Friday, July 5, 2013

My One Best Thing - ADE North American Institute July 2013 

My One Best Thing - ADE North American Institute July 2013 

I am still trying to catch up with all the postings and preparation sent out by Apple and the ADEs attending the North American Institute in July.

So far ADES have had the opportunity to:

•  submit a 1 minute video of a student or colleague talking about their most meaningful ah-ha   moments
•  sign up for a 1 in 3 session - Apple will give you three minutes to talk about your practice while they video tape you
•  experience an ADE Institute iTunes course
•  sign up for a photo walk of Austin on Sunday the 14th prior to the start of the institute (signed up and ready to go)


submit a posting on your One Best Thing.

This One Best Thing is proving to be a real challenge for me for a couple of reasons.  Unlike the 1-in-3 session, this part of the process isn't voluntary and I have to be honest with myself - I am not really that good at self-promotion (I fear being seen as a braggart).  How do I take credit for things that are often collaborative?  The truth is that I do drive my own practice and often expect the rest of the school to accommodate me, but the real joy for me is working with a motivated team.  How do I narrow down what I am doing?  The things I do best have become intertwined into a single entity - it has been a long time since I looked at the various chunks and tried to rate them.

I am a generalist - a classroom teacher who has to be an expert in all subject areas.
As such, the challenges that face me, like many other teachers,  are many:  teaching curriculum, engaging students, working with at-risk boys, supporting my colleagues’ professional development, advocating for change at the school and district level, writing grant applications, begging and borrowing what resources I can to support my students, organizing whole school community events, creating and publishing lesson ideas and helping to support (hopefully) a change in the direction of the school. 

This past fall, I started work in a school where, in the past, not much attention has been paid to using technology to support learning.  There were no real resources.  Not much buy-in from staff, students and parents.  No real interest in inquiry.  But this is changing and there has been a significant shift in the direction the school has taken.  Think the influx of 70 iPads in the past few months for a start.  I am so excited for this change and so grateful that I have a chance to be a part of such a shift.

I have been struggling to narrow down my One Best Thing.  I think I have strengths (and weaknesses) in many areas - so how to decide.  Part of the challenge in deciding is the knowledge that this One Best Thing will be the basis of my project when I am in Austin.  I don't think I want to do project work on integrating technology into my classroom practice.  Although I think I am good at it, I have been doing this for years and I want to explore other topics I am not so experienced with. 

Currently, my passions are supporting other teachers as they try to change their practice AND creating a school-wide environment to support student learning.  So I will go with that.  My One Best Thing for the summer institute is.....supporting teacher engagement and change at the school level.  .....although I want to explore assessment options and expanding the learning community as well.