I have been working on a reflective project which has required me to think about the last 6 months of my professional career and the impact I have made in that time period. With it being a new decade and all, my mind naturally started wandering to the year of 2010 and where I was professionally during that time. I couldn’t help but think about how my professional life has changed in the past ten years. If you were to ask me in 2010 where I saw myself in ten years, this is NOT the path I would have thought my journey would have taken me.
So, It’s the year 2010. I am 38 years old and have four children, ages 11, 9, 6, and 5. I am a long term substitute in District 181 trying to get my “foot in the door” as I am needing to pack my Stay at Home Mom bags and go back to teaching full time. Two years and 4 long term assignments later, I landed a full time teaching job. Second grade at Madison School with an amazing team (whom I still love dearly today). Getting back into the classroom was invigorating! The excitement, the joy, the buzz I got from teaching!! However, the year was challenging, not only professionally, but personally. Juggling home life and a career was not easy. Especially for someone like me who likes give 100% to anything I do. Not having 200% to split equally between my family and career caused a lot of guilt and heartache. It was something I knew I had to get a handle on if I was going to continue to be a successful teacher AND a stellar mom/wife.
The next year I needed to make a move to either third grade or fifth grade because of a change in enrollment. Never teaching anything higher than 3rd grade, I went totally out of my comfort zone and took the 5th grade position. For the next five years, I taught 5th grade and LOVED every single minute of it, well, mostly. In those five years, I grew and developed into an educator that I never dreamed I could become. I started to realize and quite frankly, didn’t really like what I was noticing about our educational system. I was quickly getting tired of all of the tests my 5th graders needed to take and I felt there should be more to school than paper and pencil activities. Especially as we moved through the decade and technology was becoming more and more relevant in our world. In 2013 I went back to school for Educational Technology and earned my Masters in 2015. During those years I also made changes to my classroom, all fifth graders in 2014 had 1:1 iPads. Talk about change! I was thrilled! Everything I was learning about in my Master’s classes, I could now actually put to use in my own classroom. During that year and the few years later, my teaching and classroom started changing to fit more closely with todays unique world. I changed to a flexible classroom model, I started this blog, I facilitated a HUGE Shark Tank unit with all fifth graders , I had my students blogging, they were collaborating with architects, and other professionals, they convinced the Village to repair the roads around our school so they could ride their bikes more safely. My students were learning real world skills by tackling real world problems. In the thick of it all, each little story of impact didn’t mean much at all. It was just little old me, mom of four, trying to give my students the educational experience I felt they needed.
Fast forward to 2017, I applied for and became an Apple Distinguished Educator! Excitement overload! Again, who would have thought back in 2010 that this stay at home mom, would achieve being recognized by Apple as an innovative educator? That same year I moved into the library as my love for teaching in the classroom was dwindling each year. As much as I wanted to “disrupt” the system, I still had rules to follow and curriculum to teach. More and more time was being taken away by mandatory lessons and tests, less and less time was available to do the activities I felt were most important. Moving to the library as the Teacher Librarian and weCreate Lab Facilitator (STEAM Lab) allowed me to give ALL of the students a place to tackle those real world problems and learn skills they’ll need for their future.
It seemed like the right fit for me – again, I never saw it coming. The past three years have included a lot of planning, implementation, and reflecting only to go through the cycle again and again. As our world is ever changing, I need to change, the space where I “teach” needs to change, my mindset needs to change.
A new year is a great time to reflect, but a new decade is even better. So many times we forget the little, tiny impacts we make each year, we never really take the time to see how all of those tiny, little stories of impact add up to the powerful changes you are making in your classroom, school, or district. I challenge you to add up your stories of impact from the last decade so you can see how powerful you really are! I’d love to hear all about them in the comments below!
Now that….is Positively Techie!