July 13, 2015

What’s a Tech Teacher Do With Their Summer Off?

summerSoon, the school year will end. For ten weeks, I’ll stay home, feeling like I have an endless span of hours to do all the activities that got sidelined by grading,  projects, training, and general ‘school’ stuff. Once I get through reading until I’m bored (or  I run out of food) and straightening up the house (I won’t get carried away), I’ll start on the meat of my summer activities. Truth, that list is more of an overstuffed file cabinet than a carefully-constructed To Do page, but here’s what it looks like:

  1. Finish a tech thriller I’ve been working on this for four years. I’m 80% there (40% to go). Of course, it has lots of cutting edge technology and a quirky AI named Otto (after the palindrome). If you follow my blog, you know this is on my list every summer, as predictable as the Golf Channel. This time, I’m doing it!
  2. Under the file folder, “The world doesn’t change in front of your eyes; it changes behind your back,” I realize a few tech trends are passing me by. This includes 3D printing, Maker Spaces, and Google Classroom for starters. They are seeping into tech conversations regularly on my social media and there’s little I can contribute other than questions. I need to fix that this summer. Any suggestions?
  3. Learn a new tech tool every week. I’m teaching a volunteer program starting in June to do just that for homeschooling parents. I’ll share a video, a project, and academic tie-ins each week. Best part–it’s free! I’ll tell you more once it’s live.
  4. I’m also teaching a variety of other online classes, one on the tech-infused teacher and one on using tech to differentiate. These do require a sign-up but there’s still time if you’re interested.
  5. Get back to my inquisitive, curious roots. I used to spend hours figuring out how to solve problems, find solutions, determine what made something tick. Now, I’m too busy. I can feel the rift in my spirit, my sapped energy, my fuzzy brain. This summer, I’m getting back to that. Here’s my promise:

When I see something techie I don’t understand, I’ll ask:

“How do I do that?”

“How do I know that’s true?”

“How would I find out why?”

Woody Allan says eighty percent of success is just showing up. I can do that. Seriously, this summer will be about the cerebral challenge, the mental mayhem I cause as I work through problems, and the certain peace of knowing my brain still works.

A few items I’m NOT doing this summer:

  • traveling. Truly, air travel is worse than ever. After attending four conferences last summer, I’m going nowhere this year. All my travel will be virtual.
  • shopping. Teaching online classes requires very little in the way of fancy clothes, fashionable shoes, or well-matched outfits. I comb my hair and be sure my blouse is clean. Even that is optional at times because often I’m not on camera; I use a deck of slides for the lesson.
  • working out. My Fitbit says I walk about 10,000 steps every day at school. For 2.5 months, I’ll ignore it.
  • eating donuts or a wider panoply of snacks on a daily basis. At school, it’s hard to avoid all the snacks that arrive uninvited to the teacher’s lounge and always (really) are picked clean by the end of the day. For 2.5 months, I will skip snacking, do all my eating at my daily two meals.

What are you doing this summer? Can I join you?

Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-8 technology for 15 years. She is the editor/author of dozens of tech ed resources including a K-8 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum. She is webmaster for six blogs, CSG Master Teacher, adjunct professor, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, CAEP reviewer, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics, a tech ed columnist for Examiner.com, and a weekly contributor to TeachHUB. You can find her resources at Structured Learning