It’s that time of the year again. The closing of another year, time spent celebrating with friends and family and often a time when we pause and reflect on many things. During Thanksgiving we harken back to the celebratory feast in Plymouth Colony and give thanks for all we have. In a month or so, we will close the chapter of another year of life, love, despair and joy. In the spirit of the season, here are a few things I am thankful for and a few reflections on the past year.


Giving Thanks
At this moment I am most thankful for the continued support, good faith and generosity of those around me. I work a lot. It seems like my work is never finished. After a 9 hour day at work, I often come home and crack the computer open to do my “other work.” I am blessed to have an understanding and patient boyfriend of the last 8 years who has stuck with me through conferences away from home and through nights buried in my computer screen.

I am also thankful for the amazing Edcamp Foundation team that has become like a family over the last few years. It is beautiful to see how we share good news and celebrate successes as well as when we share hardships and offer solace. They are a team like no other.

I also have the good fortune to work with an amazing group of neighbors and friends of the South Philly Food Co-op. Similarly, my fellow Board members have become like a family, and I love how the Co-op has my neighborhood so much closer. I can’t leave my house without seeing someone I know. Often, it was the Co-op that brought us together. It has been magical to watch the dream of a dozen South Philly residents turn into a 320 member organization over the last two years.

I am also thankful for the new people who have entered my life through the Philadelphia education world and the way have put their faith in me. It has been amazing to work with such passionate and energizing folks in my own city.

This past year has been transformative and exciting. Specifically, this school year has proved to be one of my best years in and out of the classroom. This summer I dedicated hours and hours writing a tech curriculum with a framework that has proved to be very successful. After years of pulling together my own curriculum and only somewhat following it, I have found that this year I have been able to really focus on the specific skills and concepts my students should know when they leave me (and here I welcome the critics that would tell me that it’s not about what I think my students need, but rather what my students decide they need). I have always struggled to decide what is most important for my students to know. They often only use a computer at school, and when they do, it’s only during the two 45 minute classes they spend with me weekly. Now that I have a guide, it has made my daily decisions much easier. I have always believed that part of my job is it to close the digital gap that my student face in comparison with their middle class, suburban peers, and I feel more confident that I am achieving that goal this year.

This is not to say that this year has been perfect, no year ever is. Still, this year has the potential to be my most effective year as a technology teacher. In addition, it is the year that I was able to put the networking skills that I have built over the last 3 years through Twitter and blogging to use in my own city. This year I have also made many connections here in Philadelphia with amazing potential to bring “real world” opportunities to students and educators while providing tech companies the opportunity to get involved in workforce development with Philadelphia youth. The extraordinarily positive response to my newest endeavor has also been extremely energizing and exciting.

Final Thoughts

A wise person once said, “Life moves pretty fast; if you don’t stop and look around every once in a while, you might miss it.” While this wise person may have also been a fictional movie character, I often revisit that phrase to remind myself to stop and slow down. Sometimes it’s easier to keep moving–filling our time with work, hobbies, social responsibilities, and other distractions–than it is to think about what we’re doing and why we’re doing it. I challenge you to do both. I am confident that you with be thankful you did.

photo credit: Fotopedia

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