A decade.

It didn’t hit me until a friend pointed it out a few weeks ago.

I joined Twitter in 2009, right before my first NECC (now ISTE) conference.

2010 was the first Edcamp Philly event that I put on with some of the most amazing educators around.

The Edcamp Philly crew!

2010 was also the year that I was blessed to be recognized as an “Emerging Leader” by ISTE, which led to connecting with people like Julie Stevens, Lisa Sjogren, Adam Bellow, Chris Craft & Andy Crozier.

Over the next few years, I continued with Edcamp planning and development, with the emergence of the Edcamp Foundation through the hard work of our team. If anything, I would call this decade the decade of the Edcamp. I strongly believe that the work that we started, that was carried on by countless educators around the globe, has fundamentally changed professional development and the structure of many regional and national conferences.

In 2013 I was co-organizing the Philly EdTech Meetup with my friend Donna Murdoch, and we had a spectacular panel discussion including current ISTE CEO Richard Culatta (who was then working in the Office of Education Technology in the Department of Education). It was during this panel that I found out that I had been recognized as PAECT’s Teacher of the Year at the annual conference, which I had to miss due to the event.

In July 2013, I got married to my partner of nearly ten years, and I had the amazing opportunity to join the founding staff of Science Leadership Academy at Beeber. After one of the most rewarding teaching years of my life, I had my son in the summer of 2014, and stepped back from much of the work I had been doing, including managing the Philly EdTech Meetup, and serving on the board of directors for the Edcamp Foundation.

It was in 2014 that I recognized the true weight of work/life balance. I have spent the last 6 years re-aligning my priorities and re-aligning my identity.

In 2016, I wrote a post about how to teach students about fake news, and this led to a book contract in early 2017. This was also the year we graduated our first class at SLA Beeber.

In 2018, my daughter entered our lives. Let me tell you, going from one kid to two was challenge in so many ways. 2018 was also the year we decided to sell our house. I was still writing my book, and paying for a sitter while escaping to a coffee shop or the library to write a few paragraphs at a time. Balancing motherhood, teaching full time and writing a book, while also putting our house on the market was trying for our entire family. It didn’t help that my daughter was still not sleeping more than 2-3 hours a night at time. In June 2019, the ISTE conference was in Philly and I had a great time reconnecting with inspirational women like Kristina Ishmael, Elana Leoni, Suzie Boss, and Beth Holland (among many more!) Conversations at ISTE helped me put my work over the last year and a half on my book in perspective and reinforce my commitment to the edtech community. (Though whether “edtech” is even a thing in 2020 will be interesting to follow.)

We finally sold our house in August 2019. My son started Kindergarten, and in October 2019, my book was released. Teaching full time, parenting, and trying to convince people that they should read me book has proved a challenging end to 2019 but an exciting start to 2020.

If I have learned anything over the last ten years, it has been to really think carefully about what I commit to, and to always consider my family as a priority. This means that I have to say “no” to some opportunities, and that I can’t be the hyper-engaged person in my professional life I was before. Still, we can never be exactly the same for our entire lives and, honestly, shouldn’t be. In ten years’ time, we don’t lose the essence of ourselves, but our experiences mold our perspective and impact our identity.

As I look back over this last decade, I also think of the journeys my friends and colleagues have taken. I am thankful that, no matter how disengaged I was with my online community, they were still there when I popped in and made a concerted effort to reconnect and learn.

2020 also represents a turning point for me. It’s the year I turn 40. A number is just a number, but I can’t escape the feeling that I am supposed to have accomplished x, y and z by now. Two tweets stand out.

In 2020 I need to be reminded that I’m the only one who should be defining what success means for me and, honestly, how important success actually is in relation to the joy of watching my almost two year old dance along with Elmo, my 5 year old narrate his comics that he draws, or the time spent with my husband in the limited time we get alone.

I hope that the next decade also brings an end to divisive rhetoric, a focus on the changing climate, and a focus on public education as a necessity in investing in the future of our young people and our planet. I also hope that we see media literacy and the understanding of the (sometimes uninvited) influences that technology has on our self perception and world perception become commonplace and that the US gets on board with protecting the privacy of its citizens when it comes to digital technologies.

If you got this far, I thank you for your support over the past ten years, or for taking the time to reflect with me. May your coming year bring new perspective and joy.

4 Comments

  1. Reply

    YOU. ARE. AWESOME.

    Thanks for advocating for life balance. Am trying to do better at that (and, yes, it’s a constant struggle).

    I have your new book and will get to it soon… Happy New Year!

    • marybethhertz

      Reply

      Thanks, Scott!

      Good luck with the new year and let me know what you think of the book!

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