“In the cave we fear to enter lies the treasures we seek.” – Joseph Cambell
When I stared teaching four years ago, fresh out of college and twenty-two years old, I felt mostly prepared for what lay ahead. I definitely knew that I had a lot to learn, but I also felt confident in my understanding of the “important stuff” like writing student-friendly targets or making intentional seating charts. While I now have to laugh at past me, I also know that, had I been aware of just how much more I had to learn, and how rapidly the world of education changes, I don’t know how I would have been motivated to keep up with the profession. I certainly do not mean to say that the world of education is discouraging, and in fact there are so many daily victories and delights that I could not image a better way to spend my career. However, I have learned that it takes a high level of open-mindedness and ability for reflection that remains a constant challenge.
To more specifically portray this constant change, consider that first year in the profession. For me, I was teaching tenth grade English in a classroom with no student computers, only my teacher computer and an overhead projector, which weren’t connected. There was a lab in a portable nearby but the computers were so out-of-date that we spent half the period waiting for them to load or connect to the printer. Now, just a few years later and in the same district, nearly all students are provided a Chromebook for school and home use, our schools have robotics clubs and 3D printers, and our teachers use online systems like Google Apps for Education, Hapara, and Moodle sites.
While this example relates specifically to technology, which is certainly not the only changing field of education, this is the area that has, in my career, changed the most quickly and dramatically. Additionally, I believe that my craft as a teacher and the learning opportunities for students have been greatly improved as I have implemented digital tools in the classroom and the accessibility of these tools has grown.
Since that first year, after realizing that I needed to “get with it” or I could quickly fall behind, I have chosen to embrace forward thinking when it comes to new ideas in education, particularly relating to technology use. Due to this realization, I have become involved in technology leadership and implementation in my district. I now have the opportunities to work with other teachers one-on-one, in classrooms, and through professional development trainings to. Even greater, I have taken on the opportunities to learn from other educators, through workshops, conferences, and collaboration.
These experiences have been so rewarding, which is why I am where I am now, in a digital education leadership master’s program learning along many impassioned and inspiring educators. Now, just a quarter into the program, I still realize that the shifts in education and technology are often overwhelming. However, through my teaching experience and my learning in the master’s program, I am just as eager as ever to take on these changes in an attempt to help foster excellence in teaching in myself and others. So, my advice for other educators who are pursuing a career in digital education leadership, or education in general, is that, with a high level of open-mindedness and a passion for learning, that fear of the “unknown” is eclipsed by the vast wealth of knowledge you can stumble upon once you start exploring.