Reboot. Going back to my roots.

The secret is out. In case you haven’t heard, you may want to sit down. Ready? I have decided to go back to the classroom in August. Gasp! “What?” “Are you sure?” Yes, I am sure. It’s something that has been tapping me on the shoulder for over a year. It’s time. I have been out of the classroom for about 8 years. Throughout that time I have enjoyed school level technology integration jobs, district level technology education jobs, consulting, and traveling more than I ever thought possible having a career in education. Alas, it’s time.

I thought I would take a few minutes to share with you the why. Some people have said to me, “Why would you want to give up a district level position?” Really? For me, it’s not about the district level position. It’s about the impact I feel I am making. So let me go through my list in no particular order.

1. Passion. I feel like I am not making a difference. I go to work everyday and help create ideas for teachers to try. But what difference does it make? Last year I watched Taylor Mali’s poetry slam “What teachers make?” and it reminded me of the feelings I had and I loved being a teacher.

His honesty and passion about students makes me cry, my heart beats fast, and gives me goose bumps every time I see the video.

2. Vision. Everyday “we” (as in everyone I know worldwide in educational technology) talk about what we want to see in our classrooms. A lot of times what we want to see and what we see don’t match up. I have a skill set that is being wasted. By wasted, I mean, I have been afforded a lot of additional educational training due to the jobs I have held in the last 8 years  I do not routinely practice. Let me go back to the classroom and see what I can do. Can I make the vision come to fruition?

3. DENSI. Last summer I spend a week at Discovery Education Network’s Summer Institute (DENSI) with 150 other educators. It had been years since I last attended and I was a little nervous about it. I was skeptical at first thinking, “What can I learn from this group?” What I took away was an amazing love of teaching and willingness to try for the sake of learning and loving students. So many people made an impact on me that week. They hold a special place in my heart for helping me find my way back to my passion of teaching.

4. Validity. I provide professional development giving teachers ideas of how they can use technology with their content. Yet, I never get to actually try any of the ideas. My voice has no validity. I know you may say that is not true but from where I am standing today, that is my lens. I want to be able to share ideas from classroom happenings. I want to share in the frustration students go through when they are being pushed a little harder to get the best out of them. I want to share technology integration ideas with teachers and be able to say what worked and what didn’t.

5. My family. I want to be home more. Summers are hard on our household. Monday through Thursday are long work days and we barely get to see each other. Summer camps don’t last as long as we need. The sun stays shining long in to the night. It still isn’t up long enough to get everything in and quality time spent.

6. Pride. I know pride can be seen as a bad thing but I used to be proud to say, “I am a teacher.” I didn’t have to explain anything. Now when I asked what I do, it ends in a 5 minute explanation and the person usually confusing what I do with I.T. No, I don’t fix or build anything that has to do with the physical computer.

7. Community and connection. Nothing can replace the community and connection you build with students and a school. I have the privilege to still remain in contact with students I taught 15 years ago. I care about them and am proud when they succeed. I want that connection with students again.

IMG_3664So what I am I doing to prepare? One thing I am doing is attending as much professional development as I can surrounding curriculum and the art of teaching. Last week I attended an AP Human Geography workshop on global migration conducted by the University of South Carolina – Center of Excellence for Geographic Education. It was an amazing day of learning. My brain was afloat from all of the wonderful information that was given. I am also taking a couple of days off in March to head to the 70th annual ASCD Conference. I attended this conference last year for the first time and Dr. Russell J. Quaglia’s (http://www.qisa.org/) keynote on student voice was the most inspiring session for me. His keynote was just the kick in the ass I needed to think about student voice and what I was doing to increase the volume about student voice. I am very excited to see what inspiration comes from the conference for me this year.

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IMG_0770Another thing I am doing is a little old school but I am keeping a journal of what I want to do as a teacher. I am filling the notebook with ideas, tips, professional development notes, etc. It’s my little offline learning place. I am surprised how much I have all ready put in the notebook. I think this helps me realize my decision is the right one.

Do I know where or what yet? No, I do not know where I will be teaching or what subject within the realm of Social Studies I will be teaching but I know I will end up where I need to be. When I started teaching I wondered if it was a calling or a career. I think I’ve always know I was called to be a teacher.

I have LOVED the opportunities I have been given being on the edge of the technology education field. It’s just time to get back to doing this work WITH students. I can’t wait for what will be in store for me come August.

15 thoughts on “Reboot. Going back to my roots.

  1. Wow! Good for you for listening to your heart. Those lucky, lucky students. Can I sit in your classroom on a regular basis next year and just soak it all up? :))

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    • Thank you, Shirley. I am super excited for this change. I think I am even more excited than I was my first year. Give me the 1st semester to get my groove back and yes, you can visit as much as you want. LOL

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  2. So proud of you! I think about this decision a lot myself. That whole “I want to see this stuff work in classrooms, but I can’t get enough people excited about doing it in classrooms” thing is all me. 🙂 Can’t wait to see where you wind up!

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  3. I think you’re journey is coming full circle. You’ve always followed your heart and did what you thought was going to be most beneficial not only to you and your family, but your students. You’ve done the research. Now it’s time for the clinical part of your journey. Time will only tell if this is the final phase or if something else will come your way.

    I’m not a teacher. I’m a parent. Having someone passionate about teaching my child….Wow! That’s all any parent could ask for in the classroom. As your family and your friend, I am so happy for you that you know your true calling in life; teaching. You’re living the dream. When you can get up every day to go to a job that you love, then you are truly successful. It’s just not a job, it’s a love and not only you, but everyone around you will benefit.

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  4. Go for it! I love all makers particularly those that are making themselves better. Glad you guys came out to my Camden thingy. Nice to see you there. Would love to chat about what you thought of it sometime. How about dinner sometime?
    Ron

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  5. I enjoyed reading your blog MaryAnn and I am so glad you are going back to the classroom. Many lucky students await you. About eight years ago, I left my island and discovered a world of educators who were as passionate as I was and also seemed to have an interest in using technology in their classroom. Since then, so many have left the classroom to take administrative positions and I have watched students lose the best, most passionate teachers. The worst was when they plucked the teachers from the classrooms to be technology coaches. The kids lost some of the best teachers in their buildings. I am glad a whole crop of kids are getting a fantastic, passionate teacher back in their lives. Technology integration and teaching strategies can be taught but passion cannot!

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  6. What an exciting new adventure! I think you will bring great insight back into the classroom. You will be able to relate to students and teachers on a different level with your experiences. I know your feelings about not being in the classroom which is why I decided to teach for Furman when I retired from public school. I am still teaching students even though they are university students (which I find out isn’t much different than high school students! LOL). Good luck on this new chapter of your life and let me know if I can do anything to help you.

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