Vacation is over, we arrived home on Friday to have the last summer holiday weekend to relax before the start of school. The weather is beautiful and I have had time to think about the last month, which has been hectic. During the month of August I applied for a job with our local IU, an organization which services all of the school districts in our county. I had mixed feelings about applying because I was not looking for another job, but thought it would be a good idea to see what it would entail, and if it was something I may be interested in doing. The biggest drawback I saw with the position was the lack of student contact, the best part of my current job is the interaction with students at all levels. Long and short of it, I was one of two finalists, but was not chosen for the position. In looking back on the process I believe my vision of education and what changes need to take place for students to be good digital citizens of the 21st century and the focus of the IU at this point are very different. I strongly believe in the conversations taking place in many blogs which center on how pedagogy needs to change, and I am an agent for this change in the district I work. I have the privledge of working with teachers and students to change the way instruction is delivered and assessments are viewed. In the last year I have worked with teachers and students who are interested in learning how to use the tools now available which enable them to become producers of information, not just consumers, and it has opened a new window into the classroom for some. I get so excited when someone else has that aha moment when we talk of using wikis, podcasts, blogs, images, to incorporate into the classroom. I am really jazzed about the possibilities for children to learn and use all that is available to get them hooked on learning. I don’t believe the opportunity for this excitement would have been available for me at the IU. I think the position is valuable, and serves a purpose, but I don’t think their direction is as global as I believe it should be. They have to service each district in whatever direction a particular district has determined its path to be. Now, where I am, I have the ablility and support to help shape and nurture the path for the future of our students and at the end of the day I do feel as though I can make a difference in the lives of the people I work with.
While I was going through the interview process I had gone out to lunch with a friend to a local resturant and when checking out there was a young woman at the cash register. She looked familiar and I said hello, remembering her name is Lauren. When she turned to me she said, I remember you, you are the whale lady!. Lauren will be a senior in our high school this year and during my first year in the district she was in second grade. At that time, in 1997, Classroom Connect had quests that classrooms could subscribe to and then follow, I signed the second grade up to follow Keiko, the whale in the Free Willy movies. He was recused from an aquarium in Mexico, funds were raised, much by school children, and moved to Oregon and then on to Iceland with the goal of be released into the wild again. Lauren told me that afternoon the project we did following Keiko the whale was the best thing she ever did in school, the one outstanding memory she had of her years in school and it is what made her decide she wanted to be a marine biologist. I can’t describe the feeling of excitement I felt after talking with Lauren. For me knowing I had a part in something she remembered and was talking about 10 years later was the ultimate sign that I am where I am meant to be in life. I am looking forward to the opportunities that await this year as well, and I hope all of you are as well. Here’s to Keiko and many more adventures with students.
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