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.

Advertisements

One month ago if you’d told me that I’d be blogging, tweeting on Twitter, and offering to teach others (parents and colleagues) how to do it, I’d have told you you were crazy. But, that’s exactly where I am now and I couldn’t be happier.

On Thursday, @joe_bower from my PLN shared a “How To: Twitter for Educators”. I immediately jumped onto my Board’s email client and shared the link. What followed next was the surprising part for me — I offered to teach anyone who was interested in learning how to use Twitter, how to tweet. I even left detailed instructions on how to access my Diigo bookmarks and then to find my Twitter lists so they could explore on their own if they preferred. Now, as of today, no one has taken me up on my offer, but it is the week before our March Break and I have been quite zealous in what I share with my colleagues so who knows.

The second part of my offer went to my principal when Technology Night for Parents was shared by my PLN and I immediately saw the value of the idea for my own school. Not only did I offer to teach a night or two, I offered to establish this initiative and maintain it (because I don’t already wear enough hats in the building) because it’s a great idea. A great idea that will benefit parents, the community and ultimately our school and our kids. What’s not to love?

So, if you’re thinking that Twitter might be a good thing to explore, but you’re worried about jumping into something new at a time of the year when you may not have a lot of energy left to spare, my recommendation to you is to just do it. Twitter, blogging and my ever expanding PLN have re-inspired me and helped me find my excitement once more and nothing is more energizing than that.

So, give yourself a chance and try it. Who knows, you may just end up like me and love it!

Oh, and if you want a semi-fluent tutor — I’m game. We can Skype and I’ll talk you through it!

Should I put my hand down?

Posted: February 28, 2011 in School Life

Today as I was reading / working through tweets in TweetDeck and the various blogs in my reader, I kept flipping back to our Board’s email / conference client and sharing links and articles that I found compelling. In under five minutes I’d made over ten posts / emails to various conferences and topics. As I read through a really exciting blog The Learning Nation, I immediately flipped to share it. As I did, I had the most skin crawling reaction that I had become the kid at the front of the class that the rest of the class hates because they know something about everything and can hardly wait to share it.

So, my momentary epiphany gave me pause and I only posted the link to my own school because I know most of my colleagues think I have stuff worth sharing and it was a safe place to share.

I’m relatively new to blogging, Twitter and so many of the other things I’m now exploring, but my excitement is boundless. I wrote a post about being hungry yesterday and Twitter has helped me stay that way. And today I’m concerned that the incredible resources (I think they are anyway) I’ve been sharing will simply be ignored because I’ve ‘had my hand up so many times today’.

So, my question to my PLN and anyone else who stumbles upon my post — should I put my hand down? Should I care that people may simply ignore my shares? This is me thinking out loud, but if anyone has any experiences to share or some insight, I’d love to hear it.

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.

Well, it’s been a little over two weeks since I was inspired to begin my journey of becoming a 21st century educator and I couldn’t be happier. In a time period that’s been filled with challenges and triumphs, I feel like I’m light years ahead of where I was just fourteen short days ago. How can that truly be possible?

Fourteen days ago, I decided that I would learn how to use Twitter. I began following about fourteen people; I’m now up to 45 and I’m following a list as well. Seven days ago I inspired another teacher to get into Twitter and began teaching him how it worked. Yesterday, I entered a contest for my classroom using Twitter (I submitted four entries / tweets!) and today, well today I emailed my principal and asked him if we could explore a Twitter account for my school after reading Brendan Schneider’s HOWTO: Start Using Twitter For Your School. One paragraph into that email and I had volunteered to set up the school’s Twitter account, to teach other staff how to use Twitter, and to take responsibility for the school’s Twitter account (running all school posts by him or another admin first). I went on to explain how I felt it would be an appropriate, timely, and innovative way of reaching out to our parents and our community.

How, or rather when, did I stop being a Twitter neophyte and instead become confident enough in my brand new skill that I volunteered to teach other people or represent my school? I really don’t know when it happened, but I do know that all of the incredible information and support I’ve received from people I don’t even know has given me the courage to put it out there.

All I can say is thank you. Thank you to the Twitterverse and for all of the incredible educators out there who share and support newbies like me.

So, my next challenge (not that I even remotely know everything there is to know about Twitter), do I explore the new Google site I’m creating or continue participating in the three wikis I’ve joined or maybe I will find another blog or five to add to the twelve I’ve already got in my reader or….and the list goes on.

Two weeks ago I was afraid of learning about one thing and instead I’ve learned about multiple things and there is no looking back. Look out 21st century, here I come!

You Can’t Be My Teacher!

Posted: February 8, 2011 in Me & Technology

Justin Tarte – Life of an educator…: 10 videos that will IGNITE a discussion – Part 2

Justin shared ten more videos on his blog and as I watched through them, I was struck by You Can’t Be My Teacher (Ironic that I can’t figure out how to make this a link, but I’ll keep trying.) I’ve seen videos with similar ideas, but this one struck a chord for me. Perhaps it is because I have been so hungrily reading and learning this past week in order to avoid becoming the teacher who can’t be his teacher or perhaps it is that as I left a comment for Justin, I realized that I had become that teacher.

When I began my teaching career in 1998, I was 33. Now, I was far from the average new teacher graduate because of my age and my desire to see and use technology in my classroom. I was far from a digital native, but I loved technology — so much so that I insisted on bringing technology into everything I could. Everything I learned was from the internet. My excitement was contagious and my Board responded by having me provide PD to other teachers.

I was enthralled with what could be done and my kids loved it. I had kids who would come by after school so they could work on their projects and I spent most lunches in a computer lab so kids could have extra time. It was easy; it was fresh; and I loved it! (I should probably tell you that I taught in a classroom across from a brand new computer lab. We had top of the line equipment because our school had just been rebuilt.)

It wasn’t until I responded to Justin yesterday that I recognized how far from that teacher I had now become. It wasn’t that I no longer had the interest or desire, but I’d allowed myself to become jaded. The technology in my school is no longer up to date. Until last year, we still had computers that could take floppy disks. Now, that may sound absurd, but it was true and what was even more absurd was that I allowed it to be my excuse for not using technology in my classroom!

What an epiphany for me as I wrote yesterday and how grateful I am for the incredible people who share their thoughts and their resources so I could have that awakening.

So, in one short week I’ve done a complete about face as a teacher who talked the talk, but no longer walked the walk of embracing and using technology in her classroom. Although I’m still off on medical leave, it won’t be long before I’m back at work and then I can put some of my plans into action. I will have my kids blog. I will teach my kids about Diigo, Dropbox, and Bitstrips. I know that that list will be much larger by April, but I am thrilled at what I’ve learned in one week. I can only imagine how much more I’ll learn in seven weeks!

In one week I’ve gone from technophyte to technolover and just yesterday when I retweeted Justin’s tweet and then shared another thought about digital textbooks with two colleagues in my Board, I received my first direct reply in Twitter and one of my colleagues told me I was just “a hair ahead of the curve”. What a compliment! I was thrilled and it was all because so many other educators have taken the time to share what they know and what they love. I hope that one day, I’ll be able to return what has been given to me so far, because it is exhilarating and I want to shout it from the rooftops, but for now, I’ll be content with sharing it here.

LoriTheLaw – Twitter Part 1

Posted: February 2, 2011 in Me & Technology

So, yesterday I began blogging after being inspired by another teacher’s blog and I made the promise that by the end of this month I would know how to use Twitter and more about it in general. Well, yesterday was a productive day! I already had a Twitter account and two people I was following (not that I’d ever seen anything they’d tweeted since the day I signed up a year ago) so I rediscovered my account, set up a profile, and made it look the way I thought I’d like it to look (for now).

After my mini-celebration at being so tech savvy that I could actually flesh out my Twitter profile, I set to figuring out how to “extend my reach”. So, I started by looking for the name of the teacher whose blog I’d been inspired by and ‘lo and behold I found her. So, I figured that since she found such a rich collection of information, resources and support from the people she followed, I could have a look and explore the people she was following much like I would explore an annotated bibliography. After I was done there, I had 13 people I was following, but I didn’t stop there!

My next stop was the woman who had pointed me to the teacher’s blog. I remembered her having talked about Twitter in other posts so I looked her up and repeated the process. Needless to say I am now following 28 people and there are 7 people following me! I don’t know who a number of those people are and I find that fascinating because I am such a technophyte, but hey, I followed a bunch of people I’d never heard of or met before too!

So, today I continued to explore, and I quickly spent four hours roaming the internet and exploring the incredible stuff that people have shared. Wow! That’s really how I feel. I’m not quite so overwhelmed anymore, because I’m taking the time to explore each thing in bite size chunks and get a real feel for the new tools I’m discovering. So, I’m still calling myself a technophyte, because learning one aspect of a new tool does not a geek make, but it’s definitely a step in the right direction!

My next challenge will be to figure out how Twitter can benefit the kids in my classroom. Yeah, yeah we have a cell phone ban, but it won’t be the first time I’ve closed my classroom door and done something I know is good for kids and will enhance their learning experience — one day educators everywhere will embrace technology and use it the way we should.