Saturday, February 28, 2015

Why a Teacher?

Week 8 of the #youredustory blog challenge brings the question "What was the defining moment you decided to be a teacher?"  To me this is an interesting question because I can not think back to one moment - it was more like a series of events.

My mom was a teacher - she retired three years ago - so I grew up with a high school math teacher as a my mother.  I would always be one of the first kids dropped off at school since my mom's school started early and we didn't have anyone else to help out.  She was also the cheer adviser for a long time so I remember going to practices, games and competitions - and even now I know more cheers than I think a grown man should know!

But I don't think anything my mom did made me decide to become an educator - in fact, as a kid I wanted to be a lawyer or chiropractor.  I didn't decide to become a teacher until my third year in college.  I was a Biology major, so I was in classes with all of the pre-med students and the competition was fierce.  I held my own, but I realized then that I did not want to spend another 4 years in school with that type of student.  So I started looking in to the teaching program.

Nice farmer's tan!
At that point I started to think back to my grade school teachers and a few stood out.  There was Mr. Huff in 4th grade who made me "try-out" for the basketball team (I played ever year after and ended up as a high school coach for several years) - I don't really remember him in the classroom, but I loved that he pushed me to do more outside of class.  And many of my high school teachers - Mr. Simpson, Mr. Barbour, Mr. Booth and Mr. Webster.  The first three were also my coaches - basketball and football respectively.  And Mr. Webster was my favorite science teacher (and I eventually became a science teacher).

I can't point back to one moment in time when I said to myself that I was going to become a teacher - but with so many caring educators who took the time to teach me, coach me and mold me in to the person I am today I found my path.  Sometimes I think about all the students that I had pass through my classroom and I wonder what type of seed I may have planted for them?  Hopefully one day they will sit back and think that I had a positive impact on their future - though I may never know!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Why I Do What I Do

Week 7 of the #youredustory challenge - "People don't buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it" Simon Sinek - Why do you do what you do?

As a technology coordinator I do what I do now for the teachers and the students.  I work to keep things working in our district so when a teacher has an awesome idea for a project - the technology won't be in the way...instead it will help make their work easier.

I do what I do so that when a student wants to use a device to get their work done and needs technology to do it, they can.  I would love to see a device in everyone's hand, and I do what I do to try to make that happen.

It isn't very glorious day to day - but when you see what you have done "behind the scenes" working without people knowing it in the classroom each day - it makes it all worth it!

I've always said that the technology department can never win - we the tech works, people don't think about it...but if it doesn't work it is your fault.  So I do what I do each to so teachers, students and admin don't have to think about it!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

How do you connect?

Week 6 of the #youredustory challenge brings a topic I have worked on personally over the past 3-4 years.  The prompt is "What is connected learning and WIIFM?"  Now honestly, I saw this and my first thought was - what in the world is WIIFM?  I thought maybe it was a game of some sort, you know, because of WII.  But upon further investigation I found that is stands for "What's In It For Me?"

If you would have asked me 5 years ago if I was a connected educator I would have told you yes!  I met with colleges, went to district PD (even days I didn't have to attend) and I was part of a science grant that gave me a larger group for my "connected-ness".   So yes, I thought I was connected and doing a great job.  Or was I?

In 2011 I started using Twitter (it took me a year or so to realize the power of  Twitter) and I realized I was able to connect with people around the country from my computer.  I started following other science teachers and sharing ideas, getting new lessons and discovering what others were doing in their classrooms.  Now I was connected for sure!  Or was I?

Someone introduced me to Google+ and truthfully it was not my favorite to start.  It took some time for me to find the power of G+, but once I found the communities I fell in love.  I was able to reach out to more educators who had my exact same interests, questions and passion.  We could share links, pics and ideas.  Finally - I was a connected educator!  Or was I?

Conferences - now that's the ticket!  To be connected I had to meet these people face to face and really get to know them.  I attended my local CUE event and went to annual CUE.  I became an #edcamp junkie.  I had FOMO (fear of missing out) and started signing up for webinars left and right.  I felt like I had to learn everything and be able to share what I learned with everyone.  I became a #GCT and went to Google this past summer!  So now I felt like I was connected - part of the secret family after all these years.  Or was I?

Voxer, Pinterest, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram - new ways to connect!  I'll spare you the details, but they are not the silver bullet either.

None of those things singularly are what makes me a connected educator.  A connected educator is someone who can find what they need when they need it.  They share what they have learned so others can learn with them.  Being connected isn't done through a website, an app or in a conference room - it is all of those things put together.  I don't like to think of WIIFM when being connected, I like to believe in the #bettertogether concept so we can all do awesome things.

So yes, get on Twitter, Google+, Voxer, attend conferences and watch webinars - but don't do it to "be connected", do it to be a better educator for the students in your room, at your school or in your district.  Being connected is no longer something we can put is a necessity for all educators (teachers, admin, counselors, coordinators, directors, superintendents) if we want to make our schools the best place for our students.

What is Learning?

I am 2 weeks late on this post - only 1 month in to the #youredustory challenge and I have fallen two weeks behind?!  The prompt for the week was "Define 'learning' in 100 words or less" and honestly, I was having a difficult time with putting together a post for this one.

Reading through other blogs that week I was inspired to do something great.  I loved the way people put their ideas together in different ways.  I kept thinking that I needed to do something similar, but I never found the time to make it great. 

So here goes - the down and dirty of what I believe learning is in 100 words (or probably less):

Learning is a process - something that starts on your first day of life and ends on your last. As children we soak up everything we can, from watching our parents, siblings and friends to hearing things in books, TV, playing games or (nowadays) in an app or on a computer.  The best way to learn is to practice, and with practice comes failure - but with perseverance comes success...and that process from failure to success is where we learn.

Only 76 words and two weeks late, but I think you get the point.  We learn through experience and failure - it may be by our selves, with a teacher or in a group - but we have to try things in order to learn things.  So, what have you failed at today?