Tuesday, August 13, 2013

My One Request

If I could make one request for my child's teacher it would be- know my child. Know my child as well as you know your own. Be familiar with his background; where we've been and where we've worked so hard to get to. When his file is dropped in your mailbox and his name appears on your roster, don't write him off as a student with special needs or see the task ahead of you as insurmountable. But instead be confident in his strengths, as well as your abilities as an outstanding teacher. Keep track of skills he has mastered- true tangible evidence of the progress he is making; I like to celebrate the milestones of mastered goals as well! When you see opportunities to let him know he is doing something good- tell him because when you're a kid with different abilities, it's easy to feel like you're left behind by your friends in certain skill areas...not that it's their fault. Know that little things that worry him may seem insignificant and petty to an adult with "real" problems. Some days may be difficult, but ultimately the good will far out weigh the rough and in the end, he will be your biggest cheerleader and advocate for how great you are as a teacher in all that you've taught him. My one request is know him, and when you think about it- it is no different than the request of any parent and nothing short of what we would expect of any good teacher. That's why my request is so special to me this year, in particular. It was only a few days ago that my child asked, "Who will you see me as this year?" 

Unsure what he meant, I asked for him to clarify, "What do mean?" 

His reply has stuck with me and truly made me think... "Will you see me as a student? or your son?"

As a teacher and as a parent, my two worlds will collide this school year. My child will be in the grade level I teach, and while I will not teach him directly, my colleagues will. But this conversation between he and I has made me think about how we as an education community view the students who come to us with files packed, numerous acceleration plans needed, and multiple labels announcing who they are. In reality, as a mom, I want my children to grow up not being defined by their limits, but taught that they have something to offer to the world around them. JFK once said, "Let us think of education as the means of developing our greatest abilities, because in each of us there is a private hope and dream which, fulfilled, can be translated into benefit for everyone and greater strength for our nation." I say, "Know my child."

Monday, August 5, 2013

Everyone Starts Out Somewhere

Ever wonder how you fit in to the large world which is education? Feel like a little fish swimming in a big pond?

You may notice the two pictures above look very similar. They remind me of the picture puzzles where you have two pictures and find as many mistakes on one as you can (my favorite part of my daughter's Highlight magazine each month)... but that is not what this is. This is my visual representation of my place... and yours... in the world of education; and in particular- technology in education... because in our day and age that is where education is. Not to say that great teaching doesn't happen without technology- it does, in many classes all over the world. But the reality is, technology is where we are as a society, and it is most definitely where are students are as a generation. I can't count the number of times I have heard, "Meet your students where they are." Well... this is it. 

With that said, it seems there is much to be learned these days about PLNs, Twitter, and connecting with others by flattening walls through global means. There are so many tools and resources out there to enhance your students learning it can make your head swim. 

And be very intimidating. 

One scroll through a "All-Stars of Twitter" list and it can be overwhelming. It becomes easy to think what you're doing with your students isn't good enough; the things you see some of these people doing is utterly amazing... and frightening. Suddenly you feel like you don't measure up, you don't have too much to offer, and you aren't even sure if "Drive" is some code word for the coolest car on the market now or some program. It's easy to feel like a small fish in a big enormous pond ocean. 

But don't.

If you remember nothing else, remember this: Everyone starts out somewhere. Take what you are comfortable with and set some goals to expand your knowledge. Jot down ideas and programs/apps when you hear about them to investigate later. Explore and play. It's totally ok not to have all of the answers or know all of the tools and resources out there- because someone somewhere does. If you're in education- we're in this together. Ask someone on your campus or in your district you know has a passion for technology. If they don't know how to help you, I can promise you someone in their PLN does.  

Don't sell yourself short of the awesome potential for not only yourself as an educator in the 21st century, but also your students to grow as learners and expand their knowledge and experience with others beyond what you dreamed was possible. There will always be people out there that know more- that make you dizzy with their knowledge and that's ok. We learn from them. And as we learn, grow, and develop- we help others in their quest... because, after all, everyone starts out somewhere!

(Creative Commons Licensing: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)