Tech, Teaching and Me

Trying to turn off my brain by writing it down

Talking to (Strangers) Education Professionals I Don’t Know

Last month I participated in a Professional Learning Practice  webinar and Wil Richardson encouraged us all to talk to “strangers” online. I realized the wording was intentionally thought provoking. It created a buzz throughout the digital room (even titling this post “Talking to Strangers” made me uncomfortable). I have enjoyed the thoughts and discussions these words have produced. Since the webinar, I have not stopped thinking about interactions I have in my life with other education professionals I have never met face to face.

These strangers have enhanced my personal and professional life. Here are a few ways I have interacted in the last few weeks with people I have never met face to face:

-I found a fabulous Elf yourself template through a teacher I follow on Pinterest and I used it to create the cutest 1st grade Elves.

-I created contacts with teachers to form a wonderful quadblogging lesson for my 8th grade Language Arts teacher. I watch in amazement as teachers connect and student writing improves.

-I read the most amazing, honest and vulnerable student blog shared with me through a Twitter contact.

-I laughed at the Monk/Tech support video shared through Powerful Learning Practice.

-I sat in awe as I watched Sheryl Nussbaum Beach at a presentation, and I thought, she was once a stranger on line, a Twitter account I followed.

-I tweeted and added #plpnetwork and #catholicedchat  “a friend of mine is having her first chemotherapy session this week and what should I pack her?” The responses I received were kind and helpful.

-I sat in a meeting with the most amazing co-workers and two people, our Connected Learner coaches, we have never met in person, Skyped in and guided us with their thoughtful questions and insightful advice.

– I joined a Projects By Jen project. My third grade students created Christmas cards to share with 29 other teachers and students from all over the world. We anxiously wait to receive their Christmas cheer in return. We have already received two from Pennsylvania and Texas.

-I happily “chatted” for an hour this past Saturday at 9am EST through a Tweetchat using #catholicedchat . I enjoyed connecting and learning with Catholic educators all over the country.

I am not encouraging other professional educators to connect with strangers online without using common sense or appropriate digital citizenship and internet safety.  I have  carefully created a professional learning network of individuals to enhance my professional learning. I encourage and expect others to be careful and smart in these interactions.

Lastly, I will share a very personal and touching moment. Last Friday morning my good friend received her first chemo treatment. I was thinking about her as a Tweet came across my screen. A person I have never met before, a stranger, and someone I consider a friend now, sent me a Tweet and said, “Please let your friend know my students and I are praying for her.” I shared this touching message with my friend and it brought tears to her eyes. This teacher was one of those who had responded to my Tweet inquiry about helpful first chemo items. I am grateful for these connections and all of these “strangers” I now consider friends.

Do you interact with other education professionals that you have never met in person? How do they enhance your professional development? How do you ensure you do this safely?


I No Longer Teach Technology

A year ago when I signed up for a year long, 3 class Capstone journey I thought, “This will be fun! I will discover some cool new tools, work with my coworkers, and learn along the way.” I did those things. I also did so much more.

When I began the course, technology was the spotlight for me. I wanted to learn how to integrate the technology. I wanted to learn cool new programs, and websites and more technology. After this course and all of the connections and collaborations from my PLN, ironically, the technology itself is not at all my focus anymore. I am empowered to share passionate learning and passionate teaching using the enhancement of technology. Teaching and learning through technology is what I strive to do everyday. I no longer “teach technology”.

I have had many significant learning moments throughout this course. Many of those moments came from the lessons I created in Capstone I and Capstone II. As I watched students use the “Mystery Skype” lesson and discover a region of Virginia they previously only saw as a spot on the Virginia map, I realized this is how we bring the lesson to life. We must make these lessons jump out of the book and become “real”. I also was amazed at how the “Social Injustice” lesson from Capstone II took on a life of its own as students wrote in their reflections, “I realized I can make a difference in my world”. Reading their reflections brought tears to my eyes. I would have never given them that learning experience without this course.

Now, that this adventure has ended, I look forward to speaking to my husband again in the evenings. I look forward to not feeling rage when I see the Proxy error as I try to load submissions and create my Technology Portfolio. I look forward to a more relaxed pace in my personal and professional life…..for awhile. I know myself and I crave these types of learning experiences. I believe if I am standing still, I am falling behind. I must continue my learning and challenging myself.

Lastly, I must share all I have learned with my peers in face to face settings, in virtual settings, locally and globally. If I don’t, I am letting down all of those who were in the three courses with me and the coaches I had along the way. They shared with me. They encouraged me. They nudged me to do more and learn more. They selflessly shared their knowledge with me to help my students and fellow teachers. I look forward to continuing and “paying it forward” as I share, encourage and nudge others to create the best learning experiences possible.