Education is a constantly changing world. We all know that. For those who don’t mind change, it’s easy to go with the flow and try out the latest craze. For others, change is not easy. They are always on the lookout for the “why” and searching to answer how it’s relevant to them. As for me, I see myself as someone who is on both sides. I like to find new ways to present information to my students, but I always need the “why” answered.
So let’s rewind about 150 school days (to the beginning of the school year for those of you who don’t know what the magic 180 number signifies) to when I heard about this thing called the NextGen Cadre. The NextGen Cadre was a chance to be part of small group of educators that would guide us on how to use an LMS (Canvas) as well as other types of technology in a blended learning environment. Okay, I thought. This could be interesting. I mean, I’m already pretty “techie”. I use a SMART board, some iPADs, occasionally try some things-I could probably do this. Feel free to laugh now. So at the last possible moment, I decided to apply. I was sure they wouldn’t select a kindergarten teacher. After all, my students can’t read yet, let alone complete work independently on computers. But I was wrong. I was selected to be part of this opportunity, but the questions of “why” and “is this really going to apply to me” started filling my head.
As I sat at our first Cadre meeting, I looked around to notice I was not just the only kindergarten teacher, but the only kindergarten, first, or second grade teacher. I was all alone in my primary world. As a kindergarten teacher, I’m used to always being the exception so it was very easy for me to start questioning why I should be doing this. I found myself instantly going back to the statement of “this doesn’t apply to me.” But, I decided to hang in there even though my head was full of skepticism.
Now, here I am almost to the end of the school year and looking back at how much my thoughts have changed. The skepticism I once had has slowly turned into a glass half full. The NextGen Cadre has been more than a class about Canvas. I have learned how to connect with amazing educators through Twitter, can rattle off numerous high- quality apps my students use on a daily basis, and have learned how to visually enhance my work to make it accessible for all learners. My students have learned how to independently take pictures or videos and upload evidence of their work using apps on the iPADs to a forum that both myself and parents can see. The list can go on and on.
I’ve realized this learning opportunity found me because of the uniqueness of the students I teach. Does everything in Canvas apply to my young learners? Not at all, but what I’ve figured out-its all about your mindset. I made the decision the day I left my first Cadre meeting back in the fall, that I was going to make this opportunity work for my students and for me. I wasn’t going to try and be the same as others. I was going to take their excitement for this new LMS and tweak it to inspire me and create my own excitement. I hope my colleagues see the power in a positive mindset and how a blending learning environment can be personalized to meet the needs of every student and every educator at every level
Today's reflections come to us from Ms.Melody Williams. Melody is a kindergarten teacher in her 8th year of teaching at Richmond Community Schools. She has earned a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from IU East and a Bachelor’s Degree in Middle Childhood Education from Wright State University. Melody has previously taught Reading Recovery and Special Education although her passion lies in kindergarten. In 2015, she earned REA Teacher of the Month and in 2016, was named Crestdale Elementary Teacher of the Year.Melody and her husband, Lee, have two young children, Kyson and Kynsie, who keep them very busy. In her spare time, Melody enjoys spending time with her friends and family.