Saturday, May 4, 2013

Dear Jen

Dear Jen,
A year ago I was a passionate special educator who even after fourteen years still found incredible joy in working with students with significant disabilities, recognizing their strengths, tapping into them as learners and empowering them to over come their weakness and be amazing students.  Still, with all this passion and the successes I was having in the classroom, there was a part of me that was left feeling empty.  It was an emptiness I did not even know existed until this year.

As you know this whole blogging is nothing new to me.  In fact, for the last three years I have blogged anonymously as a mom, a wife, a sister and a friend.  I have learned about the power of words.  I have been warmed by the amazingness of the connections that can be made through sharing words. I have been blown away by the incredible power of social media and the connections it offers. Most of all I have learned the power of my voice.  My experiences in that space filled me, enriched my life and brought priceless amazingness to me ... and yet these experiences never entered my classroom.

Then it happened... 

In November you encouraged me to submit to present at the Illinois ICE conference.  I remember thinking, who the heck is going to be interested in what I am doing in the classroom?  What I am doing is not more interesting then all the other fantastic educators out there?  You were persistant, encouraging and gave me the bravery I needed to submit my idea.

In December I decided it was time for me to start this blog.  Not a blog as Carrie mom and wife.  Start a blog as Carrie Special Education teacher.  Not a private blog for only my parents and students, a blog for everyone to see.  A blog that would be a hub of resources for my students. A place I would use to share lessons I was doing in the classroom, new ideas I was trying and things I was learning about.  You listened to me as ideas brewed inside of me. You smiled and celebrated with me when I told you about the idea.  You supported and cheered me on when I was ready to hit the publish button.  

In February after a fantastically inspiring, energizing Illinois ICE conference I told you I wanted to my classroom to be a 1:1 iPad classroom.  Without hesitation you took my idea and went to work looking for resources and creating a proposal for me.  By March I had enough iPads to pilot being a 1:1 iPad classroom.

March came around and several classes in our building were piloting collaborative learning desks.  I thought...Those would be great for my classroom.  We are constantly collaborative. I want to pilot those desks too.  You encouraged me to ask administration if my class could pilot them too.

April brought emails from our district technology department.  Opportunities to be trained to use an iPad mini and an open call for teachers who want to present at our district technology academy.  I completed the form and  submitted it.  Fingers crossed that I would be chosen to try the iPad mini.  I filled out the presenters form for not just one session but two.
A year ago fear owned a part of me.  Fear kept me asking.  Fear began to limit my creativity.  Fear keep me from sharing.  Fear left part of me empty.  Fear of kept me from using a skill that was a huge part of my life away from the classroom, a part that I am incredibly passionate about.

Jen, you brought energy, a joy, a giddiness, a passion for technology and all of its fantasticness into my life.  You suddenly lit inside of me something I only shared with others outside, away from my classroom.  You were patient as you filled me with information, new tools, new ideas.  You listened to me as ideas brewed inside of me. You smiled, giggled and celebrated with me when I tried new ideas in my classroom and they began to work.  Then you waited, listened and supported me when I was ready to take my fears throw them aside and begin to share more.

I can not begin to thank you for what you have given me.  By giving me this you have not just given me a gift, you have given my classroom and my students all of this and so much more.  You have opened a whole new part of me that was tucked away.  I am a risk taker, an adventurer, a jump into the deep end without a life preserver, try new things...kind of a teacher. You have given my students the same teacher they have always had and so much more. Now they have a teacher who is also a global learner: learning from the world and not just from training sessions, my school or district, a global teacher: who doesn't just teach them but all shares her lessons with others, a risk taker: who is willing to try new things, fail or succeed and then try again.

For all these things and just so very much more...

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