10 years ago I got to cast my first ballot as a registered voter in Minnesota. My choices were simple yet complex for the race in Minnesota Governor.

My choices were as follows:

  • A generational politician.
  • A party-jumping mayor.
  • An ex-pro wrestler.

I casted my voted for the generational politican. Left the polling place and went home to watch the results. Later on that night I watched the bright lime green signs with the name “Ventura” waving feverishly as Ventura was declared Governor of Minnesota. Minnesota had elected an ex-pro wrestler for their governor.

I went on and voted in 2000, 2002, 2004, and 2006. Each time the ballot held no meaning to me. I truly felt that at anytime in my lifetime I would get the chance to vote for history. Then November 4th came.

My ballot was different in 2008 and different in a positive way. Yesterday, I had the choice to choose an African-American president on the democratic ticket or a female for vice-president on the republican ticket. I happily filled in the bubble next to the name Barack Obama/Joe Biden and happily cast my vote. I had the opportunity to contribute to history.

I watched the returns nervously at home at our bi-annual election party. Then when Obama was declared the winner, our house celebrated. I stayed up to watch his acceptance speech and I was mesmerized like many in the crowd. In my lifetime it was a historic moment.

Either You Get It or You Don’t

I just returned from NECC yesterday, the long flight coupled with the intensity of the conference sent me straight to bed for several hours to recoup sleep. So today I thought to return to my computer and participate in Leadership Day 2008.

I am convinced that I drove St. Raphael’s Chief Learner nuts (and I mean NUTS) by saying, “Either you get it or you don’t.” I always put her in the ‘get it’ category. That particular statement started two years ago when I took a group of teachers and the principal to Oak-Land Junior High to look at integrated technology instruction. The view of teaching and learning changed instantly, as that evening in my voice mailbox the principal left me a message that effectively launched SRS from a 20th century school to a 21st century school.

The post could get lengthy if I decided to write out the entire story, but in short there are 10 things that explains how after two years I figured out what I really meant when I said,  “you get it.”

  1. Try the tools as well.
  2. Allow time for sharing.
  3. Celebrate the success and recognize the times it doesn’t work.
  4. Be innovative.
  5. Share excitement and enthusiasm with others.
  6. Research, read, and blog too.
  7. Take risks.
  8. Encourage creativity and collaboration.
  9. Enjoy the moment.
  10. Mold the teacher’s wings and let fly.

Like a good leader, my wings were molded and I was released to fly to begin the next stage in life. So thank you to the Chief Learner and all innovative leaders who ‘get it’.

NECC … T-Minus 7 Days

Okay so in 7 days I will be heading to NECC in San Antonio. I am extremely excited about the conference and the fact that again I will walk out ahead, with more knowledge than the cost of attending. This year I am excited because I have offered to blog about my experiences. So I am sure that my blog postings will go from four (4) to a number I have yet to figure out.

So what about this year? I am so excited to see the refresh of the NETS*T, last year I spent the entire year developing a new curriculum around the NETS*S, which would meet the needs of the 21st century learner. It was such an exciting project that allowed me to really implement not only our curriculum but also a lot of the 21st century skills. This next year, I am hoping to take the standards and create an extended rubric to show how the SRS teachers can meet the standards from the most basic level to the most advanced (or expert).

This will be my 3rd NECC, so let us take a walk down memory lane:

Last year at Atlanta, I learned so much about the different generations and educating Generation Y (or Net). The power of that learning allowed me to go back to SRS and learn about something even more profound, the four generational workplace. I am currently working on an article with my research about the generational workplace, my goal is to finish by NECC.

My first NECC was in San Diego, that year I learned about the value of professional development. I was able to return to SRS and implement Thursday Tea and Tuesday Toast, but also I was able to transcend my information to other technology coordinators through the creation of the TechTober Fest and the Spring Fling. I am still sharing that information today.

However, now I should get back to my year-end to do list. Check back for NECC updates.

The Idea of Global Contribution

In February, St. Raphael’s Catholic School hosted their annual State of the School. As I was assisting the teachers on their presentations and talking about various topics regarding educational technology, a nagging thought kept coming into my mind, “What is Global Contribution?” We talk as educators that we want our students to contribute to the community, but is today’s community larger than our local neighborhood? In fact, it truly is a global community, here are a few examples:

  • I studied abroad at Oxford University and on my Facebook page, I am able to connect with friends from my time there.
  • I joined a Ning and am networked with individuals around the world who have the same vision.
  • My blog has been visited from every continent except South America

and a multitude of other things showing me that the world is much bigger than when I was a child.

Whether we know it or not little things have the potential to be contributed globally.

How did I ever come to this conclusion? What very few people know is that I speed skate. I picked up the sport during college, it was due to the fact that Bemidji was literally the “Ice Sports Capital of America”. I also tried playing hockey, curling, figure skating, but speed skating stuck. Over the past few years I have been so busy with other things: student teaching, writing my thesis, buying a house, getting married, that I reluctantly put my skating on hold.

This year I made a promise to myself to take my speed skating seriously and devote as much time as I could. However, the speed skating world changed in the past few years. With changes like: boots that are interchangeable from ice blades to inline blades, the Nike swift suit, and the fact that world record times are dropping. I felt like I had literally been moved to another planet, bad crossovers and all.

As a true millennial all of my answers to life should be found online, right? However, speed skating is not as popular here as it is in the Netherlands but rest assured this is the 21st century and I could connect to someone, somewhere that had a connection to speed skating even if it was in Danish.

Then I found a blog, Zen and the Art of Speed Skating (www.andrewlove.org/blog). Who? What? An American a speed skater who decided to keep track of his preparations for the 2006 Olympic Trials and just posted his 500th post on February 29th. I learned that over 1,000 visitors come to his site daily, has had close to 3,300 comments, and will crack 500,000 visitors this year alone. He writes in his blog:

“I never intended to create something like this. I just wrote and photographed what interested me, and the world showed up.”

I could only think about how it is such a profound statement. Connecting to something I once saw in a picture, “From personal knowledge, to global contribution.” This is so true.

Finally, I just want to send out a thank you Andrew for helping me come to the conclusion about global contribution.

From The Peanut Gallery

Last week, I received an email telling me to read a blog posting by another Director of Technology. It was called “What I Do”. As I was reading this, I began to think I too should write a post about this too and thought I would have a bit of fun with what I do with my day. Understand that is this is a really random post. A more educational post will be coming in the next few hours!

First, I process RSS feeds- I lost count a while ago on the exact number, I use Google Reader to track all of them. Google Reader is like another email inbox for me, it shows a (1) when there is a new post. I also have two email accounts both of which I use daily and I get in the neighborhood of 50-100 emails a day. On my bookmark bar in my web browser alone, I have five RSS feeds and seventeen other links, all of which, I use on a daily basis. On average I have seven windows (tabs) open in my web browser. I participate in five nings, write to four listservs, and contribute to three blogs. Oh and I am on MySpace and Facebook to keep in touch with friends who have found themselves distributed throughout the world. All of this just to keep me up to date what is going on.

Then, I do what I LOVE! I get in each morning at about 7 a.m. Right away in the morning, I check the schedule to see who has the labs checked out during the day and double check that our wireless is up and running. I double check my lesson plans for when I teach. I visit the classrooms and learn about the different projects that are going on. I help guide the teachers so that they can have their questions answered, answer the student’s questions, and talk with them about the project. I wore a pedometer once- I reached 10,000 steps before lunch time.

My week never starts or ends. I have a yellow electronic post-it note on the side of my screen detailing what I need to do. Somethings stay on there longer than others. In short, if you are familiar with PostgreSQL let me know! The jobs vary just like the technical support I will encounter each week. It is a unique challenge for me and like I said earlier…. I LOVE IT!

During my lunch time, I catch up on blog reading and the latest news (as I am in bed before the news is on). I send off interesting posts to others who might benefit from reading these as well. Then it is time to head back to the classrooms, teach, or meet with a teacher. I try to spend a half hour at the end of the day, reading and reflecting.

Once the day is done, I pull out my cell phone for the first time. Check all my missed calls, usually one or two calls from my mum or husband. Although, my phone does more than receiving and answering call. I also can read my email, scan the Internet, check for traffic delays, or look up what to make for dinner that night. I try to leave by four, although sometimes I will leave closer to six each night. Dinner is usually on the table when Erik gets home by eight.

What else? Well as of last week: Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday, I was skating. Sometimes skating until as late as 10:45 p.m. getting home at 11:30 p.m. and getting up at 5:40 a.m. to begin my next day. The reward was skating in the National Long Track Marathon and a Senior National Championship. Did I mention I have a blog about that too?

So how do I keep up? Well, I can multitask with the best of them. I can cook dinner, blog, double check my lesson plans, read my newest library book, and watch TV. I have a blast doing what I do. I thank you all for reading. That’s all from this peanut gallery.

I am a WINNER!

nano_07_winner_large.gifOkay, so I admit. I am a bit weird at times and I tend to do some really crazy things. However, this year I thought I would challenge myself and write a novel in the month of November in my limited spare time. I cannot believe how rewarded I felt when it was all over, what a challenge.

To answer a few of the frequently asked questions.

Will you let anyone read it? Sadly, no.

How long did it take you to write? About an hour each day. Weekends I spent more time writing.

What do you plan to do now that you are done? I won’t publish it, I just wanted the thrill of doing something difficult.

Easy or Stronger?

I originally had this as the second part of my last post, until I realized it would solidify that I was completely random! So I moved it to its own post.

One of my favorite quotes, I used to have on a poster in my bedroom, on it was a gymnast standing on the balance beam. I am not sure of the significance of the beam. Although, on the bottom of the picture it says: Do not pray for an easy life, pray to be a strong person. I can only think about how that is such a powerful statement.

So I have spent a bit of time reading articles about making students stronger. Reflecting and reorganizing my thoughts as the Director of Technology, but sadly, having little time to write down those thoughts.

Until I wrote an email to a good friend after I hosted several teachers for our Techtober-Fest. As I wrote the email I began to see what my job was suppose to be. Here is a small excerpt:

When I first started teaching, I like most young naive newbie teachers thought my subject area was the most important. Oh how things have changed… As I have progressed through these past three years, I have learned that technology is only a small piece of the puzzle, and each of us contribute to the puzzle… This idea needs to be about giving the WHOLE student a better experience. Building them as an individual who has strengths in many areas but is a good person overall.

So as I stand on this earth (which seems to have kept me quite busy), I reflect each day a little differently now. I am asking myself constantly, how am I making these students a stronger person?

I Have not Fallen off Earth’s Face!

I find myself incredibly busy throughout the month of November. The past two months, I have found them to be a blur, with reflection time but little time to write the reflections into thoughts.

I have been working in my spare time to write my novel for NaNoWriMo, I only have about 2,000 of the challenge 50,000 words, but like any true German/Irish/Spanish/Swiss mutt, I find myself incredibly determined to finish this task. Even if I find myself pulling a college all nighter, okay probably not that dramatic but being the determined me, I want to finish the task at hand. So you might be asking yourself… what are you writing about? What exactly, can you find something that you can talk about in 50,000 words. Well, I decided to write a fiction piece about my time when I studied at Oxford University. Maybe someday I will write a real novel, the topic has yet to be determined.