So today is the last day before I head back to work and start a new calendar year. Ughhhh. Yes that is a natural reaction, but I shouldn’t be greedy because as I lurk on Twitter I see teachers and districts already back in session. I am thankful for at least one more day to recharge and reflect on the past year.
Like all of us Educators throughout the year I had some success this year and failures. It’s the failures that I have to reflect upon because through the grace of God I made it through stronger, equipped, and prepared. This year (or school year rather) my wife and I experienced a lot of first. We are officially parents of 2 teenagers; one 13 and the other 15. That alone is a new step. As excited I am to know that my kids are older and I can let go of some things, the more I realize that our job is just beginning.
My kids are trying to make their own way and have their own opinions and we as parents are learning to let it go. My son this year was and is struggling on finding out who he is as person as all 13 year old kids do. My daughter entered high school this year which again was new territory for us.
We as parents have helped her smooth into the transition and all 3 of us realize that it truly is a different beast or world. We all struggled with her as she was trying to balance school, family, and other activities; even her health. I haven’t let on about it much, but it has been a daily/weekly battle on getting her well and motivating her to go to school. Not only were there times where she had doubts, but we had some doubts as well. Not about her but about the situation. Honestly all I could do was leave it up to God and put it in his hands. There were some things that my daughter wanted to do but we had to take a step back and wait which made her upset. However, it was the best thing. Growing pains.
There were initiatives that I placed on my campus when it came to innovation and integration that didn’t pan out like I thought it would. I was stressed about it and I would get upset. I think only a few people noticed. At the same time I’m doing outside things to help inspire and encourage me to keep going. However, I just felt unfulfilled. Again these are growing pains.
As you are reading this you are probably thinking….Wow he had a lot going on. We all do. However, as I prepared for this school year I never thought about what other things are in place, but who does. When your passion driven, that fuel pushes you sometimes to get to that finish line so you can start the race; if that makes sense.
It wasn’t until Thanksgiving and the Holiday break that I really sat down and begin to reflect what I have been doing this semester. There is a quote from my friend from my PLN that says: --"Grant me the Serenity to accept the technology I can not change. The Courage to learn and use the technology I have and the Wisdom to ask my PLN for help"-- My PLN: Rachel Wooten
It is adapted from the Serenity Prayer below.
I have Rachel’s quote as part of my signature for my email. But, it wasn’t until these breaks that I really understood what this truly means to me.
With every struggle I face and every heartache I go through it makes me more prepared and a better person. The times I spent with my son I realize how inventive he is and how he picks up on things rather quickly. When he puts his mind to something he sets it out and he does it. He does get frustrated, but he is persistent in getting his task done. He is one of the reasons why he inspired me to come up with my district’s technology conference theme for next year.
Spending time with my daughter I see how artistic and beautiful she is. She has a beautiful voice and can pick up on drawing and dancing like anyone I know. She loves make-up, and when you hear her talk about the proper way to use it and apply your mouth will drop. She makes me want to put on makeup, not that I would or anything (LOL) but the way she educates you on it you have an understanding of it.
And don’t get me started on their gaming abilities. I am a gamer myself but when your own kids school you on how to play and show you better options on completing your task in a game you just want to just pass the torch and just watch. It’s amazing. But don’t tell them that I told you that. Bottom line is that I see the growth and talent that they have beyond just regular school. However, they know that I am a stickler for their academics and they know that it is important, but I respect their wonderful gifts and they know that.
My work life isn’t always rosy, and what job is, but what I do realize is that my staff from administrators to teachers give me the tools to help me grow in my profession. They have allowed me to be the cheerleader to help support them in their innovation goals. They allow me to grow in my craft and help the campus to grow. The majority know my purpose and they try to fit innovation and integration in their classes whenever they can. Even though I have had setbacks with initiatives, I have so many teachers understand the power of innovation and integration. I know I am making a difference when I have reluctant teachers go to Twitter and have fun with it. They now are understanding that the transformation doesn’t have to be overnight, but if you take baby steps and work with what is comfortable you can keep growing. And for me that is what I am looking at; growth. Just like teachers look at students. Let’s not forget I had a chance to step out of my comfort zone and become an author with some amazing people in my PLN (Again thank you Sarah Thomas for that).
When I return testing season will officially begin. It is still my job to support and be that cheerleader for my campus. We will still integrate and innovate. Those state tests are just a day to take a test. My focus is to get my campus learning, growing, and opening their eyes to things that they never thought that they could do. I will be changing some initiatives around to help support the students and teachers better and we are just going to grow. What I realize is that all the struggles that have been placed upon me this fall semester are now allowing me to grow. My seed has been planted and it’s up to me to tend to it and let it grow and flourish. I truly believe that 2017 will be a great year for growth, positivity, change, and risks. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for me.
This is my favorite time of year. Yes it's the holiday season, but Computer Science Week falls in December. We have many initiatives in the district, and some take a while for everyone to jump on the band wagon and process, but Computer Science is just a no brainer. I love the fact that this year we just didn’t call it the “Hour of Code”, we called it computer science. When we change our mindset to this it’s more than just a moment for students and teachers to do. It becomes embedded in the curriculum and it becomes a lifestyle that just happens in the classroom.
I walked around campus and lurked on Twitter to see all of the great things happening. I couldn’t make it to all the rooms, but what I did see where students and teachers working together to problem solve, communicate, and collaborate to complete a task. There was no theory behind it, no workshop, and not even yours truly giving a professional development on how this could work. It was truly something organic that was happening in the classroom. Everyone loved it. Some teachers were even shocked and amazed at the fact how groups were getting along to figure out a tasks.
One of the biggest tasks I had to do myself was to figure out how to get this moving on my campus without a hitch. The quickest thing for a teacher to say when introducing something new is “I don’t have time for this” and “I have grades to do”. How do I make something fun that everyone will like to do and still have teachers go on with the day to day tasks of teachers teaching content.
I actually love the fact that we used social media this year to track how other schools are coding insteading of using lines on the code.org site. For my teachers I didn’t want to worry them about logins and passwords (at least not on the coding platform); I wanted them to just code. For two days I looked at every content and extra curricular activity in my building and chose vocabulary words and activities that were dedicated to that content. I even gave options each day for plugged and unplugged activities. I even created a website for teachers to do activities as well. #nocodingexcuses I wanted to make sure that the code activities blended into something that they were already doing. Take my band teacher for example. I knew that there was no way he was going to have time to do any coding activities in his room because he had to prepare his band students for the Holiday Concert this week. Every second and minute counted. So, all I had him do was discuss vocabulary terms like persistence, debugging, and looping while he rehearsed with his students. This way he could participate and explain to his students how these “programming” words relate to music. It was a definite win win. Students even wanted to do the mannequin challenge and code. All this was student and teacher driven. This really showed me that students and teachers have a passion not just with coding or programing, but with technology integration. It’s something that I choose to keep going on my campus all year.
Feel free to take a look at how all this was laid out HERE!
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