Tomorrow I attend yet another technology conference and once again I will present. To be completely honest I started presenting at these conferences because if I presented I attended for free. This seems like somewhat of a silly reason to present at conferences, but, the fact remains that in the years of limited budgets and no money to pay for such extravagances, I wanted to go and presenting allowed for that to happen.
My technology use prior to 2005 was primarily at the classroom level using tools and producing projects with my students. Technology was certainly a part of the classroom as a learning tool, but not as a tool for my own professional growth as an educator. Then in 2005, David Warlick came to Flagstaff and he did what he does best; assure a crowd of people that there is this really powerful collaborative network of blogs and wikis just waiting to be used for a plethora of learning and creativity. I started an RSS feeder that day. The learning curve became steep from there and I was on a new path, wasn’t exactly sure where I was going all the time, but there I was nonetheless.
The next year I am at the AzTEA conference in Flagstaff, I met Hall Davidson and he did what he does best; amaze a crowd of teachers with the power of media and expression of ideas through a multitude of technology tools and gadgets. Shortly after, I became a STAR educator with the Discovery Educator Network. The fast forward button on my life has been on ever since that point.
One of the blogs that was added to my feeder early on was Practical Theory by Chris Lehmann by way of Christian Long’s think:lab. For the better part of a year I read, I commented, I thought and thought and thought. Then the connections started to get closer and more meaningful. Real connections developed between these people I had only known online and in small pictures next to bios and names. Last August when the first inklings of EduCon started to come to light, I knew I was going. It didn’t really matter when exactly it was or how much it was going to cost me. I was going.
The visit to EduCon and SLA solidified within me a certainty that I think I had been coming to for quite some time. I needed to work in a place with people that ‘get’ it with regard to students and learning. Although many of my revelations and connections were at tech conferences and online, at the end of the day I need to be in a real space with educators that approach education with a similar philosophy and curricular approach. By walking through the door of the Science Leadership Academy I literally opened a new door on my career path.
This summer I move to Philadelphia and to the Science Leadership Academy.
The move didn’t have to be to SLA (although that was my first choice ;), but I need to be in a place that is more true to the teacher that I am striving to become. You see I have much to learn, I need to grow and I am hoping to a find a ‘ripe environment’ at SLA.
The point of this little trip down memory lane is to say that this is all possible because of my network. Sitting in Flagstaff while playing in the mountains, I was able to reach out, build connections, make friends and learn a ton. There are no excuses for staying hold up in your classroom with the door shut or feel like the struggles you feel in the classroom are yours alone. There is a dynamic, enthusiastic and resourceful group of people just waiting for you to join in on all the shenanigans.
For me, this is only the beginning and it is all thanks to my network.