Monday, 5 June 2017

My Incredible Journey

As with everything in life, there is a beginning.  This was certainly a beginning for me.  Being invited by Jen Aston to be a member of this FSL Beyond the Walls TLLP team was very exciting.  It all started because we were at a meeting together where I happened to mention having attended Sylvia Duckworth's courses.  Of course, being asked to be a part of this was also more than a bit unnerving.

Our first TLLP team meeting served to amplify that last feeling.  Everyone else capably talked about blogging and tweeting, doing this, that and something else with various Google apps among other applications that I can't even recall and certainly didn't recognize at the time.  And, of course, the main technology integration for the classroom would be iPads. Well, I knew how to turn the screen on.  As we divvied up the work, I tried to find a simple task so I could at least contribute something. And we were off...

                    It greatly helps to be connected to a group of people who are supportive.

Upon returning to my school the next day, my principal inquired about the day and the group.  I candidly responded that I felt completely overwhelmed and way in over my head, but I accepted the challenge.  It was definitely going to be about mindset.

I opened a Twitter account and a week later posted my first tweet which included a picture and the support of a colleague.  I began to explore the apps on the iPads and attended the iCon conference to listen, learn and think about how to incorporate these new ideas into the student learning.

Then came the first BIG test, a Google hangout near the end of October.  I was fortunate enough to have Jen available to be my partner on the other end, but it worked and my students were able to witness risk-taking before their eyes.  I have done many hangouts since then, and my students have even commented how much calmer I am now, even when we have a glitch with the technology.

A few weeks later, I got caught in the act!  At Bit16 in Niagara Falls, I taught another newbie how to post a tweet!

Bit16 was a great experience! Being able to connect with others using technology in their classrooms, and sharing ideas, especially where it pertained to FSL, was inspiring.  At the same time, I remember leaving the conference with the thought of there is so much to learn, so many avenues down which to turn: how could I be wise and not be overwhelmed and feel that I had not done enough?

Over the course of the past few months, I have made comfortable choices for myself and my students. It has been exciting to take them "beyond the walls", give them a purpose for learning and watch them grow in confidence.  The technology has afforded us this opportunity through Hangouts, oral penpals, chatrooms, shared Adobe Spark video files, to mention a few.

Twitter has been a great social media tool for networking, sharing and receiving ideas.

And now I am completing my first blog.

If I can do this, so can you.  It requires baby steps, risk-taking and the patience to allow yourself to make mistakes, ask questions and carry on.  Don't look to the left or to the right and compare yourself with what others are doing.  Be comfortable in the place where you are now and go forward.  But, go! After all, if you want to walk on water, you have to get out of the boat!

(A huge thank you to our fantastic TLLP team members who encouraged me all year!)

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