This has been such a busy two weeks! I was invited by a friend/colleague to join in the K12 Online Conference and it has been amazing. I won’t even try to list the new programs and things I want to play around with, but I strongly urge you to click the link above to find things that interest YOU.
Here are some things I have taken away from this experience:
1) Taking the risk often pays off
We all get comfortable at some point in our lives and feel like things should just stay as they are. Although it is nice to feel safe, it also means you stop growing in a way. Watching these presentations was not risky – just a time investment. But joining the live chat events and talking with people who are fully immersed in web 2.0 practices was risky. I had no idea how I would be received. As a result of taking the risk, I have already expanded my network of colleagues to people who teach in other places in the world.
2) Don’t keep it all to yourself
When I began this journey toward integrating tech into my classroom in 21st century ways, I was doing it because I was trying to make a name for myself. Being a young teacher and working for a school with yearly contracts makes me feel like my position is somewhat vulnerable. I wanted to become indispensable. Next, I thought about the ways I could effect the lives of the students in my classroom. So now, at least I was thinking about how to share this with 3rd graders.
Well, a total shift happened for me after seeing Brian Crosby’s presentation entitled “Obstacles to Opportunities- The Whys and Wherefores.” Now I am thinking about how I can “infect” my local colleagues (the ones in the Lower School) with the passion I have developed for this type of teaching/learning.
3) Say “thank you”
In one of the very first presentations I watched, the presenter reminded educators that we owe thanks to the people at Wikispaces, Edublogs, and Flickr to name a few. They have provided free access to teachers who are using these tools to enhance their classrooms. Wow. I had not even paused to catch my breath so I certainly hadn’t thought about giving credit where credit is due. A big thank you should also go to all of the presenters, moderators, people behind the scenes, and people handling tech support for K12online. I hope you feel your hard work has paid off.
While I am giving thanks, it is important once again to recognize the people who have inspired me to take this journey. Thank you to my family who let me shut myself in a quiet space to work on report cards and bounce in and out of “When Night Falls” (the 24 hour live chat event which concluded the conference). Thank you to the head of the Lower School for believing in me, encouraging me, and supporting me along the way. Thank you to our technology department for allowing access to many websites and tools that are blocked in schools around the world. And the biggest thank you goes to Vinnie Vrotny, our Director of Academic Technologies, who began as my inspiration and has become a mentor and a friend.
Now I must return the favor by inspiring others and showing them that a little risk, some sharing, and some gratitude can take you a long way.