I can't begin to express how much I admire and appreciate the immediate response of the Digital Learning team to the sudden crisis for educators, students, and parents with the closing of schools. On Monday, March 16 we returned from Spring Break to a world that was completely different from the one we had left on Friday, March 6, The situation was evolving rapidly as decisions were being made at multiple levels of government about school and business closures and working and learning remotely.
Monday was spent processing the shock, preparing to work from home, and beginning to plan how to effectively support our schools and educators. The team's usual approach to planning professional learning support is a design approach, involving research and incorporating the Design Essentials of our Professional Learning Model. We determined that for the immediate circumstances we did not have the luxury of the time required for that approach, but still felt the need to model best practices to the extent possible.
Tuesday was spent (collaborating remotely) developing content and a schedule for webinars to be offered beginning on Wednesday, along with the development of our site for curating and sharing resources for remote instruction - http://bit.ly/R10remote. Below is a snapshot of the traffic on the site from Google Analytics for the 3 days of March 18-20.
Wednesday the site was live and the webinars began. Between Wednesday and Friday the team delivered 12 newly created webinars to more than 3000 participants. The number of participants would likely have been higher, but our Zoom learning room maxed out at 300 participants for each session. In addition to preparing and delivering the webinar sessions the team held remote office hours throughout each day, captioned the webinar recordings and created a YouTube Playlist, which as of this morning has been viewed 3550 times.
We are now into the 4th week of emergency remote learning and the immediacy of the crisis has abated somewhat. All of the service areas at Region 10 are responding remarkably to anticipate and address needs and I'm proud to be a part of this organization during this time, but I am especially proud of our first responders - Kathryn Laster, Misty Trevino, Nancy Watson, Beth Dolliver, Julianna Perkins, Ashley Menefee, and their coordinators Lori Aden and Ashley Wilson.
I got an email today from the Orpheus Chamber Singers here in Dallas that triggered a 42 year old memory of an experience I had in England when I was in college. I sang in the Acapella Chorus and twice had the opportunity to tour Great Britain in the summers between semesters. One of my favorite pieces to sing was composed by Thomas Tallis in the 16th century, and one of my most vivid musical memories is singing it in an ancient chapel in Kent where he had lived. I haven't thought of that moment in years, but hearing the song again today reminded me of the way the music flowed in the acoustics of that old building. An unexpected pleasure during a stressful time...enjoy.
I had the privilege of closing our online service on Palm Sunday by offering a blessing to my church community. You may want to fast forward through my comments, but don't miss the video at the end...
As I sit at a gate at DFW airport, already delayed by several hours on my journey to ISTE19, I reflect on the irony that my one word for this year is Gratitude. I will miss the Leadership Exchange activities this afternoon - one of my highlights at the conference - and probably the opening general session as well. This has been a month where being grateful has not been easy; never the less, I am grateful.
My dad died on June 2. Upon retirement, my parents moved to Mountain Home, AR. I am grateful they lived a fulfilling and happy life for nearly 20 years until health issues impacted them both. They loved living in Mountain Home, but it is not an easy place to get to. Over the past couple of years I've made that journey at least once a month, and sometimes more frequently. I'm grateful for having made that effort for the time it has allowed me to spend with them. I'm grateful that I saw my dad shortly before he died. And while I grieve his loss, I'm grateful that his physical pain and suffering has ended.
I was born and raised in the northern panhandle of West Virginia, where my ancestors can be traced back to shortly after the Revolutionary War. I've been in Texas since graduating from college nearly 40 years ago, My parents lived a life full of good relationships in Wheeling, WV, until my dad had a job transfer a few years before he could retire. I am grateful for the power of social media to bridge time and space. The love and support from friends and family in WV, where my parents haven't lived in more than 20 years, has been overwhelming. I am grateful to have been able to gather reflections from family in a shared document and share those to a private Facebook group of friends and family from their earlier life.
I am grateful to my parents' friends in Mountain Home for their support of my sisters and me during the week that we spent in Mountain Home making arrangements and holding a service. I am grateful for the cards, thoughts, plants, gifts, and support from my own circles in Texas - my church family, my work family, and especially my Digital Learning team at Region 10.
The day after I returned from Mountain Home a major storm hit the Dallas area. We were without power for nearly 36 hours (others were out longer) and I lost limbs from a couple of large oak trees. I am grateful to have not lost the trees. I am grateful that what damage we had was not significant. I am grateful for the group of neighbors that almost immediately began helping each other clean up. Within a few hours of the storm's passing we had gone from house to house on our street, cutting limbs and dragging brush and branches to the curb. I am grateful that the temperature was relatively pleasant for June in Texas during the hours that we were without power.
And, as I sit here disappointed at missing parts of the conference that I've been looking forward to, I am grateful that the airlines value safety enough to take not one, but two planes out of service after boarding. And I am still grateful to be heading to ISTE19.
The most important thing that a father can do for his children is to love their mother...Theodore M. Hesburgh
My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person, he believed in me...Jim Valvano
My father didn't tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it...Clarence B. Kelland
It is easier for a man to have children than for children to have a real father...Pope John XXIII
My father used to play with my brother and me in the yard. Mother would come out and say, "You're tearing up the grass." "We're not raising grass," Dad would reply. "We're raising boys."...Harmon Killebrew
By profession I am a soldier and take pride in that fact. But I am prouder – infinitely prouder – to be a father. A soldier destroys in order to build; the father only builds, never destroys. The one has the potentiality of death; the other embodies creation and life. And while the hordes of death are mighty, the battalions of life are mightier still. It is my hope that my son, when I am gone, will remember me not from the battle field but in the home repeating with him our simple daily prayer, 'Our Father who art in Heaven.'...Douglas MacArthur
When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years...Mark Twain