Make Your Mark in Education with the Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert Program
In the book The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds, a young girl struggles with her drawing. Her teacher tells her to make her mark and see where it takes her. Before long, this girl discovers she has talents she never knew she had. I read this story to all of my library students each year because we all need reminders that trying new things can take you down a road you never imaged you would select.
Applying to be a Microsoft Expert Educator will take down this road of discovery. I know because I’ve been there twice. This path will change your views on what it means to be a teacher, improve your skills, and introduce you to educators you need to meet.
Three years ago I began experimenting with making book trailers to advertise and entice the students at our school to read more. They love videos, so why not bring that technology to the classroom? I made one, showed it to my classes and then crossed my fingers. Would a book video entice them to read the book? Not only was the answer “Yes!” it was, “can we try it too?” Soon the students were making their own book trailers, which have now been viewed on our school library blog thousands of times to children around the world.
A friend who was helping me with this project urged me to apply to the Microsoft Educator program. I dismissed her at first because I wasn’t “techie” enough. Finally I listened, and that book trailer project first took me to the US Forum, and then to the Global Forum in Prague, where I met countless energized teachers using technology in their classrooms. I was hooked.
My next project, Books to Africa opened up a different avenue in global collaboration. Having found extra boxes of unused books in closets around the school, I wondered if our students would like to make their mark by improving world literacy. I read The Dot, and then asked them if they were interested in raising money to send books to some teacher friends I met from Africa at the Global Forum. With another “Yes!” for answer, we were off on project number two. We raised money for postage, learned about Ghana, Lesotho, and South Africa from our Microsoft teacher friends, and sent over 1,000 books that first year to some very excited children. I applied for the Microsoft Expert Educator program, and this project took me to Barcelona, for my second global forum.
Just this week, a student who has moved on to middle school sent me a book trailer for me to publish. She made it on her own at home because she wanted to share her love for the novel Little Women with others. We are beginning year three with our Books to Africa program and the kids are excited about another year connecting with our peers overseas. Our students have internalized what it means to make a mark on the world.
Opening new doors of using technology, meeting people from every end of the globe, and trying the unexpected are just a few ways the Expert Educator program will change you. Just applying will me you re-think your methodology of teaching.
Now, it’s your turn. The application is open until October 15, 2014. What are you waiting for? Are you worried that you aren’t “techie” enough or you’re not a traditional classroom teacher? I didn’t think I was either. Speaking from experience, it doesn’t matter what subject you teach, it’s the way you enhance your lessons with the tools and help your students expand their learning that’s key. I’m living proof that you are just right for the Expert Educator path.
It’s time to take the risk! Apply now and see where your mark in education will take you.