Friday, August 1, 2014

In Search of the Wow Moments!

As has been the case for the past twenty three summers, I have been spending my days recently working at a beautiful day camp facility in the Sourland Mountain Region of New Jersey called Rambling Pines. This camp, owned and operated by the Jordan family for 39 seasons is a special place and is held very close to my heart.  My wife and I met there over twenty years ago and our children have attended as campers for the past 12 summers.  Although it is a place of my summer employment, it continues to be a place where my family continues to bond. This year my oldest son Peter is working with our younger campers as a member of our Leadership in Training Program while my son Scott is enjoying his second year in the Teen Travel camp.

While this summer has provided me with the opportunity to forge new relationships with children and staff members, it has been one that I have found challenging for a number of reasons.  Six weeks in and I can honestly say that I have not yet hit my stride. The summer heat this year and the nature of my job as Athletic Director has left me feeling frequently drained of energy at days end. As a result, I have not been as active reading or growing professionally as compared to previous summers. However one thing that continues to be a consistent source of enjoyment has been the opportunities to connect with my PLN on Twitter. As was the case during the school year, our communications when they occur, continue to energize and inspire me.

Recently I was participating in a hashtag chat called #TLAP 465, discussing the content of a book that I have grown quite passionate about. (Teach Like a Pirate by Dave Burgess). This book and its author are game changers within the field of education. Within the context of the book educators are encouraged to create engaging learning experiences by using various "hooks" to excite students about their learning.  I always find myself inspired whenever I have the opportunity to discuss this book and the ways that I have implemented the "pirate" approach in my classroom.  I don't remember how it happened exactly but a question was posed during the chat that allowed me to discuss my " Day of Wow" during this past year. This was easily one of the most memorable, engaging experiences for me and my students last year. It was a day that allowed my students and I to create a learning experience that focused on exciting moments throughout history, as part of an effort to launch a new unit of study. Whenever I share the experience of the "Day of Wow" with others, they are genuinely intrigued and want to know more. I am always more than happy to oblige. This leads me to the best part of the story.

After reading my tweet about the "Day of Wow", a valued member of my PLN, Traci Logue, began asking questions about the details of the day. Before I knew it, we were revisiting the day and the experience. I then referred her to an earlier blog post that I had written called," The Wow Factor."  After she read the post we had the opportunity to continue our conversation. This was an awesome opportunity for me to reflect back on  the "Day of Wow and look forward to this year's version.  I am grateful to Traci  for her curiosity, kindness and positivity that was exchanged throughout the conversation.   After we finished our conversation I was more inspired than I had been in weeks. I started to consider the importance of  the "Wow" moments in education, especially since the beginning of a new school year looms on the horizon.

As educators we have a responsibility to guide our students toward the discovery of their own " Wow" moments. This is how we fuel their passion for learning. They want to be engaged. They want to be interested. Most importantly they want to be excited about what they learn.   The Wow moment is the ultimate reward for their effort. While I am looking forward to this year's "Day of Wow", (still under construction) my goal is to help my students find those Wow moments when ever and where ever possible. Life is full of them, you just have to look under the right rock.


  1. Tom this is great! First of all just because you haven't been reading "education" books doesn't mean you haven't been developing. I know you know this, but don't get on yourself for this. You have been learning about the human spirit from the best source of all. Children. I always love how your pieces are so real and straight from the heart! You are a special person and is feel honored to have you as a member of my PLN. Enjoy the rest of your summer. I'm betting you've already had many Wow moments this summer.

  2. Great blog, Tom! I agree with how awesome it is to be a connected educator. Collaborating and "talking" with our PLN on a daily/weekly basis is mind blowing! We are connecting with people who share awesome ideas and ultimately help us be better at our craft. And you know what the best part is? Our students benefit from all of this connectedness! It's a win-win! These connections help our children achieve these "WOW Moments' you were talking about. It is a privilege and honor to be among your PLN, Tom! I learn so much from you and REALLY enjoy reading your blogs! Have a great rest of the summer and I'll see you in a twitter chat real soon!