Did you ever have one of those epiphanies where you feel like everything in the universe is pointing you in one direction? This year has been that for me. And who am I to ignore the universe when it is hollering at me?
In the fall I joined twitter after a presenter mentioned that she was using it as professional development. I thought twitter was a place to post what you ate for breakfast or to follow celebrities. I eat Honey Nut Cheerios every morning for breakfast – nothing riveting there – and my last brush with fandom was joining the Shaun Cassidy Fan Club in 1978. Hey, does anyone know if he is on twitter?
Still, I took the leap and joined. And that’s when the stars began to align. I found on twitter a wealth of knowledge and expertise. I heard voices from educators across the country – experts whose work had formed and continues to form my philosophy of education, colleagues from across my state, technology specialists who shared their ideas freely, students with thousands of followers themselves. My experience with twitter was so inspiring that I signed up for an online course in technology: the 21 Things class led by the Michigan REMC organization. Inspired by that, I signed up for a second class: the REMC Blended Learning in the Classroom course. Then I put together a project on DonorsChoose to get an iPad for my classroom. Not only did that get funded but I got four additional iPads as well. Finally, just a few days ago, I had the opportunity to attend the MACUL (Michigan Association for Computer Users in Learning) conference in Detroit. To stress the rarity of the opportunity, let me explain that people have been denied conference attendance in my district for years due to budget cuts. The MACUL opportunity came from a grant; otherwise, I would not have had the chance. That’s what hollering looks like when the universe is the one shouting.
My epiphany has been this: Technology changes everything. I knew this before, of course, but I didn’t really know it, you know? Now I do. To teach without connecting my students to the world as a whole is to teach in a vacuum and to deny them so many amazing opportunities – the opportunity, for instance, to “know that what they are creating is exceptional,” as Steve Dembo said in his closing at the MACUL conference. It’s absolutely not fair to create in the isolation (another phrase from Steve Dembo) of my small classroom. The world now is small, and my students have the opportunity to reach corners they may have never heard of. That’s why things are changing for us. So get ready, people, my students are stars! And their amazing work will be coming to your computer, tablet or phone soon!