Five years ago I was lucky to be offered an opportunity that changed my life forever. I was sent with a group of student success teachers to participate in a year long Professional Learning Practice led by Wil Richardson and Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach. I remember sitting there the first day wondering why anyone in our school board would think that our group may be a good choice to influence change and challenge the way we thought about education. I sat there that day excited to learn new “tools”, yet fearful the way Wil Richardson constantly made me think about all the ways we were failing our students. I was confused when I left that session, wondering how they thought I was in any shape ready to tackle the online world, Twitter or to participate in such deep discussions using technology I never knew existed. I was in love with the soon to be announced ‘iPad” and my head was spinning with the possibilities for the future. That day was definitely a life changer.
After a sleepless night reflecting on the information I learned, I headed back into Day 2 extremely excited, but scared. It was clear we were sent as a group to explore the future of what our education system may be able to offer us. I was excited by the possibilities but terrified of the process! I absorbed all the information I could, I challenged my own beliefs and I prepared myself to tackle the challenge.
Over the course of the school year, Wil and Sheryl helped us develop a project that we created as a group. I remember feeling like we were only skimming the surface by focusing on the valuable tools we had learned to use instead of focusing on the pedagogy behind it. Our group was still at varying ends of the spectrum. A core group of us were seeing visible change in our beliefs and our practice, but some of us were still stuck on the “tools”.
Personally, I immersed myself in the learning. I loved to read the deep discussions regarding the school climate change and need for a shift in practice. I loved exploring new tools and truly enjoyed sharing what I learned with others.
I was sad for our year long project to end, but that didn’t stop me. I continued to explore the deep topics we had been discussing myself online and following key players on Twitter. I made it my personal project to bring the ideas and changes in practice back to my school. I became a Google advocate and a self taught technology geek who never says no to helping my colleagues explore new tools or to discuss new practices. I’ve continued participating in PLP Network online courses and seek daily to embed technology use into my everyday life.
I’ve gone from throwing useful tips and tricks around like candy, to advocating for technology in my colleagues hands, to providing PD whenever and however I can get it out to them. As I learned 5 years ago…change is inevitable, technology is everywhere and we owe it to our students to teach them in a manner that provides them the best possible start to the rest of their lives!
I’ve been proud to watch the changes that have occurred in our school board over the past 5 years, the introduction of wifi in our schools, fewer restrictions on our internet uses, changes in hardware, the introduction of Google for education and most recently, our new Technology plan that puts hardware in the hands of our teachers and students with a desire to change classroom practice.
One of the biggest realizations I have had during these wonderful 5 years is that change is slow. Real change takes time, but if done for the right reasons is worth the wait. I’m proud of the direction our board is taking and excited for the possibilities that now exist for my children.
As a parent and an educator, I beg you, if you haven’t yet explored the idea of helping change our practice and support learning with technology, make it a priority today. Fear is acceptable, failure helps us learn, change is slow, but our children are worth it!