A Revolution in Education
This summer was the third SEE Summit, but just the first time I was able to apply. The first two years I already had summer plans when the dates were announced. So when I found out that the dates worked for me this year, I applied as quickly as possible. And it only just barely fit in. It was the only week in July that I had free.
It was awesome from the moment I came out and was met at the airport by Laura from SMART. She was with us all week making sure the food was ready for us, that the evening activities were ready for us, and there to do whatever she could to make us feel welcome. She was awesome. And for the most part, she just liked to fade into the background, kind of like I do too. Well, on the night we went to the Western Center, the week was almost up. Many people were out on the floor dancing and having fun. I was dancing a little, but I don't really dance. Laura had done so much for us, I thought it was a shame for her to be sitting and not having fun with us. So I went out of character and asked her to dance with me for the last song of the night. She doesn't like to dance either, but we did and got out of our comfort zone and had fun. Thanks, Laura. You were truly a servant that week and did a great job!
The sessions that were prepared for us were very informative too. We got to see where SMART is headed, and it is an exciting direction. All the presenters were great and really wanted to hear our feedback on their corner of the SMART universe. It was a very collaborative environment. However, there were still those little divider walls in the bathrooms between the urinals, so their collaborative environment has limits.
Deena, the mastermind behind this, was phenomenal. She, and her team, had everything so well organized. Everything ran so smoothly. The extra activities that they planned went above and beyond as hosts. They really value the teachers and show their appreciation in tangible ways. Thanks, Deena. It was nice to finally get to meet you after so many emails. Thanks for supporting the SB Revolution ning as well.
Part of the team was Adam Thurston. He was also ever-present to take care of whatever needed to be done. He is also a bit of a nut, but you'll have to experience that for yourself sometime. Thanks, Adam.
I learned a lot from all of the presentations by SMART employees, but getting to know 50+ other SEEs was truly the best part of the Summit. These are amazing educators, administrators, and tech coaches that really are driving the revolution in their classrooms, buildings, and districts. I am honored to be a part of such a group.
I was able to meet and thank Randy Tran, Ian Berg, and Lloyd Summers, all members of the ning and SMART employees, for their expertise in troubleshooting problems in the forums on the Ning. It is great to have their knowledge available to us to get things fixed. They are great guys and I was proud to meet them. Thanks, gentlemen. (Habib S. has since joined the ning and also contributes. Next time I'm there, I want to see you too, Habib)
At the beginning, I felt kind of out of place. I became a SEE in April 2007. The process was different then. The local SMART EC invited me to a SMART Teacher Conference at the Chicago sales office. I think the other teachers applied, but my school got in too late and I didn't know about the deadline or something. Anyway, she invited me and I attended. At the end, I was given a certificate and a SMART Exemplary Educator shirt. I was kind of "dubbed" a SEE because I attended that conference. Now the process is a little more stringent, so I didn't feel like I fit in. Also, listening to what some of them do in their districts for SMART, or other training or lessons they create and upload to the Exchange,I felt a little inadequate to be there. That's a whole other issue for me:-) It didn't help that one person said she thought Obe started this ning, and someone else thought it was Harvey Almarode!
But as the time went on, and after talking to my new friends like Renee, Michael, Heather,and Sandra, I started thinking, "Hey, I'm doing the best I can these last few years. I've been bumped around three times in three years. We haven't had any new boards purchased because of the budget cuts, so there hasn't been any new training. I started this ning FOR the teachers in my district as a place for them to learn from me and each other. I can't help it if they don't take advantage of it. And even if some people don't know that I started the Revolution, the other 8,600 (at the time) people are glad I did!" I started to see that I didn't have to compare myself to them. We all are doing what we can to support our teachers and help students learn. That's all anyone can ask of me. And I have to be content to do what I can and have the right to say "no" sometimes when I have something else to do that directly affects my students.