Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Innovative Educator takes its first step

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I’ve spent as long as I can remember being an educator, student or both passionate about authentic, meaningful, fun, and relevant schooling. In first grade my school informed my mother that I spent most days sleeping and they were concerned I had a learning disability, though in those days, I believe my teacher told my mom she thought I was “retarded.” Frantic my mother took me off to UCLA medical center for a battery of tests where they advised my mother and my school that I tested much higher than average in all tests and my issue was boredom and under stimulation.
They recommended I skip a grade. That helped a little, but I spent most of my school years in what felt like a meaningless, dreary torture chamber. My teachers promised that though what they were teaching might not seem important then, I would need it when I grew up. I couldn’t wait to grow up and figure out why all this stuff was important. I hurried on my way to growing up, graduating college at 19. I didn’t know how it was that growing up would teach me the meaning of what seemed an irrelevant school experience, but I was excited to finally have the mystery solved.
Once in the real world, I realized it was all a farce. There was very little that I learned in school that was valuable…especially after 4th grade. I felt cheated and disappointed that I had spent countless excruciatingly BORING years in classrooms and had nothing to show for it but a bunch of diplomas and boxes of reports graded by my teachers that no one cared about.
As an adult, I have been fortunate to personally connect with some fantastic authors and experts (Alan November, Will Richardson, Marc Prensky, David Warlick, Lucy Calkins, Marco Torres, Penelope Trunk, Peggy Sheehy…all highly Googleable) interested in making learning real, meaningful, fun, and authentic. I am fortunate to have the pleasure of learning a lot from them. I consider them my personal learning network experts.
Something I’ve learned from these experts is that if you want to be taken seriously, you have to have a digital footprint. It’s not enough to talk about the work you do, do the work you do, and spread the work you do. Even if it’s in one of the world’s largest school systems. To be taken seriously, you must become a more formal part of the conversation and toward that end I have begun developing my own digital footprint beginning with this blog. With more than ten years experience working in the field of educational technology for the New York City Department of Education and Teachers College, Columbia University, I have gained a lot of valuable information that I believe will be helpful for educators and other interested parties and I’m ready to share my ideas for making the learning environment a more exciting and meaningful place. If you are an educator or someone interested in education I hope you find some of what I share valuable and that you are inspired to put some of my ideas into action.
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