Monday, July 27, 2009

So That Happened...

I am a little slow on getting this post done, but I did not want the experience to go by without some comment. Two weeks ago this morning we convened our newly hired Educational Technology Specialists and Media Technology Specialists in a week-long retreat. It was something I had been looking forward to ever since I started working in the Canyons School District.

I had worked hard on getting an agenda put together and as we hired people we invited them to prepare some training to share with the group. We planned to get people oriented to what they would be doing and who they would be doing it with. Darren also had a great idea. It was to invite several of our PLN from across the world to come in and speak to our group for a few minutes. This turned out to be genius. These wonderful, giving people (and you know who you are) spent much more than the requested 5 minutes with our teams as they offered valuable insights. I can't thank these friends enough for what they shared with us. We ended up not being able to get to many of the items that the teams themselves had planned (but we will get to them), but the experience of having these guests come to our retreat via Skype was invaluable and helped set a tone that will serve us throughout the coming year.

The retreat also served as a great lesson for me. I had been agonizing over branding for our teams for a couple of months. I was really struggling with coming up with anything. Yet within 2 hours of all being together on that Monday we had come up with our branding, and I think it is genius. The branding will help the two teams work together and be viewed as symbiotic in their work. I will save the unveiling of that branding for another post, but this experience really showed me once again how much better we are together, than separately.

I am grateful for the teams we have been able to put together. Each member brings great strengths and we will be able to shore each other up in areas, where we may not be as strong. These are individuals who are foremost great teachers, some very veteran, some slightly veteran, but a great mix. They have a great desire to help other teachers learn how to best use technology to help students learn and achieve. I have no doubt that we will do great things together in the coming months and years.

The retreat was a great starting point for us, but just a starting point. Now we will move forward and help build this new district. We will do so with a common vision and desire to to the best we can for our students and our teachers. To quote the great philosopher Stan Lee (okay he's a comic book creator) With great power, comes great responsibility, as teams we realize the opportunities we have been given and will go forth to fulfill our responsibilities to the district.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

It Just Makes Sense

Saw the following on Twitter today and it struck a chord.


It's part of a larger post by TeachPaperless. I get dismayed with people being worried about what teachers will do with laptops or other technology at home, even if the equipment is provided by the employer. In my experience 98% of the time they are using it to learn. Take pictures with a digital camera at home, upload them, or edit them or whatever. Use a digital video camera to take video of their kids baseball game and edit into a movie for the grandparents. Use the web to find great interactive sites for their students, and on and on and on.

Now the teacher is ready to take the next step and do it with students in the classroom. Whatever the technology, the more they use it, the more they will be likely to use it with students. It opens up avenues of creativity for them and their charges.

Is there potential there for abuse, certainly there is, but you handle that on a case by case basis, as it happens, not expect it as the norm. Having worked with teachers directly for 9 years now, I am convinced that the above statement is utterly true and even in difficult financial times we need to work as hard as possible to create more opportunities for teachers to do this not less.

It just makes sense.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Bring It On!

Our district was featured in a small pullout (spadea) today in our local newspapers. It highlighted some district opening events and then had a section on What's New in the District? This section featured three district initiatives; the Dual-Immersion programs that will be starting this year in 4 of our elementary school's (one more started a couple of years ago), an Art Consortium that we will be involved in, and finally Educational Technology and Learning. This section reads as follows...

Canyons is ramping up technology education and support to create cutting-edge learning experiences for students and teachers alike. The service side will be adequately staffed, including one technical support professional in every high school. Well-maintained equipment will free up education technology professionals to provide a more relevant educational experience to the Internet generation. Education technology staff will be working in the schools, partly teaching students, partly teaching teachers how to integrate technology, including new social media, into their lessons, from Spanish to special education.

So there is our charge. Bring it on!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


Since I can't seem to get to doing my own podcast, I'll at least link to this presentation. This is from PodCampSLC held on March 27, 2009. It was great rubbing elbows with other podcasters from the area. Whoa, there I go calling myself a podcaster again. If I am going to keep doing that I should probably start doing it again. My thanks to Thom Allen for inviting me to participate at PodCampSLC.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Change = Growth

I have had several discussions over the past few weeks both online and face to face about change. So the topic has been on my mind a lot lately.

“Life is change. Growth is optional. Choose wisely.” – Karen Kaiser Clark

Sometimes we choose change, sometimes change is thrust upon us. Sometimes we resist change, yet it still comes. Sometimes change happens and we don't recognize it for awhile.

In the past 7 months there has been a lot of change in my life. I gained a new daughter-in-law that I wasn't expecting. That was a good change. In January my mother passed away unexpectedly. That was not a good change. In March I chose to make a job change. That was a great change. Also in March I found out that I will become a grandfather again, twice. That will be a great change, twice.

As I think about the changes that have come about in my life over these past months, I ponder about the growth that has come about because of the changes. Have I grown and will I grow through these changes?

With respect to my family, my mother's death has brought me closer to my siblings. We certainly were not estranged, but 3 of the 4 of us live within a 3 mile radius and we seldom saw each other. I can truly say I am grateful for the time we have spent together as we have grieved my mother, and worked together to take care of her affairs. I have often heard tales of siblings being ripped apart during these times because of greed or jealousy. It has helped our family to grow closer.

Gaining a new daughter-in-law has been a delightful experience as well. I am so grateful that my son found someone to love and who reciprocates that love. Now they will bring a child into this world and share that love with him/her (we'll find out in about 3 weeks). I don't think I have mentioned it in these writings, but I love being a grandpa. My oldest daughter will have her 3rd son early in September. She and her husband are such good parents. My grandsons are the funnest. When my 1st grandson was born I wasn't ready for that change. However, the moment he was placed in my arms, my heart grew. I worried that I could never love another grandchild as much as him. But as my granddaughter and two more grandsons have joined the family my heart expanded plenty enough to love them as well.

What does this have to do with education or educational technology? Well I think it has a lot to do with it. If you dislike, loathe, or despise change, then education is probably not the best field for you. Getting involved with educational technology or technology in general with make change loathers cringe. For me though, my involvement in education has caused me to grow tremendously.

When I changed jobs recently, many people questioned why. It seemed to them a lateral move. What I saw in the change though was a new opportunity for growth. The Canyons District is providing and will provide a great deal of change to allow growth among all of the stakeholders. At this point I would like to focus my thoughts on the teachers in this new district. Right now they are finishing the school year as employees of Jordan School District, an entity that has been around for over 100 years. On July 1st they will change and become employees of Canyons School District. Some will feel that it is an opportunity for growth, others will feel that it is just change that has been thrust upon them. For those that resist change, the changes may be very difficult.

I don't know that teachers in general, are any more or less resistant to change than people in other professions, but it feels like it to me. I often wonder if it is true, why that is. I have seen up close the past few weeks great resistance to change on the part of some. It seems to me that without change, growth is actually stunted. That doesn't mean that everything has to change, but we have to be willing to accept needed changes and use them as opportunities for growth.

I am excited for the teachers that will be a part of Canyons School District because I see such opportunities for growth. I will work this year on helping them to see those opportunities and that in turn will help me to continue to grow. I love working with the people that I am working with as they are willing to change and grow. I am so looking forward to the next few weeks as more people will join us. In fact, about 3,000 of them. For those who welcome the change it may be easy, for those who the change has been thrust upon them it may not, but through the change for all, growth will come, that I am sure of.

It is exciting to be a part of change and to have the opportunity to grow, personally, socially, and professionally. In the end that is why I made the change.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Times They Are a Changin'

South Jordan ElementaryThis photo is of my elementary school. It has since been replaced by a new South Jordan Elementary, but the building still stands for now. South Jordan Elementary is a part of the Jordan School District. This is significant to me, because of my 49 years 33 of them have been spent in Jordan School District as a student or as an employee. Beyond that someone in my family has worked for the district for nearly the past 70 years. That has made the decision that I have been struggling with for about a month all the much harder. I have decide to resign from Jordan School District and take a position with the new Canyons School District that is being created because of the split. I have talked about the split here and other places for awhile. I still struggle with the fact that the split is happening and the causes of it. However I have determined that the best place for me is in Canyons, so I have accepted a position with the new district. I look forward to new challenges and the opportunity to help build this new district. There are many who may feel and believe that I am betraying Jordan by going to the other side. School board comments indicate that is the perception from the highest levels of the district. I have struggled with that myself particularly with my history in the district and the fact that I live in Jordan. In the end, I had to choose what I felt was best for my family and my career. So it will be onward and upward. The uncertainty of the past couple of years with the prospect and now the realization of the split has in many ways kind of frozen me in place. With the decision made I feel that I can again move forward and am ready to take on the challenges that helping to build the Canyons School District will bring. I will be leaving behind many people who have had a great impact on my life; Principals, supervisors, fellow teachers and specialists. You have all given me so much more than I could hope to return and I am grateful for it and for you. So while this may seem a little melancholy, I am so excited for the upcoming challenges and am ready to face them head on. Still it is hard to believe that in little more than two weeks I will be leaving JSD. I do look forward to continued relationships with those who remain in Jordan and am grateful that I am able to make an astonishing change in my life without having to leave any of my life behind. In other change news, those who follow me on Twitter or Facebook know I have been on a rather extreme diet. The extreme portion ends on Tuesday and we start into a more moderate phase. But I have lost 35 lbs. in 30 days and it has been an amazing experience. I have learned a lot about myself. I have spent the last 15 years spiraling out of control with my eating habits and lack of exercise habits. I have used every excuse in the book to avoid losing weight. I have been on several diets, but just could not stick to one. When my wife presented me with this diet plan, my first reaction was the same as always, no way. But as I thought about it, I realized a lot of my habits were based around my own selfishness. I also realized that I am getting to the stage in my life where if I don’t make a change I am going to cause myself serious health problems. I had gotten into a habit of not really checking my weight, so when I started the diet and got on the scale I was even a little surprised. I had thought I was hovering around 280 lbs. When it read 289.5 I was a little shocked, I really knew it was time to go after this. This phase has been hard, but it hasn’t been as hard as I expected. When you weigh every day and you are seeing results it makes it a little less hard. (Note: I didn’t say easy!) The diet has made me a little tired and a little weak, but as I go into the next phase I am looking forward to getting into a regular exercise program and losing more. My goal weight right now is 200 lbs. by the end of the year. Right now, despite the diet restrictions I do feel better than I have in years and I look forward to feeling even better as I get through Spring and Summer. I know I will need to feel better to face the challenge of helping to get this new district up and running. A challenge I look forward to. Finally, some changes we created some are heaped upon us. This will be true as far as the most fun change comes about this summer. My first daughter and my daughter-in-law are both expecting. So by the end of September I will have two new grand-children. Now I love my grandsons, but I would love to have a couple more granddaughters to even up the score at 3-3. Actually it doesn’t really matter, I will be excited either way. I love my grandkids, and I love my kids. I don’t tell them often enough. That needs to change as well.