Thursday, October 30, 2008

Portfolio Project- Update #2

And we mustn't forget that everything is a learning process! I may have gotten a little ahead of myself with the wiki-- in terms of putting it out there without any personal explanation of its purpose. But I was able to hold a very brief, informal training session with a few today that helped a bit. I need to remember that face-to-face meetings are beneficial, too! I think I get sucked into sitting in front of this computer screen, and I forget that others may not be so comfortable, savvy, or interested. So before I frustrate my pioneers, I am going to work a little more closely with them at the start, and then, once everyone is comfortable, we can take some time apart to reflect and brainstorm. We'll file this under lessons learned.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Portfolio Project- Update #1

Exciting news! I created a wiki on Wikispaces for the pioneers in my building who have agreed to work on implementing an online portfolio project with their students. So far, I have had one teacher create her account and post a reply to the discussion board. We are taking small steps, and I am trying not to get over-zealous and inundate them with too much, but at the very least I posted a Common Craft wiki video to give them some background on what a wiki is. I also hope this experience with a wiki will provide the impetus for implementing wikis with their students. I couldn't help but mention how this could be integrated in their curriculums and urged them to think towards that as we used the wiki to plan our projects. Right now, we are all using one space to plan, but I am guessing that as we progress, we will need to divide into smaller groups that are more specific to their subject areas. I hope that this will begin an evolution towards top-notch technology integration at the Tech Center!

Monday, October 27, 2008

A Whole New Mind

When we were first given A Whole New Mind, by Daniel Pink, I looked at the cover and silently scoffed at the possible contents. The tag line, "Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future," seemed a stretch. While I don't consider myself entirely left or right-brained, I have been around people who claim to be "right-brained" enough to know why they may have a challenge ruling. Sadly, the book sat on my bookshelf and collected dust for about two months. I picked it up earlier this month, and I admit, I have had a hard time putting it down! Daniel Pink's exploration of the two sides of the brain and the roles they play in our thinking, and more importantly, the complementary roles they play, has been eye-opening. He discusses the importance of how we must make a leap to engage in activities that strengthens, as he puts it, R-directed thinking. I am only into the third of the six senses we need to enhance, but I am finding myself viewing and seeing many things differently already. Daniel Pink will be in Virginia Beach to speak to VBCPS educators on December 4th. It is my hope this marks a change in thinking about how we will be educating our students.

Friday, October 24, 2008


Earlier this week, someone asked about how my building administrators are using social networking tools. I quietly laughed at this because I am just getting more comfortable with using social networking tools in my professional life.

It was interesting how this appeared at this point in time because I have spent a bit of time the last several months not being quite sure of my professional goals. The whole "what do I want to be when I grow up" question plagued me. I felt listless, aimless, even bordering on apathetic. Definitely not where I had intended on being when I started teaching several years ago, and I wanted to blame it on a myriad of things. My position, my colleagues, my disinterest. Then I realized, I had no one to blame but myself. I had become stagnant in my profession. And I had nobody to blame but myself. I think over the past several weeks, I have learned one of the most important lessons I could learn: Passion doesn't just happen upon you; it is a result of connecting in a meaningful way.

I had been sitting back and waiting to be inspired-- inspired to think, inspired to change, inspired to choose. And it wasn't happening. And so I sat. And I watched myself spiral down into the place we all see many teachers spiral: mediocrity. I was busying myself with technical requests and organizational processes, blindly for quite a while, not realizing that while I was doing this, I was allowing part of myself to die away. I see the value of what I have been doing here for two years, and much of it was necessary, but I also now see the value of balance. And that was what I was lacking.

Coming to the Tech Center pulled me out of my comfort zone. Rather than being able to easily integrate technology into subjects that I knew much about-- English, social studies, science, math-- I was now surrounded with wrenches and torches; cars and sheds; huge mixers; blowdryers and scissors... I had no idea where to begin, what they were teaching, or how I could help them to move forward into the 21st century-- to benefit themselves and their students. And true to form, I was fearful, so I sat; I didn't risk. This is my pattern, but I can reflect now and see that I usually end up moving past the fear. I hope one day to not allow the fear to consume me so completely.

It has been invigorating to bring myself back up to speed. My Google Reader, which for a year has sat, intermittently accessed, with very few feeds, is now bursting with robust feeds from many different Educational Technology professionals. Twitter, which I couldn't really understand as a professional tool, now blips at me daily, and I have started following people I know and those I don't know. And probably the greatest accomplishment of all? I have contacted five teachers about the possibilities of transforming our portfolio process to an online project. They have all excitedly accepted, and though I still feel trepidation at the prospects of seeing this project through to fruition, I know that this time, I will not allow it to whither.