This fall marks the fourth school year that I did not return to the classroom. It’s a strange feeling for someone who always knew she would be a teacher. At first I took baby steps. In fact, when I left my classroom it was to become an achievement coach for a school district that was going one-to-one. High school students and their teachers were receiving netbooks to support technology integration, the development of 21st century learning skills and moving from print to digital. I was assigned to one of the local high schools in the district. Rather than having 5 class periods of 30 students, I had a faculty of about 100 and nearly 1500 students to work with.
As my role of eLearning coach evolved, I realized I wanted to pursue formal education in this field. My Twitter PLN was helpful, but I was finding that I had questions others couldn’t answer, and I needed to work on understanding the “why” of what I was doing. At the same time I began my masters in learning technologies, I moved from a building coach position to a district level role. Perhaps because these things happened in tandem, I didn’t realize what a leap I’d made. By mid-quarter that third year, I was hounding teachers to invite me to their classrooms. It’s hard to be a teacher and not even be in a school. During the course of the year, I found my niches and enjoyed visiting various schools and working with groups downtown. During the day, I worked with different teams as part of the larger eLearning team. At night, I worked with project teams for my masters program–often in Google Hangouts, Skype or through WebEx meetings.
Now the bulk of my meetings are done virtually. I continue to refer to myself as an educator, although I no longer have a classroom, I don’t report to a school or even work for a district. Just before the start of the new school year, I accepted a position with the Indiana Department of Education, Office of eLearning. My official title is eLearning Development Specialist; although, if we are meeting for the first time, I’m more likely to introduce myself as an educator. It’s really the same thing.