Thursday, August 11, 2016

Back to it... But Starting Anew

The 2016-2017 school year is upon us!  Maybe you are still on vacation, squeezing out a few more
days, even weeks, of relaxation, preparation, and learning before you report back.  Maybe you are back to your site prepping your classroom or office for students to report back in the coming days.  Maybe you are laughing at those still on vacation because you have been back for a while now.  Either way, hopefully, you had a summer of rest, recuperation, and learning and are itching to make a difference with a new batch of young minds.

This year marks my 12th year in education.  It's hard to believe that I graduated college and took that first teaching job so long ago.  It feels like yesterday that I was just a 23-year-old kid packing up everything I owned and hauling it across the country to start my adult life.  What makes this year so different though is that it will be the first time in 12 years that I will not be greeting students of my own on the first day of school.  Instead, I will be helping to mold teachers into technology innovators that are going to make some noise with their students.

While teachers do not officially report back to work until August 24, I have been hard at work since August 1.  After a few phone calls and a lunch meeting with my principal, we solidified a vision for the school that was started with the previous learning strategist/technology coordinator.  Part of that vision was to help guide the staff to be more innovative and incorporate more technology into their curriculum.  Plans had started prior to my hiring for a staff "Innovation Day", where teachers and staff would come in for a 4-hour morning session of presentations on various educational technology tools and innovative lesson ideas.  My job over the past few days has been to coordinate the day, including selecting topics of presentation, contacting presenters, scheduling, and communicating with the staff, teachers, and administration regarding the day's presentations.

Over the years, I have built a substantial professional learning network through my work in my district, with educators at conferences, through Twitter, etc.  I had no shortage of people from which to choose from when trying to find presenters.  However, because of the timing of the event and the lack of funds to pay for presenters, it became a taller order than I had envisioned.  In the beginning, it was decided to get as many presenters from outside of the school as possible, allowing teachers to attend as many sessions as possible.  After contacting numerous people from my PLN, I (not unexpected) learned that they would be presenting at their own schools on that day.  However, from a previous staff survey and recommendations from my principal, I was able to build a schedule of great presenters on topics that range from Google apps, Chromebooks, project-based learning, and a session that will be led by my principal on the importance of innovation.

My principal is absolutely amazing.  He has a vision for what our school should be and will be and he is not afraid to do whatever he can to find the money that we need to make that vision happen.  I have a great deal of respect for him because of that.  But what really set it in stone that this man is one of the best in the State of Nevada is the simple fact that he is presenting during our Innovation Day.  Even great leaders would often times ask others to give a presentation based on some ideas that they have.  To take the initiative to present when he could be doing a multitude of other things really proves how committed he is to the vision and mission of the school.

In the process of planning out the Innovation Day, I have had many other things on my plate as well.
 In my role, I am the Google site administrator, in charge of things like the school's Google Calendar, various forms for requesting facilities, computer labs, etc., so I have been busy creating the necessary calendars and forms needed for teachers upon their return.  To better serve our teachers, I gave a presentation to the administrative team and their support staff on Google Calendar (on my second day with the staff, I must say that it was the most nervous and intimidated that I had been in a long time).  I will be presenting on Innovation Day, so I created a presentation on online assessment tools.  I have also been working closely with our site based technician to inventory our technology (we have a lot of Chromebooks!) and get computers around the school up and running.  And slowly, I have been meeting the teachers and staff that I will be working with this year.

My predecessor is an amazing technology guru, and I have some big shoes to fill.  However, I accept the challenge of not only filling his shoes, but learning each day, serving those that I work with, and ultimately and most importantly, improving student learning and preparing them for the future.

Until next time...