Sunday, 7 July 2013

The Amazing Year That Was...


What a year that was! I can't believe that 10 months of learning went by so fast. I remember thinking this time last year how excited I was going into summer and how much I was looking forward to the 2012-2013 school year. For some reason, I had a feeling it was going to be HUGE!

And HUGE it was! My 9th year of teaching would turn out to be my biggest year yet! After getting connected on twitter (stevewclark) and through blogging the year previously, I knew my learning would explode throughout this year. I just didn't know to what extent.

I started, and finished, the year off as the lead teacher of the learning commons at my school. Our learning commons was beginning its 3rd year of transition and the school had made the decision from the start to have a full time teacher working in the space to work with students and teachers on inquiry based projects that included the integration of technology. This was a dream job for me and one that I had worked my way towards through a lot of hard work (and convincing of) with the staff at my school that this would benefit all stake holders in an around our learning community. In the previous 2 years we had tried a varitey of staffing models in our learning common and finally it was decided that it would be best to have someone dedicated to the space to build capacity in teachers and support learners in a variety of ways in our school.

Throughout the year I worked on a wide variety of projects with a wide variety of grade levels using a wide variety of technologies. Man, did I learn a lot! I documented a lot of what I did through two of my learning blogs:

  • - A collaborative Learning Commons blog that I co-created with and amazing and passionate colleague (@Mik-enzie) to celebrate the amazing learning that is happening in learning commons within our area!
  • - A blog I started to share amazing projects we did on our iPads.
Early in the year of 2012, I had signed up for notification when the Apple Distinguished Educator program would be open for new applications. In November, I received an email that the doors were open for applications. It took me a few weeks to muster up the courage to go for it. After a few tweets to a colleague, (and now good friend @jtpatry) we both decided to go for it. My winter break consisted of making a 2 minute video as well as a written portion. I couldn't believe how much time I ended up spending on making a short video, even after collecting a ton of evidence through my first few months of the school year. In February 2013, we both received an email to say we had been accepted! This is something, to this day, I still cannot believe (I will have another post about this coming later in Summer - After our Apple Summer Institute in Austin, Texas). 

As well as sharing my/our work online, I had numerous visits to our learning commons from people within our system looking for ideas and/or feedback, or just to see what a learning commons looked in action. It was great conversing with many other colleagues about this amazing and exciting concept that makes a space, what often is a dull and boring place where books are just stored, into an engaging and dynamic learning space that students want to visit on a regular basis.

As the year went on, I kept revisiting the thought of what my professional future might look like. I was having such an amazing year that it would be easy to stay and continue with the work that was happening in our building. Or, after 7 years of being in the same building, was it time to try and move? After the Alberta budget restraints hit our school board it would become apparent that there was going to be very little movement within our system. In a board that is around 10000+ teachers strong, there would surely be a ton of people who would want to move and not many jobs to move into. I wanted to be particularly fussy about what job I would want apply for but was nervous about the prospect of actually finding/getting anything. After becoming a resident expert in the learning common concept, I was hoping that my expertise would be 'noticed' by another admin/school, if there were any job postings.

When the 'quietly released' postings came out, I was told there were a couple of positions that might interest me so I applied for both. After being offered an interview for both positions and visiting one of the schools, I was beginning to get excited about the prospect of a new job. Both settings were incredibly different. One being an Arts Centred Learning school and the other a Traditional Learning Centre (TLC), meant I had some difficult decisions to make if I happened to have both jobs offered to me (I seemed to be fairly confident and excited about both). After my first interview, at the TLC, I nervously awaited the call-back. While I was ready and waiting for my appointment day to attend the other interview and got 'the call' that they wanted to hire me at the TLC. I made the tough decision to take the job with a lot of thought and discussion with my wife. I must admit, the Arts Centered School sounded like a dream job but was geographically a LONG way from my own community and also started and finished much later in the day. It was going to be too much of a challenge for our young family. It was a commitment that I couldn't make at this point in my life. I was very pleased to accept the job at a the TLC (what some would consider a controversial decision for someone like me). I was/am nervous about this new placement but I'm suer excited for the challenges that lie ahead!

My thoughts on next year will be in another post - coming soon!

No comments:

Post a Comment