Saturday, February 18, 2017

Taking risks

Happy Saturday, colleagues! I am going to start today's blog post with a story.

I have to finally admit something scandalous (in the teaching world): I am an introvert. I always wondered what was wrong with me, but when I started taking personality tests over the last couple of years, I finally found the diagnosis: introversion. I am excellent at faking it, at pretending to be extroverted. I struggle with starting conversations with people, but I have a friendly Midwestern face, so people often start talking to me. I smile when I'm uncomfortable, so again, it's a conversation starter. For some time when teaching, my introversion has been met with hostility, rumors, and frustration. I don't like being the center of attention, I'm somewhat shy, and I keep my personal life private. Human nature is to be social and connected. Apparently not sharing much about myself means I'm a cold person. So I struggled with collegial relationships. And I struggled.

Cue to five years ago as I am having the worst teaching year ever when I become a part of a group called TAH (Teaching American History). I've mentioned these people before. They helped me become the teacher that I am now. These people, these complete strangers, accepted me (for what little they knew of me), encouraged me to share bits and pieces about myself, and assured me that I am an influential and capable teacher (as many times as I needed to hear it). It was what I desired in my young career. I had new colleagues (from different schools) that supported me and helped guide me to my first presentation at a national conference at the age of 29.

I am so grateful for those people. They helped me make a mind shift, and every teacher knows when they've had one of those, and how it affected their career. Even so, I am still an introvert today (duh). I am better at making relationships (maturity goes a long way), and I am slowly sharing more about myself with others. It puts me in a vulnerable position, but it's necessary to evolve and develop as a teacher.

In order to evolve, I have to take steps outside my "normal" introverted personality. I did just that: I just applied to become a certified Google Innovator.

That is one scary screenshot. I did it. My application has been submitted. There is nothing more I can do but wait.

But even if I am selected, or rejected, I am proud of myself for taking that step outside of "normal." My little-introverted self is growing up and becoming the teacher that I said I would become when I interviewed at Skyview eight years ago.

So here goes... here is my application.

If someone were to direct a film about your life, what would it be called? (Maximum 5 words, 50 characters)
Just a small town girl

Transform: Share a specific example about how you are fostering a thriving innovative culture within your own classroom, school, or organization. (Maximum of 500 characters)
Five years ago, I was handed 150 iPads and said: “go!” Without training or guidance, I designed a digital curriculum for my US history classroom. I created flipped learning for students to learn basic content at home. In my classroom, students are using a project-based curriculum. Through researching essential questions, students are traveling in time, telling stories about Colorado’s past, and are creating digital content to share with the world. Through it all, I facilitate their learning.

Advocate: Link to a piece of content you've created that you think has inspired other educators.Show us a blog, a Hangout you've done, a poster or Infographic, a presentation resource, or something you're really proud of online that you'd love to share. Include your link here! (of course I am sharing my blog - I am proud of the reflections I've had this last year!)

Grow: If you could become an expert in something that you aren't already good at, what would it be and why? (Maximum of 500 characters)
One thing that I would love to become an expert at is composing music. Listening to music is one way that I meditate each day, and I wish that I could create music to which I meditate. As a teacher, I love seeing students’ faces light up when they come into my room or when they enjoy a lesson that I am teaching. I wish that I could make random strangers’ faces light up when they listen to music that I’ve created.

Your Vision: Title
Using the Past to be Present

Your Vision: Brief Description: (Maximum of 250 characters)
Students are lacking desirable qualities such as empathy, perseverance, and drive. I would like to create a curriculum that uses historical figures to nurture these characteristics.

Your Vision: Solution (We’re looking for projects that are new and innovative. Please explain how your vision is suggesting a new-to-the-world solution or offers a fresh take on an existing solution. Maximum 500 characters)
I will design character developing curriculum in which students examine historical figures who embody these absent characteristics. Through exploring the past, developing digital stories, and undergoing experiential learning, students will develop these attributes. They will learn about the past through authentic characters' stories, which enables them to rewrite their future.

Vision Deck: Link to your public vision deck.

Vision Video: You have one minute to creatively explain your problem and your vision for tackling it! Please post a public YouTube link. Think of this as a visual and interactive complement to your Vision Deck. This is also an opportunity to let your passion shine along with your vision.

Imagine you are able to have coffee with one person (currently living) who would mentor you in support of your vision. Who would you pick and why? (Maximum of 500 characters)
I would have coffee with Ken Burns. He is incredible at telling stories that people didn’t know that they even wanted to learn! He could take this curriculum and elevate it. Students are incredibly visual, and a “Ken Burns style” video would capture their attention entirely. Mr. Burns also has a way with wording stories that challenge people to think while looking deep within themselves. That would be the whole point of this curriculum!

So there it is my friends - my application out for the world to see! Now I'm hoping for an early birthday present on March 13th!

Thanks for reading. I'll see you next week :)

- Rachel
My Teacherspayteachers website