This summer has definitely been one of growth and a changed mind set. Each summer, I anticipate a certain level of growth. I deliberately put myself in positions that foster that growth. For example, I try to sign up to share my learning by presenting at various local, state, and national conferences and events. I also use those opportunities to attend other sessions that are in my wheelhouse or way outside of my expertise. Always looking to learn, always looking to grow!
So, this summer was no different. I began my summer learning with a NASA workshop at Glenn Research Facility. This was a perfect way to jumpstart the summer. I found new resources. I shared some of my favorites. And, I just really enjoyed spending time with my pal, Patty Ryan. Sharing stories, brainstorming ideas, and just enjoying learning together.
I followed that awesome experience with local conferences in which I shared electronic book building, 3D printing, and Sphero. I truly enjoyed the small setting and sharing with teachers the success that I've had with my students using some fabulous tools. It was awesome driving with another pal, Jen Telenko. She shared her ideas for the classroom. I shared mine. By the end of the drive and conference, I was again energized by a fellow teacher. From Breakout EDU to flexible seating, we just connected. So many great ideas and plans.
I enjoyed a Drone training through WVIZ. My friend, Mary James and I had a lot of fun there! Just a couple hours working with drones brought awesome ideas for the classroom. We had a fantastic time flying drones together, and again it was all about the sharing of ideas. Conversations that just percolated ideas. The time flew by (literally) and we even left with a drone, curriculum, and extra batteries!!!
From here, I was off...traveling to San Antonio for ISTE and Houston for the ADE Academy and finally the Boy Scout Jamboree in West Virginia.
Phew! If it sounds exhausting, it was because it was. The flying part is always a little rough. Being away from my kids and husband is super difficult. Even though the kiddos are on their own path, and my husband works throughout the summer, I still miss them terribly when I travel.
What was equally exhausting was the learning...
It was actually at the Boy Scout Jamboree that this summer's biggest learning came to me. As I was sitting around a table, I was listening to a high school Chemistry teacher, a biochemical engineer, a software programmer, and a high altitude ballooning expert talk. I was doing much more listening than talking. The level of conversation was fantastic. The continual excitement and "what if" of the conversation was awesome, but it was also just very humbling to me. I quickly could see that some of what they were speaking about was way over my head, my understanding. I was definitely NOT the smartest person at the table. I was a sponge, absorbing through their conversation. I was learning like crazy...but, I was definitely not the driving force in the conversation.
I reflected back on how many times I felt this way during the summer. It became pretty clear to me that my summer has been filled with moments where I thought I would have all the background knowledge, all the expertise...only to find out that I was not the expert in the group. I was fortunate enough to be surrounded by amazing people that had so much to offer. My local teacher pals, Mary, Patty, and Jen taught me so much just on those car rides. My friend, Jon Jarc, had so much insight and learning to share at ISTE. Rich Perry and Julie Willcott never cease to amaze me with their creative genius. My time at the ADE Academy was FULL of moments where I just had to sit back, absorb, and be amazed by the educators around me.
We call each other our Tribe. We know each person has a strength. We learn. We grow.
This is one of the best parts of the human experience. I believe that if you always put yourself in situations where you are the smartest person at the table, you are missing out. Surrounding myself with much wiser, more creative, and gifted educators allows me to grow so much more than without them.
I know that summer is about relaxing and enjoying time off. That was my Hawaii trip this summer too! It's also about finding the inspiration that you need to continue innovating in the classroom. This growth is what I found as I worked with some brilliant people this summer.