At the end of the day I learned to reflect on what happened, to glean the good from the bad and decide what to do differently the next day. Each day taught me something new, whether it was a different technology tool or a student teaching me something new about the community in which I was teaching.
Professionally I have had the opportunity to grow by leaps and bounds. I learned so much by doing rather than relying on what I learned in school. As I have stated before I have used Google products for years, but never to the degree in which I have this past year. Having the opportunity to attend the Great Plains Google Apps for Education Summit the past two summers has taught me so much. Many of my experiences with Google have been trial and error, but many have gone swimmingly well.
As part of our ESU here in Nebraska, I have the opportunity to be part of a Technology Integration Group (TIG). Two educators from every district in the ESU attend session four times a year to learn new technologies and then take them back to our districts. It is our job to learn and teach those around us the tools to help make technology go from something that is just additive to something that enhances student learning and achievement. Because of poking and prodding from the leadership of the group, I am going to be a presenter at the Fall Ed Tech Conference in Kearney, NE, talking about my experience integrating Google Apps for Education into my classroom this past year.
Twitter, oh how I wish I had heard your swan song years ago. In undergrad I always thought it was just another social media site for status updates. After more poking and prodding from the TIG leadership and our elementary principal, I set up an account and started following a few educators they recommended. Once I saw the power of the network I haven’t looked back. I still don’t constantly watch my feeds, but I spend 5-10 minutes a day browsing and collecting the information that is useful to me. In a year’s time, I’ve sent over 600 tweets and had some great conversations that led to ideas and partnerships I never would have formed otherwise.
Changes are in the works this year, I have two new classes and plans to change up several others. So much for the second year being any easier with repeated lessons! Because I know my students better after working with them for a year, I feel more comfortable taking more risks and trying new things.
With my seniors we are going to start Passion Blogs this year once they get their computers back. Each student will set up a Google Site and start free writing something they are passionate about, whether it is farming, politics, fashion, or sports. Check back in the middle of September for links to their pages to post comments and encourage them to keep writing.
With my sophomores, I am completely restructuring their class to make it more thematic rather than genre specific. With junior English, the government teacher and myself plan to co-teach 1984 by George Orwell and complete some cross-curriculum projects.
And then there is writing. We have a school-wide improvement goal to increase our writing scores. I have volunteered to be the core subject contact to help other teachers in the building incorporate writing into their curriculums. I have the opportunity to teach the 7th and 8th grade students one semester each about writing structures and genres. It is scary and a big commitment, but something that will be good for the students and help me grow as an educator.
A good first year last year and I’m looking forward to an even better one this year!
Let that bell ring.