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Having an Impact: ISTE 2018

Wow! I cannot believe it. Two weeks from now I will be traveling to Chicago. I am lucky enough to be attending ISTE for the second year in a row and wait for it... PRESENTING for the second year as well. Now let me be honest here... I am only presenting one poster session, but come on, this is ISTE for goodness sake! A poster means 3 hours of sharing ideas with like-minded educators who, in most cases, understand my crazy ideas.

Jenny and I at FETC in 2017
My journey to ISTE really started about three years ago when a friend and colleague of mine, Jenny, asked if I would be interested in presenting with her at a tech conference in Orlando, Florida. For the last four years we have collaborated on a really cool project called Our First Grade Gardens, a cross-curricular project that includes the use of augmented reality to put students inside of their painting (for more on that go to Jenny’s blog), and Jenny thought we should share our idea with a larger audience. Of course my answer was, "Sure!" Her next question was, "Have you ever been to ISTE?" and then we were off to the races. Now we have taken our presentation to FETC, ISTE and a modified version to the National Science Teacher Association's conference (NSTA). Teachers from all over the world have learned about our project and share how inspired they were.

Macy's Teacher of the Year Gala, 2016
I used to be content just focusing on the impact I was having on my students in my classroom, between my four walls. Then, in 2016, I was honored to represent my school and the Florida Atlantic University School District as the Macy's District Teacher of the Year. It was a humbling experience, being in a room with 72 District Teachers of the Year, 72 of the top educators in the state of Florida. We learned from each other, listened to experts, and even had the chance to weigh in on Florida Education through a brainstorming session with FL Governor Rick Scott. I also had the opportunity to take part in the Florida Lead Teacher Network for profession development, provided by the Florida Department of Education. Through this PD, they made us realize that we needed to have a more global outlook. Imagine the impact we could have on the world of education if we were teacher leaders and reached "beyond our classroom walls". Anyway, I didn't realize it right away, but this PD changed me. Over the last two years, I really have tried to find ways to cause some change, to make learning a little more engaging for students not just in my class, but also my grade level, my school, and surrounding districts.

Jenny's invitation to present with her made me realize that what I do can have a larger impact. These state, national, and international conferences are allowing me to share ideas and hopefully inspire some educators to go outside of their comfort zones and to try something new. As Jenny and I prepare for another ISTE poster session, I am counting my blessings for the opportunities I have been granted and hope that when my time is up in the profession, I will have cause a ripple in the ocean that is education.




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