Lessons of the Past Year- 8/25/19

It seems hard to believe, but the new school year is upon us. Students will wake up tomorrow morning and head back to school. This time of year is both exciting and exhausting. I love greeting a new group of students- seeing all the possibilities and opportunities. This is my second year as a School Based Technology Specialist; but due to being destaffed, I am beginning it at a new school.

Every school has its own culture and expectations- but when it comes down to the foundational truth, we are all here for the students. In my position, being there for the students means supporting both staff and students. So as I get ready for Year 2, some of the lessons of the past year echo in my head and act as a compass for the year to come.

Lesson #1: Icons make learning sticky.

This first lesson occurred last winter and has really resonated with me. In fact, teaching icons to my students totally transformed my students' engagement. A special thanks to Pana Asavantana for sharing on the Ten Minute Teacher Podcast how she used icons to help her kindergarten students to use iPads.

This year, I am starting with icons right away, using them to reinforce even the simplest concepts such as usernames and passwords. I believe that using icons is the key to promote agency with my students. Using this visual reinforcement will empower my students and I can't wait to watch the magic happen,

Lesson #2: The language we use can promote agency .

My next lesson happened this past summer while I was at WISSIT 19. As I listened to Ron Richhart's session on the Importance of Language on the first day, a light bulb went off in my head. As he spoke about the language of initiative, I began reflecting on what messages I convey- do they promote a sense of agency or am I rescuing my students despite my best intentions. It has really made me think about the way I respond to both staff and students. Who is doing the thinking? Am I asking questions that promote agency and thinking- do I convey that I believe that the answer is within them?

Lesson #3: Technology provides all sorts of opportunities

This summer, I read quite a few books- each of them inspired me in their own unique way. One of these books struck me in a new and profound way as it connected with the idea that technology provides opportunities.

In Tech for Heart, Stacey Roshan shares how she uses technology to help build relationships with her students. I love how she took some of my favorite tools and shared new ways to use them and activate their power.

As I shared in my Tech Byte to my staff this week, there are many ways that tech tools can build relationships. I am so grateful to Stacey for sharing her story with so many of us to learn from.

Lesson #4: Rather than adding on, try replacing.

I realized, last year, that if I wanted my staff to take risks and try new things, I needed to model that same behavior. So as I got my staff more involved in #EduTwitter, I decided to try Twitter chats. It started out as doing #NoVaEdChat, a local chat, but I quickly ended up trying more than just one chat.

One chat that I added was Formative Chat and one week, the featured moderator was Jarod Boremann, the author of Professionally Driven. As I prepared for the chat, I found his book on Amazon Prime and was hooked. I loved his focus on empowering educators by asking them to replace something that they already did with something that could impact their students more.

Lesson 5: None of this would be possible without these "adjacent possible" moments.

Every experience I have had in the past year has impacted me and led me to amazing new experiences. As Jake Miller on the Educational DuctTape Podcast shares, sometimes one experience can lead you to another experience that you could have never imagined. There are so many experiences that happened over the past year that I could have never imagined- attending ISTE19, making connections and friends all over the nation, being a featured guest on several podcasts, getting my new position- all of it was a result of "adjacent possible" moments. Thank you to everyone and everything that has led me here.

I am looking forward to "adjacent possible" moments to come in the 2019-2020 school year.

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