Wednesday, 31 December 2014

The year that rocked and the people that made it possible

It is the end of an amazing school year where I have had some tremendous success and multiple things to be grateful for. As the year draws to a close and 2015 beckons, I thought I would write a reflective blog post about 2014 - my highlights, what I'm thankful for and the people that have inspired/impacted me. I'm extremely humbled and eternally grateful to everyone that have been part of these last few years.
(I started this before going on holiday, but only finishing it 4 weeks later).
In no particular order, here they are:

1 My family

My wife Jacqui (@JaxduT) has always encouraged ad challenged me, and a lot of my success I owe to her. My daughter Joscelyn turned 4 at the end of 2014, and I'm motivated to improve education for her future (the one that we have no idea what it will look like). They will always continue to be my most important motivation and inspiration.
2012 Family photos

2 TeachMeet at EduTECH
Early this year Matt Esterman (@mesterman) asked me on Twitter if I was interested in presenting at the TeachMeet sessions he was organising for EduTECH. At this point I had never even been to a TeachMeet, but my mantra this year was to try and say 'Yes' to as many new/different opportunities that I came across. What a wonderful opportunity and I loved being part of this event. This was the start of many new adventures that would follow in the second half of the year. Here is my blog post that I wrote about this event from earlier this year EduTECH and Teachmeet reflections 2014

CSA Queensland Conference 
At around the same time my schools Assistant Principal, Stuart Taylor (@sharelearning), left a note on my desk with the application form to present an hour long workshop at the CSA Conference in Brisbane. The note read "Go on, make my day and sign the form". Well I did, and in July I was presenting an hour long workshop on using Evernote in the classroom. It was another tremendous learning experience that helped me develop my own skills in presenting. 

4. Google Teacher Academy 2014 in Sydney
Being selected to be part of the 2014 GTA in Sydney to become a Google Certified teacher was unbelievable. Here is my blog post on the journey:What a journey: Google Teacher Academy 2014. It was such an amazing experience, and I'm excited for the journey ahead in 2015 to build to my 'Moonshot'. I made so many new connections and met many of my Twitter PLN face-to-face for the first time. I'm looking forward to building these connections over the coming year and being part of the Google Certified Teachers community. I even made it onto the local television news and newspapers.

5 The #tweetingAztecs Project
The #tweetingAztecs Project I did with my Ancient History class in October was so much fun, and the students loved it. Have a look at the blog post, it explains it. I was so grateful for the assistance of Simon McKenzie (@connectedtchr) in sharing his resources and what he had done. The project got noticed by Vicki Davis (@coolcatteacher) - click here, one of the most inspiring voices in education online & one of the first people I followed on Twitter, and I was contacted to appear on her radio show podcast next year. I'm looking forward to being part of her Every Classroom Matters Podcast to discuss #tweetingaztecs.

7 Student achievements
I teach seniors, and every year a new group finishes and graduates. One of the most exciting parts is looking at how they have improved from the previous. I sit down with them at the start of the year, we look at where they were and where they want to end up. Also seeing the skills and knowledge that the students have gained over the course of their time in my classroom, and then how they are applying it in other subjects or life areas.

8 School colleagues
I work with some amazing teachers, and many have been part of my journey over the past year. Whether it was as support, encouragement, challenging me, guiding me or just being a good friend. Stuart Taylor (@sharelearning), the man that started me on my Twitter journey; Robyn McCarthy (@moocargirl), passionate Middle School champion; Debbie White (@biowhitey), Biology, moderator, wearer of countless hats and straight shooter; Larry McKeown, passionate middle school teacher, good friend; Tonya Holder, another passionate middle school teacher; and many others that have been there along the way.

9 Twitter
The impact that Twitter and my PLN have had on me over the past few years has been immense. It has opened up my world to so much more in education that I could have imagined. There are countless number of people that I have interacted with and have helped me along the way. I'm extremely grateful to everyone that have been part of my PLN. Some do require special mention (I would highly recommend you follow them on Twitter), the individuals that I have interacted with often, collaborated, challenged ideas, supported and become online friends along the way:

10 Teachmeets
Getting involved in TeachMeets this year has been fantastic. From the EduTECH experience I launched TeachMeet Fraser Coast in my region with our first event in August - click here. At the end of the year I did another more informal TeachMeet and I'm looking forward to plenty more in 2015. It is such a brilliant way for educators to share and get together.

11 Tech Tools Tuesdays
I started a weekly morning session for staff at my school where I could share some ideas, and tools that they could use. Still in its infancy, I have several regulars and hopefully next year a lot more will join in. The blog for this is not quite up to date, Term 4 was incredibly busy. 

12 Peter Grobler
I also had the opportunity to catch up with one of my old high school teachers. He is truly an inspirational man, that had a big impact on my life. One of my inspirations to become a teacher. We all need time in our lives to acknowledge these wonderful people that impacted us. Peter is a humble, passionate man, loves God and I have the highest respect for him.

Looking at 2015
I'm very excited about lies ahead over the next 6 months. More on these as the year progresses. I have been selected alongside Matt Esterman and Simon McKenzie to co-present at EduTECH in June (extremly excited about this). I start my Masters with CSU - Knowledge Networks & Digital Innovation (also very excited about this and what I will be learning). I will also be organising TeachMeets & GEG (Google Education Group) events, plus getting involved with other schools in the region. I have also managed to secure Eric Sheninger to do a whole day workshop at my school before he keynotes at EduTECH. Plus so many other ideas that I want to try with my students and who knows what else...

There are so many people and experiences that shape our lives, and we need to remember to acknowledge this. I still have a lot to learn, a lot to grow and a lot to share. I'm looking forward to seeing how my teaching journey changes, develops and progresses in the future. I love what I do, and it so exciting to be involved in Education.

PS: I forgot to add in my week as @edutweetoz, and that was also a great highlight and interesting experience. Great format with so many different and new perspectives. Have a look at this great format -