“You can’t do it all.” These were the words one of my new colleagues shared with me near the end of last week. They were a good reminder as I was quite tempted to try to “do it all,” even if that wasn’t really possible. I was filled with enthusiasm for my new position and very aware of my long (and growing) to-do list. The words stuck with me and I returned to my classroom to prioritize what needed to be done immediately, what was feasible before the week ended, and what had to be put off until the next week.
My schedule filled up quickly as I continued to learn more about the school culture, prepared for various technology projects across different grades, and continued with my classroom setup. Some of my progress involved learning through trial-and-error. For example, I discovered that it was much more powerful to email the entire staff and reach out personally for their help in saving cafeteria containers for our keyboard project instead of just putting signs up asking people to save them. Other parts of my week involved creating and updating new organizational tools, such as a Google Form I had made for faculty to request help or resources and suggest new ideas. Through teacher feedback, I learned that some portions of the form needed to be shorter and other parts required additional questions so I had enough information to provide help.
The computers set up with green/red cups for kids to ask for help
I also had the opportunity to work hands-on with some of the new SMART Boards and learn through exploration as I connected cords and helped teachers download the necessary software. But one of the most meaningful parts of the week was having the chance to eat lunch with students each day or help with recess. This allowed me to start to get to know students, which is so important in building the meaningful relationships that provide a foundation to facilitate relevant and engaging student-led project work!
Showing Voicethread to a kindergarten class
This week, the relationship-building has continued, as I’ve begun to visit individual classes to introduce our technology projects and as students have begun to visit the tech lab. It’s exciting to introduce new tools to the students and see their eyes light up when they realize their voices can be recorded and played back through the computer (Voicethread) or their words can be written on top of photos (Skitch). I’m looking forward to working one-on-one with more students later in the week and starting to really learn their names (which is a huge help!) as we work together.
Posted in Thoughts
Tagged #edtech, education, Educational technology, Google, K through 12, keyboard, learning, project, skitch, Smart Board, Student, Teacher, technology, voicethread
Upon returning from my vacation, I started to feel the anxiety building. I began to worry that a frantic storm of long hours of “catch-up” work were ahead. I started to fear that I had just experienced the “calm before the storm” by taking a vacation right before prep-work (orientations, meetings, etc) for the new school year was to officially begin (quickly followed by the first day of school!).
And then I stopped worrying. I started to think instead, about what I had learned while away and disconnected from technology and my work. I remembered the days of patiently watching waves, simply enjoying the sound of them cascading onto the beach. I thought of how lucky I felt to experience the care and compassion of family members who I rarely see. Then, I reflected on the power of patience and compassion, with and for ourselves and our fellow educators (and students). I realized that just because I had created a forced-calm by walking away from my devices and connecting with family and friends for a week, that did not mean that the calm had to immediately disappear. I could actually ease into things and be compassionate with myself by allowing time to readjust to a non-vacation schedule, time to get “back in the groove” of digital connectivity, and more time to reflect on what I had learned while away (and what I want for the upcoming school year).
I was surprised by how freeing this mindfulness of the need for compassion, patience, and multiple forms of connectivity (e.g., digital, personal, familial) felt. Which made me begin to think more about the applications of these traits and ideas for the classroom and the field of education. Have we placed enough emphasis on these “basic traits” when working with our students and colleagues? I know that to some, “compassion” and “patience” may feel like character traits that don’t have to be addressed after the early years but in our increasingly connected world, I wonder if we should highlight them more, regardless of age.
I think it could be beneficial for educators to remind one another to be patient and compassionate with themselves, especially as pressure builds with the start of a new school year. This feels particularly timely given that it’s Connected Educator’s Month. In addition to focusing on ways we can connect globally for collaboration and learning, we should focus on ways we can use our networks to support one another in being mindful of how much pressure we are putting on ourselves to set up the perfect classroom, prepare the “right” lessons, and create the ideal classroom community. I would love to see educators brainstorming ideas to help themselves and their students be patient and compassionate in their learning and communications, even if that means sometimes taking time to disconnect so they can reflect and relax.
How are you feeling about the start of the new school year? Have you connected with a supportive network of educators who can remind you to be patient and compassionate? Any tips you can share?
Posted in Reflections
Tagged calm before the storm, Classroom, Compassion, connected, connectivity, digital connectivity, Early childhood education, education, Educational technology, K through 12, learning, mindful, mindfulness, network, patience, PLN, reflection, relationships, Student, support, Teacher, time, travel, Twitter, vacation