Friday, July 13, 2012

Behind the Scenes of Summer Vacation for Passionate Teachers


I waved goodbye to the busses on June 12.  I packed up my room each day through June 15. I prepared for the ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) conference the week of June 18-22. I attended ISTE from June 23-25, and was saturated in educational conversations every waking moment. I spent hours reflecting on my ISTE experience, following up with connections, continuing the conversations via twitter and edmodo, and sharing my experiences with others ever since.  I have spent 1 ½ days with the staff from Brighton Area Schools to help develop a vision for technology in Brighton, to put bond funds to use in the best possible way.  Taking a break from education?  Not the case here!
          My summer is not unique.  Based on the educators that I follow on twitter and communicate with in edmodo and Facebook, educators are not taking a break this summer from improving their practice, collaborating with others, and creating new content to share with next year’s students.   On any given night, you can check in on twitter and follow a chat.  This week I tuned into #edchat, in which we discussed, “How do we teach Collection of information, Collaboration, Communication, & Creation in setting of today's ed system?”  Through the hour long chat, I had wonderful conversations back and forth with groups of teachers.  Some of the teachers I had met at ISTE this year, but many that I have never come in contact with.  We talked about our roles in education, ways to encourage collaboration and data collection, and the journey of learning for both our students and ourselves. 
      Being in a twitter chat is like being in a room full of teachers and having many conversations to jump back and forth from.  High speed professional development!  Many teachers participate in several chats throughout the week to connect with teachers from around the world.  These chats take place all year long regardless if school is in session or not. You can find an extensive list of the chats on Cybrary Man's webpage, along with any thing else that you ever wanted or needed to know about education.  He is a wonderful resource!
Brighton Staff members tour Maker Works.
          Speaking of collaborating, I have enjoyed working with the Brighton Area Schools Tech Committee.  Earlier in the spring, I helped with Yes for BAS, a group of parents and community members who were in support of the 88 million dollar bond to improve the schools.  The bond passed in May, and there was a need for parents to be part of the committees that will make decisions on how the bond money will be spent.  Having passion for technology, the tech committee was a natural fit for me.  I have to give the Brighton Technology Director praise for the leadership he is providing for this committee.  Elson Liu has created a Summer Vision Series, with the hopes to first create a vision for Brighton Area Schools, which will lead to the purchasing of the technology and piloting the vision. The Vision Series so far has taken us to Ann Arbor to visit The Brandon Center, a modern learning space for media and technology, at the University of Michigan’s College of Education, as well as Maker Works, a shared workspace that has a craft lab, woodshop, metal shop, and circuit lab. 
The Brandon Center at U of M
We have also attended a session on 21st Century Education with representatives from Apple, and communicated with Leigh Graves Wolf, the director of the MSU Educational Technology Program via a Google+ Hang Out.  We have several other sessions planned throughout the summer as well.  Each of the sessions I have attended have had around 15 members, combining media specialists, teachers, and even administrators.  I am very pleased to see the dedication of these educators…using their summer vacation to enhance our local schools. (To access my notes and photos from the series, click here.)
          I know that there are teachers out there that celebrate the summer and turn off the teaching light in their minds, but for many teachers around the world, it is a light that burns 24/7.  Teaching is more than a job, it is a lifestyle packed with passion and dedication, and I feel blessed to be amongst the teachers day in and day out that connect via twitter, edmodo, blog posts, Facebook, etc. and continue improving the educational world, one connection at a time! 

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