As the school year wraps up, it is getting very difficult for me to want to let this year go. Yes, having some vacation will be really, really nice. Getting to do a little traveling will be wonderful. The constant stream of assessment opportunities will be absent. The batteries will get a chance to recharge so I can do things better next year. However, there were so many great things that happened this year that I really want to keep the momentum going!
I was so graciously offered a chance to go to the SLATE conference in Wisconsin Dells in December, and I honestly think that opportunity changed the course of my educational career. To be seen an valued as an important member of our school district who can be seen as a leader in technology really boosted my confidence. I went to summer camp often as a kid, but usually the "camp high" only lasted a week or so. I believe this "conference high" has lasted me the entire year. I got a booster shot with Edcamp Madison in February, which was an excellent time for networking and learning. These experiences are going to allow me to make a greater impact on students than ever before. I believe I'm making a greater impact now!
6th grade students got to learn about how computers actually work for the first time this year (for most of them anyway).A select group of 7th graders experienced personalized and self-paced learning in a Computer Apps class. 8th grade students in my Technology Literacy and Careers class received more opportunity for voice and choice than I've ever really allowed a class. I believe these learning opportunities for my students are only the tip of the iceberg.
Next year will bring many changes. No longer are students required to take my classes in middle school, and for that fact, I'm seeing 80% less students in 7th and 8th grade. I'm competing against some awesome educators in the areas of tech ed, art, agriculture, and band. However, this will only drive me to do better for my students. My classes will create buzz next year. In fact, this schedule change is going to be an opportunity for me condense my Careers curriculum and revamp things into a term. I'm excited for the ideas making their way to paper, including "The Apprentice" style competition I want to create. Students will, for the first, time, also have an opportunity to learn the basics of computer programming at the 8th grade level. I'm hoping to light some sparks in that class.
There are great things happening in education. Many of these obstacles which has been bumming me out suddenly feel like a great opportunity to do better. Next year, in fact, with the huge changes underway, is something like a rebirth. Starting over. Next year isn't that far away. The beginning is near! And man, it will be awesome.