Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself. ~ John Dewey

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The next decision of the next chapter of my life has been made. Next year my wife and I will move to Seattle, WA and be based out of there for whatever is next for us.

seattle
View from our Condo

It has been 10 years since we lived in the States and we’re excited to go back and reconnect with friends and family as well as live in our condo that we’ve renovated over the past two years. 

I’m still planning on consulting and working on projects that I’ve always wanted time to work on.

If you’re looking for a consultant/presenter/speaker in the U.S. know that my flights just got a lot cheaper starting in June. 🙂

Seattle will be a great place to be based out of as I’m still only a 10 – 15 hour flight from Asia (Yes…I said only….if it’s not over 20 hours it’s not a long trip). Seattle has a great international airport and direct flights to most of America as well. I can’t think of a better place to base myself out of; Close to family, friends, an International airport, and of course the Mariners

How long are we “coming home” for? That’s a good question. If we look at the data that is my life…..

Since I graduated high school here’s how long I’ve made it in any one place:

Numbers given in years:

2 – Community College
1 – Eastern Washington University
1 – Washington State University
1 – Spokane, WA
2 – Aberdeen, WA
3 – Yanbu, Saudi Arabia
3 – Shanghai, China
4 – Bangkok, Thailand
? – Seattle, WA 

I get itchy feet…plus you never know who will come calling or what “job” will look exciting when and where and have us moving again.

For now I’m excited to consult, speak, write, teach, work on projects that might come my way, and poke the box

Life’s a journey and I’m just traveling it.

Earlier this week I handed in my resignation letter to my Head of School, Dr. Gerrtiz. It’s funny the two responses I’ve been getting.

Those who know me well and understand the international teaching world knew this was probably coming soon. I mean I’ve been here for four years…in Jeff’s world that is an eternity. In fact these four years are the longest I’ve held a job at the same institution ever….as in….ever in my life.

lost
I want to get lost by Xabier.M

 

Those who don’t know me very well or the way international teaching works are wondering why I would resign from a job that I’m perfectly happy at during a time when educators are being let go left and right in the States. I have to say that’s a good question….a really good question.

The answer is I’m ready for something new….something different…..as I wrote about four years ago after resigning from Shanghai American School and eventually ending up at ISB.

But this time I think my something different won’t includie working full time in a school. Not ruling out any options at this point but there are so many things I want to do that don’t include working full time in a school. There are so many teachers, so many students around the world that need support in the changes that are happening in education because of technology that I’m finding my passion leading me in that direction more and more.

The COETAIL program that was started at ISB and has now spread through the Asia region continues to grow. Currently there are about 125 educators enrolled in the program in 5 different cohorts. With e-mails coming in almost daily now of people asking how they can join, I want to be able to support these teachers and their students. If you take the rough estimate class size of 20 (class sizes are typically smaller at International Schools) then we’re effecting the education of some 2,500 students. That excites me and I want to dedicate more time to the program and to the teachers in it.

Google Apps in schools continues to take off as well around the world. I believe at this moment in time it’s the best set of tools out there for educational institutions and organizations as a whole. I want to help them learn the full potential of these collaborative tools.

There are all the workshops and presentations I’ve been giving over the past couple of years that have fueled my passion and my thoughts. I simply enjoy learning with others.

I’ve been doing all of this while also working full time at ISB. Living a crazy life that has left little time for family and friends. I’m out of balance at the moment working harder than I’m playing….and that’s not good.

There is also all the stuff I haven’t been able to do that I really would like the time to work on.

I want to start podcasting again….I miss the conversations.

I want to write more. Reach needs updating and there’s two other books in my brain that need to find their way out in some form or another.

I want to spend more time with you….the readers of this blog and my network at large. The last two years my contributions to the greater educational conversation aren’t what they should be and I need to give more back to the network that has given to me so freely and openly.

In the end….I have no idea where I’ll end up, what I’ll be doing. Which is both completely scary and completely exciting.

I do know one thing for certain though. No matter what happens, what’s next for me in life, I know my social-network will play a large part in defining that for me. That’s how I ended up here at ISB (Thank you Dennis, Kim and Justin) in the first place.

So I turn myself over to you social-network. The human connections that make this world the amazing place it is in helping me define what’s next for me.

More to come as the next chapter unfolds.

Andy Torris is back writing again after the New Year’s break and his first blog post about computers being a toy has me wondering about the blurred line between tool and toy.

The fact is that the students are, in our 1:1 program, really enjoying having full, unfettered use of their computers.  I believe the same holds true with the teachers.  The students have loaded on their own music, began building their own photo libraries. They have added bookmarks, tabs and links to the multiple browsers they use on their machines.  They really like their computers and have “fun” using them to learn, to communicate (formally and informally). They use them to create artwork, movies, podcasts, reports and documents. They use them to research, learn, comprehend and create new understandings about their world.  In short, it is a great learning toy… er… tool.

Flickr ID: clemsonunivlibrary
Flickr ID: clemsonunivlibrary

I just hate it when the lines between formal and informal learning are blurred…and when community members start complaining that students are having ‘fun’ with what is suppose to be a learning tool…well…that just makes me smile. 🙂

I remember those days curled up with my high school math textbook and a big grin across my face because I was having so much fun! NOT!

When we give students a computer and allow them to personalize it, it’s going to become a toy….but it’s not their fault….we all do it.

In the last couple months I have helped a teacher start a personal website (with her school computer) I have helped a teacher edit personal photos (on her school computer) and I’ve helped a teacher learn how to take video, condense it and upload it to e-mail because she’s taking her daughter on college visits in a couple months. I’m starting to wonder if teachers ever do any work on their computers.

….and don’t even get me started on how teachers personalize their computers, with stickers, fancy covers, different stands, and protectors. I’d bet there are maybe 10 teacher computers in the elementary school that have not been customized on the outside….and yes….these are school owned-must give back when you leave-computers.

You see, computers aren’t a tool anymore…they are part of us. I quit using the term 21st Century Learning a few years ago and I’m really close to giving up talking about computers being “just a tool”. At one point they were just a tool, but we’re pass that point. Computers are now our telephone as Skype just passed 12% of all international calling traffic. They’re in our pocket, they go on vacation with us, and keep us connected and organized. They are our calendar, our diary,…..our lives.

For many of us….and I would argue for most of our students….if you told them technology was just a tool they’d look at you weird….you know that look kids give when an adult is trying to tell them something they just don’t get.

Yes….computers are fun, they are amazing learning tools, but they are so much more than that. They allow us to create in class and out, they allow us to communicate, in class and out. They allow us to stay organized in school and out….they are a part of us.

I’m sure someone out there is thinking “that’s really sad…that computers are a part of us”. I’m not saying we can’t live without them for a day or two. But your TV is a computer, your DVD player, your car, your cell phone, your GPS.

Computers are a part of our daily lives whether we’re in education or not….and the lines between work and play or tool and toy continue to blur, we’re going to have to adjust how we think of computers as they continue to become a part of our daily lives.