Hello? Is this still on? It has been a few months since I wrote one of these things...
When I started my blog last summer I didn't have a certain goal in mind other than to share and to try and keep a running diary of my growth.
I have had several instances over the last few months where I thought, "I totally should blog about this..." , but obviously, I didn't get around to writing one. I still need to get to the point where writing is not so much of a chore for me. I know that the only way to get better (or more comfortable) at something is through practice, practice, practice. If I'm applying this to teaching, I can't expect my students to not do something for 3-4 months and then pick up right from where ever we left off on that topic.
When the school year started 10 months ago I knew that I wanted to make some changes and so I tried some new things: for a day, for a module, for a unit... And so I felt like I had things to write about, and I felt like I was learning and growing. I had to do a semi-annual district evaluation and for the Fall semester I was able to make a slide show and list out everything that I had blogged about. However, when the time came in May to write a year end evaluation, I had a mild panic attack... what had I done? where would I get my evidence? And then I took a step back and thought about my class over the last few weeks. I was actually doing my "new" things on a consistent basis, so they weren't standing out to me. Does that make any sense? First semester I was all about trying new things and patting myself on the back. Towards the end of the year I realized that I wanted to make consistent changes that I could snowball into the fall of next year. And since I was using those "new" things on a regular basis, they weren't standing out to me until I took a step back.
There is no magic trick, secret video, website, or app that will turn a random class into your favorite of all time. I just need to keep making little shifts to get me to where I want to go. The last week of school I was talking to another teacher about what we wanted to work on over the summer. Her goal was to find more activities to engage her students using chromebooks. She made the remark that she had tried some new things, "but not as much as you have". And I told her, it's all about getting started and meeting your own personal goals/needs. Get the ball rolling and the rest will come as you gain momentum. At the end of last year I was excited about getting my hands on the chromebook cart once every 2-3 weeks. Now I have one in my class that I use at least once a week.
That being said, the biggest single, most influential thing that has helped me grow this year has not been a website, app, podcast, or book... it has been my PLN... my "Personal Learning Network". Going back and reading my first blog entry, I actually did it because of outside influences, and not because I felt completely confident in my ability to start sharing on an (ir)regular basis. However, those "outside influences" are people that I now talk to on a regular basis and they are some of the first people that I ask for advice. And it all started because I agreed to read a book and chat about it over the summer. Now I talk to people at other sites, at the district office, even in other school districts, more often than I talk to some of the teachers in my building. Twitter has definitely helped to "flatten the walls" of my class, but it has also opened me up to being more flexible and willing to take risks. My biggest take away from my 12th year of teaching has been my new network of friends. You have helped make me willing (and actually excited) to get up at 7 AM and drive 45 minutes on a Saturday morning, pick up a book to read instead of taking a nap, lead an after school training session, moderate a Twitter chat (or two) on my own, and practice my blogging at 2 in the morning, I'm sure that there are more things I can add to the list, but they all have one thing in common: they helped me to get out of my comfort zone and grow. Not just as a teacher, but as a person. So if you are one of the people that has given me advice, steered me in a new direction, modeled trying something new, been willing to share something with me when I asked, publicly cheered me on, let me know low-key that you have been watching me, or even if you just spent a couple minutes reading my blog posts... THANK YOU.