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Closing One Door, Opening Another
I remember when 2020 year was approaching its chaotic end. Educational institutions were trying to overcome the uncertainty of the COVID environment, and teachers were already in survival mode. For myself, there was the reality that I had only five more months remaining as a public school teacher as I put in for retirement after 36 years in public education. Contemplating leaving was bittersweet because I knew I would never see most of my students from the 2020-2021 school year face to face. I longed for the daily classroom interactions that no Zoom session could replace, but it was not meant to be. Teaching has been my entire career since graduating from college and obtaining my teaching credential in 1985. What a way to go out. Faceless Zoom screens for the last 16 months of instruction. Scrambling to develop engaging lesson plans for students who were emotionally, mentally, and physically fatigued from family illnesses and the lack of socialization. I, too, suffered from the same.
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I am fortunate to have planned a transition beyond teaching as I cannot sit still. Since my passion is teaching and technology integration, I decided to embark on my own as an educational consultant. My goal is to provide professional learning for school districts and educators across the western states. This goal was developed as the pandemic made the need for distance learning education more apparent.
A Different Type of Education
Having a plan is necessary for any business. If you do not have a lesson plan, you are a sitting duck as a teacher. A small business is the same. Ideas are great, but without guidance, it is much like setting sail to a distant island just with the desire to arrive. First, I understood that I knew very little about marketing myself. From an educator’s standpoint, I learned about social media, tweeting out about lessons, and creating videos for students and parents. However, understanding how to utilize analytics to market your product is quite different. Website creation, YouTube videos, SEO, and a business plan needed to be taken care of before I was ready for a launch. This took place as I was wrapping up teaching. Having necessary certifications for learning management systems was also in the cards. There was so much I knew from the thirty-six years of education, but at the same time, there was still a whole other world beyond the classroom.
Finishing out the school year was bittersweet. Although thankful for completing the year healthy, it was emotionally draining. I was leaving behind a group of people who I had worked closely for the past five to twenty years. Friendships were forged, children were raised and sent off to college, colleagues retired, and babies were born. All this is worthy of reflection. Those of us who survived that past year of teaching realized how important our well-being was.
As I transitioned from a retired teacher to an educational consultant, the opportunity presented itself to become a learning consultant for Canvas providing teachers from across the nation guidance in navigating the learning management system. The experience was rewarding even though it was a different type of teaching. It was clear that teachers were in need of support in technology more than after a year of flying by their pants with remote instruction. I am definitely thankful for the years of experience I had with Canvas prior to the pandemic and that I was able to provide assistance to those who did have the same experience.
Being retired from teaching provided the lifetime opportunity to travel to Italy with my wife to visit my son who is studying there and visit the many cities I had longed to see. Experiencing the culture of another nation is refreshing as it opens one’s eyes to the diversity of the world we live in. It also provides insights into how one might think outside the box on certain established ways of thinking.
There is much to be thankful for in 2021 despite the challenges the year brought. My hope is that 2022 will bring on more innovation in education despite the challenges that will be faced. Most of all, that there will be an intentional focus on the well-being of all students and educators during this uncertain time.
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