To my PLN… thank you.
As Connected Educators month wrapped up, I’ve taken some time to reflect on my journey in “connectedness”.
I turned to Twitter by happen stance a few years ago but was never very active online. I lurked, I posted a bit then abandoned it for weeks and months at a time. Finally, just over a year ago, I came back. I don’t even really remember the circumstances surrounding it but I decided to check out what was out there. It probably had something to do with the fact that I was grappling with who I was as an educator and where to go next. I'm a true Type A… perfectionist to a fault… and in many ways, I had begun to feel worn out and jaded. I didn't want to be THAT person. I wanted to learn more and do more. I was getting frustrated by negative comments about change and innovation. I wanted more than basic professional development workshops on subjects/areas that I felt comfortable in. I didn’t know what else was “out there” but I figured there must be more… and I wanted to find it.
And then Twitter opened my eyes. I started following “ed tech” gurus and learning about neat tools to try. I started using some of these tools in my classroom and experimented with them as a means of learning. I started to read and follow tweets from people who shared my views and beliefs and the passion that I once had and wanted to have back. I read thoughts that could have been my own… and then realized it had been retweeted and/or favourited countless times and I knew I wasn’t alone. I stumbled upon a new “chat”... Canadian Ed Chat (#cdnedchat). I had never participated in a Twitter chat. A month or so later, Michael Quinn, one of the co-founders, invited me to help guest moderate a chat on Differentiated Instruction when I tweeted to tell him it was a passion of mine. I was terrified. I was worried that everyone would think I wasn’t good enough, well versed enough, tech savvy enough. I felt like a fraud. I was new to this online realm. What could I possibly have to offer? I will be so much less than everyone else, won’t I?
And then I met the #cdnedchat team and they were amazing. They were welcoming and open minded and great sources of information, learning and support. And I realized, we’re all on this journey and we all had to start sometime and somewhere. What was most important then, was that I wanted to be better and learn more and integrate innovative teaching tools and strategies into my practice. Not surprisingly, everyone was there to support and help!
I was blessed to continue my involvement in #cdnedchat, having been asked to join on the moderation team full time. Participating in these weekly chats fuelled my drive to keep learning as much as I could about new educational technologies and educational initiatives. It became a passion. I started learning more and more about things that I knew some, little or nothing about! Online literature circles, Google Hangouts, blogging, Google Apps for Education, digital portfolios, 1:1 programs, QR codes, Flipping the Classroom, project based learning…. the list goes on and on. And the more I learned, the more my passion returned. Rather than feeling overwhelmed with how much was out there and how little I knew, I began to feel invigorated that there was so much potential and that all I had to do was learn about it and make it happen! I would look forward to Google Hangouts with the team because I felt I had found people who were similar to me. I’ve called Dana Ariss my “edu soul sister” on more than one occasion because we see so many things from the same perspective and are passionate about so many of the same things.
I began to participate in more Twitter chats and reach out to #edtech leaders on Twitter to share and gather ideas and feedback. I became inspired by the amazing Angela Maiers and her “You Matter” campaign. It changed the way that I viewed my role as a teacher and how I began my school year (2013-2014) with my students. Instead of focusing on rules, I chose to focus on relationships. I am seeing a huge difference already.
I also spent more time learning about and integrating technology into my practice. I launched my professional website and started sharing my research and presentations, and even included a blog… this blog… as a part of it. I wanted to start sharing all the neat things that my students were capable of doing! I started using more #edtech tools such as Edmodo, Pinterest, AudioBoo, Google Drive (docs/forms), and more recently, this school year, blogs (Blogger), Remind 101, Socrative, QR codes, ExplainEverything and Geddit. (This led the way to using innovative teaching strategies like Genius Time and project based learning and the creation of my alternative learning space this year).
The ideas became endless. My mind would be racing after a Twitter chat and I could hardly sleep, thinking of all the great ideas I had heard - things I had never even thought of before - and how I could make these work for my students! And the passion began to multiply. I would bounce ideas off of educators trying the same things or wanting to. And I’d get feedback and advice from people who had been long doing the initiatives and using the tools and strategies that I was just taking on. And I teamed up with amazing mentors, like Michelle Cordy, who pushed me to make opportunities to better myself as an educator- to steer my own ship and find my own niche - and inspired me to do things that challenge me and scare me because I can and what do I have to lose? (And here I am, one exam away from having attained Google Apps for Education Certified Trainer - Qualified Individual status! I couldn’t have imagined this 2 years ago!)
And so, as we wrap up connected educator’s month, I am thankful that I faced roadblocks, frustrations and feelings of being jaded and alone because it forced me to make a decision; make a change or stay the same. I chose change. It’s scary, terrifying, exciting and inspiring all at once. It needed to happen and I’m glad it did. I’m glad I felt the push to look further to find something to challenge me to be better than I was. Something to make me better for myself, and thereby, for my students… because isn’t that what it’s all about? Being the best version of yourself?
A few of the key people that I have learned the most from are included in this post but there are many more who have impacted my journey…. some with one post that stood out to me and some, who with their every post inspire me, daily. Some of these people do not follow me and will never see this blog post. Some will. I am okay with both of those facts.
I just want to say thanks. Thanks to the PLN for helping to open my eyes to the amazing world that is out there. Thank you for showing me the endless possibilities in education. Thank you for reminding me why I have never wanted to do anything other than teach. Thank you for showing me ways to reinvigorate the passion that has never died inside of me. Thank you for being people that I learn from and thank you for inspiring me to be the best that I can be.
I thought I'd share a copy of one of the letters that I sent home to parents of my classes this year. Yes, I teach high school! I still think it's important to send home letters to touch base with parents so that they know what is happening and what my plans are!
Welcome back! As we end this first week of the new school year, I wanted to take the opportunity to tell you that it’s been my pleasure getting the opportunity to meet and begin to get to know your son/daughter. I am confident that we are going to have a great semester!
I feel that parent-teacher communication is exceptionally important to each child’s success and as such, for each class, I have created a separate welcome letter to introduce you to me and some key aspects of the course your child will be taking with me. I look forward to working with you, as a team, to help your child achieve his/her goals this year!
Your child’s Grade 10 Applied History class is period 1. They are also my homeroom class. Just a few reminders: student fees and course outlines should be submitted as soon as possible. All students have been assigned a locker to store personal belongings during the school day.
I am very active in professional learning and development related to the use of educational technology and am passionate about its uses to enhance learning! As such, all of my classes are encouraged to BYOD (bring your own device)! Many of your children own/have access to devices that can access the internet and I encourage them to bring these to class daily if possible. We have already, and continue, to discuss appropriate use of technology in class/creating a positive “digital footprint” and I am confident that together we can harness these tools as excellent supports to education and learning!
In CHC2P this year, students will not only be learning about history (my passion!) but they will also develop 21st century learning skills. Some of the technology we will be trying may include blogging, digital portfolios, Youtube videos, Edmodo, Prezis, using Twitter and Instagram – all to engage students and document student learning. The internet will serve as an invaluable research tool for this class! Students will create student accounts, using their “OCSB student” emails, keeping their personal accounts (if they have one) separate from class ones.
The majority of the work will be done in class; studying for tests/quizzes will be the students’ responsibility outside of class hours and some major assignments may require completion at home (but students will be given class time to work on these). To help students remember these key dates, I have subscribed to an educator service called “Remind 101”. It’s a safe and secure one-way text messaging reminder service for teachers to parents and students. I have attached the information sheet to this letter. If you have a cell phone and would like to be subscribed, please follow the instructions on the following sheet of paper.
If you would like to follow along with what we are working on in class, I will be posting updates to my professional blog, which is located in the “blog” section of www.meganvalois.com. Once our accounts (Twitter/Blog etc.) are set up, we will let you know the links to those so you can follow along with us!
Again, I look forward to a great year! If you have any questions or want to touch base with me, I can be reached at the school: ***************. Please note extra help is always available, by appointment, at lunch.
Who am I?
Hi! I'm Megan. 21st century learner and teacher. I am passionate about DI, assessment, student success and #edtech. My blog is where I share what is happening in my classes, my professional learning and sometimes things that are on the outer circle of education. Comments always welcome!