Looking Back

Connecting the Dots….Learning and Leading in Ed Tech
By Kimberly Powell Oct. 2012

One of my favorite quotes comes from Steve Jobs, that states, “ You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.  You have to trust in something- your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”  My gut was telling me to pursue a Master’s in Educational Technology to prepare myself as well as my students for the future.  As I look back on my experience in the MAET program since I first walked back on the MSU campus in June 2011, I begin to connect the dots.

It was only a year and a half ago that I stepped back into campus to start my Master’s program in Educational Technology at Michigan State University.  Anxious and excited to jump back into school myself (it had been 15 years since I had graduated from MSU), I was looking forward to becoming more tech- savvy in my classroom.  I saw how fast the world was changing, and it was so important  that I understand how to best prepare my students for the future using technology.  The first week of class we were asked to write a personal growth plan as to how we would like to see ourselves growing and progressing in the program.   My first thoughts were to finally understand what TPACK stood for and why it is so important. I wanted to provide students and share with teachers how to initiate that  “sweet spot” in learning!  I also wanted to be a role model for my students and others on how to incorporate 21st century learning opportunities. Learning about digital citizenship and online learning were skills that I hoped to establish and model in my own classroom, as well as our district. Lastly, I wanted to demonstrate leadership and initiate trainings and professional development on best practices of educational technology over the next five years.

As I became inspired and motivated with each class, my goals were progressing at high speed as I wanted to model and share all that I had learned with my students and colleagues. I was blogging, tweeting, and collaborating with my PLN on  all that I was learning in the program.  Sharing ideas and connecting them to new ideas brought out many opportunities professionally. Now I was able to share many things that I have learned in my classes through presentations at conferences and school improvement meetings in my district. This enthusiasm also inspired me to initiate the opportunity to demonstrate leadership in my new position as an Educational Technology Consultant for an Intermediate School District.  I now work with teachers in seventeen school districts and provide one- to one assistance, as well as large group trainings on the integration of technology into the classroom.  Sharing TPACK, Universal Design for Learning, collaborative learning tools, as well as using social media in the classroom to many educators have  allowed me the opportunity to grow as a leader and demonstrate the knowledge that I have learned through the MAET program. Modeling digital citizenship and support for teachers and students are essential skills in my position.  When I began my writing my goals a year and a half ago, I never thought that I would have advanced professionally in my career in such a short time.  Yet, the skills that I have received in this program have prepared me to take challenges and share my knowledge with others in ways that I had never known prior.   I have connected the dots from starting out as a beginning learner to growing as an educational technology leader, and I am anxious to see where the dots will lead me to next..

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