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.
So 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.
Another 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.