Smoking Weed to Cap & Gown

To continue my Learning Moments series, I want to share a story and a connection to an activity my Digital Learning Coach (DLC) and I lead in our campus’ Tech Tuesday Professional Learning Community (PLC.) Today we launched our Leading Innovative Change Series (Inspired by George Couros‘ The Innovator’s Mindset) in our Tech Tuesday PLC. We started with getting back to our beginnings and why we chose the teaching profession before we jumped into innovation. We wanted to remember why we are “here” and what keeps us going. We used the Teachers2Teachers toolkit for #whyiteach to focus our thoughts for today’s PLC time. Take a look! (Check out the hashtag #whyiteach on Twitter.)

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When thinking of the why behind teaching a memory came to my mind of my first year teaching. I had a student, we’ll call him Tommy, in my first year who was assigned ISS or Alternative School often due to his use of weed and lack of shall we say focus. We’ll as all teacher’s know if a student is assigned one of these alternatives to their regular day, you have to make an assignment and send work for the day(s). (And, this was before technology.) If you’ve read my previous blog, Horses, Goats & Prayers, Oh My!you know that I had the surprise assignment of PE and Speech my first year of a non-teaching position!

Tommy was in one of my PE classes; in which I had to just makeup work for him to complete as it was an activity class. Since I knew why he had been assigned to ISS and his extracurricular activity, I made him research Cannibis – the effects, longterm issues, etc. This evolved into writing essays as to how weed was going to help him be successful in the future. He knew every time he was in “need” of an alternative assignment I would get creative with the assignment  and center it around his use of weed.

Well, after this year Tommy joined the work program offered in the district. He was able to work and alternatively finish school as he was behind his fellow classmates. Two years later, Tommy found me in my new (fitting) teaching assignment, Biology, in a new classroom. Why did Tommy come find me? To show me his cap and gown as he was graduating from high school. As I am typing, I’m getting goosebumps. This still affects me nearly 15 years later. This is #whyiteach. When you can see success like this from students in general and, especially; in those circumstances where they have a few more hurdles in their way.

Why I Teach:

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Today was one of those days that was just uplifting!  It is great to learn more about your fellow educators and remember the reason(s) we go back day after day to a very demanding job with little light at the end of the tunnel at times. Today we remembered the real reason we teach: our learners.

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Making Connections as Lifelong Learners

While attending ASCD’s Ignite Conference in Irving, TX today and listening to Eric Sheninger speak on Creating Schools That Work for Kids  and catching the second half of Digital Leadership and the Educational Landscape, my mind jumped to a quote from a book I’m reading. Mr. Sheninger was talking on changes we need in our schools and challenged educators with this question, “Would you want to be in your colleagues’ classroom?” He later talked about Free Range Learning and Twitter as a PLN.

The book I am reading is Teach Like a Pirate by Dave Burgess. The quote that stood out to me while reading prompting me to mark it and that came to mind during this presentation is, “Resist any movement that attempts to clone teachers and lessons and instead rejoice in the fact that it is your individuality and uniqueness that will always lead  you to become the most effective teacher you can be.” If your soul did not just leap for joy, reread that quote! Being the rebel or shall I say pirate that I have always been, I get really excited about that statement. Mr. Burgess put into words how I’ve always felt and what has been my natural path. I have never played Candy Crush. Why? Everyone else was dong it!

The theme of the presentation by Mr. Sheninger was moving away from control and compliance toward authentic learning or Free Range Learning. In speaking of Twitter PLN, I’ve previously blogged on how important it is. I would also goes as far as say that I would want to be in my #tlap Tweeps’ classrooms any day; which I cannot say for all of my coworkers over the years!

So, educators I challenge you to be your authentic self, share your passion and blaze your own trail. Because there are no roads were you are going!

Benefits of a Twitter PLN

@SunnyJune77
@SunnyJune77

     If you do not have a professional learning network or PLN via Twitter, I sure hope you start one. My best professional development is gained from Twitter. Not only is there a multitude of resources, you can obtain them on demand when it fits your schedule. You can follow and be followed by fellow educators; which is inspiring and rejuvenating. Taking part in twitter chats is an immeasurable experience. You can just lurk (watch the chat) or participate. Either way you can secure contacts and obtain relevant information and ideas.

     I recently was tweeting among my Tweeps (Twitter peeps) and had an idea that has grown into a App Smash contest; which is being supported by Tackk! All because three educators connected on Twitter.

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     Check out the #YouveBeenAppSmashed Challenge HERE. I hope you challenge yourself professionally to use Twitter to its fullest potential and to smash some apps! Stretch yourself this summer!