Thursday, January 21, 2016


While I was in school, my car was hit and left to whimper quietly to itself until I came out that afternoon to see him tilting strangely to one side. I was parked on a corner and someone didn't take the turn slowly enough on an icy road so they sent my car up onto the sidewalk instead.
I have insurance so the only inconvenience was some time, a deductible, and getting used to driving the rental car for a few weeks. I'm lucky: I wasn't in the car, no one got hurt, and my brother works in the auto industry so he helped me with the specifics.
What bothers me is someone did some real damage and just drove away. How do they do that? Do they worry about karma? Are they not worried about "what goes around comes around?" Maybe they were a new driver and panicked? Maybe they were rushing to a job they would lose if they were late? Maybe someone needed help and the situation was desperate. I'll never know. What I do know is someone got away with it and I ended up paying.
I also wonder what I would have done. If no one was around, would I have driven away? I'm pretty sure I wouldn't, but in the momentary panic after a car accident, who knows? I just know someone is out there driving around with no repercussions from their actions, and that stinks.
Go get 'em, karma.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Lean in

I  go to lots of PD days and learn new stuff all the time, but there are only so many bandwagons I can jump on.
When I'm sitting in a presentation, I'm all in. I buy whatever they're selling. It's only when I walk out and start thinking about the real world scenarios where I will use this. I often come up short somehow. I don't have the time, the support, the resources. I quit before I even begin.
What I've changed about my attitude is I've taken Sheryl Sandberg's approach and now I just "Lean In" which is the title of her book. While I'm all gung-ho about the new resource/website/program, I don't assume it will change my life. I dip my toe in and try it a little. I see how that works for a while and then try more. I'm not investing too much time or energy before I see some actual results. If there isn't enough positive results, I feel no guilt in walking away. I tried, but it just didn't cut it.
The key is to give it a fair shot. Anything worth doing is worth doing well, so a decent attempt at implementing the new resource is necessary. The difference is I no longer spend hours wasting time on something that seems like a solution when it only adds to the problem.
I like the "lean in" approach so much I didn't even finish her book; I took what I could from her book and left the rest. How's that for following instructions?

Monday, January 11, 2016

What's a PLN?

A PLN is a Personal Learning Network. It sounds very cool and it's an idea that is gaining ground. Because of all the social media sites that are available to teachers, you can find anyone that is a mentor or inspiration for you and what you do.
Since I'm the only technology teacher in my building, I don't get to talk to other tech teachers about the challenges I face in my school. It helps to talk to other teachers who face the same challenges.
So how did I build my PLN? Like anything I attempt, I started small and grew it slowly.
I started checking into websites that were a vital resource to my classroom.
I started going to professional development opportunities and connecting with the people running and attending them. From all that, I started to build my network.
At one PD, we went around the room introducing ourselves. I was the only one without a Twitter handle. I felt naked. They spent the next 20 minutes convincing me to join Twitter, which I thought was silly, but I find now is a constant inspiration. I follow teachers that are doing amazing things in the classroom and they inspire me. They also let me know what is the latest and best resource for me to try.
The website connected to common sense media, called Graphite, is where teachers can post reviews for a variety of educational resources. It's not the manufacturer talking, its the teacher who actually uses it. Their opinions are invaluable.
Lisa Nielsen works for the NYCDOE Tech Department and has literally taken over my Facebook feed with all the material she shares. She doesn't seem to sleep, since she posts all hours of the day and night. I worry about her sometimes.
I follow the blogs of influential educators, like Tom Whitby and Alice Keeler. Starr Stackstein is a twitter and blog guru. I could name more, but you should find the people that speak to you. Reading their posts will feel like sitting in on a lecture from an amazing professor.
Do yourself a favor, and find your tribe. You shouldn't go it alone.


EdCampNYC was a great event this past weekend. I woke up on Saturday wondering why I signed up for this, but after the day was over, I was glad I did. I feel like a phone that's been fully recharged. 
I catch up with friends and colleagues, I meet new friends and colleagues, and I learn from both. EdCamps attendees are the type of people that want to be the best at what they do so they therefore inspire each other along the way. They are good as some aspect of the job, and want to share their best practices with others. They could also have a real issue with something and just want to talk to other people about it. Either way, they are there to improve themselves or others.
I sat in on two sessions and I led one, so I ended up learning more than what I taught. It reminded me that the world is bigger than just my classroom, and that other teachers have the same struggles as I do, which helps.

The classroom can be a lonely place for a teacher; EdCamps are the faculty rooms that we can sit in all day. And that’s a really good thing.