Time for Reflection

As I have grown as an educator and leader, so too has my blog grown. I started writing this blog in August 2009. Reflecting back it all started as a result of a workshop I was planning for entitled ‘Using Web 2.0 Tools to Increase Student Achievement’. Throughout the 2009-2010 school year I facilitated this workshop where a group of teachers and I explored web tools that focused on sharing, collaborating and creating.  Teachers embedded web tools into their instruction, expanded learning beyond their classroom walls, explored ways to engage their students, collaborated on ‘lessons learned’ and shared celebrations throughout.  It was truly an amazing series of workshops.

As the teachers in these workshops grew, so did I.  I also saw the power of having a global PLN and sharing technology integration ideas and tools through this blog. My blog became a way to connect and share with the staff at my district, as well as with educators throughout the world. I also expanded and developed my wiki ‘Technology Thoughts’ as a companion to my blog.  At that time my position was as a district mentor for our new teachers. This gave me the gift of going into K-12 classrooms as a supporter, mentor, and co-teacher. It also allowed me to assist teachers throughout our district in the wonderful world of true technology integration, as well as developing lasting relationships with all of our teachers throughout 7 buildings.

In September 2010 I was offered and accepted a Coordinator of Instruction position in my district. Within this position I continued to be a professional developer and technology leader for our many district initiatives. Since taking on a leadership role I started adding posts about leadership as well on this blog. Sometimes my posts grew from an inspirational quote or blog post I read, and sometimes it grew from lessons I learned personally as I grew into the leader I am continuing to be. Many of my posts also came from the amazing people I met and connected with from around the world through my twitter PLN, and other global forums.

Admittedly though some of my experiences weren’t positive. Negative experiences, although hard to live through emotionally sometimes, are just as important in the growth of an educator or leader.  I might argue that we all would hope not to experience hurtful interactions, unfair practices, or just plain nasty people; but that we grow more personally and professionally from those experiences then we do from the positive.  Negative experiences shape us and mold our character. They also test us. In my book if you pass you have retained your integrity, failure steers you in the direction of emulating the nastiness of others. My test at the end of the day became  “If I can look myself in the mirror and still like the person I am, then I did good.”

2011-2012 brought to me a year of continued growth as a leader, as well as my involvement with more of the regulations and administrative requirements at the district level. On many levels this year was hard for me. Although I continued to write on my blog, the posts became fewer. (For those readers I have that stuck with me through this year I say a huge thanks!) I got caught up in a survival mode. I became on some level ‘educationally depressed’ and therefore didn’t have the passion for writing blog posts.  Some of this was due to the state and federal mandates that are changing our educational world as we speak.  Increased testing and teacher accountability have saddened, and at some times have made me fear the future of the ‘art of learning’.

But, through this all I have arrived in a better place today. You see, I now see the ‘light at the end of the tunnel’… or maybe see the light and hope in our world… to be ready to accept what we can’t change— BUT to also see, and not forget what we still have.  We still have students who need to be nurtured. Who need to see the love of language and the power of knowledge. Children who still need to know how to build that knowledge and explore their world. Students that need to know that others have faith in their future.

We as educators and leaders need to be able to see past the BS of education as we know it and figure out how to ignite the passion for learning again.

Because… we don’t have a choice… our students need us.

So, for the first time in what feels like a while I am inspired to be doing what I’m doing. This latest inspiration has certainly been assisted by the positive events of the last couple of months: experiences of feeling valued, getting back into classrooms, and having inspiring leaders around me.  I realize though that many of my fellow leaders and educators from around the world may not be inspired yet. Unfortunately they are frustrated, over worked and fear the current changes.

That is why I will be adding a new category to my blog posts this year: ‘Story of an Educator’. Through these posts I will hopefully explore how an educator is grown, why we have to nurture that growth, and why we can’t lose hope.  These posts will take you through how I have become the educator I am today. I also hope that you, my readers, will also comment about your own experiences  and how you have become the educator you are.  Of course my other goal and message will be that we can’t give up. Government regulations and mandates will come and go, but true educators should not. Together we need to help each other through the madness.

Hopefully you will enjoy my stories and in turn will trigger your own memories of growth and remember why you became an educator in the first place.

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