As 2016 comes to a close, I want to reflect on the year, my growth, development, and accomplishments. It has been one of the most fast-paced years of my life with a tsunami of opportunities, changes, and connections flooding my life. More than anything else, I love to learn, grow, and connect to better myself and those around me, and 2016 did not disappoint. 

By far, my biggest accomplishment in 2016 was completing graduate school. I took me several years to decide which path I wanted to take in my career, and which school would help me accomplish those next steps. Southern Methodist University’s Accelerated School Leadership Program turned out to be exactly what I needed. As I studied Educational Leadership and attained Texas Principal Certification in this cohort style program, I learned more in these 14 months than any other collective period of time in my life.

SMU’s Master of Education program not only prepared me with the real world skills needed to be a change agent in K-12 education, but it also provided me with the many soft skills necessary to help grow teachers as leaders, create positive school culture and climate, and help provide equitable access to education for all students. As I continue to learn and grow as an educator, the foundation I received here will serve as a strong unwavering support for all of my future endeavors. 

Along with finishing an M.Ed. program, I also changed roles, schools, and districts. Undoubtedly, change is hard, scary, and intimidating; nevertheless, I was ecstatic to have the opportunity to help teachers and students in a new way. I had spent my entire (8 years) career in education as an ELAR teacher, so moving into the role of instruction coach would definitely bring new opportunities for growth and development. Leaving the classroom is never easy for a teacher, but having the chance to positively affect so many stakeholders at a school is immensely rewarding.

Being a part of a school and district that went one-to-one with iPads married two of my all time passions: technology and education. I spent 4 years as a Specialist working for Apple Retail, and I know the power, opportunities, and potential iPads bring to education. I remember back in 2010 getting the first iPad on release day and hooking it up to my projector in the classroom the very next day. In my mind, I immediately thought of the classroom applications for this new technology. Now I get to help other educators unlock the potential of technology in the classroom to improve teaching and learning. 

In 2016, I was always looking for ways to further my knowledge base, connect with like-minded educators, and improve my practice. A lot of this came through the form of conferences and edcamps. Two of the biggest conferences I attended where the TCEA Conference & Expo and the ISTE Conference & Expo. Talk about information overload (in the best way possible) and connection central; these two edtech based conferences helped transform my pedagogy, ideology, and leadership. I now have the pleasure of facilitating sessions at both conferences in 2017 to help others learn and grow and improve their schools and districts.

I don’t even know where to begin with edcamps and the unconference movement, but I have absolutely fallen in love with these nontraditional educator meet ups as the best way to connect, learn, and grow with other educators. So much so, that in 2017 I will be organizing my first edcamp to bring the movement to my school and district. Recognizing that all educators have insight that they can bring to the table is the most powerful weapon we can use to leverage innovation in instruction to make learning for students meaningful, authentic, and fun.

I’m excited about what 2017 has to offer, as I resolve to continue making education better for students and teachers through technology integration, to never stop learning with plans to apply for a doctoral program and to continue sharing what I learn with others because I know we are better together.