Like most teachers, I spent my summer in part relaxing, in part traveling, but, the majority of the time, I spent my summer learning. Having attended various conferences and also spent many hours studying, I experienced many epiphanies and I wanted to begin my blog by reflecting on these learnings and also reflecting on why I am, again, blogging and, moreover, beginning a brand new blog after abandoning the one I began years ago.
One of my summer highlights included attending several conferneces, including the ISTE conference in downtown Denver in July. Generally, I spend my time at these tech conferences feeling so behind the times, and this year proved no different. Don't get me wrong, I truly enjoyed the experience; however, I struggle to feel like an effective teacher when I hear of all the "twenty-first century" activities others are doing in their classrooms and personal lives. I walked away with a swollen brain, a Twitter account, and an epiphany about what had changed for me regarding technology: yes, I had implemented more technology in my classroom; however, I had gotten away from modeling why I find technology important when I abandoned, for example, my own personal learning network and blog. Under the instruction of an inspiring technology director, I began these practices now five years ago, and have since abandoned the practice, sacrificing modeling to grade more quickly and devote more time to planning. After attending these conferences, I am beginning the school year re-committing myself to modeling my own thinking, learning, reflection and, moreover, making all of those gerunds transparent.
Another thing I learned during these conferences and my summer studies? How it feels to be a student. If for no other reason, even if one gains nothing from the conferences he or she attends, remembering how it feels to inhabit the small desk is an incredibly valuable learning experiience. Standing in front of our sixth hour, sometimes we forget how it feels to have been sitting, listening for the several hours previous. Another summer experience that enforced these realizations was spending a lot of the summer studying material I genuinely struggled with and felt frustrated by. These frustrations were further exacerbated by the fact that I was then tested on this, what I found to be, trivial and frustrating information. I heard myself grousing "I don't get its" and "how is this going to show my intelligences"; how appropriate to the school year's beginning. Regardless of what comes from these studies, I look forward to entering the school year more empathetic to my student's plight.
As always, the end-of-summer cliches are swirling through my mind as I post this first response--it went too fast, I feel like I was just here, and the like. But I am looking gleefully forward to a new school year in the hopes that I will be a more understanding, better modeling teacher and learner as a result of my summer experiences.