Time to take some blame and FOCUS!

Besides spending the weekend on the laptop to Plurk and complete some work, I took advantage of EduCon2.1 streaming their sessions. Being able to see a part of so many sessions reminded of the advances of technology and the hard work of some (Chris Lehmann) to share the knowledge. As with any conference, I head into reflection on my own practices. This is what I have come up with so far:

1. I haven't been the technology advocate in my school that I once was. I know the reasons behind this, but they are just excuses. My first step in the right direction is to attend the school improvement team meetings again.

2. Maybe it is my fault that my principal is not as supportive as I would like. Jason Levy had a great session on the various reasons principals say "no" and what teachers can do to eliminate those reasons. What I realize based what I know about my principal, I shouldn't go share a new idea or project without a well developed plan.

3. Professional development! I am not a bad trainer, but all of my efforts to provide PD at my school this year has not went so well. The staff just isn't interested for a wide variety of reasons that are typical in a public school. I put the blame on administration for not supporting a tech movement in the school, but maybe I haven't been creative enough in my approach. Plans have already begun for PD site where teachers could learn in their own time, but this site gives me a new outlook on the project. David Bill not only has a great PD plan, but a realistic view on teachers adapting technology.

I think that the best part of this conference gave me the chance to focus on the ideas since I was viewing by myself and not part of the crowds. I am looking forward to my new personal, focused movement. 

On a separate step in my tech journey, I got an email from the district's technology training team asking if I would conduct an intro to DE Streaming. I am excited about the opportunity and I am going to focus on a stellar workshop rather than wondering about a future career move.


What's in a name?

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet."

I love Shakespeare because his writing has stood the test of time and there is always a quote that can relate to your life right at this moment. This particular quote has been roaming around my head since Friday since I had a sit down discussion with my principal. I guess I better start from the beginning.

This year our district started a new student system that integrated attendance, student information, and teacher grade books. It has been an interesting process in getting all of the teachers to use it correctly and on a regular basis. After the monthly Principal's meeting, there was a new report with a list of teachers that didn't use weighted averages in their grade book. My principal wanted this corrected right away so she put the IT guy and myself on the job. Of course it was handled in a couple hours, but it brought up the same raw feelings I have had for two years. While I handle a lot of tech issues and conduct in-service trainings, I am not the Tech Liaison for the building. The person that is essentially does nothing, but has the title and extra pay. So after the mini emergency was under control, I decided to finally ask, "Why not me?"

My principal was very gracious by admitting that she did depend on me more, but did give the position to another person. She said it was unfair and promised to correct the situation in the next school year. It made me feel better at the moment, because I had this resentment built up for so long. Now I just feel embarassed.

I got too wrapped up in having the stupid title. In every way that it matters I am the technology leader in the school. There are always email or phone requests and teachers will always stop me in the hallways for tech advise. All of the administrators depend on me to help them with their tech issues. I run the school's website and am the one to coordinate new technology initiatives. Why was this name so important? As many of us witness a title does not make a leader. I think that while I have evolved as a teacher, this moment was a step backwards.


7 things about Me

Ever since Winter Break there has been an adult game of Tag happening in my PLN. In this game if you were tagged by another blogger than you had to create a post describing seven things your PLN didn't know about you. This has become a big game and there is even a wiki so everyone can read each other's posts. So now it is my turn thanks to Valaina Maher aka "butrflygirl" on Plurk. I hope mine isn't boring compared to all of the interesting posts so far. So without further a due *drum roll* my Seven things:

  1. A bomb exploded right outside my window when I was a kid. I was living in Frankfurt, Germany in the early 80s (army brat) and there was a certain sect of the population that didn't like military bases in their country. One radical planted a bomb under a car in front of the building I was living in and it went off in the middle of the night. I remember the glass everywhere, the chill of the night as my family evacuated, and my dad having camera fright when we were interviewed by CNN.
  2. I didn't "really" use computers until I was in college. Of course of all of my schools had computers when I was growing up, but it was always used to play games like Math Blaster and Carmen Sandiego. I got interested in using the Internet and WWW from a guy talking about it in English 101. I went to the library to practice on the computers there and I have been hooked ever since.
  3. My teaching path has been a weird one. I graduated from college with a teaching certificate in secondary Social Studies, but my first job was teaching a self-contained fifth grade class. Then it was on to third grade, fifth grade in another school, 6th grade Language Arts, 7th grade Social Studies, and finally Technology Integration. Who knows what the next stone in the path will be?
  4. I am the left-handed child of two right-handed parents. This made learning the basics like tying my shoe and learning to write really difficult.
  5. I collect shot glasses even though I don't drink. I started buying them on various trips because I liked that they were small, inexpensive, and there was always a wide variety of designs.
  6. I think I am addicted to being a student. I always liked learning which probably one of the reasons why I became a teacher. In May I will be finished with my second Master's degree and even though I said I am going to take a break you never know if I will be enrolled in something by the fall semester.
  7. I don't like hot drinks. Can you tell I am running out of things to tell? I love the smell of coffee and tea, but don't like the taste. I can sometimes handle cider or cocoa if it has cooled down quite a bit. I always wondered why this is the case and have on occasion tried hot beverages to see if I was ready to change my mind. Hasn't happened yet.
Well that is it! Here are those I am tagging:


Birds of a Feather...

There is nothing like being in a group of tech-savvy educators. The excitement of sharing ideas and working through challenges is better high than any drug (not that I have experience in that area). I have had the honor of meeting so many innovative educators through the Discovery Network, Google Certified Educators Group, and Plurk and have learned so much in such a short period of time. Today was an opportunity to work with the top dogs in my district and I am still on a positive high.

It was a half day meeting, but I chose not to go my school for the other half. I didn't want to ruin my meeting experience with any nonsense from my school. I got there early to set up and chat with those I rarely get to see. My course supervisor took the time to make sure I was going to submit a proposal to the MICCA conference. She proceeded to say that she thought I was a good presenter and that I should be getting my name out there. I was like a kid with an A+ paper. I suppose everyone needs a good ego boost once in a while.

As a group we proceeded to continue to evaluate online conferencing tools and products the district already owns. Twiddla which is a great, free tool allows collaborative use of an online whiteboard, demonstration of any web page, and the sharing of documents. There were a couple of hiccups like this site allows access to filtered sites and everyone collaborating at one time is a big mess. Despite any flaws, I think this could be a great tool in the classroom. I will be trying it out to review the features of Animoto.

Then we went exploring the tool that district already owns. The district spent $250,000 on the Polycom system which utilizes the phone, Window NetMeeting, Mac Xmeeting, and actually Polycom equipment. It has hardly been used and they still don't know how to use completely. I even had to share a laptop because it doesn't work with Vista. Which make me wonder if this system is worth the effort because when it will be obsolete? Is it obsolete already?

It was a great experience and I look forward to the February meeting where we develop a district plan for online conferencing. In the meantime I work on change in my classroom, this blog, and my new photo blog 52 Chances. Oh and I almost forgot, those MICCA proposals I promised my supervisor.


No Resolutions, Only Goals

Ever since I was a kid I loved New Year's Eve, because I enjoyed looking back and the excitement of the future. The new year was a new adventure, a blank slate, and the unknown. What I never liked was resolutions, because it seemed like this stupid tradition where adults would make promises they never had any intention of keeping. When I would get back to school and my teacher had the resolutions assignment I would answer the same way: I will try to be a better person. That way it was something I could stick to.

Then there was a Plurk discussion whether it was better to have resolutions or goals. I like the idea of goals much better because they can be adjusted, the time frame varies depending on the goal, and more goals can be added as the year progresses. As I began to build new goals and continue some goals from the past I came across another great Plurk where the author shared the website Five Big Questions. It is a great video and a great starting point for goal building.

So here are my 2009 goals even though some are long term goals and goals that I will have for years to come:
  1. To keeping myself to be a better educator. I want to keep creating new projects and learning new tools to push the limits of my students. I never want to be bored or "comfortable" because then the students don't get my best.

  2. To build my PLN and be an active member. My PLN has given me so much that I want to give back more in the new year and keeping connecting with the most innovative educators in the country.

  3. A little less conversation, a little more action. It is easy to get wrapped up in the school's complaining group and I admit that I didn't fight the good fight as much this school year. I need to be that voice for technology integration throughout the school.

  4. As I enter my last semester of grad school and have to complete a capstone project, I want to build something that can be useful for my school.

  5. Find some balance. I have been dedicating myself to school, grad school, and family obligation. I hope to build in my time for fun and living life.

I better stop there or I might be overwhelmed! Here is to a great new year where anything is possible.