Tech, Teaching and Me

Trying to turn off my brain by writing it down

Vision for the Future

Recently the Master Curriculum Council for our Diocese of Richmond revised our Technology Standards. I am fortunate enough to be Co-Chair of this council and was a very active part in the revision. Our previous standards were written in 2007 and were very cutting edge at the time. They were in place for 5 years. In technology time, 5 years is like dog years….a lifetime!

The previous standards, that are still in place for this school year have references to floppy discs and dot matrix printers. Can you program a VCR? The previous committee had created a wonderful set of standards for the time. It was impossible for them to see into the future and create a set of standards that would still be effective, technologically speaking, five years into the future. This committee learned from that and adjusted. We put into place the NSTE standards and have put in place a yearly revision to create a living document. This document can and will be updated and edited on a yearly basis to reflect current programs, applications.

Our previous standards were very teacher driven. Can the teacher do this? Does the teacher know that? Again, we learned from those standards and in conjunction with the NSTE standards, our new standards for the Diocese and my school going forward are very student driven. Our new standards are focused and centered around students and their accomplishments.

The teacher no longer needs to be the only expert in the room, the era of the “sage on the stage” is fading. Students learn from other students, teachers learn from other teachers and teachers and students learn from each other. This learning is not confined to the classroom walls, either. Collaboration and learning among schools and classes across state lines and oceans is happening in my school and in my Diocese.

In the first minute of the above video, the frightening statistic is stated; “The US Department of Commerce ranked 55 industries in technology intensiveness. Education was ranked #55, below coal mining.” What a startling statistic! Our vision here at my school and our Diocese is to increase that ranking. To create an environment of collaboration, engagement, passionate learning and technological infusion that enables learning new things in new ways. We are not looking to trade a $.29 pencil for a $1,000 computer. New approaches, new learnings and new perspectives must be applied. We are hoping to in fact, learn new things, with new tools in new ways.

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Learning Everday

As my Capstone I course starts to come to and end, I am faced with the question, “How do I continue my professional development on a continual basis?” I believe it is my responsibility as an educator to continue learning everyday.

I am an active member of the Twitter community, and find myself participating in the #edchats as often as possible. This activity allows me to stay active in my global community. I am also fortunate to conduct bi-monthly training sessions with teachers from every grade level I teach. These sessions allow me to continue my involvement in the local community.  Over the years, I have developed my Professional Learning Community here at my school. In the past year or so, I have developed a very supportive and impressive Personal Learning Network through Twitter.

In fact, I am reading Sheryl Nussbaum Beach’s “The Connected Educator” along with other co-workers, http://www.21stcenturycollaborative.com/2011/09/the-connected-educator/. We get together and discuss the different chapters. It has been a very rewarding process for us. Sheryl’s explanation of the different types of learning communities has been very helpful to me. Understanding that at Professional Learning Community, is a group of educators I work with in person, at my school. My Personal Learning Network, is a group of educators and professionals that I have developed on my own, in more of a digital world, to enhance my teachings. My goal is to now create a Community of Practice. To create my Community of Practice, I need to take these groups I have created around me, and add a common objective or purpose. Creating a clear goal, like empowering and reshaping the educators of today for the betterment of society tomorrow, and using these communities to achieve that goal, is a Community of Practice. Using all of these effective, powerful relationships to create a positive and purposeful outcome is the goal before me.

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Just Keep Trying

As our Capstone 1 course comes to a slow, detail oriented close, I look back on the last few weeks and realize many things. This course was an enormous amount of painstaking work. The time investment was intense. I thought the class would be a lot of work, but I really did not fully comprehend the work load I would be expected to produce. At the end of January, I had breast cancer reconstruction surgery, in the middle of the course. For a few weeks before the surgery, I anxiously prepared for the surgery and for a few weeks after, I recovered. Once I caught my breathe,  I realized I had a huge amount of work to do.Teaching, lessons, planning, and not to mention my family and home life takes up most of my time. Where was I going to find more hours in the day? I began trying desperately to dig myself out of the hole. Yet, each week, as I tried harder and harder, I felt as if I was failing more and more. And, honestly, my grades left something to be desired. There was more than once I thought it was time to quit. As my good friend and co-worker, Sr. Rita says, “My guardian angel was working overtime” because I remembered at the start of the school year (before Capstone courses were even a thought in my head), I had decided my motto for this school year would be “just keep trying”.

As I realized failure was a real possibility, I decided two things. First, if I was going to fail, it wouldn’t be because I had given up on myself. It wouldn’t be a lack of effort that would sink me. Second, I decided that even if I did fail this course, I would be on the winning end with the knowledge I had gathered. If the ultimate objective of any course is learning, growing, and adding a new perspective, then I would give myself a passing grade by learning as much as I could. In the end, I decided, I would determine if I passed. The rest would all be a bonus.

So, I failed until I succeeded. I still don’t know if I have passed the course. Or, if I have even been recommended to continue to the third part of the course. My grades improved each session after I began the “big dig”. After awhile, I finally felt as if I understood what was being expected, and I could deliver it (mostly).  I  know I feel as if I have succeeded. I have finished the majority of the work and am just waiting now for reviews and suggestions for corrections. I have learned many things that have improved my teaching and will make my classroom and my lessons much richer. I learned many digital tools, many new perspectives, and made some wonderful connections. Most of all, I learned that I am proud of me.

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