Every year, around this time I seem to lose my voice. It gets scratchy, raspy and all together difficult to project. I teach students technology everyday in classes and in smaller group settings while producing our school news show, News from the Nest. In other words, I talk a lot. And this year, like every other, I am drinking extra water and grabbing Halls in between classes. I know that this too shall bass and I will get my voice back, but some days are difficult to get through.
Back in 2008, I joined twitter. I was overwhelmed and excited about the learning taking place there. I went to PETE & C in Hershey, PA and found that there was so much for me to learn as a new Technology Teacher. It was invigorating for me. Over the course of the next few years, I would attend PETE & C again and learn about an amazing learning space: Educon. My excitement for learning and sharing would increase and I would share with anyone and everyone about all of the things I was learning about. But somewhere around 2011, I lost my voice. My attitude became scratchy and edgy from the demands placed on me as a technology specialist and from the limitations I felt were being placed on me as a coach and innovator. I’m a dreamer and I kept getting grounded. Things were getting so bad that I thought by the end of this school year I would need to find a new career…then I went to Educon 2.6 and I found my voice.
I can’t tell you there was an “a-ha” moment or some life changing conversation at Educon, but I can tell you that I came back to my position with a new sense of purpose. Instead of dwelling on the negative things happening in my district, I want to bring about the change I see necessary for student and teacher success. Instead of complaining about the issues or keeping my thoughts to myself, I started sharing my ideas of what we need to do as a district to turn the ship around. Here is basically what I shared:
- Before we talk about technology integration, we need to talk about Core Values. The Core Values will direct all that we do, decisions we make. It’s not about the technology, it’s about the learning.
- Technology Integration will not take a strong root in 40 mins on a Day 4. Coaches need to have regular meeting times with teachers where ideas, issues, troubleshooting and successes can be shared.
- There is no magic device coming that is going to make this technology integration thing work like a charm. We need to work with what we have in the present and plan for the future.
- Instead of cramming information down teachers throats, we need to have meaningful conversations around pedagogy and best practices. Show them that technology is not a “throw it in at the end of a unit and make a pretty ____”. The technology should be like any other tool you use in teaching a lesson: there but not talked about.
I was nervous to share these ideas, thinking that I was just nailing the coffin shut on my career, but nothing bad happened. In fact lots of good happened. It opened up conversations with people who surprisingly shared the same opinions. Here. In my district. Who would have thought? I’m excited that change is coming, small maybe at first, but it’s coming. I’d like to think that finding my voice has made it come quicker.
A few years ago, I lost my voice. Finding it again has been the best thing ever. So now I’m dreaming big dreams for my students, but that’s another story.