Saturday, January 23, 2016

How to ...Get Started

Yogi Berra once said, "to get started, you have to decide to start and the best place to begin is at the beginning." Actually, I made that up, but it sounds Yogi Berra-ish, and is so simplistic that it's brilliant.

So you've just survived a back to school faculty meeting that really put a damper on your "what did you do this summer" colleague conversations.  To add to the frustration, at your school district level presentations, you had a 30 minute overview of all the new GAFE you will be required to use (no time for training sessions due to data meetings, mandatory department/standards meetings, etc.), you were told you had to have your Google Classroom up and running before the first day of school, and that, in the highly unlikely case you weren't able to internalize all the information from the overview (insert eye roll), the professional development team had shared the presentation with you - just check your Drive.

Now, overwhelmed and alone in your classroom, you're rethinking your career path for the 913th time. NCLB-check. RTI-check. IEP, IDEA, FAPE, FERPA? Check, check, check, checkeroo.  GAFE? <chirp, chirp>.  How in the name of all that is good and pure in the world are you supposed to learn and implement all this...stuff?  How do you even get started?

Welcome to what the students in your classroom feel like every time you begin a new topic. They are overwhelmed, frustrated, have defeatist attitudes, question the need for this, wonder when they will ever have time to learn it all, and they are fearful of failing.  Exactly like you feel staring down this GAFE stuff.  As the teacher, you know what they need, why they need it, and how to make that seemingly unscalable mountain of information easier to climb.  Where and who is YOUR teacher; the oh-so-helpful tour guide to break it down and help you navigate through this mess? Well, YOU are your teacher. You need a YOU for tackling this stuff, and who better to be you than you?

So grasshopper, how do you start? For my answer, I direct you towards a song in the greatest stop motion animated feature of all time from my friends at Rankin and Bass (with help from Mickey Rooney and Keenan Wynn) that I refer to as the Best Advice Ever.

Today take your first step.  GAFE = Google Apps For Education.  Tomorrow, put one foot in front of the other.  THAT'S how you get started.