Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

So, maybe I’m not a blogger?

Posted: November 3, 2011 in Uncategorized

Last January a colleague posted a link to Shelley Wright’s blog (my tools aren’t working correctly so it’s not letting me provide the link http://shelleywright.wordpress.com/) and that post inspired me to start my own blog. From Shelley’s blog I began exploring other blogs which then led me to Twitter. Before I knew it my reader was brimming with incredible ideas and insights from people around the world and I loved it! I was active on Twitter, reading blog after blog and well, kind of active on my own blog.

As I continued to grow and learn, my blog became something I thought about, but seldom acted on and the more blogs I read, the more I believed I was a blogging failure. Time and time again the value of blogging was demonstrated and I can see the value, but I just can’t put it at the top of my list of things to do. So, this isn’t good bye, but I don’t think it’s quite the right time for me to have an active and passionate blogging career. Or maybe I just haven’t found my blogging voice quite yet.

In the meantime, I’m loving sharing the things I’m learning with my colleagues and continuing to learn and grow and who knows, I was inspired to write this blog after a bit of a hiatus, maybe this is a new beginning!

Saturday! I made it. As my body alarm went off at 6:11, I groaned just a bit because I wasn’t ready for my brain to be awake, but alas it was. This past five days were my first full week of teaching in almost eleven months. On Monday I was afraid I’d never make the end of the week, but last night as I sat dozing in a comfy chair, surrounded by close friends, I celebrated my return to the world.

My most recent bout of health issues gave me pause and a reason for some real soul searching (walking close to death does that I guess). In my reveries of times past and things to come, I forced myself to truly look at who I was and what I was doing. Two years ago when I first got sick, I almost left teaching because I just didn’t feel like I was being the best teacher I could be. Sure, I inspired kids to do good things and I helped kids find their way, but something just didn’t feel right and I was unhappy. I only ever voiced those words to my husband because it was scary to say them out loud. I’m not afraid of change; I’ve reinvented myself three times so far and I thought teaching had finally allowed me to find my niche — my passion.

It wasn’t until I found Twitter and started connecting with an incredible PLN that I realized that I’d lost my passion and that was why I was unhappy. Now, with my passion firmly in place, I’m reinventing myself as an educator. I’ve never been so tired, so excited, so scared.

Five days ago, I introduced myself to my kids and gave them a tiny bit of insight into who I am. I shared my beliefs about technology and what I think learning should be. Four days ago, I started rolling out how I thought our classes should look and asked them their thoughts and for their feedback. I was met with many a snicker of disbelief, blank stares, and a few interested looks. I desperately want them to direct the learning and not wait for me to tell them how. I want them to make choices for themselves because they want to learn and discover and explore. I want the things they learn to be things they’ll use in their lives or that are relevant to their lives. I want to teach them how to learn — not what.

Three days ago, I asked them to show me how we could meet the curriculum expectations. I told them what was considered to have successfully completed the requirements of the course. That day, I asked them questions and then asked them to show me what they wanted to learn and how we could publish the products they create. I sat watching and waiting, knowing that wait time was more important now than ever before. And I waited and waited, but nothing was offered.

Now, I realize that what I am trying to do was quite possibly something they’d never encountered in an academic class before and quite possibly way out of their comfort zone, so I threw out a couple of ideas. I really wanted them to take ownership for what we do, but I really can’t expect them to dive in head first, can I? You can’t undo thirteen years of training in two days (I have to keep reminding myself of that.). (I should mention that this is only what’s happening in one of my classes — the one I think is the most resistant to the change).

That night when I got home, I was exhausted and worried. I’d given my kids the freedom to choose, to make it relevant and as I moved among them, talking and listening, I was discouraged as many of them were off-topic and just enjoying the freedom from ‘worksheet hell’ (not that I’ve ever been a worksheet distributor). As I sat working on where I thought we should be going I was so tempted to step back into my safe and secure, tried and true lesson plans, but my heart won out over my head and I put together a handout to give my kids some guidance while still allowing them the freedom to choose.

I used that handout on the last day of the week and although I still had some kids off-task, most of them were exploring and seemed to really understand what I’d hoped they’d get out of the lesson. So, tomorrow, I’ll be exploring how to provide my kids with guidance without hemming them in. I’ll also be wandering through the resources shared by my PLN to reassure myself that this really is a great idea and to stick with it even though it’s exhausting. I know all the work is really worth it — for them — for me, but oh, how I wish there were an app for that.

So, hang on kids, we’re in for quite a ride as we figure this out, but I promise it’ll be different and worthwhile.

Oh, I almost forgot — the kids have decided to publish a magazine (for which my generous principal has offered to pay the publishing costs) for the school. I couldn’t ask for a more authentic audience and it hits all of the required reading / writing tasks and it’ll let the kids who want to use tech to use it, and those who don’t, don’t have to. We hope to publish four issues before the school year ends. So, here’s hoping that we can actually pull it off and put it together.

So, yeah, I’m exhausted and I’ve only been back a week, but it’s a happy exhausted. Now, if I could just get my brain to shut off for longer than five hours, I could really enjoy a leisurely Saturday or Sunday morning.

I’m just a little bit scared…There, I said it. Yesterday, I began the work of coming back to work. I’ve been out of the world for almost a year because of some health issues and in six days, I’ll be back in my classroom.

Now, I know I’m a good teacher and I love what I do, but Twitter and my PLN have introduced me to a whole new world that I want to bring into my classroom, but can I do it in three months? I’m scared that I’ll slip back into the ‘safe’ routine that was my classroom because it’ll be easier than tackling the new world I know exists. I have lesson plans in place (I created them for my covering teacher), but they’re the old way I taught and I want to embrace the things I’ve learned in the last two months and let my kids show me what they want to learn.

To be fair, I know that one of my classes will be easy because I already taught it the way I want to teach my other classes, but it’s the other classes that have me scared. Will the kids resist the change? Will the kids resist because it’s just easier to stick with the traditional method or they’re tired and don’t want to figure out something new? Will my colleagues think I’ve lost my mind in the past year? Will I care? All of these questions and many more are exploding in my brain and I needed to put it down on ‘paper’ so I could move on and get a move on with figuring out what I’m going to do with and for my kids.

So, yep, I am just a little bit scared, a little bit worried, but most of all, I’m excited — a lot! I can hardly wait to tackle this next step and share where we go. The Twitterverse, the twenty odd blogs I follow, and my PLN have provided me with ample ideas and resources and I am ready to go and put them into action. So, look out world, here I come.

And thanks — for sharing, for listening, and for caring.

I realized something today, less than five minutes ago really. I was watching this really incredible video from PBS about 21st Century Learners and I realized that I was hungry. (I haven’t figured out to embed the video into the post so here’s the link PBS – Digital Media – New Learners in the 21st Century)

I’m hungry. No, not for food, but for innovation and real change in my world and I haven’t felt like this since I was a new teacher. I’ve always been willing to try new things if they were good for my kids, but the more I watch, experience, learn — the more I want to be part of that change. I’m excited about teaching again! And, I have one blog post (Wright’s Room) shared by an incredible colleague (@technolit), my PLN and Twitter to thank for pointing me in this direction. Who’d have thought that February 1st would mark such a profound change for me?

I want to ‘flip’ my classroom! I want to turn all of my classes into passion-driven classes with project based learning. I want my kids to really learn and to take responsibility for their learning. (I didn’t realize I was already doing this in one of my classes; I just knew that it was good and that kids walked out learning real stuff that they will use in their lives.) I want to share with my friends and colleagues. I want to teach! I want to learn!

Woosh! Having said that, I think I’m going to take a minute to catch my breath and then jump back into the pool. I guess my point for writing this post — to say thank you. Twenty six days ago I loved what I do, but today, I still love what I do, but I’m excited to do what I do. I’m hungry to learn more, to share more, to create more. Everyone else who is passionate about their work will get that and those of you who don’t, give yourself the opportunity to be excited about what you do. If you aren’t excited — then why do it?

So, again, thank you.

Hello world!

Posted: February 1, 2011 in Uncategorized

So, it is somehow fitting that my morning began fairly typically, but then I read an email that directed me to a blog and well, long story short — here I am. This will be an adventure, a journey, a roller-coaster ride, and most of all a discovery. I teach and I want to be a better teacher. My thoughts on how to be a better teacher are to embrace the technology that is increasingly available and make it work in my classroom.

In my own words, I am a technophyte (someone who is relatively new to the world of technical gadgets and gizmos). I have the desire and the ability to learn about new technologies so now I just have to make it happen. It would seem to make sense that I should first explore the use of using a blog in my classroom, but the blog I read this morning inspired me to become a real user of Twitter so that’s my first goal. Today is February 1st, 2011 and I promise to learn something new about Twitter every day for the next month with the ultimate goal of creating a network / following and being part of a network that will feed and nourish the technophyte.

So, follow me on my journey and who knows, maybe I’ll find some other technophytes along the way and we can all stop being dinosaurs together!