Dear Future Ms. Sansing,
Although you can write this letter with many areas in mind to help better yourself for the next year, health, relationships, bucket list accomplishments, places you would like to see, go and do however, you are going to focus this letter to your future self in your professional life.
For the past month you have allowed yourself to come out of your comfit zone. When you applied to Michigan State University’s Master’s of Art in Education Technology (MAET) Program you were in your “sweet spot” as Gee calls in it his book The Anti-Education Era (2013). You had carved out this really nice, small group of colleagues that were just like you. Just like you in thought, just like you in your teaching process and if they were no longer like you, you left that groups and went to another that was more like you. You had essentially create this really comfortable group of co-workers that were nice to speak with, had really good ideas & practices when it came to teaching, that were just like yours. You had done a wonderful job at customizing your teaching circle of friends. But now it’s time to leave the nest. You’ve grown too big for your groups and there are many other groups that have a lot of offer. They can offer information, creativity, play, flexibility, growth and mentorship in a whole new way you never thought possible.
How are you going to do this?
The first and most important thing that you are going to do is continue to blog. Blogging will help you create a digital footprint that will get your thoughts, actions, play, passion and curiosity be known to the world and to your network. You speak of exhibition for your students, well you need to exhibit too. Blogging will help with your writing, which let’s face it, is an area of major weakness for you. Twice a month you will blog about one of the following topics:
- Article Reflection: read an article or two, a book or chapter and relay that message to the world. Summarize it, how does it apply to you and your practice? Are there any good nuggets of information that can be extracted and applied? Read articles on technology, applications, special education, transition, WorkAbility, pedagogy, inventing in the classroom
- Technology in the Classroom: Play around with different/new apps for the computer and for the iPads. Find apps to make your life as an educator easier and life for your students easier. Then write about it, take pictures about it and don’t forget to get the student’s opinions too.
- 5×5 Challenge: This is a great way for you and your students to non-verbally get a message across. Learning from the play Blath that you attended where they have 4 lines in a 40 minute play which conveys emotions, using only a few puppets, music and light. Emotions like sadness, frustration, glee, joy, depression, friendship, wonder, amusement and courage and only 4 lines. I know I said that already but all of this in 40 minutes with only 4 lines. It was powerful to see the amount of information that could be conveyed with emotions and music. So create a 5×5 video challenge that you, your students, friends and family can do and exhibit them to the world. Make them fun! Make them easy! Make them challenging!
- Free: I want you to blog about anything you feel hits home with you. Anything you fall in love with for the week or month. Food, cooking, baking, travel, love, friendship, troubles & problems. Anything your heart desires just do it!
Ok so this will expand your network electronically, very well, what do you need to do to expand, create and curate your network face-to-face?
Next you are going to become part of your school sites’ and districts’ professional development. Run a workshop on simple Google Drive Techniques, professional learning networks (you will need to learn more about Twitter, I have a feeling this is going to change your life), show how Glogster, Blendspace or iMovie can help teachers in their classes with rigor. Do a Maker Movement workshop and have colleagues play.
Last, you are going to do at least two maker project with your students this year. The first will be around coding, scaffold starting with code.org and their Angry Bird mazes, then move on to scratch.mit.edu with making cards and simple games. Last, have students create a game on GameSalad. Don’t forget that it’s ok to know some of this information but let the students teach you too. Let them be the experts!
Over the next year I want you to take it slow, do one thing at a time. You deal with numbers and data as being a special educator, so, mastery is 90% according to Carnine. It does not have to e perfect, 100%, just do it and do it again until you have worked out the kinks. Or leave the kinks in they might look good, like an abstract from Picasso. In then end play, tinker, be flexible and have patience.
The Future Ms. Sansing