In Only One Year…
If you are open to it, inspiration can come from anywhere! This post is inspired by Dave Burgess, who is always willing to help me navigate these pirate waters, and by Timehop, the app that’s constantly reminding me where I used to be and how much I’m growing.
This week thanks to Timehop, I was reminded that exactly a year ago, I boarded a plane with my sister and a few colleagues to make the trip down to San Diego to attend the Summer Institute at High Tech High. This led me to reflect on the year that was. I consider this trip to be part of my big ah-ha moment which led me to catapulting myself into my learning . I could tell you all about the innovative and super exciting things that I learned while at High Tech High, but what I find most important to share is that it wasn’t actually the content that I learned that marked me, it was something much bigger… it was how I felt. The fact that I was surrounded by people who were just as passionate as I was, who were energized and enthusiastic, and who were willing to take risks in order to create better learning experiences for their students, was unlike anything I had ever experienced before. I felt like I could conquer the world! This trip, and spending a lot of quality time with Meg Chopek, led me to finally start the whole Twitter thing. Twitter has been such a powerful tool for me this year in terms of professional development, because it too provided me with the same kind of feeling. No matter what it is that I’m doing, I always have my PLN behind me willing to help, support and push me. Although I’ve never met most of these people, I value them beyond belief. Another thing that has really stuck with me this year while trying to figure out the whole Twitter world is that everyone in education that I’ve encountered is always willing to help out! Whether it be big shot principals, edu gurus, well-known speakers, or good’old classroom teachers, everyone is always so helpful!
Last summer, after getting back from San Diego and during the summer break, Twitter introduced me to Paul Solar‘s book, Learn Like A Pirate and I immediately ordered it. As soon as I started reading the book, I was in love! I felt like Paul had written a book on my philosophy of how things should be within a classroom: led by the students. But even more exciting than that, was the fact that his book also has countless tangible examples of how one could go about implementing such changes in order to ensure success. Needless to say, I was hooked from the get go. With pages highlighted and sticky notes everywhere, I was ready to make this my goal for the upcoming school year… my 1st graders were going to lead (and they did)!
Fast forward just another month and I had heard about the #IMMOOC and although, at the time, I had no idea what a MOOC was, I was willing to try something new and see what this online course was all about. Within two days I had signed up and had driven across town in order to get the last two copies of Innovator’s Mindset by George Couros left in the city (because this was just days before the MOOC was starting and I needed to have the book in hand before starting) and was ready to dive in. I figured I would do this thing “my way”, but George had other plans! Somehow he, and Sheila Vick, convinced me that starting a blog would be a good idea – and I’m so glad they did! Blogging has probably been the most powerful tool for me this year in terms of professional growth, and truthfully, for my mental health too. Taking the time to reflect regularly has allowed me to grow so much more and has pushed me to take risks and make changes that I don’t think I would’ve done without this blog. Blogging has also given me an escape and down time while doing something that I am so passionate about – win, win!
When the second round of #IMMOOC was announced, I was beyond excited! Aside from blogging, the #IMMOOC community was so supportive and encouraging while still pushing and questioning with the intent of helping everyone grow. This round, the #IMMOOC Twitter Chats started and although those were the busiest chats I’ve ever participated in, they were also probably the most amazing ones too! I am so thankful for the #IMMOOC PLN community! And bonus… I got to spend a whole day learning with George Couros when he came to speak to the new staff which I’m a part of next year!
This year, I’ve also done a lot of professional reading (way more than I’ve ever done before). Apart from the countless blog posts and articles that I’ve read this year, and the two books that I motioned above, I also read many other books published by Dave Burgess Consulting, which I love because they are always so easy to read! If you are looking for a good PD book, you will find something that interests you by Dave Burgess Consulting – I haven’t come across one I don’t love and I have so many more on my to read list!
Then, I was fortunate enough to head to Niagara Falls this past April in order to attend Connect 2017. That was another very powerful learning experience where I felt a lot of the same things I experiences while at High Tech High. More relationships were built upon, new friendships were made, and connections were established. I met so many amazing educators at this conference and I’m proud to say that I got to meet and hearJennifer Casa-Todd and Brian Aspinall speak, among many others.
There are so many other professional learning experiences that have helped to shape me this school year, but I’ve already written so many that I think I’ll stop here. If I had to sum it up into the most powerful ones though, it would have to be getting on Twitter and blogging. If you are looking for a place to start, that’s what I would recommend; get active on Twitter, and start publicly sharing and reflecting on what you’re learning and doing! There’s a 3rd round of #IMMOOC starting in October… and I’m sure it won’t disappoint! You can sign up and get more info here!
So what does this all mean for me for next year? Well, I know that this is just the tip of the iceberg. I know that my learning will continue to blossom over time and I am so excited to see what next year will bring. What is even more exciting is that I am in a unique situation in that I’ve been hired as one of the new staff members of a brand new school that will be opening in September. This incredible, energetic and motivated staff will have the most amazing journey and I cannot wait to see what it brings! I have a feeling that what I felt while at High Tech High and in Niagara Falls will be my every day reality next year. Imagine that feeling you get from your Twitter PLN, now imagine getting to live that day in and day out, face to face, within your school. That is what I anticipate next year will be like, and it will be AH-MAZING!