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 🙂



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


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.