In the position I am in, I try to be as transparent as possible and share my learning with others. On this occasion, I thought sharing this experience will not only help me but also help others (as we all have growing pains as we make transitions in life).
I'm Shaina Glass, and I'm currently an instructional technology specialist at Raymond Academy of Engineering in Houston, Texas. I'm writing this blog post as kind of my version of a farewell letter to my school community that has been my home away from home the last two years. On this #lastdayofschool in the 2016-17 school year, I have a few goals I hope to accomplish:
1. Not to cry.
2. Bring smiles to some of the learners I have impacted (young and younger--no one is old!)
3. Make sure that all of the learners (teachers and students alike) know how important they are to the culture at Raymond Academy.
I wanted to make sure I thank a few groups of people...
Students. The kiddos at Raymond gave me such a fresh perspective on teaching. Even though I wasn't their official classroom teacher...on a roster, they helped mold me into a better educator by teaching me, most importantly--that they got this! People say it all the time, but what's true is that we don't have to 'teach tech' to kids. They know how to use the tools..they just need the finesse of tying it to learning and creating. Being in their world (behind the scenes so to speak) was eye opening. I truly got to listen to them and what they wanted and needed and express that to their teachers. Thank you all for that! (Especially first graders!!!)
Parents. The parents I encountered at Raymond have been very supportive towards the growing, and ever changing world of EdTech over the past two years. I was shocked, how they welcomed me with open arms--when I truly had no clue what I was doing. BUT, when I seen a few familiar faces--two of my forever parents (parents of students I taught when I was a classroom teacher), I felt home. One, reached out to help bridge the corporate world to our school community using her profession as an engineer. Another helped sponsor me to attend an international technology conference (ISTE) using Donor's Choose. Several parents offered daily words of encouragement in the car rider line in the mornings and afternoons. For all of this and more--I thank you all!
Staff. This isn't just about our teachers that have taught the kinder through 4th grade students, but more so about the collective effort of ALL of you. Everyone from the cafeteria staff, librarian, coaches, skills, secretaries, paras, custodians and admin in the school that believe in always doing what's best for the kids. I have been honored to work with individuals and team players who constantly show their kindness for students as whole little people.
As I reflect, I have to look back to two years ago when I was scared out of my mind about the decision I made to leave my warm and safe classroom at Bethune Academy. I have never had so many adults who truly needed my assistance (for one thing or another) at one time before. And I honestly had no idea what to do. Buttttttt.....you guys...all of you, welcomed me with open arms. You were patient (for the most part), listened and most importantly were open-minded to whatever I shared with you. From that patience came so much growth to where now Raymond is truly a campus of leaders in educational technology. Integration isn't a foreign word, it's actually one followed with..."what else can you give me to get my kids THERE?"
T ahe idea that ALL of you welcomed everything I threw at you...from ALL of the candid, spontaneous snapshots I took (anytime I saw fantastic learning experiences happening in your classroom)..to getting EVERYONE on campus to join in on a GoNoodle Jam Session in 5 minutes in your conference time...and YOU came! and You danced AND I still have that on camera!!!! That there is AWE-mazing! Thank you, seriously.
I don't know how easy this will be to say good-bye...and this is really tough. I didn't think it would be so tough. You all are MY students...And as educators THAT can be a tough position to be in. But you all did it magnificently.
So, I say, thank you. Thank you for taking me under your wing, opening the doors of this school, your individual classrooms and encouraging me to join you in this learning adventure (in every sense of the word)! From the edtech lounges I hosted, our PD in your PJ sessions, bringing Twitter to the school and so many teachers!!!!, to edTech BINGO and Scavenger Hunts, to TCCA...to all the cool Swag (especially from BrainPOP and GoNoodle (who remembers the StarBucks?). I could go on but I would rather share your own favorites that have SO become my own.
When I came to Raymond, my first thought was: I'm going to teach them so much!!!! lol Thinking back now, that was such a hilarious statement. Why? You say...Because in reality---YOU taught me so much more.
You taught me that everyone in our school can be a leader. You never said it to me...but you never had to. You showed me. With the way you help those little people realize they are responsible for them...especially the REALLY little people. OMG... It shines throughout the entire building--from kinder thru 4th. They respect each other and YOU and the kindness shines through.
You guys taught me to take risks...Even though I was learning EVERY step of the way. You guys walked with me and that support is immeasurable. Everything was new for us (you and ME) and we explore new avenues in educational technology together. And every time I trucked up the "mountain" you guys joined me...some of you were even anxious to see what was next!
So as I make take this journey on my next EdVenture (lol), know this: wherever your future leads you, I still have your back. Lucky for you, I can and will be there. We are connected. You need me? I'm here. Still sharing, smiling and supporting you! And I will be watching. You all know how to communicate, collaborate and even create with me--regardless of where I am! I want to see where the next educational adventure will you take. Why? Because your students are still my students and I want to see them all succeed.
So, thank you all for everything you have taught me in my first two years as an instructional technology specialist. If I can inspire others half as much as you have inspired me, I know that this profession is my purpose.
Saying Raymond Rocks is no joke...you do!
Oh, and please say a prayer (or two or three) for me as I start anew with a new collection of educators on a BRAND new campus where innovation is the new vocabulary word of exploration!