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Thursday, December 31, 2015

15 Most Memorable Moments of 2015

With only a few hours left in 2015, it's safe to say that there is very little more that will happen as we count down to midnight that will change how I view my 2015 school year. I find myself, like so may teachers (and regular, non-super hero folk), reflecting on all that has happened during the past 365 days. I find myself smiling as I recall the 15 moments in 2015 that are most memorable. Without further ado, and in no particular order, here they are...

15.    Book Clubs:  This year was the year of "Professional Reading" for me. It started in January with a book club hosted by Beth Houf, Jay Billy, and Marci Houseman that centered around the amazing and career changing book Teach Like a Pirate (TLAP). For several weeks teachers met as a community to discuss the book using the hashtag #bfctlap. The book club culminated in a surprise GHO with "Lead Pirate" Dave Burgess. This inspired me to suggest that my team read the book so as to better assist the teachers with whom we work. All told, I spent time in three different book clubs discussing TLAP! It was an amazing period of personal PD! This first book led to several others that my team and I would read during 2015; Malcolm Gladwell's David and Goliath: Underdogs Misfits and the Art of Battling Giants (Sharon's pick), Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard by Dan Heath and Chip Heath (Dan's pick), and  Mindset: the New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck (Rick's pick). I'll be honest, I haven't read that one...YET!) I look forward to the list that my team has created for 2016!

14.    Blogging:  This was something that was pushed on me by too many people to remember and name, but I thank them! Shy to share my words, and inconsistent at best, blogging became something real for me after I attended TCT15 and ISTE2015. I felt I had so much new learning to process, the only way to do it justice would be to share my new information with the world. I started, but then stopped. This blog seems to be a series of start stops, but I am hopeful that, as 2015 comes to an end, I am able to START a habit that sticks! (I am also hopeful, dear reader, that you will help hold me accountable!)

13.    Trail Running:  I know, you are asking yourself, What in the world does this have to do with teaching and technology? Let me explain...running in my release, my calm, my rejuvenator. It is also when I generate some of my best ideas! My head clears and the ideas flow. This summer I explored the local trails and trail running for the first time and it made running and thinking new again!

12.    School PD Committee:  This year I am acting as co-chair of my school's PD committee. My co-chair, Kara Kleckner, and I make perfect partners. We each bring different talents to our role and in our shared space/classroom we hash out ideas and plan a minimum of 2 PD sessions per month. So far we have planned PD focusing on technology, literacy, and student engagement. PD has taken place in the morning, during faculty meetings, and during PLC time. I am lucky to have such an amazing partner!

11.    Sketchnoting:  I have always been a bit of a doodler and last year I started carrying a notebook with me everywhere I went (again) to capture my thoughts, notes and important details from various meetings. Seems like a bit of a stretch that this techie would carry a notebook, but I assure you, it is not. I remember so much more when I write rather than type. And I remember even more when I add sketches or doodles to my notes., Thus, my fascination with sketchnoting. I will leave it at that for the time being, but know that I am co-planning PD on sketchnoting in the classroom. Look for a blog post once our PD day is over in February.

10.    EdCamp, TCT, Ednado...oh my!  Living in NJ there is no loss for weekend PD. On almost any given weekend I am able to find quality PD within a 50 mile radius. Anything from EdCamp NJ, EdCamp LDR (I had to pick from North Jersey, South Jersey, and Philadelphia), EdCamp Jersey Shore, EdCamp Philly...I think I may be missing an EdCamp somewhere. Then there was the first Ednado and the inaugural Tomorrow's Classrooms Today. In the past I have attended events like these as a participant. For 2015, with a LOT of encouragement and persuasion from my PLN I took the plunge and started presenting. I have always learned a lot at these events, but acting as the presenter is a growth experience like no other!

9.    Voxer:  If you haven't experienced Voxer, you don't know what you are missing! Walkie talkie like conversations that are stored on your phone. Groups that will share valuable (and some not valuable) information that will change the way you learn. Voxer is a way to connect daily with the people with whom you would like to learn. Unlike Twitter, there are not constraints of 140 characters and you can choose to share content via text, video, photo, and audio message.

8.    Twitter and Twitter Chats:  If you are reading this I feel it is safe to assume that you are already in Twitter (and if you're not, please comment on how you found this post-seriously!), therefore I am just going to mention a few of my favorite twitter chats... #BFC530 (that chat that started it all for me), #PodcastPD (the chat I started), and #2pencilchat (the chat I wish I had started-thanks Sean Farnum!). Sorry I am light on details here. I PROMISE to write a full blog post on these chats and more in the New Year!

7.    Meeting People in Person:  Let's just say it's safe to say that with the number of conferences and unconferences I have attended in 2015 I am bound to leave someone off the list of people I have met. To save myself any embarrassment I am going to say it was lovely meeting you all and I look forward to seeing you again soon!

6.    PodcastPD the Podcast:  It started as a supplement to the #PodcastPD chat, something for participants to listen to when AJ Bianco, Chris Nesi and I took a break for holidays. Then it morphed into an occasional blab.im conversation, because Chris wanted to "try something new". Now it is a weekly conversation. Talk about peer pressure!

5.    #PodcastPD:  PodcastPD the Podcast would exist without #PodcastPD and #PodcastPD wouldn't exist without the post I wrote for my department blog and a LOT of encouragement from Jen Williams, AJ Bianco, and Chris Nesi. It started as a traditional Twitter chat-taking place Sunday evenings from 8:30-9:00 ET. We are currently blabbing, but we may make our way back to Twitter in 2016, we shall see!

4.    NJ/PA ECET2 (aka the Alphabet Conference): NJ/PA Elevating and Celebrating Effective Teaching and Teachers is an invitation only, overnight, all expenses paid conference the likes of nothing I have ever attended. As I was walking around during one of our meals, someone said to me, "Look around, I feel like all of the NJ Edu Rock Stars are here!" And it was true! The names are too many and as in #7, I fear I would leave someone out. I was honored to be able to present to such an amazing group!

3.    ISTE 2015:  The Tech Conference to end all tech conferences took place in Philly this past year (another one of those 50 mile radius opportunities) and I was fortunate to attend as an ambassador for Glogster. While I spent many hours on the Expo floor, I was afforded the opportunity to meet so many new people, people I only knew as a handle and a tiny photo! I was also afforded the opportunity to attend numerous presentations and meetups. Let's suffice it to say that ISTE is for tech educators and educator who use teach what Disney is for this princess (I ran as Ana from Frozen during the 2014 Disney Princess Half Marathon). I hope to repeat both experiences in the coming years...I'll start with ISTE 2016 in Denver!

2.    My TRST Team:  TRST = Teacher Resource Specialist for Technology - a really long title that  equate with tech facilitator or tech coach. I am fortunate enough to spend my days working and collaborating with one of the best teams around. Dan Gallagher, Melissa Morris - Inoa, Jaime Cook, Kim Lowden, and Laura Agnella have helped me grow as a teacher in my district in immeasurable ways. Whether we are planning, laughing, eating or taking risks, we are constantly growing!

1.    The #EdJusticeLeague:  Some of the most creative and dedicated teachers I know, Dani Kennis, Chrissy Romano, Chris Nesi, Adam Schoenbart, and AJ Bianco have shaped my learning in a way transformative as that of my mentor, Aline Galvano. Each with their own super powers, our master mind group is in contact daily using Voxer as our bat phone. There is no doubt that they have unlocked my hidden super powers and unleashed in me someone with a burning desire to be better, to grow, to change and to help others--one tech tool at a time!

It's hard to believe that 2015 is over. So much has happened this year for me professionally. I was a sponge and I soaked up all that I could...and then I shared (just a bit). I know I am fortunate to have had the year that I had. If it had been half the year that it was, I would still consider myself lucky! For 2016 I will WORK to make it a year that is equal to, if not better than this one! I hope you have had some similar moments. Take a minute to reflect back and share ONE of those moments with me in the comments; I'd love to hear all about it.

Have a Happy New Year!

Sorry for the lack of photos...I'll update after my race tomorrow!