So this happened today. I picked up the key to my new classroom. Walking in I felt this sense of belonging and excitement to make it mine. It will be interesting to see what I can do to this traditional looking classroom.
My mind is reeling of grant ideas on how to update the seating in this classroom. As you can see the desks are attached to the chairs. It doesn’t assist with the ease of movement but I have seen ways teachers make it work.
The first thing that is going are the rows of desks. I will most likely group them in 4s to start. The teacher who left the room did leave a couple interesting tables in the room that I think I can DIY for a standing table and a collaboration space.
What is my vision?
Unlimited. I want to see a space that will meet the needs of all of my students based on how they feel when they walk in the room. I envision a few standing desks/tables with a few chairs/stools; a couple lower tables with chairs; a few individual student desks; and maybe a campfire table with comfortable chairs around it. The room does have 5 whiteboards so I can build collaboration spaces around the boards. I would even LOVE to have a few FitDesks to allow movement even when students have to sit.
Can I make my vision come to fruition?
I hope so. This is where you come in… If you have disposable cash to fund a project like this let’s talk. If you have funding sources or grants you know of PLEASE share. I am not afraid to ask/beg for funding.
This is the first steps in this journey. I hope you come along with me.
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.
In technology education there are so many roads and avenues to choose. I would like to say in the last decade I haven’t been afraid to take different turns or go down roads less traveled.
This past year, I have been traveling around the southeastern United States making my way as an Education Consultant for The W.H. Platts Company. It has been an amazing experience. I stepped out of the comfort zone of public education to be a part of a new movement for SMART Resellers. The Education Consultant position was created to help the resellers for SMART develop a better relationship with education customers. To have someone from education locally to help work with districts on professional development as they move to interactive whiteboard technology in the classroom. I was ready to do this… I couldn’t wait to see what would happen. It was that road unknown for me. It wasn’t paved… it was bumpy along the way but it brought me to today.
Some may say it brought be back to a familiar place but I would have to slightly disagree. The road this led me to was back to public education. Next week, I will be joining the rest of the educators I know as we begin to head back to school. I have accepted a job at Ridge View High School in Columbia, SC as the Integration Technology Specialist. Yes, this is a familiar place to me. I taught social studies at Ridge View 10 years ago. It was the job that gave life to my journey down the technology education highway. Now, I have returned to be a support for teachers as they take their own journey with technology education. I feel refreshed… and alive … to be returning to public education.
For the longest time, I thought I need to keep moving forward and up to make the most impact. I went from the classroom to a district position to the consultant world. All the while thinking, the larger my audience the larger the impact. What I learned is … for me to make an impact on education I have to be where the students are… and that is in one school making a difference everyday.
Was my time as an Education Consultant wasted? Absolutely, NOT. Over the last year I have learned a lot about myself.
1. I need to be around people when I work. (I worked out of my house and that got boring)
2. The longer I was a consultant the less I had to say about technology in education. I felt disconnected from the pulse of education.
3. I learned how important good luggage is… I wore out every piece of luggage I own this year.
4. 35K miles on a car in one year isn’t good for your car’s value or wear and tear! 🙂
And if I had not traveled down this road I would not be standing here today proud to say, “I am in public education. I am a dreamer and I am here to make a difference.”