave a comment, tweet us, or email us and let us know if you are interested.  To the lucky people who take over, we will give you the domain, the background info and any support you need.  If you are just curious, you can contact us as well.

I am so thankful to the three women I got to run this with.  We have shared many emails, voxes, Google docs, laughs, and even frustration, but it has never been a chore working with you.  You are why education has a chance to make a difference.  You are true leaders and I am proud to have been a part of this with you.

being me, conferences, connect

Have You Submitted Your EdScape Proposal Yet?

I first heard about EdScape a few years back when my Twitter feed exploded with knowledge during the weekend of the conference.  For years I have wanted to go and be a part of this conference created by the amazing Eric Sheninger, but life seemed to continually get in the way.  Well, this year is my year.  Not only do I get to go to EdScape and learn with educators from all over the USA, I also am honored to be the opening keynote speaker.

So why should you come join me October 17th in New Jersey?  Because this amazing conference is an incredible space for learning, allowing us all to not just be inspired but also to come away with tangible things to do as we change education.  Because this conference is a one day don’t-want-to-miss event.  Because during lunch there will be an EdCamp.  Because this conference is $35 to attend – yup $35.  Even better, if you present, your registration is free,

So if you have an idea that you would love to share.  If you love presenting and meeting people.  If you want to come and inspire as well as be inspired, come to Edscape.  Submit your proposal before August 15th because I hope that you come and learn with me, I hope you come and share your amazing ideas, I  hope that we can connect.  I know I cannot wait.

To submit your proposal, go here

To register for the conference, go here

To see more about this amazing event, go here

aha moment, being me, conferences, PLN

10 Tips for Going to A Conference All By Yourself

This is the summer of a lot of firsts for me; first time going to ISTE and many other conferences, first time going to certain states like Utah, first time doing an Ignite, first time going to NerdCamp (finally!) first time getting an award, and first time doing a lot of travelling by myself.  So as I have been preparing to hit the road, I figured I cannot be the only one that is traveling to conferences by themselves this summer and thus needs some help on how to make the best of it.  Behold, Pernille’s 10 travel tips for going to a conference all by yourself…

Make connections beforehand.  If you are on Twitter, start following the hashtag of the conference and see who else will be there.  I also know there are Facebook groups for some larger conferences and I have been joining some of those, just to make connections.  Even if you are not into social media, Google the conference and see what comes up.  I also try to scope out what type of social event there will be available to you beforehand so that you can go and meet people.  No one should have to go through a conference by themselves.

Figure out your goal.  The first conference I went to I tried to do it all; go to as many sessions as possible, meet new people, make meaningful connections, check out new products!  And I was exhausted.  So this summer it is all about meeting people.  Yes, I want to learn, yes I want to see the new products, but I am focusing in one thing rather than all of them so that I can allow myself to take a break.  Don’t try to do it all, do as much as you can and be excited about how much you accomplish.

Pack what you feel the most comfortable in.  I like to dress up when I present, it is a professional respect thing for me, as well as something that gives me confidence when I have to speak.  Even if I am not presenting, I look pulled together but always comfortable.  Very rarely do I wear heels if I can wear sandals in summer, and I always dress in layers.  Who wants to be cold all day?  So find out what you feel your best you in and then see if that will work for you, if you are going to meet people, make sure you feel confident when you do.

Pre-brainstorm opening questions.  I can be shy at times, particularly in large groups or when people tell me they have read my blog or my books.  So while this may sound stupid, and I probably shouldn’t admit to this, I purposefully go through and think up questions that I can ask any person I meet.  I am, after all, traveling to connect and meet with people and want to make sure that I can spark up a conversation.

Go up to people.  This is something I have had to really work on, but it is important to learn how to introduce yourself to others.  I have had too many missed opportunities where I had hoped to meet someone and I never felt the right moment came for me to go up to them.  Later I was bummed I had missed the opportunity because of my own fear.  So make sure you create that moment, which leads me to my next point…

Practice being brave.  This is something I remind myself of every time I go a new place.  I love meeting new people but can have a hard time initializing a brand new connection.  I have told myself I have to practice every time I travel, every time I have the chance, and meet at least 5 new people.  I set a small goal so I can accomplish it but also make it big enough for me to get in the habit of going up to people.  Some of the best conversations I have had has been with complete strangers that I introduced myself too.  It took bravery and that is something we could all use practice in.

Print a business card.  I laughed the first time someone told me this, (what does a teacher need a business card for?), and then I went to my first conference.  Aha!  When you meet someone new and you want to exchange information that business card becomes your new best friend.  The best part was my husband’s tip of using one of the free websites where all you have to pay for is shipping.  I got 250 cards for $5 and I am bringing them all.

Plan down time.  While I love the learning and connecting that happens at conferences, my brain can only take so much.  So don’t overbook yourself, schedule in for down time where you will sit, eat, and do whatever it is you need to do to feel like this is still a good time.  Going to conferences should be a great experience, not a hassle, nor a stressor.

Bring a book (or five).  Or whatever it is that lets you completely relax by yourself.  I read any time I can and know I will be traveling with a lot of books.  Yes, they weigh a lot but the fact that I can pull out a book at any time and escape a little bit makes a world of difference for me.

Be a nice human being. Unfortunately sometimes going to a conference means that some people forget to be nice, or completely forget to be professional.  We are all busy, we all have places to be, and yes, we probably have many people we would love to be speaking to.  But be nice.  Be kind to the people that speak to you.  Help others.  Look for people who are alone or seem like they don’t know what they are doing, after all, that person may be me.

Represent.  I tell my students this whenever they leave our classroom and the word carries us out into the world.  Remember, you are not just there representing yourself, you are representing your entire school community and your family.  I go to conferences to share the words of my students, to help them change the way education is done to kids all around the world.  That is not something I take lightly and so I behave appropriately.  I have heard crazy stories of conference after parties, and I certainly have no intention of becoming part of those stories.

What else would you add to those traveling to conferences by themselves?

PS:  To see where I am traveling to, go here – hopefully our paths will cross this summer.

I am a passionate teacher in Oregon, Wisconsin, USA but originally from Denmark,  who has taught 4th, 5th, and 7th grade.  Proud techy geek, and mass consumer of incredible books. Creator of the Global Read Aloud Project, Co-founder of EdCamp MadWI, and believer in all children.  The second edition of my first book Passionate Learners – How to Engage and Empower Your Students” is available for pre-order now.   Second book“Empowered Schools, Empowered Students – Creating Connected and Invested Learners” is out now from Corwin Press.  Join our Passionate Learners community on Facebook and follow me on Twitter @PernilleRipp.

being me, conferences, connect

Well Hello ISTE 2015!

I have never been to ISTE.   A few times I have almost gone and something has always gotten in the way; finances, pregnancies, courage…  I hear ISTE is amazing and yet I am so terribly nervous to finally be going.  Will I get lost (probably), will I feel overwhelmed (probably), but more importantly – will I get to meet all of the amazing people I want to meet?  Will I get to make connections?  Will it be worthwhile?

So if you are going to ISTE, I would love to meet you.  I am pretty shy when it comes to meeting people, but this will be my chance to work through that.  So where can I be found for sure?

Bloggers Cafe – I think this will be my preferred hang out spot.  The only reason I get to do all of the incredible things I get to do is because of my blog.


ISTE Townhall Lead & Transform Panel – Sunday, June 28th 9 AM to 11:30 AM.  I am honored to be the teacher representative on this panel where we get to discuss how we are changing professional learning in our communities.  The best part of the panel is that I get to listen to  he amazing students from SLA, who will start the discussion!

ISTE Ignite Sunday, June 28th 1:30 PM to 3  PM.  I have dreamed of doing an Ignite for several years and what better place to try it than at ISTE.  I don’t know whether I am more excited to speak about having courage to create passionate learning environments or listen to the other Ignite presenters!


Monday morning – Award breakfast where the Global Read Aloud and I will be honored with the ISTE Innovation in Global Collaboration Award. 

Monday lunch – The ISTE Making IT Happen award luncheon.


Set Their Voices Free:  How Students Can Share Their Stories – Tuesday, June 30th 10:45 AM to 11: 45 AM.  I am pumped to be presenting on this topic and with these people; Erin Klein and Colby Sharp.  We started planning this session this week and it promises to be hands-on with time to work, discuss, and share ideas.  Isn’t that what we all hope to get from a session.


Corwin Connected Educator PanelWednesday, July 1st 8:30 – 9:30 AM.  I get to see some of my favorite people and discuss one of my passions; how do we empower students and staff in our schools with my friend and inspiration, Tony Sinanis.  What isn’t there to like?

Other than that I plan on hanging around the Skype booth and otherwise bopping around.  So if you are there, please say hello.  I am going to make as many connections as possible and would love to connect with you.

I am a passionate teacher in Oregon, Wisconsin, USA but originally from Denmark,  who has taught 4th, 5th, and 7th grade.  Proud techy geek, and mass consumer of incredible books. Creator of the Global Read Aloud Project, Co-founder of EdCamp MadWI, and believer in all children.  The second edition of my first book Passionate Learners – How to Engage and Empower Your Students” is available for pre-order now.   Second book“Empowered Schools, Empowered Students – Creating Connected and Invested Learners” is out now from Corwin Press.  Join our Passionate Learners community on Facebook and follow me on Twitter @PernilleRipp.

being a teacher, conferences, student choice, student voice, Student-led conferences

Student-Led Conferences, Even at the Middle School…

I sit here quietly, listening to them speak…

“I read 26 books this year, last year I read just read 10.”

“I learned that if I study I do much better.”

“I found out that I don’t work so well with my friends, so I can’t sit by them.”

They say this with downcast eyes, shy glances, waiting for the reaction.  Waiting for the comments they know will come.

And they do.

“Wow, that’s a lot of books!”

“What a great thing to learn…”

“Yeah, I don’t learn with my friends so well either…”

They tell their stories in front of us, knowing that our faces can corroborate or distort their versions.  They put themselves out there for us to see; teachers and parents.  They gather, they practice, and they decide; what story will they share?  What will their parents leave knowing?  Who will they become once their parents come into these hallowed hallways and they are no longer surrounded by friends?

So I sit here grateful that I get to listen in.  That I get to see the care they take.  The consideration they put into their words and how their parents thoughtfully ponder and prod when needed.  I didn’t know if student-led conferences would be enough for parents at the middle school level.  I didn’t know if the kids could do it.  I didn’t know what they would say, if they would care, if their parents would get all of the information they needed.  But they did and they have.  And I sit here listening to their stories and uncover the bits and pieces that have seemed to be missing for me all year.  Now, I understand why a child reacts that way.  Now I see how they tick.  I wish I would have know that much sooner.

When our students share their stories, we let them figure themselves out.  We let them decide what they need to tell, what they need to work on.  We help them prepare, push them harder to uncover their challenges and embrace them rather than hide them away.  When we do student-led conferences, whether completely or as part of our conference, we let the students decide how they will be known.  Think of the power in that.  Think of what that tells their students about their voice and the choices they make.

PS:  Want to learn more about actually doing student-led conferences, go here

I am a passionate teacher in Oregon, Wisconsin, USA but originally from Denmark,  who has taught 4th, 5th, and 7th grade.  Proud techy geek, and mass consumer of incredible books. Creator of the Global Read Aloud Project, Co-founder of EdCamp MadWI, and believer in all children.  The second edition of my first book “Passionate Learners – Giving Our Classrooms Back to Our Students” will be published by Routledge in the fall.   Second book“Empowered Schools, Empowered Students – Creating Connected and Invested Learners” is out now from Corwin Press.  Join our Passionate Learners community on Facebook and follow me on Twitter @PernilleRipp.