What Do You Want to Be?

Dear Teachers,

Do you remember being asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Although I vaguely remember that question when I was a kid, I’m honestly not sure whether people in my family ever asked me that. It was a given that I would go to college; that was What We Did. But as I try to remember a time when I was encouraged to “be something,” the only memory I have is of my mother and stepfather discouraging me from being  a French major in school. In my mother’s small world, she could never imagine that I would travel, and they both assured me that “people who only speak two languages couldn’t be an interpreter at the United Nations.” As though that would be the only benefit in knowing a second language! (And I’m sure they didn’t see the slightest irony in the fact that they each spoke only one language.)

Anyway. Although I did start out as a French major, I kept coming back to the feeling I had when my kindergarten teacher let me stay at the table finishing up the drawing of my lion, even though it was time to go to circle time. So I decided to be an Early Childhood teacher. So many of us became teachers because of some influential teacher in our lives. How I loved being a preschool teacher! And how exhausting a room full of four-year-olds seems now!

I also wanted to be a mom, so I had a couple of kids and believed that all my preschool background and experiences would provide me with the knowledge and skills I needed to be a Great Mom. (Talk about irony.) How I loved being able to stay home with my kids! But for lots of reasons, it became clear that I wouldn’t stay home with them forever, and I started thinking about going back to work. When Kid #1 went to kindergarten, he had the most awesome librarian ever. I decided maybe that was what I wanted to be, so I went to library school. And I could never have predicted the career path I have had since I took my first job as a middle school librarian.

How I loved being a librarian! I got to know almost every kid in the school, worked with fabulous teachers, and read astonishingly great Young Adult literature. I like to think I was a solid instructional partner, and I clumsily tried to be a technology leader. I am still fairly astounded at how my (then extremely limited) understanding of the power of technology in education led me to my current position as a Digital Learning Specialist. I mean, come on – FOUR positions with this job title in the whole school district, and I managed to snag one of them? What are the odds? I am humbled every day by my great good fortune to have this career in a fabulous school district.

And how I love THIS job! I have learned so much in the past decade-plus – much of which  is about what I wish I’d done differently in the classroom or library. The past few years especially, when I finished up my second Master’s, became a leader in the Digital Citizenship conversation, and was invited to write curriculum for ISTE, have grown me as a professional and as a person more than I would ever have imagined. Most recently, being one of the writers and trainers for the ISTE Certified Educator program has made me reflect even more deeply about what it is I want to be.

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One of my smart co-workers describes the ISTE Standards for Educators as “not things to do, but ways to be.” Now when I think about what I want to be, the choice is less about having a particular position or job title, but about how I can apply these standards in what I’m doing in my work with other educators. Because how I love being all the things! As an Empowered Professional, I want to be a Learner, a Leader, and a Citizen. As a Learning Catalyst, I also aspire to be a Collaborator, a Designer, a Facilitator, and an Analyst.  And I want to inspire my students, who are mostly other educators, to Be All the Things as well! So this week, consider how you might:

  • improve your practice by learning from and with others and exploring proven and promising practices that leverage technology to improve student learning; be a Learner
  • seek out opportunities for leadership to support student empowerment and success and to improve teaching and learning; be a Leader
  • inspire students to positively contribute to and responsibly participate in the digital world; be a Citizen
  • dedicate time to collaborate with both colleagues and students to improve practice, discover and share resources and ideas, and solve problems; be a Collaborator
  • design authentic, learner-driven activities and environments that recognize and accommodate learner variability; be a Designer
  • facilitate learning with technology to support student achievement of the ISTE Standards for Students; be a Facilitator
  • understand and use data to drive your instruction and support students in achieving their learning goals; be an Analyst

These things to be are not things that are once-and-done; we never check them off the list and call it complete. Maybe you’ll choose to focus on just one or two standards; maybe you’ll want to do bits and pieces of all of them. However you decide to approach the ISTE Standards, I hope they will help to grow your thinking a bit on what you want to be.

And also remember that wonderful sign I’ve seen in so many schools lately, “In a world where you can be anything, be KIND.” Have a great week!

Fondly,

Nancy

P.S. Intrigued about the ISTE Standards and how they might impact your learners? Contact me or your favorite Digital Learning Specialist! We’ll talk your ear off about them!

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