Over 15 years ago, I decided I wanted to be a Technology Director some day. Who was that person who could actualize what technologies teachers and students would have access to? Who was that person who could delve into the mysteries of servers and instruction?
I won't wax rhapsodic just yet about the new job--after all, I'm not due to start for another month or two--but I am absolutely ecstatic! In fact, I can't describe how many times a smile crossed my face today.
Of course, this means I'll be leaving a position I've been Director of Instructional Technology for almost 10 years (as of 06/03/2012). It's a challenge since I have a FANTASTIC team that I'm leaving, and I get choked up every time I think that in a few months, they won't be the folks I look to. That said, I also know that an equally phenomenal team is waiting, and that our synergy will be transformative.
For now, though, it is a time to pause, look back, and reflect on the road taken, before looking forward again. I took a moment to reflect on some of the major accomplishments since I took the position on in 2002, and it's simply amazing.
Allow me to reminisce a bit....
Since June 3, 2002, I have had the opportunity to serve my current employer as Director of Instructional Technology and Learning Services (ITLS). The experience has been professionally rewarding and I am truly grateful for the learning experiences, the teaming enjoyed with other staff at campuses and departments.
When I first arrived, the District had profound needs. With a team of four professional staff members--which I later grew to seven, then shrunk down to three after Spring, 2011 budget cuts--and one fantastic secretary, the Office of Instructional Technology Services’ services and advocacy met the needs of District students and staff with these programs:
- District Strategic Planning and Assessment (e.g. STaR Chart, LOTI, TAGLIT) of technology programs that impact Teaching & Learning, Administrative Support Services, and Educator Preparation. The Texas ePlan is primarily composed of Instructional Technology programs.
- Introduction of web-based access to technology professional learning materials for staff, students, and parents. This predated the plethora of free resources available now!
- Campus Technology Representatives (CTR) initiative that facilitated a reciprocal dialogue with campuses about technology and instruction.
- Online registration and management of professional development that had previously been paper-based, not allowing for centralized tracking and reporting of learning opportunities for staff. In fact, I created the first system for use in the District, although it has now been replaced by a more complex system.
- Electronic Gradebook and Attendance Tracking System (GATS) at a time when teachers still employed paper gradebooks.
- A Content Management System for web-site maintenance (e.g. Campus/Department Web Coordinators Program).
- Technology Integration Lead Teacher (TILT) Program that impacted over 100 educators (8 cohorts of 20 to 30 teachers and/or principals) in the District, providing sustained professional development in the area of enhancing instruction through the strategic application of technology.
- Online Employee Appraisal System (EASy) was championed by the Office of Instructional technology Services.
- Blended and 100% online learning opportunities for K-12 and adult learners through the setup of Moodle, a free, open source course management system that, again, saved the District money and impacting thousands of K-12 students as well as adult learners.
These programs and initiatives would not have been possible without the collaborative contributions of key staff members--some whom already have resigned and moved on, retired, or passed away--including my supervisor. I am appreciative to them, as well as to everyone I had the opportunity to work with in my current school district, especially my current team of “incredibles.”
- Many more initiatives such as the Technology Competency Certification Plan (TCCP), Campus Administrator Technology Leadership, Data-Driven Administrator Seminars (DDAS), Technology Assessment Literacy Institute, and Handheld Reading Initiative and others too numerous to list.
While it's easy to measure accomplishment in a list of actions taken, there are different ways to gauge success. Two other ways include
- Measuring the impact on district students and staff, how the work of a small team leveraged technology to bring about sweeping changes.
- Asking myself what are some of the valuable lessons I learned along the way.
Those valuable lessons are captured in multiple blog entries blended into the over 10,000 I've written since I began blogging many years ago. But the most important lesson comes to me from a story I heard when I was 18 years old. I'm not sure of the origin of the story, or even if my memory is accurate, but the lesson is as powerful for me today as it was then.
The Secret to Happiness
Once upon a time, a man stood crying alone on the rooftop of his house. He was unhappy, and he cried out, "I just want to be happy." An angel appeared to him, and offered to grant him 3 wishes over the course of his life. "Grant my wish, angel!" the man begged.
He was mourning the fact that the roof he stood upon was of a house he did not own, that his creditors beat upon his door and his wife lived in fear of furniture and vehicles being seized. The first wish the man asked for was wealth.
For a time, he was happy but then his wife fell ill and no amount of money could save her. As he wept again at her plight, the angel appeared again and offered to grant him a wish. The man wished for health, but in spite of his health and family's being improved, over time, he realized that this did not make him happy.
He reflected long and hard on this, even writing a few blog entries, sending out a few tweets, and checking with his PLN.
Finally, one night as he suffered weariness of spirit in spite of riches, family, and perfect health, the angel appeared to him to grant his final wish, present at his unbidden request. "Angel," the old man asked, "grant me my wish...teach me to be grateful for all that has happened and will happen in my life." The angel made it so.
At last, the man achieved happiness.
No matter the experience, large or small, whether it kicked me in the teeth or made me feel fantastic, I'm grateful for it.
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