Monday, August 22, 2016

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

Written for Illinois Computing Educators' August Newsletter

Learn Some, Play Some

Do you get a summer vacation?  How did you spend it?  Did you sip tropical drinks and bask in the sun enjoying endless lazy days?  After all, that’s how most of society sees the summers of educators, right?  What most folks outside of education don’t realize is that an educator's mind never takes a vacation.  Even if we are not on a school campus it’s always in the background. We constantly think about teaching, supplies that we need, how to reach that one stubborn student. We can be on vacation in the middle of a store or in the middle of a movie when an idea for our profession pops into our mind. It really doesn’t end.

Most non-educators also don’t realize how much of our summers are spent increasing our personal knowledge to better our craft, reflecting on our previous lessons and prepping for new school years (not to mention answering emails from parents and completing tasks administrators ask us to address on our time off).  This summer I wasn’t at work; but I still ‘worked’;  I expanded my own knowledge by attending sessions at conferences both face to face and virtually.  Here’s how I spent my summer:

ISTE- I attended the ISTE affiliates summit, participated in sessions on the new ISTE standards, coaching and more. I connected with other educators (interestingly enough, many of these are colleagues from Illinois), volunteered and also shared my knowledge by presenting in the EdTech Coaches playground.

De-ICE-  I focused on refreshing my understanding of SeeSaw.me and ways to incorporate technology into daily 5 literacy routines.

Taste of Technology- During the one day I was able to attend this great 3-day event I participated in sessions on design thinking and exciting innovations with technology in education. Thankfully, although not able to attend the other two days I was able to follow the Twitter feed and still feel part of the conversation.

GEG (Google) Teacher Camp- I had a chance to refine lessons that incorporate the 4C’s with Google Apps for Education and bounce ideas off other enthusiastic educators who shared their lessons as well.

Googlepalooza- I was lucky to attend lots of presentations on a series of topics such as Memes in Education, Breakout Edu, spreadsheets, Doctopus and Tour Builder during this two day conference.

ICE Twitter Chats- These monthly PD experiences that I can participate in from my couch still allow me to learn from amazing educators near and far.

Don’t get me wrong, I was on summer break so I spent plenty of time having fun. I ran a 5k with my son in the hilly landscape of South Dakota. I took an amazing vacation with my family to Yellowstone, the Grand Tetons and Denver. I visited 5 MLB ballparks where I watched 8 baseball games. And I am currently in the process of teaching two 15 year olds to drive (now that’s fun!).

Back to Work

My summer adventures are about to come to an end.  The beauty of being an educator means I get to begin again.  I go back to work with fresh enthusiasm, ideas to implement and goals for a fresh start with coaching.  With the new school year comes new responsibilities, late nights planning and implementation of all of these great ideas.  Sound familiar? Take time to continue learning for the sake of learning but also to expand your knowledge in topics that feed your passion for being an educator.  A great quote I heard this summer by TravisAllen is “the key to lifelong learning is to be uncomfortable”.  Learn something new.  Get out of your comfort zone. Increase your PLN (I’m at @nmzumpano). Be generous and share your knowledge with colleagues and at conferences (submit a proposal for ICE!) or through a website or blog (I blog here). Participate, even if you mostly lurk, in one of our invigorating Twitter chats through #iceilchat (taking place the last Thursday of each month at 8:00 pm), apply for a mini-grant through ICE or a site like DonorsChoose to try something new or strengthen a weakness in your curriculum. Stay in touch with your local ICE Chapter for activities throughout the year- or visit several chapter events throughout the state!

Take time to try new things, share your knowledge and reflect on what you’ve learned.  Learn, Do, Iterate. Don’t forget to balance, and save some time for fun with family and friends.  Looking forward to hearing how it goes for you. Happy new school year!

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