My summer "vacation" is finally here, but in name only. I actually have more work to do this summer than I can remember in recent years. So far, I've had exactly one weekend off and I am staring at my calendar for the next couple of months in disbelief. When did all these deadlines pop-up on my calendar? Where did all these meetings come from? When did I agree to lead training sessions? Something is wrong with this picture when your so-called vacation is busier than your actual time on the clock. But who the heck am I to complain, because most of the stuff coming up includes projects that I begged for my school district to start for the longest time. As I have mentioned before in a previous post, we were lagging behind in the "new ideas" and "progress" departments at my job. Thankfully this is changing, and not slowly, but more rapidly than even I could have imagined. We are testing out new applications, new hardware, new methods of sharing information and it is all way cool. For once we are not watching the other guys get all the shiny new toys. We are the guys questioning and leading the way to the next big thing.
Aside from the ongoing personnel additions, my first big calendar event will be the ISTE conference in two weeks. ISTE stands for the International Society for Technology in Education. If you are unfamiliar with ISTE, this is the big mama summer conference for all things EdTech (educational technology). I have never been because the host city is usually somewhere too expensive for me to afford even a cheap plane ticket. This year the host city is San Antonio, so a three-hour drive up the highway is nothing compared to the knowledge and exposure to new ideas I hope to gain. I also had to pay for the registration for this conference out of my own pocket. This may not sound like a big deal, but my district doles out tons of money each summer for various individuals to attend staff development conferences. You pretty much just have to find a conference worthy of attention and then very sweetly ask for your campus or district superior to foot the bill. The response is usually a quick yes on the condition that you use whatever training you receive at your chosen conference to come back to your campus and train others.
Because I accepted a new position a couple of months ago, I could not ask my old boss to pay for my ISTE registration, nor could I march right up to my new boss to ask the same thing. Call it stupid pride, but I just paid for the whole damn thing myself to avoid any awkward moments. Maybe that is the reason why I have such a vested interest in this trip because it is 100% mine. It is totally for my own self improvement, very much in the same way the yoga conference, clean eating seminars and running trips have been for my own growth and enjoyment. I did those things because I intrinsically recognized something I could gain personally and not because someone else thought it would be a good fit for me. I will be able to sit in on sessions from experts in my personal learning network, as well as sit in on meetings about the latest and greatest product trends on the market.
Also on the calendar is my Google certification exam. Everything I know about Google Apps for Education has been self-taught, as is everything else I know about instructional technology. Yes, I have my masters on the topic, but that degree was earned 10 years ago. Anything in regards to technology from a decade ago might as well have been a century ago because things change so quickly in this field. I have stayed up to date by following expert blogs and tech reviews and being just plain curious whenever new things hit the market. Thank goodness for the openness of information in technology these days or I would be at a loss as an educator. The training modules are online and I can study at my own pace. The overall goal is to get it done this summer, while I supposedly have more free time to do it. Yeah, right. Free time is not in the cards for me this summer. Any other free hours will be spent with my guys, kicking back for some family time. A weekend trip here and there will be squeezed in between the various home improvement projects we still have going on. An occasional trip to the neighborhood pool will be arranged just to remind my kids that, yes, it actually is summer vacation after all. Throw in a couple of popsicles and we will be alright.