Thank You ADE Community!

Dear ADE Community,

I just want to say thank you.  When I arrived I wondered why I was there.  I wondered why I was chosen to be among such incredible and inspiring educators.  I wondered all this because in the 4 years I have been an educator I had already begun to loose my passion and inspiration.  I didn’t think my story was all that impressive.  I didn’t think that what I had done was really that significant.  I think the truth is I had forgotten why I did what I did.  In order for everyone to understand this post I’m going to have to tell you my story.  It’s a story that I rarely share, because I don’t believe I did anything special.  This is a story about the shifting needs in education and the rights of all students to have a high quality education no matter who they are or where they live.

The Problem

The school I work at is full of students who live below the poverty line.  These are elementary students who are faced with situations that young children shouldn’t have to face.  When I started teaching 4 years ago I believed that technology was going to be a game changer in education.  I believed if used correctly it could empower these students and show them a world of opportunities beyond the problems they face.  I decided to get some iPads myself….why not?

My Solution

Through Donors Choose I was able to fund a full class set in about 2 years.  It cost several thousand dollars, but hey we get a $250 tax credit right?  I worked on a website for a guy in the area and we did a garage sale and a few other projects to raise the money.  We also scraped a few ideas like Lawns for Learning where I was going to mow lawns to raise money for iPads using our electric lawnmower that can mow about one lawn before needing to be recharged….thankfully my wife discouraged that idea.  Last year was my first year with a full class set all year long.

I started to wonder though why I did this.  I started to loose sight of my original vision.  I want to take risks and try new ideas.  That’s at the heart of who I am.  I’m a risk taker and I like to challenge the system to see if we can do things better.  At Institute this year I met amazing people doing incredible things from around the world.  I am humbled to be a part of such an incredible group of educators.  We think that our stories are small, but that’s only because the challenge is so great.

Our Stories are Significant

I felt like my story was insignificant compared to Victoria who inspired a student through creation that led to adding a special feature to the Explain Everything app.  Or Luis’s story about how he is helping get iPads into the hands of some of the poorest students in Mexico.  I think a lot of times we feel as if our stories are insignificant.  We are in our stories day in and day out and it can seem very trivial.  When we share our stories we are reminded of the passion that drives us.  We are reminded of the significance of even a seemingly small task.  We are reminded that it is not about what I’m doing….or what you are doing….it’s about what we can accomplish together.  Our lives are about stories and those stories need to be shared.  You may think you story is insignificant, but to someone else it will be inspiring.  That’s what I got from the ADE institute.  That’s how we can help each other and stand together so that every student, every learner, every child has a voice that can be heard too.

Here is a link to a documentary that I was in.   It will hopefully be released soon and you will see the story of one of my students.  When you see his story you will understand why I couldn’t wait.  You will see why we…can’t wait.  We can’t wait for the system to change…we have to be the change.  Every day that we delay more children fall through the gaping wounds in our education system.  Our students can’t wait any longer because the world is changing fast and the jobs that are available today aren’t going to be available much longer.  If we just teach our students the basic subjects then we have failed them.  They need to know how to create and adapt in an ever changing global society.  It may not seem like an urgent need right now, but when we look back on this time in the future we will see how urgent it was.  Every child whether rich or poor needs access to 21st century tools….It’s no longer optional it’s necessary.

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