Leadership · Curriculum · Lifelong Learning

As another calendar year comes to a close, I just wanted to say:

Thank you.

I see you. I hear you. I value you. You matter. Your thoughts, perspective, and viewpoints matter. Our connection matters to me more than you know.

To anyone who has ever taken a precious moment to visit, read, reflect, or to learn alongside me at #HamstraHighlights and kylehamstra.com,

Thank you.

To all those who’ve endured a social media post, shared or commented on a blog, or even reached out on all the back channels to continue the conversation,

Thank you.

My blogging journey began in November, 2016. Now 50 months later, I’ve never valued reflection time, connection moments, and learning opportunities through the blogging process more than I do right now.

I love blogging. It’s here–in my #HamstraHighlights reflections–where I get to do the deep processing, personal pauses, and inner work. Some of my most meaningful learning happens in the blogging process. There are so many reasons why I blog, and I’d highly recommend that all educators invest time in reflecting in the manners most meaningful to them.

Although each post is the culmination of my own experiences, I love sharing them with you, in hopes that you’ll continue to reflect with me and help me become better through encouragement, support, and feedback. I look forward to learning and growing together in the future. I’m extremely grateful for you–my professional learning network members, teammates, and friends, near and far.

The journey continues…

But first, one last look back at the year that was 2020.

Here were the Top 5 Most Read #HamstraHighlights of 2020:

1Are We Grading for Learning?

Excerpt: Conversations about pandemic grading practices continue to flood social media. Would this be the year when we deeply examined, analyzed, questioned, and potentially transformed our grading practices? This reflection curates, highlights, and explores the top five Tweeted themes when grading in a pandemic, and it begs you to answer the question: Are We [really] Grading for Learning?

2Is It Time To Move Beyond Pecentage-Based Grading?

Excerpt: What was revealed when educators converted their lesson plans from the face-to-face experience to online, blended, and virtual learning formats? Amidst the many challenges along the way, many educators are beginning to question their own practices and pedagogy. What does the percentage grade really tell us about student learning? Are we grading for learning, or averaging work habits, behaviors, and biases into the math?

3Meaningful Artifacts for Meaningful Reflection–Part II

Excerpt: In Part I of this series, I explored the value in capturing meaningful artifacts. After all, before you can post and share your progress, you first need progress. You need to capture the very moments, experiences, and resources that impact you and your practice in meaningful ways. So, what could educators capture? Or, maybe the real question is: What’s Portfolio-Worthy?

4#CoronaVirus Disrupts Learning?

Excerpt: Posted the day after school was cancelled for a global pandemic, this piece highlights the uncertainty about the future. What really mattered right then? And who cares? It’s in this context where I found myself exhausted, at a loss for words, but to recount these few anecdotes to make meaning of the world around me. I hope they resonate with you, and, if you felt like leaving a comment, it would help. We’re all in this together.

5My First Parent-Teacher Conference As A Parent

Excerpt: I’ve never known the kind of love like the kind a father has for his child. Until two years ago. And it’s been quite the ride so far… For the first time in a parent-teacher conference, I was on the other side of the table. Anxiety set in. Deep down, I knew what was coming. This was absolute torture. Some mix of compliance, failure, and success–but how much of each? And what would the teacher(s) say?

Here were some reflections that I was hoping would make the Top 5:

Edcamp Remote Learning

Excerpt: On April 14th, 2020, I tweeted: “What if we had an edcamp on Flipgrid?” Immediately, a conversation was born. The first followers were especially passionate. Six days later, one tweet turned into Edcamp Remote Learning, represented by 1200 learners in 42 states and 24 countries. What made our first Edcamp Remote Learning experience successful was…

Standards-Based Grading Changes Feedback

Excerpt: Think about the way you did school for many years as a student, as well as the way you may have taught school for many years as a teacher. This shift was more than stirring the pot of tradition. This was an entire philosophical, pedagogical, and mindset shift. And change this challenging with a potential learning curve so steep–that kind of change doesn’t happen overnight.

#OneThought: #CoronaVirus

Excerpt: On the one-year anniversary of his son’s passing, he posted his one-page, daily homework that I’m summarizing, here: “Tonight’s homework will be to spend time with your kid(s). This is required!” This week, our lives have been disrupted by one COVID-19. In the coming weeks, you’ll have to manage an unpredictable, evolving schedule. You’ll have to decide how you’re going to spend your time…

It’s Time To Dance


Oh my. I did not expect this–the first few times anyway. And, seriously–this was the last thing I needed right then. I didn’t feel like being happy. And singing. And dancing. I felt like being upset. And growling. And grimacing. Seriously.

Book Review: White Fragility–Part I

Excerpt: Throughout my conversations with fellow white people on racism, I see many similarities. Yet, learning to see the work of undoing racism as a continual process and not as a fixed mindset or a switch to be flipped with only performative allyship and social media posts (as if to autocorrect 400+ years of systemic racism) can be life-changing.

Book Review: Attached

Excerpt: If you think things like collective efficacy, synergy, sense of belonging, collaboration, and professional learning teams really matter in education, like if they actually have an influence on the effect size of student learning outcomes, then… Why aren’t there even more professional learning sessions about adult relationships?

Crowd Noise Matters

Excerpt: Undeniably, there’s something so intangibly valuable about having someone in your corner cheering you on that it’s good for the soul and it might even change your trajectory. While fans pay for their tickets, once they’re in, their support and encouragement are priceless.

Thank you for another great year, my friends!

Here’s to a wonderful 2021!

From the archives:

Top 5 #HamstraHighlights of 2019

Top 5 #HamstraHighlights of 2018

Top 5 #HamstraHighlights of 2017 

Top #HamstraHighlights Post of 2016

What are your thoughts? Comment here!

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