March 18, 2022 was a much anticipated day. Our 4C team of Digital Learning Coordinators has been working for years to mentor educators throughout our school district to leverage “making” and student agency as a natural part of their lesson design and helping them learn how to teach students to collaborate well, despite this pandemic. The workforce needs eligible employees who are collaborators, who are creative, who can communicate effectively and who can think critically. Our current 4C PLN is doing well to set up learners for this successful future. Those we have mentored are doing fabulous things including setting an envious example for other educators to do the same and they have done well to help recruit a new group. March 18 was the day we welcomed a new cohort of curious and eager educators to a room filled with hands on challenges, consumables, robots, and digital tasks. The day was better captured with a video than with paragraphs. En-JOY!
Author: Tanya Churchill
Makerspace: Just Trust the Kids!
I don’t usually do this; blog on a school night. Especially after my work day involves supporting teachers and administrators with ways they can ultimately impact student learning experiences. Blogging often keeps me up way too late, crafting just the right ways to express all the “wonderful” I experienced in a day. But if I keep not sharing by blog, not enough people get to share in the awe that is happening around us. This email was one I sent to a principal after an experience “I” had in his school one afternoon. But it only reached him. Continue reading
What can you do with a tweet?
(Disclaimer: this is not a post about how @Twitter can change your career, altho it does consistently and reliably)
If you are not following this hashtag, you really should. There is a lot of dynamic and uniquely designed learning connected to #XcontinentalKinders. And it is a result of a simple tweet followed by a response that has become an evolving learning journey and a cluster of professional (quickly becoming personal) relationships. Continue reading
This post is about the value of reflection and the opportunities that provide it!
What a gift these past two (about to be 3) snow days have been. I have been given the opportunity for Snowflection!
When it snows in North Carolina, it is a good gamble to assume school will be closed for a handful of days. Continue reading
What did I do with an idea…?
What Did I Do With An Idea…?
I fed it. I nurtured it. I let it grow. I grew to love it.
In November 2016, I was charged to have an idea. Being creative on demand has never worked out well for me so this was a very frustrating charge for me.
Although it was much more carefully articulated by the professionals facilitating this, the message was the same. Here is what I heard.
“Come up with an idea and do something with it.” Also, “Do this idea with other people. They must agree with you and nurture the idea with you. And in the end, you must show off your idea with pride to everyone else charged with this daunting task, and other professionals in your field who are expecting you to succeed with this idea.” Continue reading
Don’t Become Irrelevant: Do you “post” or do you Tweet?
Disclaimer: If you read this and swear by twitter, I need you to commit to commenting after reading so I can bring you more educators who have great things to say…read on.
I open with a quote I found on George Couros’ Principal of Change blog this morning that has stuck with me all day.
“I have always believed that you could have been a great teacher ten years ago, changed nothing, and now be irrelevant” Continue reading
#CSEd Week The Kids Won’t Stop Writing
I needed this this week!
It has been a very hectic few weeks at school amidst a busy holiday season.
The past few weeks have required countless hours of printer inventories, ERDing desktop computers, organizing laptop collections, teaching staff how to backup files; we had our school wide server upgrade this week unplugging the entire school leaving glitches to fix in it’s wake. I am tech contact.
I have trained teachers to administer the IOWA test, bubbled answer sheets, tracked testing permission letters, made and revised a test plan, organized students into testing settings, and gave the IOWA; I am test coordinator. Continue reading
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! Continue reading
Minecraft Has That Effect
In the keeping with the authenticity of blogging (posting only when feeling moved to do so rather than forcing something out on a schedule) it has taken me a while to feel moved to post a second blog. But I finally had a revelation which has spawned this post.
About two months ago, I was part of some conversations about purchasing MinecraftEDU at our school. At that time I knew nothing more about it than (1) my 5 year old and 11 year old played it at home and (2) it was a craze among my students. I could also pick out a “character” from the game if I saw one on a tee shirt. However, this was enough to ignite a strong desire in me to explore it. More than explore it, I wanted to master it. Not for me, but for my students. One month ago, our principal approved the purchase and our PTA paid the bill. I can’t recall the last time I studied so hard and so fast to master anything. My tutorials were a tad unconventional, however. Continue reading
Where will you be in 5 years?
HaRdEsT qUeStIoN eVeR!
It’s that time of year again. The “Intent Form” time of year; that form you have to fill out from your school principal detailing what your intentions are for the next school year (does he get to/have to keep you or are you hoping to venture out on a new adventure?). I was doing real well with my responses until that question happened; Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I can’t remember a time when I saw myself in one year let alone 5. Even when it came to teaching, I was NOT going to do THAT! My mother and father were both teachers. My mother’s 6 sisters were teachers and all but 1 married a teacher. All of my cousins who were older than me were teachers or in school pursuing a teaching degree. But that wasn’t my dream. I was going to be an interior designer (or a pilot…or a rock star). But my designing dreams were no match the genetic mutation in my DNA called teaching.
But there is that 5 year vision again. There isn’t a job I have ever had that didn’t fall into one of the following categories:
1. I never considered this job.
2. I didn’t go looking for this job.
3. I didn’t compete for this job.
4. Why think about it? Just go for it.
My first job was in high school as a freshman. No, that isn’t the job I am talking about although it was the only job my folks expected of me; full time student. But a neighbor friend of mine worked at a day care center in town and they were short an after school teacher one evening. She called to ask if I would come that evening so they were in compliance with teacher to child ratios. I agreed and kept the job for 7 years! It was the job I had when I left school early every day during my high school senior year for the work study program. It was the job I started college with until I *gulp* had to quit to…student teach! That day care changed my life, apparently. I am still working with kids!
Then there was the summer job during college. I was the kid who never spent the night at anyone’s house growing up. I liked MY house. I even lived at home throughout college. That’s why I still don’t know what came over me when I answered an add in the newspaper (the real paper kind), drove 90 minutes to an interview and returned home as a summer camp counselor at a resident YMCA camp; Camp Weona: Where only good Prevails! Yep! I had to LIVE there all summer (but my mom promised to write to me eveyr day..and she did…and I still have all those letters). It ended up being the best job I ever had until now; one of those times in your life that leaves you with those happy feelings you try to recreate in your adulthood but never can. I even returned for a second year before getting married and agreed to be the Arts and Crafts specialist. I also added weekends for winter programs!
College graduation happened after that and rather than pursue a teaching career, I decided to sub for the first year (picking and choosing when and where I wanted to work…or not). I also worked as a banquet waitress at a friend’s family banquet hall on weekends; so much fun! (Another job they were short a person for and needed a warm body…I spent many many weekends thereafter that nerve-racking crash course).
My first year in NC was next in the timeline of my life. Teaching jobs in NY were scarce at best; teachers were not retiring there, holding our for better retirement packages and clogging the market for new graduates. So, knowing NO one in NC, my husband of one week and I moved to NC where I picked up 2 long term maternity sub positions right away. That first summer, I needed an income so I walked into a random daycare (something familiar) where they recognized the value in hiring a real certified teacher for a pre-school teacher. In less than a year I was asked to open their 3rd daycare center as the pre-school director. It wasn’t on my radar when I was asked to do so but I gave it about 3 minutes thought, and figured, “Why not”. So I was a pre-school administrator for two years. That just drove one of my after-school teachers bonkers. She worked full time by day as the SIMS person for Wake County Schools and came in after her day was done to work a few more hours with us. She couldn’t stand that I was “wasting” my degree being a pre-school administrator even though it was great with me! She arranged for the principal of Lincoln Heights at the time to interview me for a teaching position. Honestly, I was not really interested but knew better than to burn a bridge. So I went for the interview. THAT was an awkward interview! I kid you not…
Principal: Have you ever….?
Principal: Do you have experience with….”
Principal: What do you know about the NC curriculum?
Thank goodness Linda Starkweather, the IRT at the time, (having seen my work background on my resume) told the principal she knew I had “grit”. How else could I have been so successful in working my way up in long term positions that I took on a whim without giving any of them much (or any) thought….and been happy and successful in each one!? So, three days into the first teacher work days of the new school year I got the call to be a 4th-grade teacher, my understanding bosses gave the OK to go, and in a matter of a day, I was a teacher!
No one in teaching needs to have it detailed how consuming that job was. For years I had put it out there to my administrator that I was interested in a job, ANY job, that was not a homeroom teacher. But turnover on the grade level was high and I was the constant. So taking me out of that position was not favorable. I was stuck until I took it upon myself to job share the 4th-grade position with a friend of mine. I was perfectly willing to work full time, just not as a homeroom teacher. So we planned all summer, made our part-time schedules, wrote letters to our future student’s families…and the call came. My principal said the science specialist position came open and it was mine. I did that job for 7 years at that school until the position had to be cut due to classroom numbers. They needed a homeroom teacher before a science teacher. Being unwilling to teach a homeroom again, I left that school after 11 years there and was taken on as a science specialist at a different school (by the same principal who hired me as the science specialist at my last school! Also the same principal who asked me if I would consider being an ITF which required going back to school).
I do not have a master’s degree nor am I nationally board certified. Back in NY, I completed a 5 year program in 4 years and never wanted to go back to being a student another day in my life. Yet, within a week of that ITF question, I was enrolling at ECU as a student to become an Instructional Technology Facilitator. However, before she could hire me for that position, she got moved to a different school. Thank goodness my new principal gave me that shot and took me on as the ITF just 2 months ago. I could not be happier. I am just as happy now as I was as that resident camp counselor at Camp Weona!
So now we have come full circle to that time of year when I have to answer that “5 years from now” question. Just so I could submit the form, I typed a few sentences after much thought. But if I am to be honest, the response wasn’t exactly what is in my heart. I pretty much just made something up that resembled what I am doing now only because I like what I am doing and I needed to submit it. But reflecting on it now, a week later in my first ever blog attempt, I think I know what I need to go back in and change my response to.
In 5 years from now, I want to be as surprised as ever in where I will be because so far, my gut and my soul have never once steered me wrong. My grit has never failed me, Year after year gets better and better and not once have I ever seen it coming. For me, I believe that is the way it is supposed to be. If others can see potential in me, I am intrigued although I do know my limits. I may not always know what I am doing. But if I have agreed to try, I have agreed to find joy in it and will fight like crazy to be the best I can be…until I am blindsided for the next challenge.
So how about YOU….where do YOU hope to be in 5 years? And how do you know? REALLY….how the heck do you know?