I was nominated for a PA Tech Quest award. I pretend that it was cool but of little personal importance. However, after a day of voting I went from middle of the pack to number one. That makes the pretending hard since I now am proud of my accomplishments and grateful for the sincere compliments. Wow. Spending time in first place has meant a lot to me. The simple act of clicking VOTE shows support for what I am doing. Even without a win (or even winning, it’s too far away to tell); there is a sunny side to the nomination. I have received positive feedback from colleagues and students and encouragement from friends and family. Sometimes it is hard to continue working at 110%. This was the energy drink equivalent of motivation I need to continue creating and incorporating for my students. But who doesn’t like being recognized for hard work?
I fully sympathize with students who are frustrated when they feel directions or expectations are kept from them. The voting for People’s Choice is open until March 28th. That means being in number one now is a disadvantage not an advantage. My spot will be targeted for over two months. If that had been clearly established at the start, the tactics would have been different. The eBay tactic of waiting until the last minute (or the last day) before having people vote.
This might have started as a Pennsylvania thing, but it has spread beyond that thanks to Social Media and the web of global connections. It was exhilarating to watch the Techbook get hits from around the world (literally). The visitors were mixed in with my students daily use of the techbook. There were people viewing from educational facilities across Pennsylvania, people in New Zealand, Spain, Ecuador, and sprinkled from across the United States.
I am not going to start the paragraph with “when I was a kid …” because those hyperbole and vague statements do not resonate with students. However, there has been a tangible shift since i was in high school. We had AOL on a dial up Internet connection to exchange messages and questions about homework. Students today have mobile devices that connect them at every waking (and some sleeping) moment. We had heavy textbooks that we had to lug home everyday (sometimes even walking 2 miles, uphill, and in the snow). Students today have digital access to resources and much lighter backpacks. We thought what we learned in school would be directly applicable to our lives. Students today are starting to understand the importance of the big picture and the meta-cognitive process.
My ambition might have been clear from a young age, I wanted to be a great teacher. This does not mean being cool in the eyes of the students. What it does mean is evolving; it is beyond what I imaged in high school. I want to inspire students to be lifelong learners and passionate about something. I am not even picky about the subject or topic of their interest. Every few weeks students will notice my user name at the bottom of a digital resource. They ask “You created this for us?” It feels rewarding and renewing to honestly answer “yes.” Sometimes the follow up question is asked with awe, and other times horror, “why?” This is easy for me to define for myself, but it is hard to convey to others. Simply, I love what I do. There is a thrill in trying out different tools. They must pass rigorous testing and enhance the curricular lessons before they are integrated and showcased in my classroom. My mentor when I was student teaching said “Always remember, you don’t teach history [or Spanish], you teach students.” Adding technology to the equation does not change the audience, you are still teaching students.
No matter the outcome of the award, there are many great events to look forward to in the future. A few of my students will be presenting at PETE&C about how technology is infused in our Spanish class (I’m super proud of them). This summer brings a journey to San Diego, California for ISTE 2012 and another opportunity to present and be amazed by global colleagues.