I've always been a Beatles fan. Didn't grow up listening to them exclusively, but whenever we were riding in the car, my dad would be singing along to "oldies" on his tapes - that still work to this day. It wasn't uncommon to hear The Four Seasons pretty often, or other times The Beach Boys or The Mamas and the Papas. He never went wrong playing my favorites Rock Around the Clock or Bridge Over Troubled Water. Needless to say, with a plethora of music throughout our house (including my teeny-bopper pop of choice, Backstreet Boys or Jewel), it's no surprise I grew up to be a music teacher in the end, and how the lyrics of a song allow me to examine who I am and how I am living in and for the moment.
I wanted to take a moment, before the end of the year comes, and you start pressing "delete" on really long emails, for a moment of reflection, making this my last blog of the school year. Look at how far we've come, now a year later from the first wave of Waukesha One, which was the start of our journey. We buckled our seat-belts, and rode the roller coaster of a ride throughout our year - sometimes, filled with a bit of terror in dangling off the edge of a drop, yet more frequently, times filled with excitement as we head into the loop-de-loop, a bit upside-down, but taking on whatever twist and turns are around the next curve.
Are we better for it? Was Waukesha One worth it? In talking with one of our instructional strategies coordinators today and processing through everything that has occurred, I could not be feeling more pumped for what we have done. Creating opportunities for deepened and heightened thinking and skills among our students, more access to technology in general to open new doors otherwise not available, and simply, engagement in and for learning. What a year of riding the wave!
Even more, I asked my student tech team last week at our final meeting of the year, what their favorite part of the year was in being a part of Waukesha One. Among all five exiting fifth graders, their answer was simple: helping others. Whether it was integrating into classroom literacy instruction to make a book trailer, to talking and collaborating with our attendees at Images of Excellence in January, they lived for our team and to have the chance to help others. Additionally, the confidence in which I've seen them grow has really been amazing to watch. They've grown to be some of the best leaders to teach technology skills to demonstrate learning to others. I can't wait to see what they will become, and what they will do - I'm just grateful I was a small part of the start of who they are growing up to be.
So ultimately, what do I take away from Waukesha One's first year? Perhaps the same lessons from the song In My Life by the Beatles, "There are places I remember, all my life, though some have changed. Some forever, not for better. Some have gone, and some remain. Though I know I'll never lose affection, for people and things that went before. I know I'll often stop and think about them. In my life, I love you more."
There will always be things we remember about Waukesha One. Perhaps the first cracked screen is one thing that would be "not for better," nor the 30+ game apps found with no room for our core apps. It happens, and that's life. But...then there are those first projects, those first iMovies using new literacy concepts with metaphors or similes, or the first eBook from Book Creator describing a science project and field trip. These are the memories that "will always remain."
Finally, it comes down to the planning with our colleagues who might have become friends, or the care each of us as educators has in that shared mission together and shared purpose - our love for our students. When I stop to think about this, it's those around me - both teachers and learners that have driven me. Those are the places and people, I will remember all my life.
That's what I think about in my life of Waukesha One, Year One. Can't wait to see what's next.
Best wishes and blessings to you all this summer!