The first classroom I taught in after graduating from college had no technology, unless you count the speaker from which the office announcements blared. Fast forward to my present-day classroom, equipped with 13 desktop computers, a Promethean board, and a ceiling-mounted projector. Additionally, a grade partner and I share a cart of 30 Chromebooks. I am able to provide a 1:1 ratio of learner to tech daily.
Having the tools of the trade means nothing unless we know how best to use them. I set out 6 months ago to learn everything I could about GAFE (Google Apps For Education) and a number of other ed tech tools. My Twitter PLN (Professional Learning Network) was instrumental in encouraging this self-education process. I had to educate myself in order to stay current and to serve my instruction and my students. I wanted this school year to be The Year of Ed Tech, and so far it has been. What we have learned and produced together has been impressive (and fun)!
That being said, I realize just how spoiled I now am. I've had access to tech in the classroom for much of my career thus far, and now that I feel more competent than ever with it, I'm worried about losing it. (Silly? Yes. Selfish? Definitely. Truthful? Yes.) Making the transition to a Middle School next school year has its pros and cons, its certainties and unknowns. What if at my new post I don't have such ease of access and a 1:1 set-up?
Bottom line: The show must go on, with or without tech. I'll adapt. I'll continue to learn about ed tech. I'll seek ways to infuse my instruction with it. And who knows? I may just end up getting spoiled all over again.
I used to love going to the circus as a kid. The Ringling Brothers really knew how to put on a show. I enjoyed the high-wire act, the lion-tamer act, and the caged-motorcycles act. I never needed popcorn and a soda while at the circus. The acts captively held my attention.
I came to the conclusion during the first part of this school year that being an elementary-school teacher feels like being in the circus. My "act" is that of The Juggler. You know, the person who skillfully twirls a variety of objects around in the air with nothing but two hands and confidence? I assign myself to this role because in my current position, I teach 6 subjects to the same group of students. Every. Day. On top of the instructional demands, there are district and state mandates to obey and students' needs to meet. Toss in interpersonal relationships with colleagues and admins, and my juggling act is in full swing daily.
After nearly 16 years of being a teacher, I have to be honest with myself: The circus act is tiring.
I find myself unable to approach every subject and every lesson with the zeal and zip I felt as a novice teacher. Despite continual changes to the curriculum and my efforts to keep units fresh, being The Juggler may actually be counterproductive. I'm stretched thin on most days. I'm not going all-in with my lessons. And I'm feeling the burn as I tumble fiery clubs in the air.
It's time for a change, Gen, and you know it.
The school year isn't over yet. There is time to infuse the last semester in my current position with some novelty, some creativity, and some zest. My students deserve the greatest show on Earth, and that is exactly what I'll give them! I'll blog more about my 2nd semester plans after the new year begins. Plans are in the works...stay tuned.
During my career, I've started over three times. My full-time positions have taken me to four schools, three public and one private. I've been in my current position for nearly 14 years, and I'll be starting over yet again come August 2017. My district is officially relocating my grade level to Middle School buildings. I've prepared for (and prayed for) this kind of change for years.
With professional change comes personal change, too. As I think ahead to what it will be like to teach in a Middle School, I have more questions than answers. In time, the answers will come, and I will be able to map out a plan for the transition. Packing up my classroom is the easy part. Saying goodbye to what and who I've known for 14 years will not be as easy.
I welcome the changes on the horizon, though. They will challenge me. They will mature me. They will humble me. Along the way, I plan to be open, honest, and reflective about my thoughts, worries, victories, and fails. The road ahead is being paved for me, and I'm ready to travel on it.
My name is