I am a 5th grade teacher at a neighborhood elementary school at an urban district in the Upper Midwest of the United States. What follows is the reasoning and impetus behind this blog.
In January of 2014, my career as a teacher took a sharp turn. It was at that time that I enrolled in an accelerated online Master’s Degree program. Over the next 13 months I worked every day on my degree. I finished a class every five weeks without pause. A class would end Saturday night, and my next class would begin Sunday morning. It was a brutally hard year. It was also one of the most amazing years in my life.
I had doubts as to whether or not I could pull something like this off. Could I really work that hard? Could I really sacrifice that much of my life? I found the answer to be a resounding yes. More important than this, however, was what I gained as a teacher from this experience. I cannot compare the teacher I was before I began, to the teacher that I am now. Almost every aspect of my classroom, pedagogy, and philosophy was changed or enhanced.
Simultaneous to this immersion in a Master’s Degree, I also had the serendipitous fortune to join the technology team at my school in February of 2014. Almost immediately, I was chosen to make a series of field trips to different schools that were showcasing their integration of technology and 21st century learning. These trips were also transformative. What I saw there, coupled with the learning that I was doing in my coursework, shook me to my core and lit my brain on fire. From that moment on, I lived technology integration and 21st century learning. Shortly after that, our district announced that in 2014-15 our school would become a 1:1 iPad environment. To prepare, I began using Twitter as a source of ideas and pedagogy for the classroom obsessively.
Between the two simultaneous inputs of Twitter and my coursework, I have radically reimagined and redesigned my students’ learning space. I have released responsibility to the students and begun to trust them to make decisions about their own learning and outcomes. The results have amazed me and exceeded my wildest expectations. I have created a classroom and class that I never dared to dream of. The hard work has been completely worth it.
This site is the continuation of that journey. I have found that I miss the regular routine of thinking through my work via writing. Since I no longer have professors who are pushing me to write and think I must do that for myself. I am hoping that this site can be that place. What you will find here is my chance to work through ideas, a place to gather ideas, and a place to organize my thinking around my classroom. I hope that what I put here will be useful to others, but I make no promises.