The Community that Surrounds Me

The fact that this is the end four weeks of school already is mind boggling in itself. But the fact that I went from feeling under accomplished to soaring in just one week amazes me. It is time for another blog post!


I spent my summer working through class 5 out of 6 for my Special Endorsement in Computer Education certification The class was not at all strenuous, thank goodness because afterall, it was summer vacation. But then there was this tempting trend among my ITF community for becoming a Google Certified Educator…I bit! When looking into the training I discovered that there was much I already knew and just a little I didn’t know but found very useful. Why not get certified for all the things I used regularly? So I did it. I studied the modules for a few hours and took the test. THAT was intense! I decided that I was glad I got myself a new title for something I was pretty good at already but that was it. Level 2 was going to have to be a future plan. I didn’t really enjoy taking that test for 3 intense hours!  A week later I was taking the Level 2 test. My blood pressure was on the rise and I was pretty sure I failed by the end of it!  That felt pretty crappy because I don’t fail at this kind of thing especially after signing up for that much pressure. I persist, always. But this wasn’t something I could just go back and correct. A retake would be another 3 hours of this harrowing timed performance test.  But three extremely long minutes later I got the result that announced my passing! Time well spent and a logo to call my own for two years….when I have to go through this all again!


But I digress. Where I wanted to go with this blog post is that I let summertime fade to be replaced with excited anticipation of sharing my fresh skills with teachers; for them and for the students. I know that the start of every year is no time to be pushing new learning on a teacher.  And I had PLENTY to keep my days crazy full until the time was right to share. I accomplished elective registrations, beginning of grade testing for 3rd grade, a school technology audit, laptop and iPad dispersal, beginning of grade testing for 3rd grade, technology heat tickets, creation of an elective website, beginning of grade testing for 3rd grade, creation a walk through tool and a collaboration document, an off campus ITF meeting, test training (working through grad course #6 of 6 after hours)…the list would grow if I kept logging.


All the while, I had all these ideas I knew could make the days of my colleagues easier, but the timing was still not right. It was too early to teach tricks. It was too soon for them to inquire about collaboration projects. And I kept telling myself that altho I feel like I am not fulfilling my role as ITF, this was only week 2 and there were many, MANY more weeks to go.  This was only week 3 of school and there were many, MANY more to go.  And then week 4 happened. So much learning and risk taking happened this week!


I didn’t have targets picked out ahead of time and my participants were not who I imagined they would be this early on.  But I moved about with deliberate focus on teachable moments.  And I found several. Even better, I found eager, open minded, colleagues with a growth mindset and a willingness to take a risk or two.


By the end of week four, I had taught 3 support staff friends how to create a google website. This took just 30 minutes to get them far enough along to proceed on their own. They didn’t need me to design the site for them; just to help them create the shell and plant the seed of purpose.  Two of these same teachers were giddy about using an iPad mirroring tool called Reflector for projecting the iPad screen to the white board….remotely (without cords and dongles!). Then it was screencasts and chromecasts for another teacher. One day after exposing her to both of these, she had 6 non english speaking 4th and 5th graders engaged in learning  with the incorporation of a screencast chrome casted to the new lab TV! Later, I found the opportune time to show a class and a teacher the google research tool for inserting images and citing resources.  I am pretty sure the teacher was as thrilled as the students were!  This same teacher sought me out for a Google Classroom lesson. Her “Classroom” and ideas for converting edmodo material to Google Classroom use was born before I even left the room. But this wasn’t the best of it, although this was all pretty awesome!


IDMod II is researching and creating google doc reports already!  One day I was invited to brainstorm tools for researching sea animals and the next day these 10 IDMod kids were in google docs and inserting images from the research tool option. Two days later, all had accessed Discovery Education, engaged with digital content, and more than half have at least one page of their report completed already!  


This was only week four.


And there are many, MANY more to go!


But this is not where I want to leave my readers. The point of this blog post is not to inform of all the impatience I have bottled up for sharing my know-how, or to list accomplishments I have experienced this year so far.


It is really about teachers; teachers willing to take risks with a growth mindset for the good of our learners. Sometimes riding a roller coaster is more terrifying than exciting. Trusting the words, “We can do this” is harder than it seems. To hear, “It’s really easy,” sound like a line of bull when ideas are unfamiliar and incomprehensible. But daily, I am reminded that when someone tells me that it is easy once you know how, I realize it always IS easy once I decide to learn it. They wouldn’t have told me this if it wasn’t true. But it is always my job to trust them. I am realizing more and more that I am surrounded by people who want to encourage me to be better at what I do.  I have come to trust those people around me who have a good thing to share and have confidence in me to, if not embrace it, but to at least give it a shot. Had I have not been this person I would not have learned to chromecast, use reflector, or experience a breakout box all by the 4th week of school.  Thank you for those who have encouraged me.


And after this incredible week of experimenting, sharing, and learning, I want to say thank you to those teachers who are trusting not only me when I tell them they CAN be successful with new tricks and tools, but more importantly, for trusting themselves.  I can’t express how rewarding it is to gain followers who are willing to be the kind of learner I find so gratifying to be, myself.  I am truly blessed to be surrounded by a growing community of risk takers who trust me and each other enough to try and share something new, and to have the confidence in themselves to carry on even outside of my presence. Unless you can trust that new and risky ideas are worth a try, realize that failing forward is a move in the right direction, and are willing to keep trying even when I walk away, my job is not a job well done. This week I feel very accomplished. I have witnessed great things by my colleagues. And not because I did for them, but because they were willing to exercise a growth mindset, trust themselves, and take the reins.  How blessed are their young learners…and how blessed am I!  And how rewarding it must be to be them!


This was only week four.
And there are many, MANY more to go!

Posted by Tanya Churchill _ Staff – UnderwoodES at 10:01 PM

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