Yes you read that correctly…I have proof! So skeptics keep reading, if you get it, move on to another blog post, or send this along.
If you follow me on Twitter or follow my blog and/or podcast, you know I work with students who learn differently. I am a Special Education Teacher/Director of Technology at Eagle Hill Southport (EHS), an independent school in Connecticut for students with language based learning disabilities (i.e., dyslexia, adhd, executive dysfunction) Just over two and half years ago, I was given the opportunity to take charge of way technology played a role in our skill based program. It’s exciting, but overwhelming at many moments to consider all the ways technology can support and enhance learning for students who learn differently.
This spring we are moving to pilot a program to directly provide our transitioning 8th graders, more direct instruction to utilize their technology for academic success related to accessing and producing content. We are continuously working to build this throughout our program is this relatively young technology embracing perspective; however, these kids are leaving us at the end of the year and need it now.
EHS is a Mac based school, yet about three years ago we also went BYOD. While about 99% of the 95% percent of student who bring devices bring iPads, I have one student who has a Microsoft Surface he got for his birthday earlier this year. He has figured out for himself mostly how to make it work for the needs within our building, but next year this 8th grader is heading out to a technical high school. He needs to know the tools that can be used with the Surface to support him in his learning in this environment. In my mind…EEK! I grew up with a PC junior, but heck that was back with DOS commands, and the two Windows computers in my school I usually call in our outside IT service to support. So now what…..
I have an amazing PPLN, Personal Professional Learning Network that covers many aspects of education and they rock. So today I emailed a couple people whom I know rock the assistive technology world for help with this situation. Thank you Karen Janowski, Mike Marotta, and Brian Friedlander. These individuals are assistive technology gurus, while I fall in the iPad/Dyslexia technology only focused world.
Mike immediately responded, ask Brian, and quickly followed by Brian’s response that he could help and had time right now. Karen jumped in to reiterate that Brian was the person to talk to. So I immediately picked up the phone and Brian quickly shared with me key information I needed. I know I could have spent the time to find this information, but that would have been a lot of time and likely been lacking in some areas. Brian was eager to connect, to share, to collaborate….He gave me some great information, addressing things I never would have considered. Brian is going to be another person who significantly impacts this students learning even though he has never met the 8th grader, but so are Karen and Mike who responded to say yes talk to Brian. This is the power of being a connected educator. I would not know Brian, Mike or Karen if I was not a connected educator. I am in Connecticut, Brian and Mike are in New Jersey, and Karen is in Massachusetts. I know them from Twitter…and now from so much more. But it began with Twitter.
This is not a novel story for those in the connected educator world; however, if you are wondering why to connect, why be on social media, this is it. This student, who learns differently, is going to have important meaningful instruction because I could learn from another amazing educator the things I need to focus on. I know I don’t know it all, but I do know that there are many amazing educators whose knowledge base can compliment my own, and they are eager to do so. This is being a connected educator for what truly matters, students.
So if you are a person whom I follow, or whom follows me, thank you because you impact my amazing learners every day and they are better for it.
To Brian, Karen and Mike thank you for being such amazing impacts on me and my students continuously. I so appreciate your work and what you do. So thinking “Chromebooks, Surfaces, iPads Oh My” as an ATIA conference session next year :))