Seizing Opportunities

Another school year has begun or it will begin soon. This is my 13th year as an instructional technology specialist/coach. I am sitting here reflecting on the teachers, students, administrators, parents, and other staff members I have had the honor of serving. It’s such fun meeting people here in my new school district and also when I get the opportunity to travel and speak in other places around the country. What many don’t realize is that while they might be coming to learn from me in a formal setting, I am enjoying learning from them just as much. I learn new ideas for how teachers want to have their students learn with technology, I learn new ways of providing students more opportunity to learn outside of a traditional classroom space, how to redesign classroom spaces, how technology can level the playing field for learning opportunities regardless of race, gender, or socioeconomic status, and new ways to provide meaningful learning opportunities for educators and other staff. The list can go on but I think you get the idea.

rocket launch

The really cool thing is, I’m getting to help people and learn at the same time. Helping them is my passion; to help educators grow in their use of technology by providing meaningful learning experiences for them and the students we serve.

These are all opportunities worth seizing. I want to take as many as I can within reason whether they’re local, national or international. Sure, there are limitations on how much I can be gone from my full-time job and family, but that doesn’t lessen my desire of wanting more opportunities to grow. Sometimes I want opportunities I can’t have for one reason or another. Maybe the timing isn’t right or I’m just not the right person in a particular instance.  I can always respect that but it still bums me out from time to time. When that happens it’s a missed opportunity to help others grow and an opportunity for me to grow as well.

As you start a new school year, what opportunities are you going to seize? Sometimes they’re right under our noses, and sometimes we have to see bigger and shoot for the moon. Either way, don’t stop seizing opportunities to bring growth to yourself, your colleagues, and your students.

Have an outstanding school year.

Keeping Our Eyes on The #EdTech Horizon

We’re quickly approaching that time. The end of summer draws closer and the excitement of another school year begins. Many teachers enjoyed some relaxation as certainly did our students. Many of those same teachers also invested a lot of time and energy to learning about new ideas and technologies; whether that be attending a conference, edcamp, adding new books to their professional libraries or taking a grad class. The opportunities are, and will continue to be, plentiful.horizon

From my own experience, as well as something that can be quickly deduced by chatting with any educator interested in edtech, keeping up with it all is a never-ending challenge. We always have new tools, new devices, this movement, and that movement. To try to keep up with it all can feel like quite a daunting, yet incredibly satisfying task all at the same time.

Just like Uncle Ben told his nephew Peter, “With great power comes great responsibility.”. We now have the power to keep ourselves at the forefront of educational technology. We can connect and learn on Twitter, through reading blogs, attending face to face events, taking classes, or by just doing a quick search on YouTube. Even if we don’t have every device available or are using every tool that’s available, it’s important for teachers, as well as school/district leaders, to keep our eyes on the horizon for what’s possible. The horizon always looks far away, but it should represent a place where we want to go professionally and be a place we want to take our students to in their learning.

Excellence is the gradual result of always striving to do better. Pat Riley


Striking Out is Good

My son Eli had a baseball tournament this past weekend. The kid loves baseball so much. He’s 9, yet he already has created this amazing capacity of baseball information for himself. It’s safe to say that Eli has a working knowledge of every team in Major League Baseball. His passion for playing baseball is evident because of not only how hard he practices, but also how hard he is on himself when he doesn’t perform as well as he thinks he should; particularly when he’s up to bat and strikes out.

One particular instance of this over the weekend really struck me. Eli was up to bat, and struck out. As he turned to return back to the dugout, Eli lowered his helmet down over his eyes as the tears started to flow. It’s not the first time that has happened so I did what any supportive dad would do in this situation and I ran out on the field and I scooped him up and hugged him. Just kidding, I didn’t really do that (but I wanted to). 🙂

I did, however, make sure Eli could hear me and I told him he’s awesome and he’ll get it next time. What happened next though I wasn’t expecting:

Eli being consoled by his teammates.

I love everything about this picture. I mean, if you’re going to strike out, at least you have a great team that’s there for you even when you don’t perform like you thought you should. Would I have loved to see Eli blast that ball? Of course I would have. I like to think in this instance Eli learned something that a home run wouldn’t have taught him. That’s my hope as I look at this picture over and over and smile.

Today is the last day of school for my kids. They had a great year; they loved their teachers, and they love their school.  So, naturally I had to think about how this all relates to education. 🙂

WTF Moments

No, WTF doesn’t mean what you think it means. We need to have a Willingness To Fail. Our students need that transparency from us, teachers need that transparency from leadership, and it needs to be the norm. It needs to be accepted and embraced that failure is going to happen and not have it seen as an end point, but a jumping off point. Think of where it’s going to go from here rather than let it keep you from going anywhere at all.

Infectious Engagement

I think it’s safe to say we all want our students to be excited about going to school. My son loves school but he’s not as excited about it as he is about baseball. He certainly doesn’t get as upset about when he doesn’t perform well at school compared to striking out in a baseball game. I think if we want our students to be as excited/passionate about school as they are about things outside of school, they need to see us just as excited about learning. Our students need to know about that edcamp, Google Summit, or other learning experience that got us fired up. They need to know what you’re doing to be a better teacher and keep moving yourself forward because they’re the ultimate reason we’re doing it. It means creating a culture and practice of being infectious in our schools.

Teams Are Everything

Knowing you have a great team that is going to support you, success or not, is a comfort that we need as professionals and our students need it in our classrooms too. The need for team support isn’t limited to athletics; students need to feel what good collaboration, team work, and camaraderie looks like and feels like as it relates to learning too. Again, students need to see this modeled at all levels in a district or school. We are always better together than we are apart.

Striking out isn’t always bad. It can give us some important reminders of how to be better learners and how to be better people.