Thursday, April 14, 2016

A New Beginning

In 2005, I embarked on my life as an adult.   While many of my friends stayed home for a couple of years to go to the small community college while saving for bigger things and eating their mom's cooking, I ventured 250 miles away to live in the dorms, eat ramen and Chunky Soup, play some football, try to talk to women, and go to school on the side.  Five years after leaving home, I ventured even further from home, packing a truck and moving 2000 miles away to Las Vegas to start my life with my then girlfriend Mary and teach social studies.  Eleven years later, here I am...

A lot has changed in 11 years, some glaringly obvious, others much more subtle.    I've actually lost weight since then, earned two more college degrees (Master's in Education and Educational Specialist in School Administration), got married, had two kids, and grown from a terrible teacher that could barely tie my shoes to somebody that I hope, in the eyes of all of the kids that I have had over the years, I have inspired and guided to great things.  It has been 11 years of ups and downs, growing pains, emotional pain (til we meet again Cody, my brother!), the building of tons of professional relationships and sincere friendships, and watching thousands of kids walk into my classroom on their way to walking across the stage at graduation.  I will cherish the good, the bad, and the ugly, but now it is on to something different.

A few weeks ago, I learned that my district was going to be hiring more digital learning coaches.  For years, I have built myself into a technologically savvy teacher, a leader in my school, and a presenter on a multitude of ed tech topics.  The digital learning coach was something that I felt would be perfect for me.  While no longer working in the classroom with students, I would still get to teach by working with teachers to help them incorporate more technology into their curriculum.  On top of that, the job requires that one participate in professional development on a regular basis, something that I love to do.  This job almost seemed too good to be true!

After discussion with my family, colleagues, and friends, I determined that it was a no brainer and that I had to at least apply for the job.  I was qualified, I would enjoy working with teachers and technology, and even though I still love my job teaching social studies, a new job may be refreshing.  The application process was standard; a letter of interest, a resume, references, and brief answers to a series of questions about different responsibilities of a DLC.  The interview was where it was going to nerve-wracking and, in my case, slightly awkward.

My interview was with a panel of three individuals.  Nerves are natural, but I knew that I was prepared for the interview, so I wasn't too bad going into the interview.  What made it slightly awkward was knowing one of the panel members professionally.  To protect his name, I will call him "Bob".  Bob coordinates the digital learning coaches and several other technology related programs within our district, including a series of weekend "mini-conferences" where teachers can learn about various ed tech ideas.  I have presented at several of these conferences and worked with Bob on several occasions.  To see him on the panel was a good thing and a bad thing.  It was great knowing that he has seen me in action before and has an idea of my capabilities, rather than going in blind trying to impress somebody.  At the same time, since he knows me, it raises the bar that much more.  What if I stumble and fall flat on my face (figuratively, if I managed to fall on my face from a sitting position at a table, I would have much bigger problems on my hand)?  Regardless of my feelings I felt like I had nailed the interview and then had to play the whole "hurry up and wait" game on whether or not I had gotten the job.

Meanwhile, I have also been taking the leadership preparatory classes so I can be eligible to enter the administrator's pool.  Once I am done in May, I can apply for a dean and/or assistant principal position.  If I am offered the DLC position, what does that do for me?  I can't drop out of the program, not after I am 3/4 of the way through.  At the same time, do I even apply for the pool?  It wouldn't be fair to accept the DLC job, then two months in, say "See ya suckers!" and take an admin position.  The dilemma (a good one) began to build.

In the end, about a week ago, I was notified that I was accepted and I was offered a job as a digital learning coach.  In the week or so leading up to the notification, I contemplated what I really wanted.  In the end, I decided that working as a DLC would make me a better administrator down the road.  I submitted the paperwork accepting the position.

Accepting this job starts a new chapter in my life, a new beginning.  I am really looking forward to working with technology more and sharing my love and expertise of technology.  I am going to miss my job in the classroom, you cannot replace that.  But in the end, I am taking a step forward in my career, and I will still have that influence that I have always had on my students.  Challenges await, but I am ready to take on the world!

Until next time...