I have actively been participating on twitter and in different ed chats for the past nine months and have developed a very strong PLN. My PLN has allowed me to grow as an educator and I have been provided with many new opportunities because of the connections I have made with many great local educators as well as those in other states and countries.
I have always been very shy, and with the encouragement of those I have met online, I have started blogging, and presenting to "strangers" instead of just the staff at my school. I have taken steps to move out of my comfort zone and get more involved. Because of my PLN I was able to learn about, attend, and even present at different conferences. I even helped moderate a chat tonight! And my best memory or achievement of the year was being selected to participate in the Google Teacher Academy in Stockholm last month. It was an amazing experience and I loved meeting and learning with such a diverse, international group of educators.
The topic of tonight's chat was "A Time to Renew, Re-imagine, Recommit, and Reach Out". The first question was "What is your favorite renewal process or activity". What really helps me clear my mind so I can start fresh is going out into nature, getting away from it all. I love to go birding. Hiking and seeing such beautiful animals in beautiful spots really focuses my mind on nothing but being outdoors. Then I am rejuvenated to go back to reality and work towards achieving new goals in my classroom. The greatest thing about birding, is that it allows me to renew each time I do it, not just at the beginning of the year.
Another question was to create an image with my motto for the year. I chose an image that I took in Sweden last month of a Great Gray Owl. The Great Gray Owl was the bird assigned to me for a report in my first Avian Sciences course at UC Davis my freshmen year of college. It was during this class that I decided to switch my major from the safe engineering to the unsafe Avian Sciences. My parents weren't thrilled... how would I ever get a job with that as a major? But I realized I loved studying birds and conservation and I knew that I had to follow my heart. Here is my image and motto:
This motto is fitting... for both me in college following my heart, as well as for me trying new things now in my career, for my students as they are learning and growing into adults, and for the other teachers that I interact and work with as they try new things in their classrooms. Everyone should believe in themselves. As you try new things, you may fail. But failure allows you to learn and grow. If you believe in yourself, you have the potential and pretty much the guarantee, to be a success.
Another question in the chat tonight was what was your favorite inspirational moment. In teaching, my students always inspire me. Well, not always... but each student has done little things, or sometimes big things, that are inspiring. But as a teacher, I am always inspired by conversations with my PLN on twitter, at conferences, or edcamps. I always learn from educators who choose to attend, participate and share what they are doing. Professional Development is what keeps me moving forward. I want to learn new things and find better ways to be an inspiration and a motivator to my students.
In tonight's chat we were also asked to share a inspirational video, quote, or resource. One of my favorite's is Google's Moonshot Thinking video. I think it is a great video to show students (and other staff) that anything is possible if you believe in yourself.
The last question was what I wanted to focus on this year as a connected educator. This year, my focus as a connected educator is to make more real connections and build relationships with those in my PLN. I want to step out of my comfort zone and introduce myself in person to members of my PLN if I see them at a conference. I want to build better relationships and friendships with those I interact with online. I also want to give back and share what I have learned with others - teachers at my school, or other educators online who happen to find my blog or read my tweets on twitter. I have learned so much from my PLN and I want to share the great things you have given me.
This year, I will believe in myself to renew my passion for education, re-imagine my curriculum to meet the needs of all of my students, recommit to why I became a teacher, and reach out to form stronger relationships with members of my PLN.
Thanks David for inviting me to be a guest moderator! It was a great experience which I hope to be able to do again.