would play in the bottom of the ninth, one out, man on third. As I turned and looked at my surroundings, I again realized how lucky I was and how few have gotten to enjoy this vantage point. The house music stopped and soon after Paul was on stage. The roar of Fenway launched into a frenzy that could only be rivaled by a David Ortiz home run. And amidst the cheering and repressed Beatlemania, I noticed something. Everyone had their phone out and raised in the air, including myself.
Today is my last official day at Burlington High School. On Monday, I will take over as Director of Technology for Groton-Dunstable Regional School District on Monday. While I am excited and grateful for new challenges and opportunities, I’m finding it hard to imagine Burlington in my rearview mirror.
“…we spend a lot of time on a few great things.until every idea we touch enhances each life it touches.”
One of the elements I enjoy most about being a teacher is the element of surprise. I’m referring to that moment when a student, or group of students really amazes you. You mentor these students, give them your best as a teacher day in and day out without any required thanks, and occasionally this student or students unintentionally returns the favor in the form of intrinsic motivation. They’re driven because they find purpose in what they are learning or doing. This couldn’t be more evident than with my help desk students who are organizing and running EdCampxEDU.
This is the first, to my knowledge, EdCamp designed, organized and carried out entirely by students. While I have been an advisor to these students, I have remained on the periphery of this project. Initially, I met with students who were interested in organizing this event and gave them the run down on what the format was and how an EdCamp functioned. Having organized three ntcamps (an edcamp format for new teachers) and created and run EdCamp Tuesdays at Burlington High School along with Dennis Villano, I knew what it took to make an EdCamp work. It’s a daunting task for any team of organizers.
The EdCampxEDU organizers have stepped up to the challenge. This week I observed as the team started receiving prizes from various vendors to give out on June 1st, I watched as they planned the opening address, and prepped the final details of planning. Oh, and when the organization team is not planning EdCampxEDU, they are at track or baseball practice, attending a full schedule of classes, or getting ready for work at his or her part time job. Some even managed to fit in prom last Friday.
This experience will impact them more than any SAT exam, AP Test or MCAS test. This experience provides students with the opportunity to elicit skill sets and apply them to a purposeful scenario. It’s project based and challenge based learning at its best. It meets the needs of many common core standards and is something that will stand out on any college application or resume. This team wil get to say…
“I designed, organized and carried out an education conference“.
“I managed a budget and networked with vendors.”
“I used social media for advertising and web 2.0 tools for marketing and promotion.”
I am proud of these students.
|cc image via flickr by Jeramiah Ro|
It finally happened to me. I thought I had time. I figured at least twenty more years and several more gray hairs. No. It happened two days ago at Shaws Grocery Store.
I recently discussed technology integration with a former colleague of mine who is working on his school’s 1:1 planning team. On the same day, I read a great article by Dr. Kristen Swanson about the approach to technology integration in schools. After digesting both, I reexamined my role as a technology integration specialist and what it means. Here is what I came up with after both encounters.
|MSMS Student Tech Support|
Tomorrow starts a new semester at BHS. I get the opportunity to meet new students and start fresh in both of my classes: Digital literacy (Web 2.0) and student technology integration (BHS Student help desk). I’ve revised each course to keep pace with the ever-changing content each course requires. Plus, I get bored quickly.
And that’s why I consistently reevaluate and rethink each course I teach. I imagine myself in the seat of the student. Would I want to sit through this? Is this appealing to me? In my time? Are the assessments challenging and purposeful? If I answer no, it’s scrapped or reexamined. This simple exercise is healthy practice for all teachers to maintain relevancy in a ever-changing classroom. While I agree that some content remains consistent, the way in which we present and assesses will always have room for change. If we, as educators ever find ourselves comfortable, we’re probably not teaching to the best of our ability. A comfort zone has no place in education.
As we set out each year, each semester to challenge our students, we must find ways to challenge ourselves as experts in the field and content area in which we teach. To teach, we must always have the thirst to learn. And this is where my challenge lies to all who set foot inside a classroom. Step outside of your comfort zone and try something new. This endeavor may require you to work a little extra (even beyond what your beloved union contract requires) or seek out the help of someone who is younger and possibly intolerable, but just do it. Put on a face, and seek out the myriad of learning resources at your disposal daily in a school. Trust me, the benefits will not only be evident in your practice, but paramount in the lives and experiences of your students.
Please share your experiences in the comments section below for all to see and learn.