Saturday, July 23, 2011

Oh, What A Feeling!

As you can probably tell from many of my posts, I am pretty frustrated with what is going on in education these days.  I was certainly starting to feel burned out and depressed.

Back in February, I applied for a grant - the SCRIBES grant.  This is a two-year professional development grant through UC Riverside.  The underlying premise of the grant is: teachers know what kind of professional development they need.  Teachers should be the ones making the decisions rather than having professional development imposed upon them.  In the SCRIBES grant, 65% of the funds (up to $30,000) must be spent on professional development.  The rest can be spent on materials.

Now I had never written a grant in my life.  But I figured, go big.  So I asked two of my colleagues to be on the grant team, and I got started writing.  I received great feedback from my team, administrator, and district technology folks.  This helped me greatly improve the proposal.  Thirty pages and countless hours later, the proposal was done.  The focus of the grant was increasing student engagement and achievement through the use of mobile technology.  Included in the proposal were the following: the ISTE conference in Philadelphia, the CUE conference in Palm Springs, three technology trainings at the OCDE, one iPod Touch cart with 20 devices, three laptops, and various days dedicated to training our staff and having our own district people train us.

In early April I received a letter from UCR.  We had been awarded the grant!  I couldn't believe it!  (I still can't!)  So, last month our team attended the ISTE conference in Philadelphia.  What an amazing experience!  I learned so much, met wonderful people, and of course we jammed in some sight-seeing.  I cannot wait to start applying what I have learned in my classroom.

I feel so energized and renewed.  This grant has given me an incredible gift beyond the actual professional development and materials.  It has given me something I have been missing for quite some time - excitement about teaching.  Being able to choose my own direction regarding professional development has made me feel empowered in a way I haven't felt in years.  And being able to bring my own learning to my students and actually have the tools to implement that learning?  Priceless!

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