Where is the Silver Lining?

clouds-silver-liningI am the type of  person who sees the glass as half full. I have my days when I can be an extreme pessimist, but for the most part I am a very positive person. When I encounter those bad situations and experiences that we all face from time to time I try to find the meaning in them. I try to find at least some good in every situation no matter how bad it is. I am having trouble finding the silver lining in things that have been going on lately.

I  just started my fifth year of teaching three weeks ago. Usually by this time I have gotten into my groove, but not this year. I have felt overwhelmed since the year began. (Actually, I have felt overwhelmed for a lot longer than that.) So why does it feel like my job is getting harder and that I am losing ground? I keep trying to do too many things. Why do I do this to myself? Because I am the Nebraska Change Agent, and if I don’t keep pushing the envelope in Western Nebraska, who will?

The problem is that I just don’t know if I have what it takes to keep going.  I have experience some personal and professional setbacks recently that have shaken me to the core; events that have made me reevaulate who I am and what I believe in.  I am desperately searching for the silver lining in these situations, but it just isn’t there. Please forgive me if I seem a little out of sorts in the coming weeks.  I will be back. I just need to take some time to focus on my students, my college class, the Newbie project, our ISTE 10 proposal, and of course, my family.  At some point in there I have to take care of myself, too.  I will do that…..right after I track down that silver lining that I am so desperate to find.

Unique (and generous!) Way to Support the ISTE Newbie Project

I received an email from Jen Wagner yesterday.  Jen has been part of my PLN for some time now. After reading my post on Ways to Support the ISTE Newbie Project Jen told me that she wanted to donate 10% of the earnings of her new book, Guessthewordle, to this project. I would like to encourage you to look into purchasing this book which. Doing so will allow you to support two members of your PLN at the same time. Guessthewordle can also be downloaded onto your iPod! At $5, it is a superb deal! If you are new to Wordle then check out their website.

Thanks again Jen for your generosity. You are helping prove once again that we really are all in this together.

How To Support the ISTE10 Newbie

In case you haven’t noticed, the ISTE10 Newbie Project is very different than it was last year. Many of you were familiar with Richard Byrne’s blog FreeTech4Teachers so you already had a connection to him. So many people have inquired about what they can do to help Jason Schrage get off to a good start this year. While we monetary donations are  essential to the success of the project, there are many other ways you can support him throughout the year. Besides, I want to give you a chance to get to know Jason before asking for contributions.

1. Subscribe to his blog and leave comments. Remember that he is a brand new blogger. All to often we read blogs, but we don’t take the time to comment. The best way to encourage a new blogger to keep blogging is to leave comments and encourage them to keep at it. (Don’t expect too many updates until September.)

2. Follow him and interact with him on Twitter.

3. Include him in your #FollowFriday and #TeacherTuesday updates.

4. Use his blog as a teaching tool this school year. The purpose of the Newbie project this year is to give teachers a good role model to follow.

5.  Make a small monetary donation. The official fund raising will not begin until later in the year, but you can make a donation through PayPal at anytime. There is a button on both of our blogs where you can do that. (Look for the PayPal button on both of our blogs early next week)

6. Offer him advice and suggestions for improvement. He genuinely want to receive constructive criticism.

7. Add the official Newbie Supporter badge to your blog. (Look for it soon.)

8. Tell everyone you know about this project. It is a unique opportunity to follow an amazing educator who is about to embark on an amazing journey.

9. If you are fortunate enough to make it to ISTE10, make it a point to seek out Jason in Denver. My guess is he will probably frequent the Bloggers’ Cafe’. Afterall, he will be a seasoned veteran blogger by then!

These are just a few of the ideas I have for what you can do to help support Jason. Am I missing anything? Please share your ideas.

Jason Schrage: The ISTE10 Newbie

I “met” Jason Schrage (@oswego98) back in December on Twitter. He sent me a message asking me to help him with his blog. I was flattered, but I am not an expert blogger so I told him I would help in any way that I could. I knew him only as @oswego98 for months. I physically attended Learning 2.0: A Colorado Conversation back in February and I noticed that he was attending one of the sessions virtually. Just days after the conference he set up his own Elluminate room and invited his PLN to help him test it out. I hopped in right away and he introduced himself. I finally had a name to put with his face!

His willingness to invest his own time to attend the Colorado Conversation conference virtually told me that he possessed a sincere interest in learning. I began to follow his Twitter updates more closely and I noticed he had an insatiable appetite for learning and sharing. Over the second half of the school year he became an integral part of my PLN. He was one of the five people I consulted with when I was working on the original Newbie project.

The Newbie to NECC project was a huge success! There was absolutely no doubt in my mind that I wanted to do it again, but I was not sure where to start.  I have already proved the power of the PLN so I wanted to take a different approach this time around. I wanted the ISTE10 (NECC is now ISTE) Newbie to be able to give back to the PLN without having to go to extraordinary lengths or changing their routine. I did not want this opportunity to become an undue burden on Jason. I thought the best thing for him to do is share his experiences every week or two. By announcing his name so early in the summer it will give all of you a chance to get to see him in the very early stages of this journey and allow you to follow him from the beginning of the year until the end. It is my hope that those of you who are responsible for training teachers will use him as an example of a “work in progress.” The one thing that makes Jason stand out from the crowd is that he is not afraid to try new things. He is going to provide us with a window into his classroom through his blog so we can be with him every step of the way during the school year. He will write about his successes, but more importantly , he will write about his failures. He is a regular teacher that nearly everyone will be able to relate to on some level. If you learn anything from his experiences, I hope you will contribute to the fund to send him to ISTE2010 which will be held in Denver, Colorado.I hope you will help me spread the word about this project as well.

I will let him tell you about himself, but here are just a few things I know about him:

  • teaches 8th grade social studies (US History from 1865 – present)
  • just finished his 11th year of teaching
  • pet project is WWII Teach-In Day (This is an amazing project!)
  • Eagle Scout
  • loves of all things that have to do with nature (hiking, fishing, hunting, tracking, bird watching etc.)
  • concerned with the state of the planet
  • favorite author: Tom Brown Jr.
  • practitioner of Dan Zan Jujitsu
  • very curious personality
  • spends hours exploring new technologies and apps
  • believes that his purpose in life is to make a positive impact on society in some small way
  • father of 2 wonderful boys – 2 and 4 years old
  • married to a beautiful and supportive first grade teacher
  • owner of a golden retriever

Introducing the Newbie for 2010

Before I introduce you to the newbie for 2010 I would like to take some time to explain how I came about choosing the NECC 2010 Newbie.

I spent a great deal of time looking at the various people in my PLN. There are certain qualities that I look for in a newbie. The absolute most important thing is that they possess a passion for learning. They must also have the desire to share what they are learning. They need to be visionary leaders in their field. In other words, I want someone who has big ideas because those are the people who are not afraid to affect change. My PLN is full of people who meet these criteria, but there is one person who I have been watching since December. This teacher is incredibly dedicated to his profession. He is a social studies teacher who is working hard to seemlessly integrate technology into his classroom. From the conversations I have had with him on Twitter, he is facing some of the same struggles that so many of us are. I think so many of us will be able to relate to him.

The person I am about to name has absolutely no idea this that this is even happening. While he is not obligated to accept my offer to be the next newbie it is my hope that he will! There is one condition that will be attached to this project this year which is not unreasonable. I am requiring that the newbie blog every week or two about what they are doing in their classroom.

So without any further delay please join me in congratulating Jason Schrage (@oswego98) who I have selected to be the Newbie for 2010.

I am not going to start the fund raising for this project until much later in the year. I have not even thought that far ahead! If Mr. Schrage accepts this offer I want to give our PLN time to get to know him. If it is not too much trouble please follow him and send him some words of encouragement.

Thanks to my PLN for all of your help with the 2009 Newbie project. I am literally sitting 20 feet from Richard Byrne who is in a discussion with Lee Lefever from Common Craft. I hope you can welcome Jason into your PLN. He is a rising super star!