Friday, July 15, 2016

DENSI 2016

A year ago, I was boarding a plane to represent Nevada at an international teaching convention in Washington DC.  Full of excitement and an open mind, I was ready to learn from the best and build up my professional learning network. I was ready for some tribe time.  I was ready for {DENSI}.  I had an amazing week and started the school year so energized and ready to try new technology tools with my students. happened.  Student behaviors made it very, very difficult to be the teacher that I wanted to be.

Later on this week, a hundred or so educators from across the United States, Canada, and the UK will be descending upon Chicago for Discovery Education Network's annual summer institute (DENSI).  

With a heavy heart, I will not be joining. I applied, but was wait listed.  

This has been a hard pill to swallow and one I've been grappling with for months.  I've started and stopped this blog post a half dozen times, but writing is therapeutic and keeping it to myself doesn't do any good.  The timing of the waitlisted news came within days of learning that I would not be earning a raise for completing my masters +32 coursework (but more on that debacle later). 

My grade level and administration was incredibly supportive at helping me deal with this news in the form of hugs, texts, and treats.  One of the coordinators and my favorite people at Discovery called and emailed to let me know she was proud of the work I'd done and make sure I knew I was still cared for.  It was a tough decision for Discovery. I'm sure they had hundreds (if not thousands) of applications and a finite number of spots.  I've had the privilege to attend twice.  It wasn't my time, as difficult as that is to accept.

I guess professionally I needed an ego adjustment.  I (wrongly) assumed that because I'd been twice and was hosting the ambassador program for the district, I was a shoe-in.  I filmed my application video once and even though I made a mistake in it, I corrected myself mid-video and kept going. I didn't take it as seriously as I should have.    

If I'm being super honest (and reflective), I didn't try a lot of new technology things this year.  We did a kahoot session to review for a test, skyped a few times to other states, and did a virtual field trip.  I struggled with classroom management due to a variety of issues (mainly student thieves) and I let my frustrations get the better of me.  I didn't try new things with my class because I couldn't trust them not to harm the materials or each other.  I learned lots of amazing things at DENSI 2015, but I kept them to myself.  That's not how collaboration should work.  That's not the mindset I want to have as a teacher.

I've spent a lot of time this summer reflecting on last year (because it was a tough year) and changes I want to make for next year.

I will not be teaching inclusion next year.  I will not have the pleasure of working with our wonderful new sped teacher Mrs. H, but I've come to terms with it.  I wasn't explicitly told I wasn't inclusion, but heard through the grape vine that they thought I needed a break.  The other inclusion teacher is also getting a break, so that made it feel less personal.  I had to shift my mindset from "I failed and they don't trust me with the inclusion students" to "they realize it's hard dealing with behavior plans, IEPs, and difficult parents, so let's give them a break". 

I'll be teaching to my strengths next year.  I'll still be co-teaching, but this time with the GATE teacher.  I'll have more of the "outside of the box" thinkers, and since that's how my brain is wired, I think there's a lot of potential for some awesome enrichment activities.  I've already got some thematic units in the work with a colleague, so it's nice to add some fun and excitement back into the classroom (which, truly, is the spirit of the DEN).

I am genuinely excited for my friends that get to spend the next week in Chicago.  I am glad that there are a bunch of newbies that get to experience the magic that is DENSI.  But I wish I was there.

Financially, it wouldn't have been a good time to go. I have vet appointments for the cats and medical appointments next week to keep me busy. I'll be limiting my social media time to keep my jealousy in check.  Luckily they archive everything so when I'm ready, I can learn digitally and virtually. 

For those of you at DENSI 2016, enjoy! Maximize your learning time. Take notes and don't feel like you have implement everything right away.  Your brain will hurt. 

Learn lots for me! 

Hopefully DENSI 2017 is in the cards!   

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