Recently, I listened to someone equate complacency with being unaware. Being unaware of your surroundings, unaware of people, unaware of yourself, means you ignore it. If you ignore something, you become satisfied, contented. Everyone experiences this in their own bodies. The brain is bombarded by internal and external stimuli every second. The body via various mechanisms, makes adjustments based on this information. The brain is responsive to everything without our consciously being aware of it. However, what we do perceive, what we define as sensation, is based on our consciousness, our awareness of it. We are completely content, happily ignoring all the functions of our body until we are made aware.
I thought of myself as a solid teacher. Not great like Mr. Hansen or Mrs. Parsley, like Mr. Smith or Mrs. Porter, or even Mr. Shock, but good. Other teachers, parents, even my students, said I was. So, without realizing it, I had become content as a teacher. Don’t get me wrong, I pursued professional learning: I attended AP summer institutes, I attended training on everything from small scale Chemistry to effectively using PLC’s, I even researched and implemented a version of JiTT (Just in Time Teaching started by Gregor Novak and used by Eric Mazur) for all my classes. I was pursuing the best practices I knew. (Therein lies the spoiler to this tale.)
Then in the spring, I had an opportunity to attend the San Francisco NSTA conference. I was a skinny kid in a candy store, overwhelmed by the possibilities, afraid of missing out here if I was there, and, yet, determined not to miss out on anything. And so, I stumbled upon a technology session, one of four I had scheduled for that time slot. It was being put on by the EdTechInnovators. It was amazing, eye-opening. I was jazzed. I had dabbled with GoogleDocs; I had a class website; I was using glogs; but I was dipping a toe in the shallows. The absolute depths of tools, integration, and innovation possible was astounding. I knew my students and I could embark and explore this new frontier. We could do wiki projects, we could do cross-curricular studies, and my brain took off.
Determined not to lose traction on my new found, trail-blazing activities, I assigned wiki projects (some with more success than others), trolled the Internet for cool Web 2.0 tools my students could use, and started a Twitter account. Well, more accurately, actually started using the Twitter account. In addition, I decided to participate in the ISTE 2011 conference virtually through the Remote ISTE option. Plus, thanks to a tweet by Adam Taylor (@2footgiraffe), I could join TeachMeet Nashville (#tmnash) the same way. At some point through this, I stumbled upon the flipped classroom, joined the flipped classroom ning (still not exactly clear on what a ning is, but going with the flow) and began the process of creating and posting some of my lectures to a second website. It has been a busy, intense summer.
But, then I had this epiphany. My frontier was a superhighway.
I had dabbled with technology but had ignored the possibilities; I had remained unaware of the potential. Yet, the very questions I hadn’t asked myself as a teacher created a narrow, limited, defined boundary in my classroom; and consequently in my students. This summer has, ironically, been about eliminating boundaries and pushing the envelope in a way I didn’t know it could be pushed or needed to be pushed. Getting connected in a different way surrounded by challenging ideas has had an impact on my outlook and will directly impact my students. I won’t go so far as to say it’s transformed my approach to a job I love, but it has provided a much needed influx of hope and renewed determination to do better and to listen more. It is a reminder that to find, you have to seek; to encounter opportunity, you have to knock on the door.
Again, I’m jazzed. Thanks to an eclectic mix of professionals I have found, not to agree with, but who can provide a different voice I am now aware I need.
In the body, the brain is bombarded by internal and external stimuli every second. The body via various mechanisms, makes adjustments based on this information. The brain is responsive to everything without our consciously being aware of it. However, what we do perceive, what we define as sensation, is based on our consciousness, our awareness of it. We can ignore it until we are made aware.
Awareness is everything.