Saturday, May 26, 2018

Congrats, graduates!

Usually, I write about professional topics on this blog. But the fact that students & teachers are out for the summer, the three-day weekend, and my overall exhaustion have me dipping a bit into my personal life for inspiration this week!

A week ago, I attended a friend's high school graduation. I have spent years working with her & several other kiddos, who originally came to the USA as refugees, on a weekly basis, tutoring them and just hanging out.

Sometimes, their lives seem so "normal", it's hard to forget where they came from and how much they have overcome. Many of their parents have not attended school, and many of them spent years in camps on the run from people who want to wipe out their tribes.

These may be the families in your school that frustrate you. Not because of who they are, but because you always want the best for your kids, and life doesn't always line up that way. They might be the ones who aren't always there for meetings (night jobs are a real thing). The ones with whom communication (in English) is...challenging. The ones who miss more school than you wish to help with other family obligations.

Look at this community support - isn't it beautiful?

Don't forget - these kiddos have a whole crowd of people cheering them on, too! The support may not look the way that we, as teachers, imagine it should, but it doesn't mean it's not there. This is why I will always advocate 100% for connecting with families, especially those who come from different backgrounds, and listening and learning. They have strengths that we can learn from. After all, our shared goal is for our students to be successful!

Just another American graduation...but there's so much behind it. Congrats, my friend, to you and your whole family!

Saturday, May 19, 2018

#GoogleEI: Taking a Risk

The Journey Begins...

It was almost two years ago when I first heard about Google's Certified Innovator (#GoogleEI) program. Honestly, it sounded cool, but way above me. It's only for super amazing, connected, world-changing educators, right? I couldn't envision myself ever being in a place where I would be "good enough" to take part.

Over the course of time, my perspective started to change. I saw many friends get into the program, and their excitement was infectious! I finally came around to deciding that I might like to apply, but I was in grad school and drowning in the amount of work I had to do each weekend. I had to remind myself that when I said "yes" to grad school, I knew I was saying "no" to other things for a short period of time, so I could just get through. After I finished my degree, though, all of my excuses were gone, and it was time for me to find the courage to take that step and apply.

I waited impatiently for the next English cohort to be announced, and was excited to hear about #LAX18!

Application & Reflection

I truly meant it when I tweeted that the application was a learning & growing process. Whether I get in or not, the application itself is worth it because of the way it's made me reflect, think big, connect with others, and truly understand the nature of the "problem" I posed. In education, it is so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day and lose sight of the big picture. This brought the big picture into much clearer focus, and gave me a reason to spend lots of time thinking about it. I loved it! The application also challenged my creativity & out-of-the-box thinking.

While I knew I wanted to apply, I was having trouble feeling inspired about what I had to offer until I attended the Aspen EdTechTeam Summit. The way that weekend pulled me out of a rut and got me inspired made me hungry for more professional development around innovative, visionary educators!

I have to give a huge shout-out and thank you to all of my friends who helped me with my application: @MsVenturino, @meagan_e_kelly, @JLenore24, @btcostello05, & @namcmurtry Your feedback helped make it better, and your encouragement kept me going!

The Video

You might be thinking, "Come on, show me the video already!" The application has both a written portion and a video, and the video definitely took the most time. Everything within me wants to give some kind of disclaimer here about the million things I wish were better, but truly, I am happy with what I created.

What now?

Well, first up is a long ten days of waiting! That's actually a very quick turnaround time, but it feels like forever when you are on the other end! If I get in, I will be super excited for a visit to Venice in July! If I don't get in, I will probably tweak my application for the next round. Here's to hoping!

If you have thought about it. #JustPushSubmit. It's scary, it's challenging, it's hard work, but it's also very rewarding. That makes it worth it! And if you ever want someone to look over your application to give you feedback...feel free to reach out!