Being a "Saturday Teacher" - 2/15/2020

In Innovate Inside The Box, George Couros talks about how to be a master educator, you also need to be a master learner. He asserts:

In a profession where learning is the focus of our job, growth is essential and the target is always moving. (p.71)

He is not alone in this mindset. In the Four O'clock Faculty, Rich Czyz shares:

Whatever you are and whatever you do, whether you are an administrator or teacher or instructional coach, remember that the best thing you can do to improve learning for your students is to improve learning for yourself. (p.115)

As educators, we need to be models of lifelong learning, but do all of us do that? Why do some educators actively pursue these ideals, while others take a more passive role? What makes some educators engage in professional learning while others endure professional development?

This past week, as I drove to work, the conversation during the "Check This Out Podcast with Ryan and Brian" really struck me. They were at CapCUE and discussing what they describe as the phenomenon of the "Saturday Teacher." They described a "Saturday Teacher" as an educator who gives both time and money out of their own pockets to engage in learning on their "off time." They describe it as spending time with others who in the words of Rich Czyz, "have the secret sauce."

Why did this strike me? That's easy- I am totally a "Saturday teacher!" Since becoming a School Based Technology Specialist in 2018, I have dedicated myself to learning as much as I can to best serve my learners in my role. Through Twitter, I have discovered that I am not alone in this zeal for learning. Through my #PLN, I have found a group of what was affectionately described to be in the Google Innovators Hangout I participated in last week, "like-minded wackos."

Being a "like minded wacko" or a "Saturday Teacher" is a commitment. It requires someone who is fueled by passion for their work, not someone just doing their job. Like I mentioned earlier, those commitments frequently involve time and/or money. The "Saturday Teacher" knows this but still pursues their goal of lifelong learning.

My #oneword2020- CHALLENGE captures my vision as a "Saturday Teacher." This year, most of my goals are directly connected to my zest for lifelong learning. I am beginning my second year of blogging. I read daily to learn new things. I am pursuing my dream of being a Google Certified Innovator. In addition, I am working to present more at conferences and even working on writing a book.

All of these CHALLENGES excite me and I love watching my progress towards them. But let's be honest, being a "Saturday Teacher" comes with its own list of challenges. If I want to go to conferences to present, I need to use my personal leave to fund sub coverage and often use my own funds to cover the costs of travel, lodging and registration.

Last year, I was fortunate enough to have my registration for #ISTE19 covered by my old school and only needed to pay for travel and lodging. I loved this experience- it was truly remarkable, but this year, a trip to Anaheim is too cost-prohibitive. Knowing this, I am definitely going to plan ahead to save for #ISTE21.

Knowing these potential barriers to learning, I have embraced the "COST- FREE" opportunities. These opportunities take time, but have no monetary costs associated with them.

1. EdCamps: If you have a "Saturday Teacher" mindset, edcamps are the best. In my local area of Northern Virginia, we have one in the fall and one in the spring. They are amazing learning experiences. In fact, this spring, I am even going to take a day trip to try EdCamp NSV (Northern Shenandoah Valley) next month.

2. Twitter chats: I love participating in Twitter chats. Each week, I schedule them into my calendar and eagerly look forward to them. If you are a "Saturday Teacher" and haven't checked out both #MasteryChat on Thursday nights at 8 PM EST or #pd4uandme on Saturday mornings at 8:30 AM EST, you should. They are fast paced and inspiring...I always learn something.

In addition, there are also many conferences with no registration fees available lately. These conferences have NO registration fees and only require travel and lodging costs. This June, I am so excited to be presenting at one such conference, Techpalooza in Danville, VA. Upstate Technology Conference in SC is also a conference with NO registration fees.

If traveling isn't in the cards for you, I have also discovered many cost-effective online classes to promote the "Saturday Teacher" mindset. This past summer, I took Tony Vincent's "Classy Videos." It was such an amazing experience that I am now taking "Classy Creations." Other edtech gurus, like Jen Giffen, Alice Keeler, Kasey Bell and Matt Miller also offer online classes.

In the words of Todd Whitaker, Jeff Zoul and Jimmy Casas, as educators we need to "grow each day. ...continually strive to get better by embracing a wide variety of professional learning opportunities and encourage those within the community to promote and embody this ideal." Being a "Saturday Teacher" does just that, but it is a commitment that needs to not only be taken seriously but valued in our educator communities. Professional learning should not only be celebrated but appreciated. It is not a check the box endeavor, but an endless and exciting pursuit of excellence.