Finishing An Unprecedented Year

A year ago, who would have thought that teleworking would be a thing in education? The options that have presented themselves in these last few months have both propelled education forward and at the same time exposed the weaknesses in our previous systems.

My Thoughts

Holding a job as a Digital Learning Coordinator has put me, along with my colleagues, in a pivotal role in our District. Our work has been completely validated as we provide staff training, build new courses and deliver just-in-time instruction to a district with over 10k+ teachers.

What has fascinated me the most, is the willingness of even the most reluctant learner to avail themselves of tools and training that previously they had resisted or didn’t even know existed. The thirst for knowledge that seasoned teachers like myself, all the way to those teachers just beginning, have sought out in order to make learning more active for their students has been nothing short of amazing.

While I have definitely worked more hours a day in the last 3 months than I had previously, it has been so incredibly rewarding. The look on a teacher’s face in a video call when he/she “gets it” is so rewarding. The relationships built with my immediate colleagues over endless hours of collaboration and designing of materials has fueled my thirst for more knowledge. The amount of things that I’ve learned from both my team as well as the teachers and staff I have the privilege of working with has been nothing short of overwhelming.

I hope my colleagues know how much I appreciate them. If you’re reading this and I haven’t told you specifically, please know that I am very grateful for your collective knowledge, your collaboration and your grace throughout this time. If you are one of the thousands of staff members that I’ve interacted with this past school year, please know that I am very grateful for you as well. Your patience and understanding while we navigated these waters has been appreciated.

So, on this last day of the 2019-20 school year I reflect on the newness, the adaptation, and the amazing growth that we all have experienced this year. My #OneWord for this year was #GRACE. Little did I know how much I would need that this year. Stay well. ~BBV

What’s In A Title?

I look at the title of my blog and realize that I have written less about tech lately than about life in general. Tech seems somehow too impersonal to write about. I can share the latest gadget, or deal on some new device. But, I find myself wandering into what I really care about: Other people.

30+ years in education has made a profound impact on my life. The teacher and person I was when I began this journey has long faded away. Thank goodness! Those early years of teaching had so many failures. (No one was permanently injured that I’m aware of…)

Now that I work mostly with adults, I hope I convey the compassion that I have for fellow teachers. I understand feeling so tired that there is literally zero left at the end of the day. I understand isolated when you are a specialist and there is no one in your building that shares your struggles.

My title is Digital Learning Coordinator. My title is also teacher, facilitator, specialist, Mom, Wife, Daughter, friend and Grandma. Notice what titles come first?!? Why do I identify with what I DO instead of who I am?

Your title brings you a sense of importance, or power, or belonging. But it still can be an empty title if you forget your real purpose. Your real purpose is to care about others and to develop strong family ties. No matter what your family looks like. No matter if your family is your four legged pet or a significant other. Or your church friends or most importantly, yourself.

Work is important. Teaching is extremely important. But living your life caring for others and self is the most important role of all.

What title guides your life? Will your friends remember you for what you did at work, or what you did in life? Or best yet, both of those!

Should I retitle my blog? The title is Vinal Tech Blog. Maybe it should be Something Else? Drop me a line and let me know your thoughts.

The Depth of the Educator’s Heart

Teacher mug and penWe don’t do it for the money. We don’t do it for the long vacation time. We don’t do it for the short hours. We teach because we truly believe that every student has potential. Every teacher has potential. Every administrator has potential.

While we may never see the fruits of our labors, we never stop trying to impart knowledge. I view my role as a chance to give teachers an opportunity to grow and learn. I also view my role as my own chance to grow and learn. It’s truly all about the journey.

I’ve worked in many school districts in multiple states. Each job in varying roles provided the foundation for where I am now. No job is without its challenges – big and small.

How you handle and grow from those challenges is what defines you. It’s the unreasonable administrator (who ultimately drives you to earn an advanced degree). It’s the difficult colleague that sets you up to fail. It’s the challenging students that turn your hair gray. And each one of them is part of your story.

We can choose to be defeated by the negativity, or we can choose to find the positive side of the equation, even when we don’t really feel like it. Never let someone else’s bad day define your day. Sometimes much easier said than accomplished!

If your passion for what you do has diminished, maybe it’s time to renew your strength. Maybe it’s time to adjust your job. Maybe it’s time to adjust your attitude. teacher heart

How deep is your heart? How passionate are you about educating others? How do you find what you need to carry on in the face of time constraints, new curriculum and pressing demands? I look for the little things. The student in the hallway that needs a shoe tied. The educator who suddenly discovers how to use a technology tool. A colleague who reaches out to share their frustration. Every moment is an opportunity to reach deep into your heart and share with someone else.

I feel so honored to be where I am. My journey, much like yours, has been rocky and full of challenges. But I wouldn’t trade it for a different journey because I wouldn’t be where I am right now. And where I am is full of excitement, wonder, challenge, and joy. My heart will always be an educator’s heart. How about yours?