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Posts Tagged ‘relationships’

I know that the title of my blog is Reflections on Ed Tech, but today I’m taking a moment to reflect as an educator. Renovations to one of our schools begins this summer and it’s the building in which I have an office. This is the end of my 8th year in the role of Technology Integration Specialist, but I also taught first and second grade in this district for 15 years before that.

I’m cleaning and going through things in drawers, bookshelves, and in file cabinets and it’s a wonderful walk down memory lane. I’m viewing the timeline of my life as an educator.

FullSizeRenderI’ve come across an election unit I created while student teaching. I won’t reveal who was running for president that year, but let’s just say there are mimeographed papers in the folder. Notice the issues under discussion; not much has changed.

After that, I taught in Boston at a very special school. Those memories are kept alive through the friendships that remain strong and a well-connected community.

While in graduate school for my Ed.M., I did an internship at Tom Snyder Productions. IMG_3931That’s where I met Peter Reynolds and others with whom I’m still connected. My name is
on one of the teacher’s guides to a product developed there, (proud moment), and I also have other products from TSP that I used while in the classroom. Those are strong and positive memories!

Most of what I’m finding are materials from my teaching days here in Vermont. I have file cabinets full of my resources that I think I’ll be recycling today. It’s a bit emotional, but if I ever needed materials like that, I’d likely use a different path. (OER) So many of these materials are things I created and that are only in hard-copy. Sharing resources with one another has always been important, especially in our digital world.

IFullSizeRender (1)‘ve found scrapbooks given to me by students or whole classes along with many photos. Those students are in college now. In my mind, they remain in first/second grade. There are tidbits of my life scattered around this small space, that give me pause and generate smiles.
Through it all, I’m also thinking of colleagues who are among my closest friends. That’s what happens when you work together over time, building trust, sharing memories, and depending on one another.

This reflection is generating some thoughts about education. Some things never change.

  • It’s still and always should be, about the kids. They come first.
  • Positive relationships with students create community and foster success.
  • The connections we make with colleagues matter, for us and for our students.
  • “Power is gained by sharing knowledge, not hoarding it.” ~ anonymous quote, but a good one. We need to share what we create, share via blogs, and share our reflections.

I’m learning a lot by spending some time looking through my own things. Give it a try.

 

 

 

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Ever since last summer at ISTE when I wasn’t able to get on the BreakOut Edu bus, I’ve wanted to share the idea and experience with others in our schools. Thanks to an amazingly supportive administrative team, we are now the proud owners of 5 BreakOut EDU kits. And on top of that, I was given the opportunity to play during a faculty meeting time, during which everyone was engaged in a game. (We used the Faculty Meeting game from the website.)

We had 5 teams of educators, who it turns out, got quite competitive. I’m not really surprised knowing some of my colleagues. It was fun, engaging, and energetic. They were all able to break out, with the final team coming in with 1 minute to spare! Afterward, many people thanked me for enabling us to experience those feelings with one another. We all need a chance to ‘break out’ of the routine, let go of the stresses, and just have some plain old fun together.

IMG_2481 IMG_2474IMG_3877

I truly appreciate this graphic via @MariaGalanis and @sylviaduckworth that’s actually a part of one of the challenges in the Faculty Meeting game. It sums it up nicely.

breakout

In addition to introducing BreakOut Edu to our faculty, I also had the opportunity to use the kits with a few groups of students during our recent Theme Week. For those sessions, I used the Teamwork game and The BFG game, also from the website. They were very different activities and the students gave great feedback about which type of game they preferred. It was helpful for me to use these ready-made games that others have developed and shared on the website as a way into the experience. I’ve also become quite adept at changing lock combinations.

Our teachers are ready and eager to take the next step and design their own games and use the kits with students. If you haven’t tried this yet, take a look, explore, and play. I highly recommend it!

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At the dinner table tonight, I brought up the topic of choosing our #OneWord for 2017. After being home over the holiday break, my husband and I did some cleaning out. It makes sense that he chose Simplify as his word. When we asked our son, his reply was “No.” I think that’s his word … we’ll keep working on that after we finish laughing. #TeenageHumor

oneword17Last year my word was Try. I have always loved that word and all that if connotes. My word this year is Positive. Given the political climate, I want to be sure that I focus not on that, but on my own actions. I intend to stay positive, react positively, speak positively, and collaborate positively. I also connect this word to having a growth mindset, which also means I’ll take a positive approach to whatever comes along.

I hope that having a positive attitude will cause more positive things to happen. We’ll see.

I shared the #OneWord challenge with our whole faculty and staff and created a Padlet on which we can all share our words. I won’t connect it here so that everyone has time to  contribute to it, but will follow up with another post soon.

Stay Positive!

 

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Here’s this week task for the #ETCoaches Blog Challenge:

“What are your strengths, areas for improvement, challenges, successes in your current role?” screen-shot-2016-09-18-at-4-26-05-pm

I’ll break down the individual areas with some thoughts below.

Strengths: I’m a good communicator. I respond quickly to inquiries or requests. I share new tools, ideas, and resources via a Tech News often, but not too often. As a former classroom teacher, I know how much teachers are juggling and adding another email isn’t helpful every week, so I spread them out. I stay positive and try to remain neutral.

Areas for Improvement: I know that I need to continue to build relationships, even though I’ve worked in these schools for 22 years! I’d like to work more closely with our special educators and increase my awareness of their needs in their work with students. After research and a long approval process, we’ve just purchased Read & Write for Google for all of our district’s students, grades 3-12. I’m very excited to share and support folks with this incredible resource with all of our faculty and staff.

Challenges: Like many, I’d say that time is always a factor. Determining how I best budget my time and prioritize is always a challenge. I hope to model best practices and demonstrate that student needs drive our work. We’ve embarked on some new things this year that require shifts for all of us.(We’re dropping traditional grades and gradebooks, moving to standards-based learning and reporting; middle school students now all have ePortfolios that also function as a personal learning plan, to name a few!) My challenge is to provide the support and encouragement necessary to help make this a smooth process.

Successes: I’m extremely fortunate to have opportunities to offer professional development to our faculty and supporting staff members as well. I feel that those are well-planned and facilitated, offering support, encouragement, and ideas that can be implemented right away. It is not my intention to share cool techie tools. I hope that I communicate that curriculum and pedagogy come first, followed by a discussion of how digital tools might best support the learning.

Those are initial thoughts. I’m noticing how often I used the word ‘support’. I guess that’s a big factor of who I am and what I do. As always, I welcome feedback!

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I’ve come across two things recently that caused me to pause and reflect. One was a post on Edutopia’s site, 8 Skills to Look for in a Director of Technology by Heather Wolpert-Gawron (@wolpertsclass) and the other was the graphic seen below. That one is based on work by Lee Araoz (@LeeAraoz) and illustrated by Sylvia Duckworth (@sylviaduckworth) using Sketchnote.

coach1

While my official title is not that of director or coach, I connect with many of the attributes described in both examples. I know that educators in my school, fully immersed in the day-to-day of classroom teaching, may wonder what I do all day. When I was a classroom teacher, I certainly pondered that of my predecessor. And believe me, no one works harder than a classroom teacher.

I believe that I subtly demonstrate the qualities listed in the graphic as well as in the Edutopia post. I try to respect teachers and how busy they are, while also providing vision, support, encouragement, and the necessary knowledge to keep us moving forward. However, I also learn every day from my colleagues and they keep me grounded in the realities of classroom work, student lives, and the daily challenges they face.

As we often say, it’s all about relationships. It’s a team effort and we’re winning the game. I’m extremely thankful to work in this district and with this amazing group of professionals.

 

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I’ve started to see, once again, members of my PLN on Twitter sharing their one word for 2016. They’re awesome and inspiring and got me thinking. I’m seeing words like #be and #empower. I imagine over the next few days as we near and enter 2016 that we’ll see more.

As educators, we’re often asked about that one teacher we remember. Or the one experience in a classroom we never forgot. Once I became a teacher, I wanted to be one of those teachers for my students. I imagined, as we followed the Iditarod live in the early days of utilizing the Internet for such things (around 1995), that my first and second grade students would always remember me as the teacher who guided them through that experience. Then we started creating websites and blogging, and I thought perhaps that was it.

But when I do run into students from the past, they often bring up what I shared as my ‘favorite word’ and how they never forgot that. Long ago, my students cut out 4 foot letters that spelled out the word TRY, decorated each of them, and helped me affix them to the wall.

Whenever a student was stuck or said, “I’m finished” after very little effort, I just pointed up to the word on the wall. As I thought about this post, I realized that my favorite word was a harbinger of times to come- before #grit and #mindset hit the scene.

That’s my word for 2016, as it has been for many, many years. I’m only sorry that I couldn’t find a photograph of the original.

try

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hard workAs much as I have written about and speak positively about connecting, it’s not easy. That was reflected upon recently in this post, “The Top 4 Excuses for Not Connecting.

I’ve been thinking about this as well, even before I saw that. Honestly! For me, being a connected educator requires putting in the time and building relationships. The time element is challenging for everyone. Yet somehow, there are thousands of educators blogging. I don’t even know the number of educators on Twitter, but it constantly amazes me that at no matter what time of the day, there are people sharing, participating in chats, and supporting one another. And they have the same 24 hours in a day. It all comes down to how you choose to prioritize.

Building relationships takes work in any realm and it’s no different when you’re trying to get connected. Over the past years I have made many professional connections, both face-to-face and online. But like any other budding new friendship, you have to commit and put forth the effort to build them into relationships that thrive. Relationships are both give and take. You can’t take if you don’t give. I have found that to be true- the more I give, the more I get.

Despite these challenges, it’s worth it. I feel very fortunate to have connected online a few years ago with Kay Bisaillon, whom I finally got to meet face-to-face at ISTE in San Antonio and again in Atlanta. When I saw her again this year, it felt like I was visiting with an old friend and we picked up right where we’d left off. The connection there is strong, at least for me. I know that I can turn to her with questions, ask for help making connections for collaborative projects, and seek her perspective in new ideas.

It took a few tries before Kay and I finally met in person a few years ago, but it was worth it. That’s just one example of how devoting the time to building relationships makes connecting pay off.

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