It's the beginning of a new year, a time for looking back and a time for crystal ball gazing. On twitter Vicki Davis, @coolcatteacher suggested: Write a 2012 year in review about what you've done, where you've been, and the joys of the year. Take time to remember. So I decided to gather my thoughts and reflect on 2012 before embarking on the adventure and promise of a new year. In honor of 2012, I'm working on my top 12 highlights from the year. As I am continually trying for life/work balance, some of the highlights are related to my teaching practice, and some are purely personal. Here are the first four highlights.
1. iPads in the classroom: In March, I applied to and was accepted into the iPad Action Research Academy in our school district. We received our class set of iPads in April and my students have been engaged ever since. I started a blog to keep track of our experiences and have had the opportunity to work with an amazing team of innovators as we have pioneered use of this technology in our district. As a group we have used a wiki and primarily Edmodo to communicate, problem solve and collaborate. It really has been a game changer for me, my students and my colleagues.
2. Once again, this year I was laid off until the staffing and budget picture was clearer in our district and state. What was different this year was that before the school year ended, in fact on the last day of school, I knew I'd have a job the following school year and that I would not have to move my classroom! Honestly, just knowing that I'd know my status by the last day of school was a gift. Finding out that I didn't have to pack up, move, store, move, and unpack my classroom again this year was huge! I wrote an op-ed piece for the Mercury News which was picked up by a few blogs. Cool to be noticed but how do we change the cycle?
3. On our bucket list was spending quality time with the Smithsonian Museums in Washington, D.C. This summer my husband and I spent two full weeks exploring and learning. In addition to all of the museums, we visited the Bureau of Engraving, Congress and of course, the monuments.
We had a wonderful time together walking all over the city. Knowing I'd be teaching 5th grade social studies made our visit to the National Archives particularly poignant. I got into a very interesting discussion with a female African American security guard who was standing next to the Declaration of independence and Constitution. She was unimpressed with the documents and their historical value. No one had every helped her to see that although, yes, it's initial relevance did not embrace women or anyone of color, the basic tenants put forth in the words of our founding fathers laid the groundwork for civil rights for people of color and women (and maybe soon all people!). It reminded me of the importance of my job as a teacher, to help my students see the relevance of history in their lives.
4. Time with family: this summer my parents celebrated significant birthdays. Mom turned 80 in May and Dad turned 85 in August. To celebrate, all of us siblings gathered with family and friends to celebrate the octogenarians. It has been many years since all of my siblings and our spouses were all together. Unfortunately, not all of the grandkids were able to be here, having lives, jobs, and kids of their own now. All of my surviving aunts, uncle and cousins were there to share in the special day and I know my parents felt the love return to them which they have sowed all their years.