Reflections on #ISTE17 (Part 2 of ????) s/o to @techclara and @msmagiera

This one is going to be a challenging one for me to write.  However, it’s the one I’m most passionate about.  This is about the need to be vulnerable, and it’s challenging because I feel like a hypocrite.  Hopefully, this post is…me not being a hypocrite.  We shall see.

I was super-inspired watching my friends on the big stage Tuesday morning.  It was a pleasure to watch Clara Alaniz speak about growth, and ignite the audience with her passion.  I greatly enjoyed working with Clara in the Technical Working Group that refreshed the Educator Standards this year.  She is a phenomenal educator with a heart for all kids.

Photo via @CommonSenseEd

Next, Jennie Magiera gave an amazing, heartfelt keynote highlighting several stories about education and humanity in general.  I have always been inspired by Jennie’s brilliance, even before we worked together as coaches at Google Innovator Academy during #COL16.  To bring it full circle, I first learned of Jennie’s work during her ignite at #ISTE2014 when she spoke of Teacher IEPs (Individual Exploration Plans).

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Photo via @isteconnects

I loved Jennie’s entire keynote, but most of all her vulnerability.  One part specifically struck me, as she talked about how we tend to share our representatives online, and rarely provide a full picture.  This really resonated, having had similar conversations with friends.  We talked about how half-truths, illuminating only our wins, can backfire both in our personal and professional lives.  In listening to Jennie speak, I realized that I talk the talk, but don’t always walk the walk.

As I said in the last post, I am a huge fan of irony….except when it comes to my own shortcomings 🙂  It seems that the more connected I have become, the less I have shared of myself.  When I first connected in 2013, I immediately took to blogging, and it was Sarah Unfiltered.  Sometimes snarky, sometimes sarcastic, far from perfect, and she was totally cool with that.  She didn’t try to be perfect, and didn’t really care.

Perfect…how did that quote from Reshma Saujani go?  “We teach girls to be perfect, and boys to be brave.”

Well, I definitely knew how to fake perfect, given all those early years of training in being a girl.  But, I figured, why bother?  Nobody would read it anyway.  And if they did, they’d forget in five minutes.  I was just having fun learning and making new friends.

Fast forward, four years in. Nothing has changed, while everything has changed. First of all, have changed.  I’ve matured and become more empathetic, thanks to many of you.

Generally, the longer/more you connect, the more your…ahem…reputation builds. Whether or not you choose to use the term “branding,” in my experience, this happens more often than not.  So now, people are listening, and honestly, that can be somewhat scary.

Furthermore, I have changed roles, and am still in the process of figuring things out.  My blog posts have trickled down to an occasional errant drop, like a broken faucet.  While I’m screaming at the top of my lungs for everyone to “tell their story,” I somewhere became a little hoarse.

I strongly feel that us “old-timers” (ironically speaking…I’m 35 lol) have a responsibility to hold the door open for others by amplifying their voices.  However, what I failed to realize is that we all have something to say.  Again, we all have something to say.  And everyone should share their stories, both for better and for worse.

As I stated in my first post from today, when I find myself feeling particularly human, I blog, because I process through writing.  Nearly every time, I come back and pull it down a few hours later, because, as I tell myself, my brand is positivity.  I realized at ISTE that my brand needs to be Sarah-Jane Thomas.  I am human.  I am flawed.  I am me.

Things truly do come full-circle.  I wrote this post several years ago, and now I find myself at the same crossroad, but the question is not “to brand, or not to brand,” as that ship has sailed a long time ago.  What does strike me is point 2:

Acknowledging my weaknesses. We’re all human, right? I mean, last I checked…but anyway, nobody is perfect. Humans are a weird type of creature…it’s almost like the more you fail, the more other people like you. This is to an extent, of course…I mean, if you’re a total fail, you’re kind of a drag. But anyway, the more perfect you try to be, the more you’re going to get hated on. I just read this article today that says pretty much the same thing. It’s weird. The more perfect you try to be, the more people will hate. Isn’t the point to try and get them not to hate?Anyway, this is all to say not to be afraid to try, and even fail from time to time. Another benefit…according to the same article, the more you fail, the more successful you are. I guess that’s because it means you’re actually trying, instead of sitting on your derriere, trying to be Little Miss Perfect.

Interesting…thanks for the advice, Sarah from the Past.

I need to board my last flight home in a few minutes, so I’m going to wrap this up.  However, I want to thank Jennie and other friends for inspiring me this week to return to the real.  As a gesture of good faith as a non-hypocrite, I will actually go back and re-publish some of the posts that I took down.  Deep breath…

  1.  https://sarahdateechur.com/2017/05/24/some-days/
  2. http://sarahdateechur.com/2017/04/02/a-little-something-for-nationalpoetrymonth/

 

Ok let’s start with those two for now.  I still have lots left to blog.  Not sure if I’ll actually do it, but I have a lot more thoughts.  Anyway, later, gators.

Reflections on #ISTE17 (Part 1 of ???)

Hello, everyone!  Long time no talk.  Or is it?  LOL.  I don’t remember the last time I blogged and didn’t immediately take it down.  For some reason, I have been very turtle-like the past few months, sticking my neck out and immediately retreating back into my protective shell.  I have probably written about five posts about whatever was on my mind at the time, which I’ve published and then unpublished.

As a former English teacher, I am a huge fan of irony, even though there was hardly anything ironic about Alanis’s song (my 11th grade English teacher said so…thanks Mr. Morgan!).  However, it is not lost on me that I appear to be very extroverted and have a lot to say on social media, whereas face to face it is the exact opposite.  One of my friends described me as “smiling a lot, but not saying much.”  Yes, it has gotten better, as Sarahdahuman has become pretty good at Fight Clubbing my way to channeling Sarahdateechur.  But this is for a limited time only…this message will self-destruct.  Coming to the stage next…give it up for Sarahdasociallyawkward.  Sometimes this happens at the most inopportune times, but that’s another blog post for another time.

I am sitting at the airport, waiting to board my flight and go back to life, back to reality.  I’m sad it’s over, but so thankful and excited for all that happened this week.  I will definitely have to split it up into different posts.  Hopefully this time, I will actually follow through.

Anyway, this was my fourth, and greatest, ISTE experience.  This week has been one of the best of my life, and this statement is no exaggeration.  I always enjoy ISTE, as I love learning and seeing my friends F2F, as well as making new ones.  This week, there were several things that happened, beginning with moderating the keynote panel at Badge Summit, then the #EduMatch meetup (and the launch of our #Recipes4Ed), then giving an ignite on the big stage before the opening keynote (thanks to Anibal Pacheco for editing)…then being on panels about Google Innovator, diversity in gaming, staying connected after ISTE, and presenting in the Global PLN playground.  I was also very honored (and shocked) to be one of the recipients of the Making IT Happen award.  This week has been amazing, and I thank the amazing educators around me for pouring into me, as I hope to pour into you.  Also, huge shoutout to the #PasstheScopeEDU crew and other friends for documenting this.

I am going to end this post here.  I have a lot more to say, as this week was filled with all the feels.  I’ll let this stand as an intro to hopefully a series of blog entries.  I will actually turn around and start the next entry.  Here’s what I hope to cover, as long as time and stamina will allow:

  • The need for deeper connections (aka “PLF” lol)/vulnerability
  • Gratitude
  • Time management
  • Possible future developments in EduMatch
  • Sarahdasociallyawkward
  • Why I will stop being cheap when it comes to booking flights

Thanks for reading!

Looking Back

Hello, everyone!  It’s been a while, I know.  The school year just ended, and even though I’m now 12 months, it’s always a good time to look back.  Here is a late night/early morning random blog post, just taking a look back at my journey in education.  It was inspired by a Voxer group I’m in, where again, I was being random at 2 a.m.

I used to be Assistant Manager of a record store, and remember when Brittney Spears put out her Greatest Hits album super-early, after five years in the game.  Lol…this post kinda feels like that, a little…but it just hit me, I have been teaching for nearly 13 years!!! Wow!!!  However, I’m just getting started.  There’s still a lot left to see, learn, and do.

This list is by no means comprehensive, but just a few things that stood out to me over the years.  I will also add if I am still using them.  Here goes.

2004

  • Milestone: My first year in education.
  • New stuff: everything.
  • Status: N/A

2005-2007

  • Milestone: The next few years.
  • New stuff: PowerPoint, Discovery Education
  • Status:
    • I moved over to Google Slides for presentations, then recently moved to the new Google Sites.
    • I don’t use DE as much since I’m no longer in the classroom, but I hear great things about changes they’ve made.

2008-2009

  • Milestone: Moved to a technology role. With my school, participated in STEP (Sharing Technology with Educators Program) led by my current team, which introduced us to instructional technologies.
  • New stuff: Wikis, podcasts, video creation, tech conferences
  • Status:
    • Wikis: not so much. I use Google docs more and embed those.
    • Podcasts: I used them for a while, stopped, and they reappeared with a vengeance in 2015.
    • Video creation: This is my jam.
    • Tech conferences: Somewhat. It depends on the conference.  I love seeing my PLN face to face, though.  Can’t beat that.

2010-2011

  • Milestone: Was accepted to Teacher Leadership Academy led by my current team, in which I gained confidence and skills to present.  Began leading district workshops on PowerPoint, Google Docs, and Google Sites.  Presented at district, regional, and statewide conferences.  Started teaching middle school English.
  • New stuff: Presenting
  • Status: Still doing it, still loving it.

2012

  • Milestone: Started flipping my classroom when I learned about it at a conference.
  • New stuff: See above
  • Status: No longer in the classroom, but I still make instructional videos geared toward educators.  Began doing so in 2013 after I learned about Google Hangouts on Air.

2013

  • Milestone: Got connected.  As a direct result of that, began presenting outside of my area.
  • New stuff: Connecting, gamification, branding, edcamp
  • Status:
    • Connecting: Yup.
    • Gamification: Yup…looking to update because what I’m doing hasn’t evolved much since 2014.
    • Branding: It is what it is.  Overcame the challenge of sharing what I’m doing, for the most part.  Still working through it, but doing way better.
    • Edcamp: I still love it.  Have not been able to attend as many this year because of the d-word (dissertation), but I have plans to get back into the swing of things when I finish.

2014

  • Milestone: First time traveling totally by myself to present.  Google Teacher Academy (now known as Google Innovator Academy).  First ISTE.
  • New stuff: Google Glass, basic robotics, basic coding, EduMatch
  • Status:
    • Google Glass: Where is that emoji that laughs so hard that it cries?
    • Basic robotics: Need to pick it back up.
    • Basic coding: Need to pick it back up.  Need extra hours in the day.
    • EduMatch: Thriving.

2015

  • Milestone:  Taught high school for three months before moving to my current role.
  • New stuff: Livestreaming apps (Periscope, Meerkat, etc.), 360 video & Google Cardboard, BreakoutEDU, drones, 3D Printing, hoverboard
  • Status:
    • Livestreaming: I still use Periscope thanks to PasstheScopeEDU.  No more Meerkat.  Although not live streaming, Vine is dead (RIP).
    • 360/Cardboard:  Haven’t used it as much as I want to since I left the classroom.  Can’t find my Ricoh Theta.  I need to look harder.
    • BreakoutEDU: I like it, still use it.  It’s gaining momentum in my district.  Played a little with creating games.  That’s fun.
    • Drones: I can’t find Droney.  Also, I’m afraid to fly it now…long story, but I live near DC and I don’t really understand the law re: drones.  I know there is some kind of regulation.  Need to make the time to educate myself.
    • 3D printing: I no longer have access to a printer, but it was cool while it lasted.  I was in the process of trying to learn how to use it as more than a novelty.
    • Hoverboard: Again, I need that emoji…

2016

  • Milestone: First full year in current position.  Published first crowdsourced book through EduMatch.  Was fortunate to be invited to participate in educational initiatives with state, national, and global impact.  Went outside of North America for the first time with DigCitSummit UK.
  • New stuff: Crowdsourced publishing, Awesome Table, Raspberry Pi
  • Status:
    • Publishing: Indeed!  We have expanded to solo books.
    • Awesome Table: In love
    • Raspberry Pi: I need to pick it up again.  Need more hours in the day.  I want to be a coder so bad 😉

2017

  • Milestone: TBD. Cool stuff is happening, but I dunno yet what will be the highlight of the year.  Maybe graduating.
  • New stuff:  More livestreaming, more publishing, advanced YouTube, trying crazy stuff and seeing what happens
  • Status:

That’s it on this end.  Please pardon my randomness.  I’d love to hear how your journey has been.  If you take the challenge, please link your post to the comments below.  Thanks!