Sunday, January 1, 2012

Small Steps Can Take You To Great Places

I've never been one to make resolutions.  I've always thought if there is something in my life that I'm not happy about I need to find a way to fix or change it.  I don't have to wait for the calendar to switch over to a new year to make a change.  For me change happens as soon as I recognize that change has to be made.

This school year I have been making a lot of changes.  I started the 2011/12 school year with quite a different mind set than I've had in the past.  For one thing  I spent the summer of 2011 not training for an Ironman which left me with a lot of spare time.  I spent a lot of that time learning from others through Twitter.  I read educators blog posts, and started making connections with other like minded educators. I began to develop my Personal Learning Network (PLN).  While I've spent many of my previous summers swimming, biking, and running ridiculous distances this past summer I spent it learning.  By the time term one began in early September I was determined to better integrate technology into my classroom.  I took small steps, but those small steps have taken me to great places.  Here is a recap of my growth term one:

• I created my first  class blog and kept it updated with regular posts all term long
• I learned several different Web 2.0 tools and tried to use them with my teaching
• I participated in a weekly Grade One twitter chat
• I helped present technology tools to my staff at two professional development days
• I made myself available to help answer my colleagues technology questions
• I visited several other primary class blogs and was particularly inspired by what I learned from Leanne Kolenberg and Jackie Nelson's blogs in Adelaide, South Australia
• I attended the BC Primary Conference
• I attended the first three of five "Engaging the Digital Learner" technology dinner series evenings put on by my school district
• I was inspired by two fellow Canadians Aviva Dunsiger (Ontario) and Kathy Cassidy (Saskatchewan) as well as several other educators from around the world
• I introduced my students to their individual blogs and was amazed by how powerful they are
• I  read (or almost finished reading) five professional books including Drive by Daniel Pink, Mindset by Carol Dweck, Choice Words by Peter Johnston, Math Exchanges by Kassia Omohundro Kedekind, and No More "I'm Done" Fostering Independent Writers in the Primary Grades by Jennifer Jacobson.
• I arranged for my school district's loaner set of iPods and shared them with my staff
• I got to know my technology helping teacher, Orwell Kowalyshyn and utilized his knowledge
• I got to know my district's Director of Instruction, Elisa Carlson and shared my journey with her
• My professional blog link was added to a list of teachers and administrators blogging in my district
• I wrote an article for an international reading organization which will be published later this month
• I got invited to join a local high school for iPad training at the Apple Training Centre
• I was given a district iPad to use with my class
• I loaded the district iPad with over 100 apps all geared towards helping my students with their learning
• I  created story bird accounts for my students 
• I had many professional discussions while running with two fantastic teachers at my school Megan Birdsall and  Erica Segec

When I started this school year  I had no idea that it would take me to where I am today.  I was just taking small steps on my journey.  If you are reading this blog post as someone new to Twitter, or new to getting involved in this global world of ours, my biggest piece of advice is to take it one small step at a time.  Perhaps you can leave a comment on a blog that got you thinking, or retweet a tweet with a link to an article that inspired you.   Each small step will lead you towards your greater place.

If you are experiencing a rapid growth year like I am I'd love to hear from you.  What do you struggle with? How much support to do you have? Does having or not having support change your desire to grow? Obviously I'd love to hear from you.


  1. Hi Leanne,
    I love the idea of taking one small step at a time. I also made a decision this year to integrate more technology into the learning activities in my classroom. I would say that my teaching life is always in a constant state of change. I love learning new things, and finding ways to improve my teaching and the learning experiences in my classroom. However, I find that when I'm excited to share something with colleagues, they are often uninterested or feel they can't add one more thing to their already full plates. Additionally, there never seems to be enough time during the school day to really share and collaborate in meaningful ways. This is where Twitter comes in. Through my PLN on Twitter, I'm able to connect with like-minded educators all over the world, share information, and collaborate. Twitter really is the best professional development resource around. Thanks again for sharing your thinking and learning with us.

  2. Hi Val, as educators it is our job to keep pushing our boundaries and learning and sharing with others. My hope is that one day those I work closest with will see what is possible. I have stressed and will continue to stress how wonderful it is to have a group of people that actually get what I'm trying to do. While I will continue to learn and grow with out support, having the support of other like minded individuals is that much more powerful. I am truly thankful to have other educators push my thinking and help me become a better teacher. Thank you for taking the time to comment on my blog. Karen

  3. The small steps are the important ones and you have taken many. You have grown quite a bit. Thank you for sharing!

  4. Thanks Hugh. It's exciting times for us isn't it. :-)