Posted in General

A New Chapter

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I have been quiet on my blog for many reasons, but the main one being that I was working toward another shift in my career as an educator. I became aware that my position as a Teacher on Assignment was not going to be continued into the next school year, so I was looking at going back into the classroom. That prospect was exciting to me. I am an educator, how could it not be?

For the past 2.5 years as a teacher on assignment working out of the central office, I realized that I missed being at a school site. I missed being a part of a school community. I missed seeing the kids each day, collaborating with my fellow educators, talking with school staff, celebrating successes, and addressing challenges. Since I am working on my doctorate in educational leadership, it made sense to me that I would look to return to a school site as an administrator. I had been interviewing for months with no offers so I had figured my return to a school site would be in the classroom. Since I wanted my return to a school site to be a new adventure for me, I asked Human Resources to place me at a middle school since I was well aware my credential would permit me to teach at that level. I had been placed at a wonderful middle school, even toured the room I would have to teach 8th grade Language Arts and Social Studies, spoke with the principal several times, and met staff members. I did make the principal aware I was still interviewing for administrator positions, but those were coming to a close.  Soon after I finished my final interviews, I was offered a position as an assistant principal at two elementary schools by my new district. I was excited to accept and am thrilled to be a part of something new. It wasn’t until I had to resign my position with my former district of 18 years that I realized I was truly beginning a new chapter. I suppose signing that resignation made it very real. I have no regrets. My former district taught me so much about being an educator and a leader. They hired me when no one else would and encouraged me when no one else did. I am indebted to them for providing me with such an amazing group of educators to work with and learn from.

When I first left the classroom I struggled with what to do with this site. While I posted some over my tenure as a teacher on assignment, I did not post as much as I would have liked. Now that I am returning to not one, but two school sites, I would like to think I could blog more regularly. I can’t promise that as I know how busy school administrators are, but I would like to try. It is my intent to share as much as I can as I transition from educator to administrator.

Posted in CCCWrite, Reflective Writing Club

Reflective Writing Club: The Impact of Digital Technologies

img_6057Reflective Writing Club Prompt 3:

  • Compare your current professional experiences with your professional experiences at the beginning of your career.
  • Discuss how digital technologies have impacted what you do professionally and how you do it.
  • Has your professional identity shifted at all as a result of the emergence of digital technologies? What about who you interact with and how you interact with them?

I became an educator in 2000 and have worked for the same school district for my entire career thus far. When I reflect on my professional experiences through the lens of digital technologies, the beginning of my career is vastly different than my more recent experiences.

One major difference that jumps to mind at the moment is the entire job hunting process. I recall having to fill out paper applications for a teaching job. Edjoin is used pretty extensively in my area (though I have been told that is not necessarily the case nationwide) and the automation of the application process has made it much easier to apply for more positions in a variety of locations. The use of EdJoin in my search for an administrative position has made it incredibly easy to cast a wide net. Too wide as my husband would complain, he has gotten rather used to me working very close to our home.

In terms of the classroom, things have changed tremendously. As a student I had some access to emerging digital technology, but that was very limited. Those experiences with technology are some of my most fond school memories. I even remember an instance where I had asked a teacher in upper elementary (somewhere between 4th and 6th grade) about using a computer she had in the back of the classroom. She wouldn’t let me for reasons I don’t exactly recall, but I do recall the machine was seldom (if ever) used. When I became a teacher myself decades later, it was surprising to see that not that much had changed. Instead of one or two machines in a room (if there was one at all) there was now 3 or 4…for classes of 20-30 students. There weren’t any computer labs yet so it was a real challenge to give students the exposure to digital technologies that I felt they needed.

My family had always been rather techie. We got our first family computer in 1992, though I had been exposed to computers for a few years already in school. I had been exposed a little to computers in upper elementary and even more so in intermediate school. I recall distinctly being enrolled in the one computer class they offered and working both with MS-DOS as well as Apple lle (which was nearly 5 year old technology at the time). My family moved just after intermediate school ended. It wasn’t particularly traumatizing for me, though like most kids I would have preferred we not move so I could go to high school with my friends.  My new high school was fine and they offered a computer class too, where I got to work with newer machines and the variety of productivity programs available at the time. I distinctly remember getting to make a flyer…for what I don’t recall, but it was a very enjoyable learning experience.

College took my use of technology to a whole new level. I recall how important it was for them to promote that they had multiple computer labs…some strictly Apple and some strictly Windows. It was during college that my parents got me my own machine…an all in one. The brand escapes me now, but I know I really wanted an Apple iMac and I think I may have gotten a Compaq (price likely the reason).

I feel like I have fallen down a nostalgic technology hole and am veering off topic. So let me refocus. College took my use of digital technologies to a whole new level. Emails and preparing my coursework digitally became the norm. Social media wasn’t huge back then…tho I did have a MySpace account before I had a Facebook account, but I think that came a bit later. (Note: MySpace was created in 2003 and I graduated from college in 1996.) Online applications weren’t huge yet so my job hunt once returning home from college was rather traditional. While I recognize this post is to do with professional identity through digital technologies, I have to acknowledge that I first began building a digital identity for myself via America Online. That experience was completely new and one many learned by doing. There weren’t all these handy sites explaining the importance of online safety and whatnot, though I found if you used your common sense you could stay out of trouble online. I didn’t truly begin to develop my professional online identity until I launched my own class website in 2005 (this one, though it looked much different back then) and got active with Discovery’s Educator Network. That was another point in my digital learning that greatly accelerated my understanding of digital technologies and how to use them effectively as an educator.

My professional identity is always evolving, thanks to digital technologies. I have more recently began to use my online professional identity to network with other educators across a variety of platforms. My biggest difficulty is keeping up with all of them and continuing meaningful conversations with everyone, but I doubt I am alone in that. With how easy digital technologies have made it to communicate globally, it is very easy to get swept away by the tide of information.

How have digital technologies impacted you?
Share with me in the comments below 🙂

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Posted in CCCWrite, Reflective Writing Club

Reflective Writing Club: Conferencing

So much for keeping up with new blogging prompts! I blame rewriting my dissertation prospectus and preparing myself for an effective job hunt as I work toward the next phase of my career. I really liked the premise of Michelle Pacansky-Brock’s Reflective Writing Club, so I am going to carry on anyway, even though the last prompt in her 6 week cycle was due on March 2nd.

Reflective Writing Club Prompt 2:

  • Discuss the role that attending conferences plays in your professional learning.
  • Reflect on one valuable conference experience you had and discuss why you found it valuable.
  • Let us know what happens once your conference experience is over.
  • Do you share what you’ve learned and, if so, how and with whom?

I love conferences. I would go to much more of them if I could afford to pay for them all. I am sure there are some educators and administrators out there whose employers pay for them to go to conferences, but that has not been the case for me. I think conferences are very valuable learning & professional development experiences that more educators and administrators should be able to go to.

My go-to conference of late has been ISTE . I am SUPER techie and love seeing all the different ways you can implement technology into education. I enjoy keeping myself in “the know” with what is going on with educational technology and the various ways innovators are using it to enhance academic experiences and outcomes for students.

Once the conference is over I internalize the information and move on. I recognize this is not the ideal way to process what has occurred. Ideally, I would love to put what I have learned together in a way to be of use to my colleagues. The trouble I have encountered is that is typically not the practice in my current work environment. That has everything to do with organizational culture which is a whole other topic.  So rather than focus on that, I will make a departure into my own little world where educators get sent to conferences and return to their school sites and present what they have learned. In that alternate universe, I would have viewed ISTE through a site-specific or district-specific lens. I would target things that I knew my school/district needed, or the reasons they sent me in the first place. I would have absorbed everything about those relevant topics that I could have, networked with the right people, and synthesized information. Upon returning to my site/district I would put that information together in a way that was easy to digest. Being a lover of tech, I would more than likely have created a Sway that highlighted all the most relevant information and included links to supporting information. That Sway would be publically available to anyone who had an interest in what I had to share.

Do you get to go to many conferences? If you do go to conferences, how do you share what you have learned with others? Let me know in the comments below! 🙂

Posted in Reflective Writing Club

Reflection

Ryker Rear View
I couldn’t resist using this as my post photo given that Michelle used one much like it in hers. What’s special about this photo is that it is one of my own. The dog is my sweet Red Lab Ryker.

Through my experience with Edublogs’ EduBlogsClub, I got to know some very interesting and insightful educator-bloggers. One of my favorites was Michelle Pacansky-Brock. Now that the EduBlogsClub prompts are done, she has started The Reflective Writing Club as a professional development offering from @ONE (Online Network of Educators which is the result of a grant from the California Community Colleges. Michelle has done an impressive job of crafting the learning experience – from setting up a learning management system to reminder emails, she hasn’t missed a beat. So while I had intended on catching up on my remaining EduBlogsClub posts, Michelle’s group started and I figured I would stay on track with that instead of falling behind.

The Reflective Writing Club Prompt 1:

Identify a time in your past and think critically about differences between then and now. How have you changed? What do you know now that you wish you had known then about yourself, your profession, other people, technology, or life in general?

What jumps to mind immediately for me with this prompt is me from three years ago versus me now. In 2015, I felt that after 15 years in the classroom it was time for the next stage in my career as an educator. I had long desired to become an instructional coach. I had applied many times within my own district over the previous 5 years, only to be rejected every time. 2015 was different, I was finally accepted by my district as a teacher on assignment/instructional coach. I was thrilled…and scared. I had an amazing position at an amazing school and I was about to give it all away for the unknown.

Over the past three years, I have suffered a lot of professional disappointment since leaving the classroom. I am careful about writing too much about them as it has always been of the utmost importance to me to keep things positive on my blog while being as authentic as possible. I have become more cautious, critical and closed since leaving the classroom as a result of what I have experienced. So what would I have told my 2015 self? Get ready for a very bumpy ride. Learning and growing isn’t always sunshine and rainbows. Don’t become cynical and don’t give into the sadness. Remain the optimist you are and know that there is always light after the dark. Everything happens for a reason, and it is up to you to make the most of life’s lessons.

Mountain Goat
Since Ryker kicked off this post, it was only fair he would close it. He has been a source of comfort on so many levels.
Posted in Reflections

You Learn Something New Every Day

Dr. King
Image Credit: John Hain on Pixabay

Today is Martin Luther King Jr. day…a national holiday in the United States. As an educator, I have taught countless 2nd – 5th graders about Dr. King. As I took in all the media coverage about this important holiday today, there was a part of the history behind this holiday that I had been completely unaware of – the significance of a song written by Stevie Wonder that I had never taken the time to truly process.

The only parts of this song I ever really heard was the chorus, and I thought this was just a more ‘modern’ way to sing Happy Birthday, as there are a variety of takes on this classic tune. But the parts of the song that aren’t the chorus are very significant:

You know it doesn’t make much sense
There ought to be a law against
Anyone who takes offense
At a day in your celebration
‘Cause we all know in our minds
That there ought to be a time
That we can set aside
To show just how much we love you
And I’m sure you would agree
It couldn’t fit more perfectly
Than to have a world party on the day you came to be

I just never understood
How a man who died for good
Could not have a day that would
Be set aside for his recognition
Because it should never be
Just because some cannot see
The dream as clear as he
That they should make it become an illusion
And we all know everything
That he stood for time will bring
For in peace our hearts will sing
Thanks to Martin Luther King

Why has there never been a holiday
Where peace is celebrated
All throughout the world
The time is overdue
For people like me and you
Who know the way to truth
Is love and unity to all God’s children
It should never be a great event
And the whole day should be spent
In full remembrance
Of those who lived and died for the oneness of all people
So let us all begin
We know that love can win
Let it out don’t hold it in
Sing it loud as you can

We know the key to unity all people
Is in the dream that you had so long ago (happy birthday)
That lives in all of the hearts of people (happy birthday)
That believe in unity (happy birthday)
We’ll make the dream become a reality (happy birthday)
I know we will (happy birthday)
Because our hearts tell us so (happy birthday)

I started my educational experience in the 80s, I am not ashamed to say that it was 1979 when I entered kindergarten. It seems odd to me that I attended school before the holiday in honor of Dr. King was official. It wasn’t until I was in the 6th grade that the holiday honoring Dr. King was officially observed. There is a great post about this bit of history written by Marcus Baram that has all the details, but it just amazes me how you really can learn something new every day, even about a subject like Dr. King and everything he stood for and his memory continues to stand for. Happy Birthday to you Dr. King!

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Posted in Edublogs

Digital Citizenship

digital citizenshipEduBlogsClub Prompt #28:

Prompt: Write a post about digital citizenship

  1. How do you teach students about being good digital citizens and appropriate behavior on the web?
  2. Have you had any specific experiences related to students, behavior, and the web?
  3. How do you think that digital citizenship is related to in person citizenship?
  4. What would you add to the list of digital citizenship elements and why?
  5. How have positive and/or negative experiences online influenced your digital citizenship values?

Digital citizenship has always been important to me as an educator. I recall very clearly the last year I was in the classroom (2015), that I promised myself I would make digital citizenship a priority despite the lack of significant technology in my classroom. My students deserved it. They needed online skills. What I mean by lack of significant technology is that my classroom of 30ish 4th graders had 4 desktop computers and we had computer lab time for only a fraction of the school year when state testing or district testing was not occurring.

Despite the lack of a 1:1 or a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) initiative, I was able to teach digital citizenship. A safe way to do this was the use of Edmodo. It was safe for me as an educator because it was a district approved site and designed for student use. I took computer lab time to teach my students the ins and outs of Edmodo and they were very excited to use it. Because of our limited tech situation during the school day I fully expected most of the true interactions to happen at home where students were free to use their own devices. And use their own devices they did! It amazed me how quickly some of my students became cyber-bullies. It was shocking really and a very teachable moment. I would monitor Edmodo anytime I had the chance to, which meant several times a day during the school day as well as during my own time. I would then deal with any troubling issues like cyber-bullying as well as praise students for their creative ways of using the online setting in a positive way and related to their studies. I would always take a bit of class time to highlight things on Edmodo I had observed, the good and the bad. Mind you, I was careful to avoid publicly shaming students who had succumbed to cyber-bullying, but I did not avoid talking openly about it. We had very healthy conversations in class about what was good online behavior and what was not. I think it helped students to better understand what was bullying behavior and what was productive online behavior. It also helped students connect online interactions to their educations and not strictly social places to goof off.

I have been an ISTE member for a long time and have even managed to attend a couple of ISTE conferences. I highly recommend membership for all 21st Century Educators. They have amazing standards for Administrators, Educators, and Students that truly and clearly outline what sorts of goals we should have in all of those roles in today’s educational landscape. It has been the ISTE standards for students that has guided my instruction and motivated me to be creative and not let my limited resources prevent the instruction of digital citizenship.

I have been fortunate to have had many incredibly positive experiences online. The various platforms that exist to broaden our horizons and truly make us all global citizens is astounding. I want my students to be able to partake in that digital and global community and not only benefit from it, but contribute to it. That is why I teach digital citizenship with every opportunity I get.

Since I no longer have my own classroom, I have one active and ongoing student, my son: a 7th grader at Connections Academy, a public online charter school. Digital citizenship is a daily occurrence for him as his entire school day is spent online. He attends live lessons daily, which look more like interactive webinars for those familiar with such things. He interacts with his friends online as well, largely via Skype and whichever online game they happen to be playing.

Choosing online school was a family decision and took some rearranging of our lives. First and foremost I did not feel he was benefiting from what I call a “traditional” schooling within my own school district. Others in the online schooling community call it “brick and mortar” schooling. Either way, my son was falling through the cracks and also had to deal with escalating bullying. To make matters worse, he was officially diagnosed with depression and anxiety. As an online learner myself (I completed my second Masters degree online and am currently working on my doctorate online), and someone passionate about online learning, I knew this was a viable option for my son’s education. I believe online learning has been successful for my son and my family thus far (we started this school year). It did require my mother moving back in with us (which she was going to do anyway) so that my son could have some supervision during the day while my husband and I are at work. However, I have never had his schooling be so transparent. I know exactly what he is working on and how to swiftly and easily reach his teachers. His current grades are only a click away and always up to date. My son is using technology all day long which is helping his digital citizenship skills tremendously and helping him work on the other standards that ISTE outlines for students.

I don’t believe the teachable moments I have with my son about digital citizenship are any different than I had with my students in the classroom. The only difference is perhaps I am a bit more direct with my son as the filter that teachers need to use with children that are not their own is not necessary when it comes to talking to my own child.

How do you teach digital citizenship to your students? How do you teach it to your children? Is it the same? Different?

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Posted in Edublogs

Celebrate and Reflect

celebrate and reflect#EduBlogsClub Prompt #40:

Prompt: Celebrate and Reflect

Some of the topics you might like to discuss this week include:

  • Goals: What are your blogging goals and how have these changed over the year?
  • Achievements: What are you proud of?
  • Benefits: What do you see as the benefits of blogging? Has it been worthwhile for meta-cognition? Relaxation? Building community? Gaining new insights?
  • The future: How would you like your blog to evolve?

While we won’t keep publishing weekly prompts, anyone is still welcome to respond to any of the previous prompts. We will still be monitoring comments so would love to hear from you and read your posts.

Happy New Year!

I have been spending the past several weeks thinking about how I wanted to use my website and getting back on track with the posts from the EduBlogsClub challenge that I have not completed. It seemed fitting to take the last post in the series and use it at the start of a new year. I am not one for resolutions, but I do enjoy reflecting on the the year and thinking about what went well and what could have been done better. I have to say I am going to miss the regular challenges, I did enjoy the prompts, but I guess this is sort of a training wheels moment…off they come! I will remain a follower of EduBlogs of course, I think they do great work and while I never got to use them with my own students, I would recommend them to any educator looking to blog with students or to start their own blog.

What are your blogging goals and how have these changed over the year?

My only blogging goal last year was to complete the EduBlogsClub challenge. While I did not complete all the posts in 2017, I will be completing all the posts as I move into 2018, so I won’t count that goal as a fail. 😉

What are you proud of?

I am proud that I made it through the majority of the EduBlogClub prompts! As of this post I was able to complete 29 out of 40 prompts. I am very pleased with that and I know the other 11 will be complete in the coming weeks. Once this post is live I will only have 10 more prompts to complete!

What do you see as the benefits of blogging? Has it been worthwhile for meta-cognition? Relaxation? Building community? Gaining new insights?

I think blogging is very beneficial. It has certainly been worthwhile for meta-cognition, relaxation, building community and gaining new insights. I highly recommend blogging to anyone…not just educators and their students. I have always been one inclined to journal, but I have never been consistent with it. Perhaps I needed an audience to engage with and to learn from.

How would you like your blog to evolve?

That is a great question, and one I have given a good deal of thought. I left the classroom in 2015 and for the ten years before that my blog had been a communication tool I used with my students and their families. Once I left the classroom, I was unsure what the purpose of my blog would be and it was dormant initially. I then realized that my leaving the classroom was an opportunity to give my blog a new purpose and that is when I began the EduBlogsClub challenge. I am very grateful to them for posting such interesting prompts and for allowing me to be a part of their blogging community. As I transition from educator to aspiring administrator, I will continue to blog about topics related to education and continue to build my virtual professional learning community.

Thank you for reading and I wish you a 2018 full of opportunities and growth.

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