Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Round Two - Ding Ding

I am getting ready to start year two of online teaching. I'm looking ahead but also looking back as last year was such a blur and went so quickly. The best parts of last year were all of the thank yous and how at the end of the year, the students kicked their studying into high gear as they saw what they had left to accomplish in the time left. I loved how there was so much more time for 1:1 connections with my students and parents. I had very few barriers with the various tech tools that I've been learning about over the years. All students had a device! The cherry on the sundae was that for the most part, there was no internet filter. This was bliss. I felt like I had freedom to teach and the time and tools to do it.

There are many myths about K-12 online schooling. I think the biggest is that students who school at home are missing out on social interaction. Students who school online are not lacking socially. Many of my students actually have more social opportunities. One of my students met Justice Sandra Day O'Connor and had lunch with the governor of Minnesota. Another one of my students schooled from a beach in Florida while on vacation and of course was proud to give us a tour during class. Another would go to a college campus with his mom sometimes for class. Students are much more mobile when schooling online. But even if not, we are social while in class just as in a physical classroom. Think of the connections you've made with those you've only met online. We have homeroom gatherings and school gatherings in addition to regular classes. We play games and have just-for-fun social times. We also meet face-to-face. There are several outings scheduled each month. These are optional and are all over the state, but are also opportunities for students to meet those whom they've only met online. Remember how excited you get when you meet someone face-to-face for the first time? Kids act the same way. It even makes the state testing exciting because we get to meet many students for the first time. How many brick and mortar students are excited about state testing because they get to see their teacher? It's little things like this that make me anxious for year number two to begin.

The best description of how I felt last year would be "happily overwhelmed." I sometimes felt as if I had no idea what I was doing, but couldn't stop smiling because of course I knew what I was doing. The best description of how I feel now is just "happy" because I have the best job in the world. I am a teacher.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

ICE 2013 - What's the Point?

I anxiously awaited #ICE13 for what seemed so long and it went by so quickly. Making the most of each moment with little down time makes experiences become memories before I'm ready.  One might think that the carefully planned workshops, sessions and keynotes might be the highlights or foci, but I look most forward to connecting with people. I got to see friends that I see fairly often, enjoyed more "first time F2F meetings with tweeps" which is always worth any amount of miles traveled, but I still missed out on a few people which unfortunately happens. I never crossed paths with +Pernille Ripp, merely glanced at @teach42 (Steve Dembo) and missed out on a first F2F with and @ipadsammy (Jon Samuelson). On the flip side, I reconnected with @jenwagner (Jen Wagner), had a short conversation with +Josh Stumpenhorst and was reignited by @bengrey (Ben Grey) with his insightful, though-provoking session. I also was introduced to many like-minded individuals. Some "new" people were actually ones that I "knew" on Twitter as we'd followed each other for some time. Meeting in person gives those relationships a new layer and takes them to a new level.

So the next time you get a chance take the trip to any conference, EdCamp ,or other professional gathering, make the time and spend the money. You'll get more than you pay for - really.