It is summer 2017 now and I am getting ready to attend Apple Distinguished Educator Academy as an Alum and I am excited to see my friends, colleagues and participate in one of the most vibrant learning communities I have ever had the joy to a part of..
I can a be a little slow on the uptake in new situations, and joining the Apple Distinguished Educators community can be an overwhelming experience. But I wanted to share my take on the community, what means to be part of a community, and my fear for our community.
My take on ADE
I was not excited about becoming part of the ADE program at first. I was doing a new 1 to 1 iPad Program and I wanted to collaborate with others and I found it frustrating that I had to apply to do that, even going to my first institute, I still did not get it. It really only became clear to me once I started to form relationships with people in the community, that it was so special. It was the time between institute where I was able to share my knowledge, skills, towards a shared mission and advocacy that the magic was released.
The ADE community is filled with people who are great at what they do, but they don’t know everything. The group is comprised of teachers, leaders, and professors all of whom are exceptional in some way in their domains, but not always in specific technologies. Think a puzzle with many colorful pieces which creates an inspiring picture. So when I went to my first institute (academy) I had a serious case of imposter syndrome, expecting the others to figure out I did not know what i was talking about. But I found, as any creative community, the members of ADE respect each other for what they know, what they are learning, and what they don’t know..
After the institute is when the power of the network happened. As a person who coordinates a 1 to 1 iPad program, I had opportunities to bring in speakers from the group via distance technologies to talk to my faculty and students. I was able to meet up with ADE’s in Europe and learn what they are exploring and share those experiences with my students. I was able to brainstorm and bounce ideas off others to advance my own projects and help others with theirs. I was given opportunities to serve schools who educate some of the highest need students in our country via ConnectEd. All of these experiences have greatly enhanced my personal life and professional life. It has brought new ideas into my teaching, relevancy to my classroom, and friendships with other impassioned people. But oy..it can be a lot of work..
What it means to be an ADE
Being part of a community of practice (COP) has been studied by many researchers, my favorite is Lave and Wenger. Wenger defines a COP as “groups of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly.” BOOM.. there it is, INTERACTING REGULARLY.
Being an Apple Distinguished Educator is about discourse and I know that there are people in the new class, who plan on going to the academy, adding it to their resumes, maybe even start consulting, and then move on.. but that is not the point of this community. This community is about discourse, sharing, and working together towards having teachers make meaningful use of technology. Not all of this is public meetings like academy (in fact, most is not) – much of this are DM’s and messenger conversations, talks at conferences, and conversations in the online community.
Now I know that you probably know someone who is an ADE and maybe a consultant from your twitter connections or as a speaker at a conference, and those people are great, but know that they are the exception to the rule. The Majority of Apple Distinguished Educators are amazing teachers, leaders, and advisors, who have not left the classroom, but instead are soaking it all in to be able to reach kids and create meaningful learning through a supportive community. It is my hope that you come to this experience with a similar approach, and not a consulting or work for Apple goal at the forefront.
So that brings to my fear, this is my first year as an alum to welcome a new class, and I now get the nervousness of being an alum. There are many people that I met at my Academy in 2015, who I have never had contact with again. They added it to their resume or added it to their collection of titles and moved on. It makes me sad because they were selected because they had unique expertise to offer the community.
So I bring to you #ADE2017 the challenge, how will you engage in the community. What unique gifts are you bringing with you and how will you share them. How will you contribute into the shared mission of this professional network and advance our shared goals and passion. In the end, aren’t we here for the kids, or our students, or teachers, or to raise the profession and lead us into the next century of innovation. We can only achieve that by working together.
I look forward your comments on this post, your engagement at academy, and maybe we can get a cup of coffee at #ISTE2017.