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The Value in Reflection for a New Teacher

Lisa,

You posed some questions to me in our last post, Seeking and Keeping Balance, and they embodied some of the concepts in my life that I have actually been reflecting on. I feel like you have given me the opportunity to let our readers get to know me a little more and take a glimpse at the inside of my head.

Do you have a vision for the future of your work as you seek balance? Are you willing to strive to make it a reality? Will you stay persistent in this goal?

I remember sitting in my credential courses anxious to become a teacher and to have a class of my own. I was ready to live my dream of being a teacher and pour my soul into teaching. My dream did become a reality! Little did I know, a vision would emerge while I was working with my first class.

I was hired just as I was wrapping up my credential to teach a spring transitional kindergarten class (4 and 5 year olds). I embraced EVERYTHING with those kids and wanted to give them as many opportunities as I could. We had access to a small group set of iPads twice a week and the computer lab once a week. After a few weeks of playing some educational games and becoming acquainted with the platforms, I knew my kids could be doing more meaningful things with their knowledge and the technology in their little hands.

I attended a educational technology conference, and walked away having joined Twitter and thinking of how I could bring back what I explored with my kids; their age and their know-how for using the tools were not issues to me. I started to share that my kids were using Google Apps (Docs, Sheets, Drawing, Slides, Classroom) on Twitter and connected with some supportive educators who acknowledged the opportunities I was giving my kids. I became the founder of #GAfE4Littles (Google Apps for Education for Little Kids). The #GAfE4Littles vision is that we as educators should BELIEVE in kids and trust them by not limiting their potential to the way that they learn. We need to give them a variety of tools they CAN use to thrive in the time and space in which they live, regardless of their age.

I believe that with dedication to a vision, the vision can be redefined and enhanced over time. It takes deep reflection to understand how to nurture a vision, keep it alive, and help it to grow. I am a dedicated and passionate educator and will do what it takes to stay true to roots of the #GAfE4Littles vision, which is believing in my kids by providing meaningful learning experiences along with the various tools they can use to thrive. My vision has expanded since it has originated, which is something I address in my response to the next series of questions below.

I know you're a BIG fan of play for your students but what about time for yourself? Do you take time to play and really let loose? Taking time to play can support you to have a powerful sense of freedom. Do you have a hobby that supports you to play? How can you work to experience that at least once a week? Can you schedule a play-time commitment with a buddy?

My version of play is probably a lot different than most people's. Building on ideas is a hobby of mine, and I nurture that hobby through the things like planning, exploring a new tool or idea, blogging, or interacting with my PLN (personal/professional learning network) on Twitter. I engage in these things daily after school, and it is even better that I am not alone in my exploration and have someone who supports me, learns with me... plays with me!

I discovered someone in my PLN who has INCREDIBLE ideas, which gets me all excited and feeds my energy because I have been able to explore her ideas and hear her voice. This person is Jessica Twomey, a kindergarten teacher who lives on the complete opposite side of the country from me! I actually mentioned her in my post Extending Connections with Families, because she inspired me with her digital newsletters. Jessica has been an inspiration for me since some of our first interactions on Twitter, but it was that inspiration that brought us to collaboration, and that collaboration that brought us to our friendship. Can you start to see how Jessica is that person that feeds my energy and is someone I get to play with?

Jessica Twomey is the founder of #InnovatingPlay. According Jessica, "The vision for #InnovatingPlay is to VALUE play as a necessary part of creative and meaningful learning experiences. We need to PRIORITIZE questioning, discovery, exploration, and reflection and EXAMINE the ways in which natural play experiences can be combined with 21st century approaches." She recently co-moderated a #GAfE4Littles #SlowFlipChat with me, and there was a special connection and energy during the chat with the participation from the community and our ideas coming together in the same space. Long story short, after that experience we decided to join forces and continue to facilitate #SlowFlipChats together more permanently using the #InnovatingPlay hashtag. We wrote a blog post about our reason for our visions and ideas coming together, and included the details to our chat.

Jessica plays the roles of a down-the-hall-colleague, mentor, and friend, among others. My collaboration with her does not feel like work or anything extra, because I enjoy discovering and building on ideas with her. She has recently helped me to understand how my professional development, teaching, and personal worlds CAN intermix, and that has helped me to find more balance in my life.

There is so much value in reflecting, Lisa. I have come to learn that reflecting doesn't always have to be done alone. When you reflect out loud, you can be heard, and have the potential to grow! I reflect as I share on my blog, as I record videos responses in the chats I moderate, and as I share conversations with the people in my life. What value do you see in reflection as an educator, Lisa? What are some other ways to spark meaningful reflection that we can share with our readers?

Thank you for reflecting with me!

Christine

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