I used to think _____________, but now I think ________.

I can't believe it's been a whole year since the world changed. 

Many of my favorite podcasts and PLN friends recently shared reflections, questions, and prompts to reminisce on this past year, and since I'm doing a #safeathomespringbreak, I thought it would be worthwhile to spend time reflecting, too. In addition, I received my first vaccine dose on Saturday (3/13/21) so I'm feeling especially grateful and reflective today.

I must acknowledge how fortunate I am with my health and my family's health and well-being. I know it's a privilege that I have been able to work safely at home, that I can have groceries delivered, and that I have the technology to stay connected to friends and family. 

My Pre-Pandemic Timeline:

One of my resolutions for 2020 was to journal at least three times a week, so I have quite an accurate record of my feelings leading up to the pandemic declaration. I want to put all of this information in one place so I'll have a record of what happened.
  • February 29, 2020: Attended an #edcamp, and one of my friends told the story of her son trying to get out of Rome and his study-abroad program. Italy was shutting down because of COVID-19.
  • March 6: Helped run our whole Staff Learning Day, and we started our spring break at the end of the day. I remember my shock when South by Southwest canceled that evening. 
  • March 7: Flew to Portland, Oregon with my work friend, Arynn. We talked a little about "the virus," and we packed extra hand sanitizer and Clorox wipes for the flight. We saw a few masks at the airport.
  • March 8: Met #botjoy artist Gary Hirsch! We all hugged hello. (When we saw him before we left on 3/10, we elbow-bumped goodbye.)
  • March 9 - 11: Enjoyed an amazing time on our mural tour and loved being in PDX. We continued to use a lot of hand sanitizer, but it was not a fearful time.
  • March 11: Flight home, and we definitely saw more masks at the airport. Started hearing about closings: schools, districts, events. The NBA suspended its season.
  • March 12: Some of our first districts started closing and extending their spring breaks. Kristin called and asked me to start a website (or something) to begin curating resources for educators. Twitter exploded with resources.
  • March 13: the US declared a national state of emergency, which was fitting for a Friday the 13th. I remember my "COVID-dreams," started that weekend. I kept waking up thinking I was feverish or with a sore throat, believing I caught something on the trip to Portland.
  • March 16: Returned to work, and what a fearful place it was. Districts were closing all over, and we didn't know what to do, so we kept working on a website of resources. Many of us were in a large open space, sharing details about how to get the work on the remote learning website when the government declared to avoid gatherings of more than 10 people.
  • March 17: Worked from home and started curating resources. Our director told us mid-afternoon that we HAD to start presenting Zoom webinars tomorrow. We had no presentations, no materials, and little knowledge of Zoom. The team of six of us figured out what to present, and then we went to work. I was so thankful that I helped facilitate #EdChangeGlobal in 2018, and I knew something about Zoom, but I had never facilitated a webinar on my own. We weren't able to advertise until about 4:00 PM that day, and we shared via social media. 
  • March 18: 10 AM, I kicked off our entire "Emergency Remote Learning" webinar series with a brand new session, Mindsets of Remote Learning. And it's been the webinar/Zoom life for me ever since that day. 
Thinking back to those days still makes me agitated and makes my heart race! I seriously can't believe it's been a year. Somewhere within that week, we first canceled our #CoffeeEDU and then re-vamped it to be an online meetup, so this Saturday's event will be a one-year celebration of resilience and gratitude.

I used to think...

One of my favorite Visible Thinking routines is to respond to the prompt "I used to think ... but now I think ..." (My students even tried something similar, and I documented one example on my old class blog in 2012!) That sentence starter has been useful as I've worked on my personal reflections for the year.

For our team book study this semester, our Director chose A Beautiful Constraint, which is apropos for the year, right? 😳 My first "reflection" activity today was to create a "year in numbers" graphic to highlight the work I've accomplished despite the year of constraints. This year, I've "reached" more educators and created more content than in my combined past 5 years at R10! 

I used to think there were only a few ways to deliver PD, but now I think the sky is the limit! 

Our teams at the ESC have been so creative with their professional learning sessions, innovative solutions to reach educators, inventive formats, structures, and delivery methods, and I'm so impressed with what my colleagues designed and facilitated this year! Our team's first two weeks of the emergency remote webinars was an incredible achievement, and I'm still so proud of our work. We reached thousands of educators in a few days' time, and I think (hope!) we helped alleviate some of the enormous stress.

With synchronous and asynchronous learning, nano-courses to lengthy online courses, facilitated learning to independent explorations, I hope we continue to design and deliver a multitude of session types and formats. As I mentioned in my last post, I also learned so much about my own preferences and the types of learning experiences that I want to participate in, and it's wonderful to have so many choices available.

Understanding the many ways to "do" PD has been a highlight and a huge area of growth for me this year. In addition, I'm on a committee at work to help design a professional learning model for our service center, so PD has been at the forefront of my mind all year. My next goal, however, is to find ways to really help that learning transfer and stick.

This week, I plan to continue to reflect on the past year. It certainly has been a time of learning for me, and I want to continue developing my ideas about PD and growing into a better designer and facilitator. 

Always learning about professional learning.

PS: My 2020 spring break trip to Portland was one of the best trips. I couldn't think of a better way to spend my last pre-pandemic days. Here are a few photos of the #botjoy mural tour.