When the time came to leap in faith, whether you had your eyes open or closed or screamed all the way down or not, made no practical difference.- Lois McMaster Bujold
What if? At times, it is a question posed with wonder and inquiry. Others, with anxiety and trepidation. When asked in the hearts of 5 year olds, it is often met with unconditional enthusiasm and willingness to try. How do you feel about the “What ifs” in your life?
This has been a challenging year for me both personally and professionally. In August, I was asked to consider applying for Apple Distinguished Educator. My first thought was, “What if I don’t make it?” Then, I allowed myself to think of “What if I do?” Upon being chosen in February, my professional life changed almost instantly. I have felt like a meteor hurtling through space…but in a good way. I have been brought into a whole new world of learning, collegiality, and absolute wonder.
I have watched my students daily ask themselves, “What if…” in their learning. 5 year olds are curious no doubt, even without an iPad. The iPads have allowed us to explore that curiosity, touch it, read about it, talk about it, and create. Having access to this seemingly simple tool has expanded their classroom beyond our four walls into a global classroom. The ability to have choice in how they demonstrate learning has awakened even the least confident child and brought him into full flower. Allowing my students to work at their own level with different sight word lists and reading levels has allowed them to go further in the last 180 days than they ever would have previously.
When I received the opportunity in January, 2011 to utilize 1:1 iPads in my classroom, I dared to ask, “What if?” Over the next few months and into the school year 2011-12, my “what ifs” grew and my students started asking their own ‘what ifs”. What if I taught my students how to blog? What if I moved away from the drill and practice apps and allowed my kids to create their own content? What if I had different sight words lists and allowed them to move on when they were ready? What if I gave them the ability to plan their day and have some choice?
Who knew that just 2 1/2 years ago, when starting with iPads, I would have transformed my teaching to this extent and my students learning as well? It amazes me even now.
I am wheeling my iPads down to storage in just a few hours as we close the final chapter of the 2012-13 school year today. I am excited about the awesome staff development opportunities I have with my Apple Distinguished Educators this summer. I can’t wait to see what new “What ifs” develop in August…well, after a summer vacation, that is…
Whether you are starting a new school term on the other side of the world, or ending this one, I dare you to ask “What if?” Like the quote above says, whether you take a leap of faith or go screaming all the way, it makes no difference. The difference comes in daring to try.
Today we will do exciting new things. Let’s get to it!