Tuesday, December 29, 2015

2015 in Review

I spent three of my five years at University of California, San Diego (UCSD) as a Resident Advisor (RA) for transfer student housing. These were my adult formative years, where I grew as a person, a student, and as a future teacher. In fact, during my third year as an RA I was a graduate student and student teacher, and my final month as an RA overlapped with the first month of my teaching career. I could write a whole blog post about being an RA, but I'll save that for later. The point is, during the three-day equity and social justice portion of RA training each year, one of the facilitators constantly stopped us for check-ins for "where we were, where we are, and where we're going." I now apply that concept to my own personal reflections.

So, here is my "where I was, where I am, and where I'm going" for 2015

Where I was (December 2014)
  • Third year teacher, finished first semester teaching AVID. 
  • Just starting to use Twitter, participated in a few chats. I was barely getting my brain around the idea of connecting with teachers from other states and countries. 
  • I had just started presenting at conference, notably a CUE-Tip at Annual CUE (March 2014) and 2 full sessions at Fall CUE (October 2014). Alicia Johal and I applied to present at more conferences for 2015, and were honored to represent our school and district. 
Where I am (January - December 2015)
Tech Breakfast 
  • I currently teach 3 sections of 7th grade science and 2 sections of 7th grade AVID. On top of, that I am the Blended Learning Specialist (tech coach) at my school, which has become a whole new set of responsibilities. 
  • As a Blended Learning Specialist, I host monthly Tech Breakfasts for parents to learn about our 1:1 iPads and related topics
  • I started a weekly Tech Tuesday lunch (read more here) for the teachers at my school. We meet in my room to eat together and share tech tools and goals. I leave it open-ended, although many times teachers come to me with requests of what they'd like to work on. 
  • I have tried out new methods, strategies, and tools in my class that constantly push my boundaries and comfort zone as a teacher. This includes mock interviews with my AVID kiddos, green screen videos in science, and using Explain Everything for students to demonstrate their knowledge and application of scientific concepts. 
  • We embarked on the EduRoadTrip journey with Justin Birckbichler and Greg Bagby in July! We have released 14 episodes and 5 rest stops so far, and have many more engaging interviews scheduled for 2016. We'd love for you to follow along on iTunes or Stitcher
  • In collaboration with Justin Birckbichler, we began #FlyHighFri in an effort to infuse more purposeful positivity into our schools and work days. Read more of my blog, Justin's blog, and the FlyHighFri blog
  • Honestly, right now I'm a little over-committed. I am learning how to say "no" to opportunities if they are not the right timing, or if I simply don't have the brain energy to put in. This has been a difficult process for me, and I am constantly reaffirming my decisions when I decline a request. 
Where I'm going (2016 and beyond)
2016 Resolution
  • I recently got Chromebooks and Spheros from DonorsChoose, and I am excited to spend more time coding with my students next semester. 
  • Now that I'm a little more comfortable blogging, I will attempt to blog every two weeks or so. I'm thankful to the #TribeofBloggers and #YourEdustory for motivation, community, and support. 
  • I'm looking forward to an exciting and top-secret collaboration project with Justin Birckbichler! Make sure you follow us both on Twitter (Me // Justin) for the latest news. 
  • Most of all, my biggest resolution for 2016 is to better balance my personal and professional life, and spend more quality time with my boyfriend, my puppy, my friends and family. This includes intentionally turning off electronics and relaxing! 
What are your resolutions and goals for 2016? Who is going to support you and hold you accountable? 

Friday, December 11, 2015

Informal Professional Development at Tech Tuesday

This school year, I have a new role at school, I am the Blended Learning Specialist (tech coach) for 1 period. While this been the busiest school year for me, it has also been the most fulfilling. I know that the work I do with technology is impacting every student and teacher in the entire school. Some of the things I've done include creating a website, running a Twitter account, attending trainings, holding monthly parent technology trainings, and hosting weekly Tech Tuesdays at lunch.
Tech Tuesdays image - created by Justin Birckbichler

I'm thankful to work with some amazing teachers who are willing to share their knowledge and lesson ideas.

I structure Tech Tuesdays to be participant-driven, and flexible based on what teachers want to learn. I have an idea of what we can talk about just in case there are no specific requests. We always start Tech Tuesday by asking if anyone has a tech tool or lesson they want to know more about or would like to share.

Each Tuesday, we meet in my room at lunch. Out of a teaching staff of about 40, we have had 3 to 12 teachers each week, which is an amazing turnout. There is no requirement for teachers to attend, no compensation, and no expectations for what to bring or implement. Teachers bring their lunch and we eat and talk for the 30 minute lunch period. This school year, we have also been joined by our IT professional, a student teacher, and a substitute who is finishing his credential. Our administrators have popped in as well, but they are quite busy at lunch with supervision.

As the Blended Learning Specialist at my school, this is by far my favorite part of my job. I love facilitating learning for my colleagues, but also not feeling the pressure to always be the expert.

If you start Tech Tuesday at your school, I'd love to hear about it!