Reflecting back on the last year I have discovered that I truly miss the classroom! For the last year I have been serving as our district's "Classrooms for the Future" coach, a temporary position required for our district to receive technology in the high school. The main concept behind the grant is one of high school reform. Professional development is also a component of the grant. So my role has been to assist the teachers in making the shift from 20th century classrooms to ones that infuse technology.
When I think back to the factors that led me to make my decision....
Once our district's technology director gave me Palm Pilots to try out in my 3rd grade classroom (2003), I started to see how technology could be used as a tool to meet the different needs of my students. Through the years I found ways to weave technology into the curriculum, attended (and presented at) PETE&C and learned of new and exciting ways teachers were engaging their students, and was named a Keystone Technology Integrator. After the Keystone Summit, a week long event centered on enhancing learning while using technology as a tool, my professional life took a huge leap forward.
I became connected with some other educators who shared my vision and passion of learning. Daniel K. Pink's A Whole New Mind helped me to see that we, as teachers, have an obligation to teach in ways that incorporate both sides of the brain. From here I moved to Wikinomics and The World is Flat. My connections to other grew through the use of twitter and skype. Suddenly I had a personal learning network and quickly discovered the true meaning of life-long learning. Exploring blogs, wikis, rss feeds, podcasts, and aggregators gave me more ideas and my teaching started to truly transform.
It was at this point that I was asked to consider leaving my classroom to become our district's Classrooms for the Future coach. I decided to apply and signed on, learned that I would leave 3rd grade half-way through the year. My emotions were so mixed. I had only just begun to blog with my students and to work with wikis and project based learning. I was ready to collaborate with a first grade class in western PA via skype. There was so much to try, I was not sure I wanted to leave this class! Then, the concept of getting an opportunity to bring about this kind of learning in the high school excited me.
Over the last year, I attended 12 different required training session, most two days or more, all over the state of PA, networked with other coaches from all over the state, and started to share what I was learning with the high school teachers. Then things started to change....
My coaching job started to become more about troubleshooting and trying to manage online courses, tracking every minute of my day and capturing them in daily logs, and defending the entire project to many. A half year position turned in to a year and a half of coaching.
While I have been enjoying my job and exciting things are happening in the high school, I am starting to really miss my own class. As my class wiki and blog remain dormant this year, I realize that, well, this did not need to be the case. :(
I do not regret the decisions that I have made as I have learned so much. When this year ends, so does the grant and I can't wait to return to teaching. Having worked with "smart" classrooms I am going to search out grant opportunities to bring some of this technology into my classroom. I am going to continue to build my lessons and resources for a new year, a new beginning. I can't wait!