Posted in ETMOOC, Personal Response

The Light Shines in the Dark

A powerful light shines in the dark.
A powerful light shines in the dark. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The mysterious forces of the universe never cease to amaze me.  As doors close, windows open.  Once, in a relationship crash of my twenty-something years, my father – who thinks pragmatically like any true businessman – tried to comfort me with “don’t look at this as an obstacle, rather, look at it like an opportunity!”  This “insensitivity” sparked a teenage-like rage of disbelief and betrayal in my heart!  How could he liken my broken relationship to a business euphemism?  Ah – but that travelling salesman – my daddy – was all too wise!  That truth has become a mantra of my life; thankfully I could put my emotional ego aside to see that wisdom – those loving and supportive words, eventually, brought light to my darkness.  Thus, the universe does this to us too, repeatedly!  It brings us situations that are obstacles and conflicts until we learn how to make them our opportunities.

I have thought of this often this week through challenges!  There have been many obstacles and my emotional side often frustrates through it all.  But slowly, the week has offered me far more opportunities and I will choose to focus on those.

To begin, I – gulp – took up the call for proposals for NCTE  2013 regarding the blogging journey I’ve experienced with my students.  This is pure opportunity, a dream to hope for!   I do not expect such an honour of presenting at this event that I truly, truly love, but I am proud that I took a chance to make a dream come true.  After-all, as my first blog here states: “Pretending that next time I could be presenting at such a conference as this! But in truth, I just basked in the glory of the gurus and the geniuses wondering if I’d ever really grow up and be wise like the big kids and as energetically creative as the young kids?”  I truly believe in NCTE and how it has transformed me as a teacher!   The PLN and sharing we speak of here in our etmooc course really made me feel the confidence I needed to take a risk and try.

Second blessing of my week – tweeting with  one of my professional idols – Penny Kittle.  As an English high school teacher, this  fine lady is a mentor to my professional growth.  I first encountered her at 2011 NCTE and again I basked in her glory at 2012 NCTE!   She is pure inspiration!  If you are an English teacher – you truly need her!  In fact, my subtitle on this blog is “Blogging Beside My Students”, which is an emulation to her book Write Beside Them.  Alas, I am so excited that she will be coming to Alberta to do workshops with writing!  I noticed on her website that she would be in two other provincial cities this coming month – so I advocated to our local PD and they are bringing her to us too.  Okay, true, I could be accused of being a stalker.  But, I promise you Penny, I’m just humbly respectful of  your amazing energy and talent!  I hope you’ll still take me up on the coffee and tour (it seems Oprah wasn’t interested when she came to town this week).  Just the courage it took me to tweet Penny warrants a coffee – I hope!

Now, as the universe has offered me some painful lessons this week, it also brought great “lights” to my life!  First of all, I reconnected with this amazing teacher who has been a virtual friend and mentor to me – my PLN  (personal learning network).  I met this amazing lady – Carol Mayne – about four years ago via the English Companion Ning.  Ironically, she is in neighbouring Canmore (in the mountains via Calgary).  As I was learning about PLN and sharing, I longed for my friend who I had lost touch with over a year ago.  Luckily – I quickly found her – and it turns out we were finding each other serendipitously via this course.  Amazing!  I am so grateful to have her back in my world and we are planning an actual meeting, as real humans!  Furthermore,  I just saw great clarity of good people in my life – the gifts  of my family, dear friends, and amazing student teachers who I get to collaborate with in my classroom!  I have been blessed by many loving, light-filled people!

Finally, I have really enjoyed reading many blogs this week that transform one’s “wounded” spirit.  But the two that truly to spoke to my inner truth were:

These blogs, this course, that conference, the tweets, these people all remind me: “don’t look at this as an obstacle, rather, look at it like an opportunity!”  Essentially, there is much more grace and gratitude to be had in my week than I had felt before.  I choose to focus on the opportunities and be grateful for them.  I guess that pragmatic dad of mine was right all along!  Thanks Daddy!

View of Canmore, AB from the abandoned tea hou...
View of Canmore, AB from the abandoned tea house up Mount Lady MacDonald (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Posted in ETMOOC, Uncategorized

Beginnings and Endings

Typewriter
Typewriter (Photo credit: toastytreat87)

Well, it has been a very busy week at school – the summative week with my beloved 1st semester classes.  I truly mean it – I have adored my classes this semester.  So this week has been both stressful and emotional.  Oftentimes, what I love about teaching is the “etch-a-sketch” mentality of being able to shake my head after a semester and start a-fresh.  Sometimes, I (secretly) cheer about the freedom from “that” group that is impending.  This time, I cry.  Each class has embedded its quirks and quarks into my heart and I adore these kids!   So, saying good-bye today was bitter, not sweet.  How is it that our experience was so transformational?  Well, I truly believe that part of the power of our family (x3) was our class blogging ( http://hunniblog20.edublogs.org/ and http://hunniblog10.edublogs.org/).  These blog sites (via edublogs.org) hosts the formative writing of my students.  Moreover, the comments the students make to each other truly demonstrates the great quality of character these kids can have towards each other when opportunity and expectation are married.  Essentially, my classroom walls have disappeared and our learning has become visible and interactive.  Yet, as I mourn the loss of my kids – I celebrate the opportunity to clean the slate and see if I can improve instruction and engagement even further next semester – mindfully and innovatively.

To meet these Professional and Personal Growth Plans (PGP), with hopes for the future, I’ve signed up for this wonderful free online course: etmooc – Educational Technology and Media Open Online Course.  It is a place where I hope to get professional support, guidance, and inspiration for integrating more opportunities to transform the learning forum of my class.

At the NCTE (National Council Teachers of English) conference in Vegas this year I was inspired by the 21st Century Learning and Creative Learning musings and philosophies of the ingenious Sir Ken Robinson who many of you probably know from this transformational RSA Animate:

Changing Paradigms: RSA Animate

This animate just makes sense.  Sir Ken Robinson just makes sense!  When I viewed this two years ago, I knew I had to work towards a paradigm shift too, if I wanted to be relevant as a teacher to my students, in their world.  Hence, I began the journey into blogging as a stage for my students’ writing.  My other identity is that of a theatre major and a drama teacher, so the concept of “page to stage” has always been in the forefront of my teaching in drama.  Blogging now gives me a stage in the ELA classroom – and the kids have been hooked.  Suddenly, audience and purpose are highly engaging lessons – as are grammar  lessons (the GUMPS – grammar, usage, mechanics, punctuation, and spelling)!  Suddenly, a grammar lesson is equivalent to a makeover session!

So in my quixotic quest for paradigm shifts, and in the course of this crazy, busy, emotional week – I signed up for etmooc (http://etmooc.org/).  I haven’t been able to hear any Webinar yet since they are at 5pm here in Calgary, and I’m still in traffic, then on the repeat session – I’m teaching.  But it is okay because of the concept where “cMOOCs are not proscriptive, and participants set their own learning goals and type of engagement.” So, I catch what I can via the twitter (new to me), google + (new to me), blogs, one taped webinar (new to me) and the main site.

Already, I read about some wonderful educators and some cool techie-apps and widgity-thing-a-lings such as “RSS”, “Evernote”, “Mural.ly”, and “Haiku Deck”.  All things that I hope to play with over the next two weeks of exams as I set to re-organize my classroom, my courses, my life, my family, my home, my health, and my virtual work with etmooc “Each Time More Online Organized Chaos”!

1 ETMOOC Orientation wk 1
1 ETMOOC Orientation wk 1 (Photo credit: dennisar)