Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Change is a-Comin'

Dear Teachers,
I love this time of year. Everything is so full of promise - teachers are in the best mood, kids are excited about school, and oh the smell of those school supplies.

In my department we have been training and facilitating like crazy - first our wonderful ETSI experience, then Google Summer Camp, and last week New Teachers. I love working with the new teachers, especially the ones right out of college. Many in that group could now be my own daughter or son, but seeing them each year always reminds me  exactly how it felt when I graduated and landed my first job. I was going to change the world, and so are the current batch of newbies!

I'm particularly excited about this school year because I see SO MANY examples of teachers using what they learned at ETSI and really being change agents in their schools! From teachers being ambassadors for Genius Hour and BYOD  and Mystery Skype to the first-ever Cardboard Challenge and a HUGE number of new folks on Twitter in our district, ETSI is working exactly the way we had hoped. Give teachers the information and resources they need, then get the heck out of their way. The thing I love most about ETSI is that the teachers who attended now completely OWN it. Three words: A. May. Zing.

The purpose of ETSI was to "develop Ed Tech leadership capacity" at each school. We expected change, but honestly I was thinking it would take a little longer. I am so ecstatic about the changes I'm seeing in schools and in attitudes already, and school doesn't start till Monday! It's super gratifying that our department has been referred to as the spark that is helping to ignite new ed tech enthusiasm in our district.

Each person in our department will be adopting one of our schools and will be working with the ETSI participants on each campus to move teachers forward on their individual ed tech journeys. We've been so busy we haven't had a minute to sit down and flesh out who is getting which school yet, but all five of us are itching to know which will be "our" schools. I expect that our roles will develop into that of ed tech coach, something I've wanted to do for years but really haven't had the avenue to achieve before now.

So today I'm off in a minute to (hopefully) continue to be a spark. I'll be facilitating some learning about Twitter and blogging at an elementary school where the new principal's expectation is that everyone will be on Twitter and everyone will have a blog. Both of those mediums allow for so much transparency about what is going on at the school and in the classrooms, and I hope I do a good job of conveying the benefits of each of those amazing resources. I'll have my ETSI buddies at the school to help!

Isn't it a great time to be an educator?


Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Meet My Colleagues

Dear Teachers,

We are now halfway through the second of our "big" summer training events. We named this one "Google Summer Camp," and we have showcased some of the most [insert superlative here] of the many [insert additional superlative here] Google products. I personally don't own enough adjectives to tell you how great I think all of the Google Apps for Education (GAFE) products are! Google Drive & Docs, Google Forms & Sheets, and Chrometastic are among the classes we've been offering, and we have two of these one-day workshops to go. The enrollment for the last two days looks to be down, so we may be modifying the schedule a bit, but we are nothing if not flexible.

As I continue to reflect on this week's participants as well as those from last week's Ed Tech Summer Institute (now renamed Ed Tech Success Initiative), I am reminded of the enormous talent we have in our district. A teacher we were eating lunch with today was talking about her kids and the Cardboard Challenge they participated in last year. She noted that the students far surpassed all the teachers' expectations at that event. My cohorts in Instructional Technology and I feel the same about our ETSI and our Google Summer Camp participants. The teachers in our district continue to amaze and inspire us!

At ETSI and at Google Summer Camp, we had a whiteboard where teachers could jot down their blog addresses, and I decided I'd like to share those blogs with you. You might consider checking out the blogs of a music teacher, a principal, a 4th grade teacher, my favorite coworker, a STEM specialist, an art teacher, and another principal. Each voice is unique, and each has a slightly different focus. I noted that many of our first blog posts included descriptions of procrastinating starting a blog and fear of putting oneself out in a public forum - so those must be fairly universal reactions to the whole blogging process.

In addition to the blogger sites mentioned above, you might also want to check out some other blogs that don't end in .blogspot.com. To wit:  Conway ELA, Kindergarten Super Kids, Evans Art HouseMatt B. Gomez, and Plano Science Tutor.

I hope you'll check out the thoughts of my colleagues, because they are all worth reading. Do you have a local education blog you like? Send it to me in the comments box below - especially if I inadvertently omitted YOURS!