The past 9 months have been by far the busiest, and yet the most rewarding, time in my teaching career. It all began with an email on December 5, 2011 from my Vice-Principal saying “FYI, since you are a Tech Master!” followed by information regarding the 4th Annual MindShare Learning Video Contest. At the time I was swamped with work in preparation for exams, as most teachers were. Knowing that I only had 11 days to prepare a video for the contest did not help. Even though Education Technology and 21st Century Learning was at the forefront of my teaching pedagogy, I had never entered a video competition. After pondering the idea that night, I realized that my greatest accomplishments in life were a result of working through adversity. I knew that if I applied myself good things would happen although it would be ten days of non-stop work. With that in mind I gathered a handful of high school students to embark on a Project Based Learning initiative that would forever change my teaching career.
Not knowing what to expect, my team of students and I worked during morning breaks, lunch hours, and after school. As our after-school sessions extended from a couple of hours to eventually working past midnight, ownership of the project and synergy of the team grew exponentially. I remember sitting in my school at 11:55pm EST on Friday, December 16, 2011 after having submitted our video just minutes before it was due. The look of exhaustion from my team of students, Principal and District IT Specialist who were sprawled out across our classroom brought a rewarding smile to my face.
I was completely surprised when Robert Martellacci, President of Mindshare Learning, informed me that we had won the Eastern Division of the 4th Annual Mindshare Learning Contest in late January, 2012. The wonderful experience of diving into a project based learning initiative with my students was such a thrill that the $15 000 in prizes was just an added bonus! As my eyes got bigger and bigger with the arrival of new Education Technology equipment at our school, I had no idea that the biggest change in my career would be at the International Society for Technology in Education conference in San Diego in June, 2012 (included in the prize pack). At ISTE I was connected with over 20 000 educators who were dedicated to expanding their horizons through 21st Century Learning. I wasn’t aware of the thousands of free educational resources available. The social networking opportunities were endless. One of the biggest highlights of my trip was being able to hear Ken Robinson speak and meet him personally. His passion, charisma, and drive set the tone for the culture of the conference. When I arrived back home at the end of June, I was disappointed that I had to wait until September for the new school year to begin! It was such a breath of fresh air to hear of the triumphs and struggles of fellow educators and see current and future technology that will revolutionize the education sector.
On my flight home from ISTE, I sat beside a Google Certified Teacher. She explained to me that Google chooses 50 educators from across the world to attend their Google Teacher Academy, an intense two day training period with world renowned Education Technology specialists. It wasn’t long before I met with some students during the summer who agreed to help work on my video application submission. These students worked with me from 6:30pm – 11:30pm after their day jobs for an entire week during the summer! The journey and thrill of the MindShare Learning Video Competition had them jumping at the chance to take part in another project based learning initiative. I was amazed that these students wanted not only to come to school in the evenings, but during their summer vacation! This was confirmation that our school is moving in the right direction. In early August I was notified that I was one of three teachers from Canada accepted to attend the Google Teacher Academy in New York City in October, 2012. Later that month I was offered a position at MindShare Learning as a Tech Consultant.
It is a privilege to be a part of such a great learning community. As educators we are often taught that putting extra effort into our classroom and students can pay dividends. From my experience, this is a complete understatement. Although you may not see the results every time, putting extra effort into your students can have an immeasurable impact on both your and their lives.
BBA, B.Ed, University of New Brunswick
High School Math, Science, and Technology Teacher, Sir James Dunn Academy
Education Consultant, MindShare Learning
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