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Sunday, October 26, 2014

A Funny Thing Happened On The Way Back From #EdCampUNY

The first thing you have to understand is that I hate driving long distances.  By long distances, I mean more than 15 minutes.  I blame my parents because they used to put me in the car to put me to sleep as an infant.

Now that we got that out of the way...

I had a 3 hour drive back from #edcampuny on Saturday and I really wasn't looking forward to it.  I was exhilarated by what I learned on Saturday but as I entered my vehicle, all I could think about was 3 hours of my life I wasn't going to get back were about to happen.

As I pulled out of the driveway from Queensbury HS, it was like I was on autopilot as far as driving.  Google Maps had my back as I navigated from 87 to 90 to 88, but it's as if I didn't know it was happening.  I started to think about all of the things I learned on Saturday and how I could make them work as I go back to work on Monday.

Thankfully I have mastered voice to text on my iPhone, so I could make notes to myself as well as email my administrators and colleagues to share my learning with them.  I sent an email to my Superintendent, Principal as well as the Director of Instruction and Leadership.  In that email, I explained what I learned about makerspaces and how you don't need to make them overly complex to get them started.  We grappled with how to make it work last year and finally decided not to do it since we couldn't make it work at that point and we didn't want to launch it without a clear plan in place.  I shared my inspiration from the Innovation teacher at QHS and how keeping it simple, really allowed the students to flourish.  You don't have to have a teacher who knows every piece of tech and has all the answers.  You have to have a teacher that can guide students as they grapple with a problem to solve with society and help point them in the right direction when the room doesn't know how to solve a problem.  I asked if it was possible for someone to go to ISTE this year since it sounds like an amazing experience and it is much closer this year (Philadelphia).  I also asked to sit and chat so we could all work together to get our district continuing in a direction that provides a model to other schools in the area of how to harness technology to make a transformational experience for our students and staff.

Next email was to just my principal.  That email was probably about a 20 minute voice to text and there may be a couple words in it that Siri and I had a disagreement about, but I was driving and way too excited to worry about a couple auto correct words getting in the way.  I continued the makerspace conversation with him and added in the possibility of using district grant money in a way that was totally outside the box of thought when they got together with IT and put the parameters for the grant together.  I explained how I thought that we could flip faculty meetings and then provide more time for the staff to work with the technology.  Once their comfort level increases and they have time to actually make a take a way, they are more likely to use the technology in a meaningful way, not just use it to use it.  I also explained how I thought Voxer could really be used by him to help his workflow.  Lastly, I passed on another great idea from the meeting to use Remind to help chronically tardy students get to school on time.

Next I emailed a couple colleagues of mine and shared how some of the apps I learned about could help in their classroom.  For example, Voxer could revolutionize how the LOTE department does their final speaking parts of the final.

I next spent some time thinking about what I wanted to incorporate and how I could really make the energy that I feel from an edcamp last.  I tweeted out (voice to text of course) about anyone from CNY wanting to help me form an edcamp.  6 months ago if you had asked me about organizing and edcamp I would have said you were crazy.  Now, I feel like I am crazy if I DON'T organize one.

Funny thing is... next thing I knew, I was at Walmart in my home town ready to grocery shop.  I have no idea how three hours of my life could be so meaningful as I reflected on the day and have no concept that the three hours went by.  That, my friends, is a sign of a GREAT day!

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