Thursday, October 30, 2014

How One Email Changed My Life and Teaching (For the Better)

Each day, our school email accounts get filled with tons of "junk" mail. Subject lines such as "Planning Retirement Seminars" and "Teacher Practice Networks Survey - Chance to Win $100" were just two of the fifteen emails I received yesterday. With all this extra stuff, you normally scroll through quickly looking from emails that were specifically for you. Whether you're looking for your principal's name in the sender column or a subject line that makes sense, many emails tend to get passed over.

Two years ago, I received an email from the curriculum office that has changed my life: "Pittcon Science Teacher Workshops." I knew about Pittcon because of a family member so I opened the email. I am forever grateful that I didn't skip over that email because it was the turning point for my career and my classroom. I attended a five hour PD about hands on chemistry lessons that I could do in the classroom without any special equipment. Some of the experiments I already knew, such as self-inflating balloons, but it was so much more. This was the first time I connected with teachers outside of my own school district. I also received a gift certificate to purchase science equipment for the classroom. Free supplies? Just for going to a professional development where I actually learned something? So began a beautiful relationship.

After that day, I started opening every email that came from that particular colleague. I joined her and a group of teachers, referred to as the Math and Science Partnership (MSP), the following summer for a two week Biology program at Drexel University which led to my qualifying for an additional teaching certificate in Biology. Besides the content, I was surrounded by educators of all backgrounds. Some were young and newer to teaching like myself but others were wise with experience. Through discussions during this summer program, I began to gain more confidence in myself and my abilities. The following year at school, I stopped worrying so much about the paperwork (which I still make sure to get in) and more about my students. I stopped following the textbook script word for word and started to actually teach. Wow, what a difference. When I started enjoying it more, my students did as well. I continued to meet with my summer PD group multiple times throughout the year and each time I gained more ideas to bring back to my classroom.

The next turning point came when I received an email from the district's listserv about the Google Education Summit that would be taking place on Temple's campus. I was so excited until I saw the price tag. It felt like someone was reading my thoughts because before that day ended, I received another email from MSP announcing that they had six tickets and it would be first come/first serve. After spending the weekend with a group of Google Education Trainers and Google Certified Teachers, one of my MSP friends said "You should really go for the next level. You have so much knowledge to share." I went home and decided to take the series of exams to become a Google Educator.

Now, months later I received yet another life changing email. This week, I received an email from Google inviting me to attend the upcoming Google Teacher Academy in Austin Texas. This was my second time applying to the program and I was really nervous waiting to see if I'd be accepted. At 7:25pm the email finally arrived. I can't wait to continue this journey when I step onto the plane in December and head to Austin for a few days.

No comments:

Post a Comment