Well, it happened. For the first time since I was 19 and selling cemetery plots by cold calling from the phone book, I lost my job.
My whole team lost our jobs. The Department of Personalized Learning/Ed Tech as been eliminated.
Honestly, I am still baffled by it. I can't wrap my head around the fact that a school district that I have always thought of as progressive has decided it needs no ed tech support for teachers and students. This, after our voters approved a 10 million dollar mill levy specifically to purchase technology for our students.
We survived the Great Recession of 2008-09. We survived a MASSIVE budget cut last year when a drop in state funding and an exodus out of our area of Colorado due to housing prices ran headlong into a drop in birthrates due to the aforementioned Great Recession reducing our Kindergarten and 1st grade enrollments.
But, leadership near the top has changed and with it, priorities have shifted. In a "flat" budget year, cuts had to be made because we are going to hire more directors and we are creating some new jobs called "Principals on Special Assignment."
I am saddened by the loss of what was my dream job. But I am sadder still for the students in my district who desperately need every tool and every skill they can acquire to bridge the digital divide and compete in the world they will live in. I fear that those chromebooks will become testing machines and when not testing, they will be test prep machines. I fear students will be left to use the devices as electronic babysitters because teachers only have so much time and with an ever-increasing demand for data, PLT and PLC meetings, and the required professional development and faculty meetings, there is little left for teachers to discover innovative practices that expand their students world beyond the four walls of their classroom.
In the meantime, anybody need a science teacher/ed tech coach? I'm available.
Several years ago, I went through turbulence in my personal life unlike any I had ever faced. The details aren’t all that important but the lessons learned are something I cherish. Truly, I am grateful for the experience. One of these lessons has been rolling around in my consciousness as a blog post for a while now - and as the school year draws to a close and the snow (yes, snow on May 18 in Denver) continues to fall, it seems today is the day to turn the rumblings in my thoughts to words on a screen.
A little background: I absolutely adore border collies. My facebook page is often littered with border collie videos, border collie cartoons, and pictures of my own border collie, Darwin. I’m a little weird about it and I’m okay with that.
You’ve probably seen border collies doing agility on tv. If you’re lucky, you’ve seen one in person. No breed of dog does it better and it’s not even close.
Where am I going with this? Watch how HAPPY the borders are when they are doing agility. They tremble with anticipation waiting their turn, they bark with excitement as they run the course, they can hardly slow down for the next command. In fact, so furious is their thrill at running the course that one slight misstep by the handler and the BC takes off at near light-speed to the wrong obstacle.
Obstacle. Agility courses are often called “obstacle courses.” There are fences to jump over, hoops to jump through, narrow beams to walk over, tunnels, poles, see-saws. Border Collies don’t see them as “obstacles” though - they see them as FUN. Even when they mess up, they are just as excited to come back and do it all again as they were to try it the first time.
Back to that personal turbulence: it wasn’t pretty, it was often scary as hell, and there were a LOT of tears.
One day, when running with my sweet boy Darwin through an agility course, I made a connection that changed me forever. The issues I was facing could be seen as obstacles to be feared and avoided - but if I did that, I was missing the big picture. Life, like an agility course, was going to have obstacles - in fact, without obstacles, it’s not an agility course, it’s just a gym floor. But if I approached my life the way Darwin approached an agility course, those “obstacles” weren’t such a big deal. Sure, some of them would trip me up, and some of them I’d get to see again and again and AGAIN until I finally figured them out. But keeping the joy in the big picture the way Darwin kept the joy in agility? That was how I wanted to approach life. Everything changed for me then. I stopped trying to micro-manage every detail, I started trusting people and myself again, and I began enjoying the ride.
Darwin is nearing the end of his life - arthritis has ravaged his hips and back. His eyes still light up when he sees a frisbee or a ball, but while is heart is willing, his body is slowly failing his spirit. The lessons he taught me in the few short years I had him in my life though? Those will last a lifetime.
What would change in your life, your job, and your relationships if life's obstacles were just a part of the bigger picture of the joy of life?
Sigh. I really, really, really want to be a better blogger. I process best by writing about ideas and I want to share those ideas publically to get feedback and have conversations and do all of those things that inspire me to think and to think differently.
And yet - here I am - almost a year since my last post.
This is the time of the year that things slow down a bit for me at work. Teachers are wrapping up their years and reflecting on what went well, what they want to expand on, and what may need to change. They are also trying to "just get through the next few weeks." This leaves me a little more time to work at my desk and do some of the same type of reflection.
For me, it almost feels like New Year's resolutions. "Next year, I will make time to reflect weekly. Next year, I will carve out an hour a week to read. I will build my PLN. I will blog my thoughts and what I'm wrestling with."
How do you find time for the important but not urgent parts of your job? Or beyond your "job," the important but not urgent things around your passions? I have discovered if I schedule time in my calendar, I tend to overwrite the important but not urgent with more urgent and debatably less important. If I don't overwrite the allotted time, I sometimes sit down to do this type of work (reading, PLN, blogging) and end up supporting someone with a techy-type issue they are having, or answering email, or even (I'll admit it) surfing facebook or espn or reading something from pocket.
So, not unlike the kids who find themselves on youtube or snapchat or instagram instead of writing their lab report, I'm not reaching my full potential at all times, despite the fact that I truly believe I would be a better ed tech coach if I spent more time in a public forum, talking, reading, and learning.
I'm off to see what I can find about making time for the important but not urgent.