Wednesday, August 14, 2013

My Life-Altering Decision

I made a pretty big decision this past school year.  I left teaching in a brick and mortar school, at least for now.  It was a multifaceted decision that was not easy.  (I've wanted to be a teacher since I was in the first grade.)  I love guiding students to become passionate lifelong learners.  I love teaching students how to utilize technology in order to be globally connected and to be transparent about their deep thinking.  I love so much about teaching...

Ever since Tony Baldasaro brought Powerful Learning Practice to the school district I used to work for, I have been inspired to make positive meaningful changes to the world of education, beyond my classroom.  I spent an entire school year infused with connected learning and teaching which was the most meaningful learning experience I have ever had.

After that year, I found it difficult to cultivate all of the change I wanted to make in my classroom and into the district for which I worked. It is an excellent school district; however, it is a district very much infused with tradition, making big change was hard for “just a teacher” to make.  I was able to make some change happen; however, it wasn't enough for me.  Plus, I got tired ruffling a lot of feathers and not being able to fully implement all I was learning from my Professional Learning Network (PLN).

So I left.  Now I'm teaching Literacy at the Virtual Learning Academy Charter School (VLACS) so I'm still a teacher teaching a subject I'm extremely passionate about.  I'm also an educational consultant.

My friend, Jennifer Lowton and I have been consulting for the Lead Faculty at the Granite State College Education Department.  It's been extremely meaningful work.

During my first day with the Lead Faculty, Jenn and I listened to their goals. They want to better prepare their preservice teachers to be successful teachers in today's complex and ever changing world.  

I suggested that the school look at Google Apps for Education because Google offers many tools that make quality learning and teaching more efficient and meaningful.  Mary, the department head said, "Okay- let's do it!  Let's go Google before anyone tells us we can't!"  My jaw literally dropped.  

After the meeting that day, I helped her deploy Google Apps for Education.  I was mesmerized.  I had been stifled as an educator for so long and here was an administrator indicating that she was going to make her department "Go Google" right away.  Such a dichotomy!

Later, as the Lead Faculty, Jenn and I were going over the ISTE Standards and creating a rubric, the discussion of portfolios came up.  I chimed in (truly expecting to be immediately shot down) and shared that I thought the preservice teachers should start a blog during their first class at GSC so that they could record their reflections and have an authentic audience to push their thinking deeper throughout their education and beyond.  They could create their very own blog so that they can see their progress from the very start of their career.  I wish I had started blogging when I completed my full year internship for my masters program in 2002… I would have thirteen years of documentation! The department went for it!

(Disclaimer- I am a writer.  As Don Murray ingrained in me, writing is thinking.  However, most of my writing is lost on zip drives and/or computers that I can no longer access.  I love, love, love that all of my recent writing is in the cloud!)

The next day we met, I showed the lead teachers how to create a blog and they started blogging so that they can model their reflection documentation to other GSC staff members and to their pre service teachers.  Their pre service teachers can model their reflection documentation to their students…such an amazing cycle!

I also introduced the lead teachers to TweetDeck in order to help them manage and use Twitter more efficiently.  They've been tweeting away ever since.

I always felt successful when I was teaching in a brick and mortar classroom.  (Clearly I made tons of mistakes along the way, but I always reflected upon my mistakes and grew from them.)  Though, I didn't always feel successful changing the culture of the school district for which I worked.  

As a consultant, I work in the schools who want to change and that makes all the difference.


  1. Great blog post Rachel. You have reflected, and taken action to follow your passion and dreams. Thanks for sharing.


  2. Congratulations Rachel on stepping out and moving forward in your career. We love working with you and hope to do it again soon. Granite State College lead faculty, Paula

  3. This was an inspiring story Rachel, I wish you the best of luck!!
    - Chris

  4. Inspiring story Rachel! I wish you all the best.
    - Chris