Monday, August 9, 2010

Sweet Dreams (of Technology)

Last year my wife and I entered videos into the eInstruction video contest to try and win a $30,000 technology makeover. We entered this international contest every year for three years. After a long, hard competition my wife's video won the elementary division. Even though my video didn't win I really liked the way it turned out. The kids did a great job showing some of the tools we used to make a music video. If you've never seen it here it is:

Sweet Dreams (of Technology) revised from Doug Valentine on Vimeo.

P.S. I was very happy my wife's video won in case you were wondering :)

Thursday, August 5, 2010

What's it all about?

Summer does strange things to me. Maybe it's the ability to stay up too late and wake up whenever I want. Maybe it's the lack of routine or daily challenges. Somehow I tend to lose focus on what I should be doing and what needs to be done.
Last year was very rewarding and very trying. Our school and entire district was rated "exemplary." I know how hard everyone worked to make this happen. And yet, I believe sometimes we lose focus on what is important. We have teacher meetings, learning communities, professional development, paperwork, and all of the new things that "we should be trying." Administration constantly adds to the stack of "non-negotiables" without ever taking anything away. We get so involved in being a better teacher that sometimes we lose the primary focus of that goal. We talk, we plan, we execute and if we're really good we evaluate and change the things we do. We take workshops, we discuss how we can move up, over or out. We serve on committees, lead teachers and teach leaders. Even though we are busy all the time I feel like we sometimes still forget what is most important. Do you know what it is? What our primary goal in education should be? Can you put your finger on what sometimes gets lost in all of our good intentions? It's the kids. That's why we're here. That should be the bottom line for all of us as teachers. We need to ask the simple question "What is best for the kids?" We need to look at our grand plans through the lens of "Does this best serve our kids and their learning?" We need to focus the most energy on doing those activities that will make an impact on the lives of those kids that we are responsible for. All these other things we do have importance but if there is no relationship to student learning then what are they all about? As we all breath in a collective sigh and prepare ourselves for the new battles before us, I think it's important to ask the question of what it is we are fighting for. I think i've made my choice...have you?

Sunday, August 1, 2010