Do or Do Not, There is no Try

Technologically speaking, I’m not really a Noob. I’m not hacker status by any means but I definitely know my way around a computer, various OS’s, devices, etc. However, I am a completely and nearly totally helpless EduTechnoNoob. Again, I can work my way through all sorts of online grade books and attendance sheets and email programs and proprietary websites that we are made to use to keep a calendar and docs for students and parents. Those I can do, easily and without looking, in my sleep, one handed. I’m good there.

It’s the bringing-the-tech-into-the-classroom-to-enhance-learning-and-engage-the-student-where-it’s-not-just-for-show-or-novelty that I struggle. Now, I can argue that it’s my district’s fault for not supplying me/us all the right equipment and training and PD and whatever to make our technology lives better, easier, and saner. I could, but that would be a lame excuse. And I really hate being lame. What the district did do with it’s limited budget is get us two Chromebook labs and accounts and access to the GAFE (Google Apps for Education) suite. We are not a 1-1 site; we are not even a bring your own device site. We have been, until last year, an untech school (unused Smartboards and underused ELMOs aside). With the introduction of GAFE last year, and the daunting task of moving from an Outlook-centric email system to Gmail, we were given the free reign to work within this new online collaboration and sharing community, without much help or support at all.

How did I use all this great new stuff you ask? I saved some stuff to my Drive just to say that I used it. I used Gmail just to forward my gmail to my Outlook. I continued to use and create new hard-drive based docs and such in Microsoft Office. I used a lot of paper making copies of the docs I was creating. Essentially, I played with Google, I batted it around for a bit , like a cat with and injured rodent, in an effort to say that I used it so that I could complain and gripe about using it, and once sufficient complaining was achieved, I went back to the comfy worn-in couch that was nice and ratted and broke in. If myself and my school and staff, albeit small, sound all too familiar to you of the “teacher’s aversion to change”, then that’s sad. Sad like a big, juicy burger with cold, unmelted cheese on top. Sad like Yoda speaking proper grammar. Sad like thinking that Starbuck’s is the best coffee around. Sad like students not knowing who Ducky is.

Now, it’s not sad that people are afraid of change, it is a little, but it’s more sadderer that it’s all too familiar within our classrooms, not just with schools in my area, but in schools across the country.

So I came up with a plan to become un-sad, just this summer, like literally six weeks ago, and it’s revolutionary! Here it comes…hold on to your butts…

*pause for effect*

I decided to go all in.

I know! It’s crazy right! I just up and decided that it was time to stop dabbling and dangling the very small tip of my very small toe into this thing, and just jump in. I mean really, what was there to lose? Answer: absolutely nothing. The planet didn’t open up and swallow me whole, my dog didn’t die, my kids still love me, and pizza still tastes amazing.

But check this out. I really didn’t even do anything, except decide to do something (Yoda’s wisdom is swimming in my head, and hopefully yours now too).

While I did make this decision recently, the school year doesn’t start for me for another few weeks, and I have the luxury to sit at home on my computer and research and watch and read and migrate all my files over to Drive and begin reformatting my important files in Drive and think and plan for all the wonderfully fantastic things I’ll be doing this year in the classroom.

I’m doing that now, but reality will hit soon and a new school year will start and I will be faced with the real challenge of navigating my new-found invigoration and passion for this new-to-me tech, and then translate it to the students in a way that is usable and not distractable.

That is what my next few (read: many) post will be focused on. Things I’ve learned and taught myself about edutech over the summer, how I see these tools being used in my classroom, and what the challenges might be like as I move from paper to practice.

Stick around, it’s about to get funky!

May the force be with you,

TJ

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What Is My Purpose?

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I’ve been reading and devouring blogs religiously since last summer. A few of my favorites are: Teaching the Core, Love Teach, The Nerdy Teacher, Free Tech for Teachers, and anything of Jim Burke’s and Kelly Gallagher’s. There are obviously plenty more blogs out there that you could read, and I’m sure I’ll “discover” more along the way, but these were the first ones that I found, or, you could say, the ones that found me.

Anywho, as I was thinking about doing my own blog I began to wonder what my blog would be about. I began thinking of the many blogs that I’ve read so far, and the variety of topics and genres and styles that are out there, even the ones listed above are so very different in nature.

So, what’s my purpose?

I think I’ve been thinking about this for too long and too hard. And I think that is why it’s taken me soooooo long to pull the trigger and start a blog. You either poo or get off the pot, amirite?!

I quoted Keating from Dead Poets Society yesterday, but I believe that in that quote my purpose for this blog is found. We are living in this thing called life, “the powerful play”, and we all have a “verse” to contribute. Now, whether we are intentionally writing our verse, or letting it be written for us, is totally and completely up to us. There’s my purpose in writing this teaching blog; I want to actively and purposefully contribute my voice and style and (what little) wit and wisdom I have.

“When will the teaching part of this blog actually happen?” you might be asking. Fear not my Padowans (and remember, fear leads to anger leads to hatred leads to becoming Darth Vader), The Teaching Jedi is coming, I promise. Think of these first couple posts as an epilogue to a larger, greater narrative.

Be good my friends, and may the force be with you,

-TJ

Why Didn’t I Do This Sooner?!

So here I am, starting a teaching blog at the cusp of beginning my ninth year of teaching and I have to wonder out loud,

What took me so long?

Oh, I can come up with all kinds of lame excuses as to why this never happened, ones I’m sure you’re familiar with in your own life as a human being on this planet. The chief one for me was/is: “I’ve been sooooooo busy doing_______.” Insert whatever into that blank and I’m sure I’ve said that at least once or thrice. However, I can’t sit here and beat myself up over the past, nor would it make for good reading if I just castigated myself, one post at a time.

No, I’m here to move past that, and this first post is proof that my intentions are good, my motivation is high, and I feel, with eight years under my belt, like I actually have something to say. Like I can contribute something to the ever-increasing white noise of the internet. Like Keating said, that the powerful play goes on, and I might contribute a verse.

Well my friends, my fist post has come to a close. I am excited about this new endeavor and look forward to where this will take me in the weeks and months and years to come.

May the force be with you,

-TJ