Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Ignite Your Passion for Discovery ~ Greenville, SC, February 23, 2016

Trying to discover my curiosities of life to share at Discovery Ed's "Ignite Your Passion" didn’t come easy at first. So many questions entered my mind along with doubt...frustration set in, extreme frustration. How can I talk about being curious if I’m not a curious person. I doomed myself till all of the sudden, Kelly’s sweet voice from her friendly emails came to mind. “Don’t stress” After repeatedly going through this cycle, I finally got past my inner doubts to consider the foundational ideas of curiosity. What makes a person curious? 

Inspiration. Something inspires you to want to delve deeper. You begin down the endless and inviting rabbit holes of curiosity! I experienced inspiration from Jerry Blumengarten (better know as @Cybraryman1 on Twitter) when I attended ISTE  this summer in Philadelphia. The man who has a webpage about everything oozes curiosity. He said, “Challenge yourself to try something new.” After being at ISTE, I could think of oh so many cool new things to try, but I felt the urge to challenge myself deeper.  Let’s call this maybe “the apprehensive curiosity.” Maybe try something not necessarily at the top of my list, maybe something I had shied away from, but really should learn to explore?  What was I not willing to embrace? It’s kind of like getting that shot you know is good for you, but you’re still not convinced you want the nurse to “take the plunge.” Yes, I knew what I needed to take the plunge into... 

My challenge was robotics and coding. I’m from that generation that didn’t encourage girls to pursue these topics.  Math and Science were my worst subjects and the limited experiences I had with it left me frustrated! I saw all my friends on Twitter were loving this hot topic, and I felt like such a fraud that I didn’t know how to embrace these topics. How could I overcome my past experiences and find the excitement in learning a topic I had mental barriers towards? Who do I know that would help me find the fun curiosity in exploring robotics and coding? Of course, the students! They knew how to keeps things simple, fun, and uncomplicated! I needed to find some students to learn with!  

I quickly obtained some of the robots that had piqued my curiosity and after the excitement of opening the packages, that old familiar sinking feeling of doubt hit me.  How was I going to figure out all of this this so I could teach the students? No, I decided my approach was going to be different. I’m going to figure it out with the students and so began a journey of curiosity and exploration that has been a blast! I recruited classes of all ages across my district to partner with. They were ecstatic but a little taken back when I announced I would not be teaching them how to use the robots but we’d explore and learn together. At first I saw concern in the students eyes as if they were saying to me, “Aren’t you going to do what teachers normally do and tell us how to do what you want.” As I gave up my control as a teacher, students became free to explore uninhibited.  We’d break into groups, explore a bit, then come back and share with the rest of the group what we had learned. We continued the cycle of exploration and sharing till class was almost over. How quickly time flew by and of course the pleading voices of the students started insisting that I stay. 

Since I started this journey of apprehensive curiosity back in the November, over 400 students have joined in embracing my curiosity. I was changed, other teachers and students were changed. I’m so grateful I was able to move past my fears and apprehension to fuel my curiosity for robotics and coding. I’m still learning and have a long way to go, but my perspectives have changed completely!

Do you have something you need to embrace but have allowed apprehension to pull you back?  Take the plunge today! Endless rabbit holes of curiosity are waiting for you to explore!

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