Friday, January 27, 2017

The EduAwesomeness of Teachers

I came into the world of #Edtech in 2011. Of course, I had been using technology with my students for a few years before that, but 2011 was when I discover Twitter for educators. As many of you know, this opened a whole new world of awesome! 
I discovered that there were passionate people out there who felt as I felt about education, technology, and bring students to the center of learning. Seeing, connecting, and sharing with those like-minded moved me to my core. In fact, I became slightly obsessed with Twitter. So much so, my husband had to remind me that he was sitting next to me! 

Twitter was only the beginning. Being connected opened my eyes to exciting conferences, new opportunities, and pushed me to continually be updated on education and its trends. Now I write, share, connect, try things, fail often, seek the passions of my students, bring students to the center of their learning, and model my love of learning.

So what brought me to connect with other passionate educators? 

Simple. We all hold similar traits. These traits bring us together, cause us to advocate for our students, and push us to continue learning, growing, and take risks in our classrooms.

Being collaborative is what brings us, educators, together. We want to discuss, share, debate, learn, and connect. We have a need to share, gather, and discover new ideas. We want input on our lessons, classrooms, and overall design. We have a need to present those ideas at conferences, workshops, platforms big and small. We collaborate to help; to help our colleagues and our students. We are connected!!

Student Centered
Gone are the days of direct instruction. I am not saying there isn't a time and place for such, but when you have learning student-centered, students learn so much more! We know that learning takes place better when students lead. Technology has made it so that the teacher is no longer the keeper of knowledge. Students can now lead the path, research and share in discussions, and able to find solutions to issues that arise.

Risk Takers
Teachers aren't always viewed as risk takers, but there are many of us who push the limits and ask forgiveness later. We do what we need to reach our students; to do what's best for our students. We buck the system, not because we are disrupting maveriks. We buck the system because we know better is out there. We know we need to bring xyz to our students. We need to bring the curriculum to life. We need to enhance the curriculum. We need to expose students to the world and bring learning true to life. We attempt things that may or may not work. We celebrate those failures and learn from them. And when learning is successful, we rejoice in its triumph. 

All teachers are adaptive But what makes Edtech teachers truly adaptive is that we will not be pigeon held. We are pirates, mavericks, and as mentioned, risk takers. We take the curriculum we are given and add, subtract, teach and reteach in ways that our students need. No one class is the same. No one lesson is ever taught the same. We add videos, projects, links, act out scenes, sing, laugh, play games, etc as needed to reach our students. Every day, every period is a new adventure. And you know what? We RELISH and LOVE it. 

Life-Long Learner
This seems obvious, but I know many teachers that do not continue to learn and grow their craft. They are given curriculum and carry on. The teachers that are life-long learners are the ones leading EdTech. We want to continue to learn and bring those ideas to the masses, students included! We take pride in learning about our content area; new technologies; in how other schools, states, and countries learn. We dive into learning about improving teaching strategies, integration, technologies, even what is "cool" in the world of our students to draw them in. We LOVE learning. We LOVE discovering new ideas and diving further into new ideas. Learning. Never. Stops.

If you do each of these things, GREAT! I am sure a great many of you are! 

If you're not, there is great news! YOU CAN BE! There is plenty of time to learn, share, and grow in this profession of ours! Education is not stagnant nor should educators be. Let's join together, learn together, grow together. After all, we are in this together. 

Thursday, January 12, 2017

2017 Goals

The new year is upon us! And with a new year, comes new resolutions and new goals, with a little reflection of the past year.

We, my class and I, began this school year with a new schedule and new curriculum. Our schedule took away our ELA block. I know only have my students for 51 minutes each day, instead of 88. Our new curriculum wasn't exactly chosen by our site teachers (which could be a whole other blog post). Nevertheless, as a good teacher and employee, I want to teach that new curriculum in a shorter amount of time the best I can and reach students.

Reflecting back on how the first semester with a new curriculum went...I can truly say it was a challenge. Like anything new, I wasn't completely comfortable or familiar. It was like my first year of teaching all over again. Well, minus the lack in classroom management. Anyway, it was difficult. The material wasn't a favorite for my students and the material's focus seemed very repetitive-meaning the same skills were being addressed over and over again. Plus, it also seemed as if there was only content and not really teaching the skill to students. It has been incredibly confusing.

Additionally, I didn't have ways (yet) to make the lessons more engaging. Like I mentioned, the material wasn't super high interest for my students. Not all lessons are, however, I can MAKE them more interesting by adding something to the material. I just couldn't seem to figure anything "cool" to do with what I was given. I was lacking in my Teach like a Pirate ways.

So how do you deal with the struggle?

Well, winter break came and that helped. I needed to regroup and really think about my students, my class, and my approach. What I was doing last semester wasn't really working. Sure, I was "teaching the curriculum", but I haven't felt like I was reaching my students. I didn't feel like I was casting true knowledge that will last them for future years. I definitely haven't felt like I was inspiring them like I have in years past.

 So what do I do differently?

Doing what's best. I will do what is best for my students. Will I still use the curriculum? Of course, but I will supplement when and where it is needed. I will pull outside resources, I will add interactive technology that builds upon knowledge, teaches new knowledge, and helps my students explore their world while connecting them to others. I am going to do what is best for students.

I am going to integrate strategies, techniques, and skills that I  have seen work with students. I am going to bring in students interests as materials for our lessons. I am going to reconnect with other passionate educators to push me to do and be better. I will make learning student driven and focus on "If the system is set up for learning, then you will need to get out of sts way or they will bowl you over" Alice Keeler.

I will also join fellow educators that are as passionate as I am about education, about growing, about learning. I need to get back into conversations, conferences, and those that push me to be better. I love my family and kids, but I miss my professional network! I miss Twitter chats! I miss the knowledge and sharing of ideas! I need to get back so that I can do what is best for students.

2017 is my year to get back to doing what I know is best for students!