FETC 2018

FETCThe Future of Education Technology Conference!  Being that I have attended conferences of similar magnitude, I had high expectations for FETC.  For me, this conference lived up to the hype and left me chomping at the bit to return to my school to begin conversations about how to move our school forward.  My teachers that attended FETC with me were first timers.  They have heard about FETC but have never attended due to just not having the opportunity.  I knew that they were excited leading up to the start but I wasn’t sure that they would leave the same way that I have at previous conferences.  Well…within the first few minutes of the event I was comfortable putting that concern to rest because of the pure awe and excitement each of them felt.  I mean look at those smiles from early on Day 1!!!  Attiya Batool (4th grade), Kelly Addeo (4th grade), Ryan Morda (4th grade), Joey Goodman (3rd grade), and Traci Arnemann (3rd grade) dove into everything that is FETC alongside each other and myself.  So here is a brief recap of our time at the conference followed by what we are doing about it now…

Katrina Keene, Ryan Morda, Kelly Addeo, Traci Arnemann, Attiya Batool, Joey Goodman &    Russell Schwartz
Traci Arnemann, Attiya Batool, Joey Goodman, Jennifer Williams, Russell Schwartz

FETC Lessons

Connections – Immediately after checking in to the conference and picking up our ID’s we headed over to meet up with the amazing people from Participate.  This was the first taste of FETC for all of us and it was a perfect way to get started.  We were able to hear about the exciting things that Participate is currently working on and they made us feel valued by soliciting over input from a teachers point of view.  This also served as an opportunity to start meeting some of the people that we have followed on Twitter and connect with them face-to-face.  This was just the start!!!  Before the Opening Keynote we also were able to visit with CDW to experience some learning spaces ideas and also connect with other educators.  Walking through the Expo Hall en route to the Opening Keynote, we also were able to make personal connections with our friends from Buncee and Nearpod.

Opening Keynote Sir Ken Robinson did a masterful job at setting the tone for the conference.  His message about redesigning schools resonated with myself and the team.  Our team completely agreed with how schools are designed for conformity but the world is based on diversity.  Additionally, we heard the message loud and clear how students need more opportunities for creativity and play.  It was a powerful message that really created a well defined purpose as we set forth on the next two days of the FETC.

Expo – Making our way through the maze of the Expo Hall was tricky.  However, finding companies that we wanted to learn about and then watching a demonstration was very helpful.  Also, seeing companies whose product we currently use was great because we were able to form or solidify relationships.  Some of the highlights were Nearpod, Buncee, Vocabulary City, Lenovo, Bloxels, Canvas by Instructure, CDW-G, Science4Us, Sphero, Squirrels, Wonder Workshop.  Just to name a few.

Learning in Sessions – We went our own ways to attend sessions that we felt were beneficial to each of us individually.  For example, I attended a great session about learning spaces presented by Principal Derek McCoy.  Another great session was presented by Eric Sheninger.  One message that stood out to me was how we don’t want to prepare our students for something, we want to prepare them for anything.  Our entire group did attend a Nearpod session and learned about some great features to their product.  Part of each evening was devoted to debriefing each of our learning experiences in the sessions we attended.

Presenting – I am very grateful to CDW-G, Katrina Keene, and Amy Brown for inviting me to serve on a panel to discuss topics surrounding the redesign of learning spaces.  I loved the experience of being able to celebrate my teachers and classrooms by sharing the process and successes of transformation.  Being a principal on a panel that included a district technology coordinator, superintendents, and classroom teachers, I was able to express what this change looks like from a school’s perspective.  Challenges, milestones, strategic decisions made, and even opportunities missed were shared with the audience.

Darryl Adams, Amy Brown, Ryan Adkins, Russell Schwartz, Mike Peters, Jessie Boyce, Susan Bearden, Randy Ziegenfuss

Debrief and Planning – The greatest moments of FETC typically happened after the conference shut down for the night and we were enjoying some dinner as a team.  Hearing the excitement of the day’s learning from each of our team just fired us all up.  We shared experiences, ideas, goals and aspirations.  FETC provided an amazing opportunity for us to strengthen connections with each other.  It was refreshing to hear how each of us wants change, we each want to provide a greater learning experience for our students.  In my mind, the most difficult part is now behind us!!!  We have established a core group who believes in the change and is willing to lead the charge.  Now we just have to determine how we are going to get there.  We started sorting through all of the information to begin formulating a plan to return back to our campus.

Turning FETC into Action

Immediately upon our return from FETC, the teachers who attended starting implementing some of the changes into their classrooms.  Ryan Morda started using NearpodAttiya Batool had class meetings to discuss and make changes to the learning space.  Kelly Addeo started redesigning her classroom.  Traci Arnemann has been getting deeper into Buncee and working to try everything to see what works with her students.  Joey Goodman has been getting into Storybird with his class.  All five of them have started to use Flipgrid and some are utilizing Socrative.  Additionally, I have started using Flipgrid to deliver operational type of updates to faculty that traditionally would be done in a Faculty Meeting.  Now we are able to free up some of that time in our Faculty Meetings to focus on best practices, sharing of ideas and professional growth.

Attiya Batool with her excited students using Flipgrid!!!
Ryan Morda with his 4th graders getting into Nearpod!!!

However, there is so much more to the learning than just moving around desks and trying new programs or apps.  It is a mindshift.  It is a focus on the future of our schools and classrooms.

So our FETC team began meeting and deciding on how to bring in the other teachers at our school.  We recognize that our faculty is ready to try something new and implement a major change and shift.  They are ready to do differently for their students.  We each identified one thing that we learned at FETC that could be practical if shared with the faculty at large.  Something that can be implemented in someone’s classroom pretty much immediately.  We decided that we would move our Faculty Meeting back one week to give us a little more time to prepare and organize any videos, documents, images.  These would all be placed together into Canvas Course so that they could be readily accessed by faculty during the meeting and at any point after.

Our goal when we met with the entire faculty was to let them see our excitement.  We also made it clear that what they are currently doing isn’t wrong but to know better is to do better.  We want to advance our methods of teaching.  We want comfortable learning environments that are conducive to growth.  We want student voice and student choice.  We want to utilize some amazing technology that brings learning to life for our students.  Again, to know better is to do better.  At our initial meeting with faculty, teachers seemed very positive about these new tools.  We discussed how taking control of your own professional growth is the only way to go.  So many learning opportunities exist at your fingertips via social media.  Our team explained how social media has changed their practice and has reignited their passion for teaching!!!

So many great things are to come at Nova Blanche Forman Elementary!!!

Be sure to follow us on Twitter:

Nova Blanche Forman Elementary School – @NBFelem

Russell Schwartz, Principal – @Russ_Schwartz

Kelly Addeo, Teacher – @MissAddeo

Traci Arnemann, Teacher – @techtraci2000

Attiya Batool, Teacher – @batool_attiya

Joey Goodman, Teacher – @JoeyBGoodman

Ryan Morda, Teacher – @ryanmorda

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7 Steps to Maximize Learning at Education Conferences in 2018

7 STEPS TO MAXIMIZE LEARNING AT EDUCATION CONFERENCES IN 2018

Participate

By Russell Schwartz

Career defining moments. Life defining moments. We are all anxious to experience these, however, we never know where or when they are going to happen.

In the world of education, career defining moments can be actually scheduled! Yes, it is difficult to believe, but they can be—they are called educational conferences, and they come in all shapes and sizes. Some have very specific content focuses, some center on technology in education, others on school culture. These conferences offer opportunities that are difficult to duplicate during the school year. They bring together connections, valuable learning experiences, and leave you with the power to directly impact your school or classroom.

It took me 16 years to finally experience the power of a conference filled with fellow educators—and not just people who share a profession, but educators who share a passion! Connecting with and growing my professional network beyond my school and district has been transformative.

I’ve had the opportunity to attend the last two ISTE conferences. The size of the conference had me in awe, sending me on a journey to absorb as many ideas as I could. As I sorted through my massive amounts of notes, resources and new connections, I finally was able to organize my learning into a package I could focus on back at my school.

As I prepare to attend FETC in January, I have decided to change my approach to maximize my time. Attending a conference of this magnitude requires a backward planning design—start with the end in mind. I hope this game plan can also help you create the most beneficial, impactful experience at any conference!

Step 1: Determine the goal

What are the needs of your organization, school or classroom that you would like to address? Why do you want to attend this conference? What questions can it help answer? What can the conference offer that you are able to transfer back to your daily work? Justification for spending time, money and resources at a conference can only be made if there is an intended purpose.

The answers to these questions vary depending on each school and community of educators. In my case, I am fortunate to work with a group of very dedicated educators who constantly look for new tools, want to connect outside of their classrooms and incorporate new strategies to meet students’ needs. With all the sharing of ideas and strategies, I am confident that FETC will meet the goals of my school and teachers.

Step 2: Determine the players

Who are the players that will best maintain the focus at the conference? Who will best digest the learning, collaborate with other attendees, and most effectively share with the school or organization once they return? Why do you want to bring a team?

At my school, I opened the option to go to FETC to my entire staff knowing that I could only fund five instructors. For me, it was important that the teachers selected to attend the conference actually wanted to be there. I was excited that eight teachers were very eager to go. Knowing who wanted to attend, I divided the group into grade levels and selected my five teachers at random.

Step 3: Determine the game plan

After selecting the conference to attend and who will be part of the team, it’s time to establish communication within your team and with the conference. Registering as a group and/or registering early will most likely save you money. Once the conference is booked, get with your team to discuss logistics. Where are you going to stay? Being close to the conference is the best option but also might be more pricey. Are you able to share rooms? How are you going to travel? Close enough for a carpool? Flight? When will you leave and return? It is very important to read through the conference website and other documents to make certain you do not miss anything.

Step 4: Get excited

Talk it up amongst your team! Discuss with your team about the presenters, the topics, the opening keynote, etc. Figure out a time to meet as a group weekly leading up to the conference. Make certain that no detail is overlooked. Have you considered airport transfers? Is your hotel on the shuttle route? What restaurants are close to your hotel or easily accessible? Do you need to purchase tickets for any outside of the conference activities?

We are meeting each Monday during the month of the conference to touch base, prepare and build excitement for FETC. We are constantly reviewing our plans and talking about the opportunities that exist at the conference.

Step 5: Make final preparations

In order to maximize the potential of every connection, each member of your conference team should have a Twitter account. One reason is that many presenters at conferences incorporate their Twitter handles into sessions. Hashtags will also be used during sessions and for the overall conference experience—these hashtags and Twitter accounts are great ways to be engaged during the event, and beyond. You can also connect with other educators attending the conference, and can exchange Twitter handles in the same manner people used to exchange phone numbers. It is a great way to maintain the connections beyond the conference and to help build your professional learning network (PLN).

Step 6: Implement the game plan

It’s time to attend the conference! Put your plan into action and let your excitement keep the momentum going during the course of the conference. Be sure to seek moments to make connections with other educators. Attend the sessions that you have planned, but also remain flexible if other opportunities arise.

Step 7: Debrief and reflect

How will you measure the success of the conference? How will your learning transfer back to your school or district? How will you and/or your team bring back this learning to other educators?

The first step in that process is to make time while at the conference to share learning and ideas. These conversations can occur during meals, at evening events, in between sessions—anywhere! However, it is vital to discuss before your return trip home. Take notes as you discuss, as it can be difficult to keep track of the many ideas and resources shared. You can later prioritize the learning, categorize and eliminate if necessary. These ideas will eventually form your action plan that you can take back to your location to be shared and implemented.

I am confident if you select the right conference with the right team you will experience the same enlightenment and excitement that I have at previous conferences. Attending FETC in January will be my best conference yet because I feel more prepared than ever to learn, connect, grow and plan!

Russell Schwartz is the principal at Nova Blanche Forman Elementary in Davie, Florida. You can connect with him on Twitter and ask any of your conference questions @Russ_Schwartz.

2018 One Word – Uncomfortable

I am sure that I speak for many of us, it is remarkable how quickly the years go by.  2018!!!  Already!  As I reflect on my professional journey as an educator, I look back to the end of 2015.  I was really just getting into the life of a connected educator.  I was starting to seek wisdom, guidance, support, ideas, and growth from outside of my circle.  My word for 2016 was Connect.  I have confidence in saying that I lived up to the meaning I intended for the word Connect.  A few of the targets reached were:

  • Building and maintaining connections with other educators
  • Building and maintaining connections with Ed Tech companies
  • Organizing an EdCamp
  • Encouraging others to become connected educators
  • Leading an initiative to connect more educators
  • Attending conferences to further connections

In 2017, I felt that Connect was still my One Word.  I was learning and growing as a principal while building a Professional Learning Network that is constantly helping to define and redefine my purpose and work.

Connecting with others will always remain an underlying focus but, in 2018, I am ready for more.  My word for 2018 is something that all of us feel at times and it is something we all try to avoid.  My word for 2018 is:

UNCOMFORTABLE

There have been many times that I have been in situations personally and professionally that have been uncomfortable.  Sometimes that level of discomfort makes you question your previous experiences, your skills, and your confidence.  However, every situation that makes you uncomfortable is an opportunity for you to grow.  My opinion is that the best way to improve and move forward is to be uncomfortable.  You need to be put to the test.  You need to struggle.  You need to fail.  All of these experiences are opportunities to learn and reach beyond our potentials.

Always doing what is comfortable and easy is boring, safe, and stagnant.  This year I want to push my limits.  I want to try new things.  I want to be uncomfortable.

As I push myself, I will rely on the support of my Professional Learning Network to help guide my course.  I also will take every experience and learn from it by always making the time to reflect.

I encourage others, including my teachers, to not be afraid to be uncomfortable.  Try something new.  Do not be afraid to fail or make a mistake.  This is how we learn and grow.

As I picture myself being uncomfortable, I also find myself more prepared.  For me, being uncomfortable and being prepared go hand in hand.  And what immediately follows being prepared is confidence.  Knowing that I am going to be in an uncomfortable situation, I take the steps necessary to get myself prepared.  Being prepared builds confidence.  Confidence can overcome discomfort.

So in 2018, I am planning on seeking out opportunities to be uncomfortable.  I will also be prepared for those opportunities and meet them head on with confidence to succeed.

Happy New Year!!!

The Real Impact of School Grades

So…it is that time of year.  The state has labeled each school for the previous year with a letter grade.  Educators know how wrong this is but, even so, still celebrate when they realize that their school received an “A.”  I am no different!  I made sure to share with the community immediately to celebrate how wonderful our school performed.  The perception of those outside of education is that the grade tells the entire story.  Inside of education…we know better!  But school grades cause a serious issue.  Something more deep and dividing and wrong than most people realize.  So here it is…

Labeling a school with a grade unfairly passes on a communities socioeconomic status to the students it serves.

Socioeconomic status shouldn’t be handed down to the next generation.  However, a school grade causes just that to happen.  For example, students at a “C” school are made aware that the community less than a mile away is where the successful, privileged students live and attend school.  And their school is an “A.”  The feelings of not being good enough can set in really quickly.  From there, it could effect future effort and, ultimately, success.  A family’s socioeconomic status isn’t something that should be assumed by children.  A school grade creates socioeconomic classes for our kids.  Our kids!!!  They are just starting their lives with all of the potential in the world and our state’s school grading system divides them into groups.  Groups that carry the weight of success and failure.

Think about it.  Bobbie goes to an “A” school.  The perception is that he is successful and has limitless potential.  Suzie goes to a “C” school.  The perception is that she is just average and has a ceiling to her potential.

It goes even further.  The “A” school community wants nothing to do with the “C” student.  The perception is that Suzie is just going to bring the school and community down.  Many times a student like Suzie transfers into an “A” school and automatically is labeled as the student from that “F” school or that “C” school.  How can we let this happen?


What if we looked at each individual child?  What if we recognized that Suzie made 18 months growth during last school year compared to Bobbie’s 4 months of growth?  What if we didn’t carry a school grade over our head that is passed on to the students who attend?  What if we didn’t divide our students into socioeconomic classes before they even step out of Kindergarten?

I think we would stop seeing so much poverty and start seeing one large community that supports each other.  I think we would see communities stop isolating themselves by not being accepting of students outside of their own gates.  I think we would see more success stories from all over our county and state.

You see…by giving a school a letter grade…you just give us all a license to discriminate and pass judgment on children.  It is unfair to schools and, more importantly, it is UNFAIR to our students.

Lessons: Running the Course

By no stretch of the imagination am I a pro when it comes running.  However, I have had the guts to sign up for 4 different marathons.  

Minnesota Twin City – Oct. 2014

Orlando – Jan. 2015

Chicago – Oct. 2015

Orlando – Jan. 2016

My training for each of these have probably amounted to what training should be for just a half due to not having the time for long runs.  As I have waited in my corrals for each of my marathons to begin and have crossed the finish lines, I have found out that each run, each course has its own story.  Each run is filled with trials, doubt, triumphs, hope, and celebration.  And no 2 races are the same.  Infact, no matter how much (or little) you train you could never be prepared for what each race has to offer.  The lessons that I have learned during each run are directly related to life.  Each race has its own life lesson!

Minnesota – “No matter how hard – PERSEVERE” – Running my first marathon in the cool temperature started off like if I was in a dream.  Never had I woke up so early for such a difficult task.  The first 11 miles of the race was chilly but moved quickly.  10 miles in I felt confident, I was smiling, and I thought that this was no big deal.  I enjoyed it!!   Marathons…I got it.  However, at mile 11 I developed a terrible pain in my right knee.  I had to stop and stretch to hopefully give it a few minutes to settle down.  However, the pain didn’t subside.  It got more and more intense.  I would stop and go…stop and go…stop and go.  My pace went from around 9 minute miles to about 15-16 from the 11th to the 12th mile.  But I came this far so I persevered and pushed through the pain and basically limped the remaining 14 or so miles.  Crossing that finish line was a tremendous feeling of both accomplishing a marathon and overcoming major obstacles along the way.  The lesson that I learned is that no matter how difficult the path may become…you must persevere.  No matter how hard the road becomes…never give up on your goals or task.

Orlando – “Take Risks – Push the Limits” – So running my first marathon, despite its challenges, gave me the running fever.  I wanted to improve and try to run a race pain free.  However, due to my knee pain from Minnesota, I was not able to train for Orlando until about 2 weeks before the race.  Not only that…I signed up for what is called in Disney…the Goofy Challenge.  On Saturday you run a half marathon and Sunday you run the full marathon.  Sounds like a pretty intense challenge and something that needs plenty of training in order to complete.  With little to no training, I am proud I was able to finish the half marathon with relative ease.  I had some soreness but knew that it would most likely disappear as I got the muscles moving the next morning for the full.  This was accurate but the slight soreness was replaced by intense soreness after about 7-8 miles into the marathon.  But this wasn’t a hurting pain like I had in my knee.  It was more of just a constant reminder of the work put into reaching this goal.  Nearing the end of this race and moving slow because of just crazy soreness…I felt accomplished…like I reached what seemed like an unreachable goal.  In order to be great…you must take risks and push the limits.  I have a Goofy Challenge medal to remember this accomplishment.

Chicago – “Don’t Be Swallowed by the Hype” – The Chicago Marathon.  Sounds like a big deal.  It is a big race in a big city.  The race itself was much more calming than I expected.  It had moments and neighborhoods that brought the race to life, however, it was pretty plain for the most part.  Out of my 4 races, physically I felt best in Chicago.  The lesson that I learned is that despite the surroundings, despite the hugeness of the event or moment…in the end it is still a race.  Don’t get yourself caught up in the hype.  Be focused on the simplicity of the task.

Orlando – “Pace Yourself to Finish Strong” – My final marathon was one that I really pushed the limits.  I felt healthy and I ran a much faster pace for a distance run than I had in the past.  16 miles into the race I was on pace to run in a time that far exceeded my expectations.  I hit my wall sometime between mile 16 and 18.  I still kept a decent pace for that late in the race but my right hip started to feel like I had a dead leg.  It was a chore just to lift my leg off the ground.  The last 6 miles of the race I had to hit the breaks.  I walked the majority of the final 6 miles and felt the let down and disappoint as so many others passed me included the pacers that reminded me my time was suffering.  I learned in this race that pacing yourself on a task or challenge is essential.  If you spend all of your energy and resources right at the beginning, you could be left with little to no fuel in the tank to finish strong.

I strongly encourage others to sign up for running events.  Besides the obvious health benefits, you really have uninterrupted time to think.  Explore your own thoughts and plan life.  I do my best thinking while I am out running.  I will say that you want to take risks and push it but while doing so…take the time to make sure once you start you can finish.  Every journey, every task that is started should be finished.  Pace yourself, push through the obstacles, and finish strong!

 

 

ISTE2016 Reflections

I had the fortunate opportunity to attend the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) conference a few weeks ago in Denver, Colorado.  The excitement that I had leading up to this event was through the roof.  Social media built up my expectations in the months leading to ISTE that I wondered if I would be let down.  I was wrong to have that concern!!!  The ISTE experience far exceeded my expectations!

To start, Denver was a beautiful backdrop to a top-notch learning experience.  It is a city that I wish I had more time to explore and enjoy.  The small taste that I had will definitely bring me back in the near future.  The highlight away from the conference was spent at Red Rocks Amphitheater.  What an amazing venue!!!  I didn’t know that a place like that existed and I can’t wait to be able to go back.

But the experience was all about the ISTE conference and the connections to be made and enhanced.  From the first session that I attended…I was addicted.  I wanted to see and learn and soak in as much as possible.  Time away from the Conference Center would have been opportunities missed.

So the 6 lessons that I learned, or were validated, at ISTE were:

  1.  Connections, Connections, Connections – Traveling and learning from/with my Broward Schools cohort (Keith Peters, Cyndi Felton, and Rachel King) was a perfect compliment to the information overload from ISTE.  We had a 5 day straight running conversation sharing and synthesizing the information and creating new ideas and plans.  Additionally, I made sure to seek out some of the educators who I have grown to appreciate and respect through social media interactions and reputations.  Hearing them present and share their knowledge added even more passion into what I do as an educator on a daily basis.  These educators are truly Rock Stars in our world!  I also was able to form great face to face relationships with some educators who I have only connected with through Twitter.  The plans to collaborate and do something awesome together for our students are in the works and I am honored to be able to call them friends.
  2.  Technology will not Replace Teachers – Technology in the world and education is happening.  However, nothing will ever replace a teacher.  Especially a good one.  However, good teachers stay relevant which means utilizing technology as a tool and resource.  It remains true that technology will not replace teachers.  However, teachers who stay relevant and use technology will be more desirable and will replace teachers who don’t.
  3.  Prepare students for the next wave – The waves of creation in our world has been: 1st Steam power, Locomotive; 2nd Electricity, Automobile; 3rd High Tech; the next wave will be industries becoming digital.  Transportation, medicine, and education will all be digital in the future.  Schools need to stop preparing students for jobs that no longer, or will no longer, exist.  We need to teach creativity and use of imagination.  The jobs of the future will require these skills.  We need to move our schools from consumption to creation!!!  Passion projects or Genius Hour are excellent ways to tap into that creativity.
  4.  Importance of teaching Digital Citizenship – This must be taught in our schools.  It is UNACCEPTABLE to expect students to just figure it out.  We have to teach students how to properly use social media.  Resumes will be a thing of the past and your social media presence will hold more value.  Lessons from those who made mistakes should be shared and all students should develop a positive social media presence.  If we as educators are not learning how to use technology, while our students are, then we are becoming illiterate in today’s and tomorrow’s world.
  5.  Educators are passionate and want to share – Listening to ignite talks and having conversations with other attendees, it really opened my eyes to how much educators really want to connect, share, and get better.  The convention center was not a large enough venue to keep in all of the passion that all of these educators brought.  It is motivational and makes you believe that we are better as an industry when we share and work together.  Also, I have been seeing more and more educators show vulnerability and be willing to take chances and make mistakes.  We need to move away from being educators and move towards being a human who is an educator.  It is okay to fail and make mistakes.  The students need to see that it is part of life and how to handle it.
  6.  Value of Social Media – In the past year, I have finally truly taken control of my own professional development.  I have tapped into social media and have joined chats and groups and have been at the helm of my own learning.  It has made all the difference!  I feel like I have a purpose and support system behind me supporting that purpose.  Also, using social media correctly can work towards drowning out the negatives by trending the positives.  Social media is a way to brand our own images for ourselves, school, classrooms.

If you did not attend ISTE 2016, I highly recommend reading through the hastag #ISTE2016 on Twitter to see what you missed.  I also think ISTE 2017 is something you will not want to miss.  I am planning on attending again next year in San Antonio!!!

Connect (my one word)

The excitement, hope, and positive outlook on life that we have when we close our eyes on December 31st is unmatched.  New Year’s Eve is the ultimate feel good holiday that helps catapult us into the new year.  We set lofty goals and we dream of the endless possibilities for success and self improvement.  Many of us make resolutions to do something better or different or try something new.  However, when we wake on the morning of January 1st it feels exactly the same as all 364 mornings before.  All of the goals, resolutions, dreams that were hatched in the prior night or weeks will be sitting on a shelf and waiting.  Waiting for someone to take action.  Waiting for someone to turn it into reality.  For many of us, they have been sitting on that same shelf…in the same spot…not just for this new years but for the one before and the one before that…The only way to make good on your goals, resolutions, dreams is to actually do something about it!

I am not one to make goals or resolutions at the beginning of the year.  I have set ways in my life that have evolved as a result of my experiences.  For example, I exercise and eat healthy because I had high cholesterol in my 20’s and I have a strong desire to be around for my family for a long time.  It is a lifestyle for me that takes no breaks and needs no holiday to be renewed.  But, 2016 is going to be a little different for me…

Reading about others in my PLN having selected One Word (One Word That Will Change Your Life by Gordon, Britton, and Page) to drive them and be their focus for the year has motivated me to do the same.  It makes sense.  It makes sense because it is blatantly obvious what one word all of my work and efforts funnel around.  My word for 2016 is CONNECT.

Beginning this past August, I have finally opened my world to Twitter and educators throughout the country and world.  The CONNECTIONS that I have made have provided many ideas, sounding boards, and resources.  I want to continue building (and establishing) these CONNECTIONS during 2016 by participating in Chats via Twitter and Voxer (just started recently).  I want to learn as much as possible from educators in my PLN.  I want to try to CONNECT live at conferences, Ed Camps, etc.  I want to CONNECT with Ed Tech companies, such as Buncee, to learn about the benefits for my students and teachers.  I want to CONNECT with others to find great blogs and books to further my own PD.  I also want to share the world of being a “connected educator” with as many others as possible.  Infact, I am currently working on a few projects that will hopefully open the eyes of many educators in my district to Twitter and other platforms.

I want to CONNECT, be CONNECTED, and stay CONNECTED in 2016.  We can accomplish so much more and make significant changes in education when we CONNECT and utilize the human resources that are at our fingertips.

Happy New Year!!!