Sunday, September 27, 2015

It's Time to Celebrate Education

This summer I was selected to be part of the Michigan Educator Voice Fellowship. I had the opportunity to travel to Grand Rapids to meet the other fellows, talk about important issues in education, and learn how to promote our voices as educators. There were many valuable lessons shared during this time that have helped me change how I look at education and helped me to adapt my role as an educator. One of the things that has stuck with me as I started this school year was the importance of celebrating all that we are doing in education.

Despite the criticisms that we hear about public education in America, those doing the criticizing are often not in the position to see what is really happening in our schools. I did not have to look far to find examples of educators who should be celebrated for their dedication, innovation, and commitment to creating an excellent education for their students.

In my position as a Media Specialist, I have the awesome opportunity to work with many different people at our school. I often help teachers with technology questions or resources, collaborate with them about a lesson or unit, or push-in to teach a topic that integrates technology or literacy. In just the first few weeks of school, I worked with educators who were doing great things! I saw teachers lead students in the creation of digital portfolios for the first time, teachers eager to incorporate Makerspace activities into their curriculum, teachers learning new software so they could create hands on lessons for their students, and teachers discussing how to use digital stories in their classroom after viewing a presentation on the topic that a colleague and I presented earlier this year. There are teachers diving into lessons that incorporate technology in meaningful ways to help their students achieve success, and teachers who are willing to try new things to create the best educational opportunities for their students. There is collaboration, innovation, creativity, and an enthusiasm for learning among our school.
A Maker creation by one of the teaching teams

These characteristics could also be seen when we kicked off our school year with a Makerspace Challenge for teachers. The challenge had obstacles, time limits, varying degrees of difficulty, a range of materials, and above all, an emphasis on the importance of collaboration and creativity to share your message. It was a fun experience that highlighted the upbeat attitudes and innovative mindset that make great educators.

In the short time we've been back in school, I can already celebrate the many lessons I've gotten to teach across subject areas, the numerous teachers who I've gotten to plan with or discuss technology ideas with for their classes, my super motivated and dedicated news crew kids who wasted no time creating a great show, the kids who are already jumping into the Makerspace activities with enthusiasm, the students who are eager to talk with me about books they've read or want to read, and so much more.

It can be easy to get caught up in the stresses that come with going back to school.  It is easy to focus on the negative, but it is so important, for our students and ourselves, that we don't. There will never be enough time for teachers to achieve everything they plan to accomplish, and things may not always go as expected (in fact, they probably won't), but it is important to take time to reflect on what has gone well and celebrate it. It's time for all educators to speak up and share the incredible things they are doing. There are great things happening in our schools thanks to dedicated educators, and it's time to start shouting it from the rooftops. I urge all educators to spend time throughout the year reflecting on their successes and to share those celebrations with colleagues, Twitter, or in a blog post-just be sure to share some of the greatness going on in your classroom or school!



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