The Maryland Leadership Council is Official!

I am happy to announce that Maryland has a leadership council within the Discovery Educator Network! This is great news because now there will be local events for educators to connect and learn.

There is also a blog to keep you updated of all events and technology tips to help you along the way. Just log into discoveryeducation.com, go to the DEN, blogs is at the top, and Maryland is in the list. We have lots of great bloggers on the team including Aaron Smith aka The Art Guy. If you use Twitter, follow the MD_DEN and you will get blog updates.

While our big kick-off is not just yet, we our having our first event. Staples is having their Teacher Appreciation day in Maryland stores on Saturday, August 15th from 9 a.m.-noon. Staples is giving bags of goodies and discounts on products just for teachers. A few of members of the LC will be at stores greeting teachers, giving out freebies, and raffling off a prize. The Tech Tiger will be at the Bowie Staples and would love to see members of my PLN in person. Here is more information on the event.


A List to Keep My Sanity

Since the end of July I have gotten excited for the new school and put in the hours to make sure my students have a new experience when they come to the computer lab. In the past week or so that excitement has faded and I quickly realized why: I was dealing with the adults of the school building. In an effort to not have this drag me down I decided that I needed create a list to remind me of all the traps that can drag the energy out of an educator.

1. AVOID THE DRAMA! If it has no effect on myself or my students the information can go in one ear and out the other. If this requires me to spend more time in my classroom, I don't mind.

2. CONTROL VOLUNTEERING! I have a really bad habit of raising my hand to quickly, especially when no one else is raising theirs. I am not going to avoid all activities that could benefit the school, but it is okay to let others pick up the slack.

3. JUST SAY NO! This goes along well with number two. I actually practiced this one today and it wasn't so bad. The world didn't fall apart and I wasn't filled guilt. It is one of those sayings that I always say that I am going to do, but never do. I think this is the year.

4. FOCUS MY ENERGY ON WORTHWHILE CAUSES! You can only bang your head against the same wall before you realize that wall is not going anywhere. There are some projects I am really interested that I can make work and that is where my energy is going to. Those that really want help with technology know where they can find me.

5. SEE THE BIG PICTURE! It is so easy for me to dwell on little moments of the day and not appreciate the whole view.

6. CONTINUE TO GROW! At this point I am not sure if I can find opportunities at the school that will help me grow as an educator (sad, but true). I need to continue to find opportunities at conferences and within my PLN to make this goal possible.

7. FIND BALANCE! Just like so many talented and dedicated educators I will admit I work too many hours. I had be bugging teachers that went to school early to set-up their classroom, but I bet spent more time on my laptop organizing activities, searching for grants, and reading articles. I will work on finding activities that have nothing to do with teaching and force myself to close the laptop more often.

I would love to hear your tips on how to maintain sanity during the school year.


Facebook: A New Adventure!

While I enjoy the social aspect of Web 2.0, there was a long period where I avoided the popular Facebook. Besides my desire to disconnect every once in a while, I really didn't see the value of it. As most Facebook stories go, an old and true friend encouraged me to join so we could stay connected. Over the past months I have reconnected with old school friends, added members of my PLN, got updates from relatives I never see,and have expanded to work colleagues that I actually like. Then it happened...a few students made friend requests. I had no idea what to do so I let them stay in the request list while I turned to my PLN for their opinions.

On the Twitter end it was a 50/50 split. There were strong advocates against the idea and some that were brave enough to admit that they had student FB friends. On the Plurk side there were many more who were FB friends with students, but with conditions. Many would only become friends with former students and only if they had graduated from high school. So even though the majority did not seem to be in favor of friending high school students, I decided to take the risk and try it out. It helped to know I could put all the students in a list and limit what they see. Not that I was too worried about me since I try to be careful about what I post, but I did not want them to have access to my friends and what they decide to post.

Now for the bigger risk: I have decided to see if Facebook can be a valuable extension of the classroom. One of my dreams is to have students continue to share their creations after the quarter class is over. So I set up a private FB group for students to discuss and share. This is just a part of a plan to make my class more connected with a new Twitter account and Google Voice Number.

There are a lot of precautions to take, but I think this has great potential. It is the risk taking that makes a new school year exciting. Whether it becomes a success or a failure, the results will be right here.