Tuesday, 25 June 2013

My transition

Today is my last official day at Burlington High School. On Monday, I will take over as Director of Technology for Groton-Dunstable Regional School District on Monday. While I am excited and grateful for new challenges and opportunities, I’m finding it hard to imagine Burlington in my rearview mirror.

For those of you who don’t know the story, I lost my job a few years ago due to Charter schools having the ability to cut four teachers and a principal in one day (July 19th to be exact) and replace us promptly with Teach for America interns. Before I had time to sulk, I wrote a post on this blog announcing I was available to work. Anywhere. I sent it through Twitter soon after and by the end of the day I received comments, direct messages, and replies to my search. It was then that I realized the potential of a network and how this connected group was there for me during a very difficult time. I realized that although distance separates many of us, a social network like Twitter, can easily bring us close together during difficult times and when we just simply want to share our experience.

Eventually, I made a connection with Patrick Larkin who, at the time, was the principal of Burlington High School and Eric Conti, the Superintendent of BPS. I connected with Patrick via Twitter and eventually at Educon and Tech and Learning Forum in Burlington. To make a long story short, I packed up my house, my dog, and all I had, and shipped up to Boston. I interviewed for the Instructional Technology Specialist position and soon after accepted the job.

My first days at Burlington were tough. Making that type of transition was difficult, but I soon found comforts in my new home. And, I had plenty of work to do upon my arrival.

I spent the summer of 2011 getting acquainted with the tech team at Burlington. Together with Dennis Villano, Bob Cunha, Jose DeSousa, and Patrick, we began developing a launch strategy for one thousand iPads that would be given to all BHS students in August. We created EdCamp Tuesdays and invited all of our teachers as well as teachers from around the state to join us for open, optional professional development. We organized and presented the first MA Digital Publication Collaborative that brought together teachers from around the New England Area to curate, organize and share digital curriculum. We developed a student help desk course. And Dennis and I planned the first BPSCON which brought together the entire district for three days in August that was only rivaled by ISTE in options and size. For the BPS EdTech team it was a summer of firsts and a summer that helped put our district on the map.

Looking back, the BPS EdTech team accomplished so much two years since I arrived. I feel lucky to have been a part of such a progressive group of administrators and teachers. The hardest part of my transition will missing out on those conversations every morning in the “war room”. I’ll miss the dynamic teachers at Burlington who jumped on board with our tech plans and showed the world how technology can impact a classroom. But most of all, I’ll miss the students I’ve had the privilege to teach. I’ll miss their insight on current events and their energy for learning. I know, it sounds cheesy and cliche, but I can honestly say I’ve learned a lot from them and hopefully I was able to impart some wisdom to them.

During my time at Burlington I realized that change happens quickly. Whether it’s technology or the human element, change in the 21st century is inevitable and quick. There is no escaping it. However, it's imperative to remain grounded and dedicated to initiatives and goals before moving on to the next thing. This is one of the most important things I learned while at Burlington. Apple reminds us of this in their latest ad campaign.

“...we spend a lot of time on a few great things.until every idea we touch enhances each life it touches.”

This says it all. Our EdTech team at Burlington Public Schools didn’t seek out to reform education, remix it or even transform it. We simply wanted to give our students and teachers the best opportunity to thrive in a world that is constantly evolving and demanding change. We made selfless decisions with the students in mind above everything else. And in the end we endured criticisms and compliments. We spent time on a few great things and, in the end gave our students and teachers an opportunity to show the world what educational technology can be.

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