The past two weeks have been very demanding, taxing, and challenging for me personally– but also very affirming and motivating as well. Today, I took another vacation day from work so I could share two presentations with educators at “Rethink: The Digital School” events sponsored by Apple Computer. Since the summer of 2005, I have been an “Apple Distinguished Educator,” and part of my role in that capacity (which is unpaid) is to share about the creative ways students and teachers are using Apple technology tools in the classroom to authentically learn and grow. Last weekend was particularly grueling, as I worked most of Saturday and Sunday completing scheduling for my day job for our Summer1 iTV classes that will be starting in a few short weeks, as well as finishing up a $480,000 TxTIP extension grant for three area schools that will not only provide funds for continued 1:1 laptop immersion for about 500 students and 50 teachers, but also provide funds for another campus (at least a grade level there) to immerse as well in 2007-2008. Add to that all the emails, the website changes, the meetings, the various and sundry requests for assistance and production services that I and the staff I work with must meet– and it is an understatement to say that I feel tired and rather taxed.

As I sit here in the airplane on the way back to Lubbock (offline of course) composing this blog post, I am wondering and thinking about many things– but the most basic thought is this. Just what is it that I want to do with my life? Where do I feel called to work and serve, and where is my voice needed to challenge, exhort, and uplift those who need encouragement?

As any of you who have read my blog for long already know, I am an idealist. I am an educator because I believe in teachers. I believe in the power of individuals to make a positive, constructive difference in the lives of others– I know this power is real, because I have experienced it multiple times in my own life. I do not need to read a scientifically designed research study to know it is true. I do not need to read it on the Internet or in a print publication to validate this truth. I know it because I have lived it, and want to continue living it each day.

Every day we live, we face an uncertain future, but I think we often take false comfort in the perceived predictability of our lives. No one can tell with certainty what tomorrow holds, or even what will happen a few hours from now. At times in our lives, particularly when we face large decision-points, however, I think the reality of this uncertainly becomes more apparent. The veil is lifted, and we see life for what it is: an uncertain enterprise, with uncertain outcomes. It is at times like these I think we, as human beings, tend to lean most strongly on our faith– for those of us who make the claim that we may not know what the future holds, but we do know Who holds the future.

Uncertainty is easier to deal with through the lens and understanding that faith provides, but it is still difficult. The professional choices facing me today can probably be summarized in the following list:

  • Status quo.
  • Corporate/business role as a K-20 education advocate.
  • Higher education professor, tenure track model.
  • K-12 administrator/leader, or even teacher– but that role pays less and is unfortunately less likely to be viable in this season of life, given my responsibilities and fiscal realities.

The thought going through my mind this afternoon, after spending a superb day with Don Henderson of Apple Computer along with others, and last week spending an amazing day with Marco Torres, is basically this:

I want to be an educational change agent.

In fact, I am considering adding that to my online vitae. Right now I describe myself with the following words:

Educator, Author, Digital Storyteller.

I’m thinking of rewriting this as:

Educator, Author, Digital Storyteller, Change Agent.

But what hat shall I wear as I seek to do and be these things? And what hat will best enable me to do the most important work of all, which is being a husband to my wife and a father to my children? I honestly cannot say. And I must take solace in the fact that ultimately, this will not be entirely up to me. We shall see what opportunities present themselves, and weigh the options against the others that are available.

I have opened the door, and I am not sure what lies beyond. Uncertainly is a difficult companion, but I am dealing fairly with her these days. Perhaps soon a door will open fully that I had not anticipated or planned on, and when it does– I will know that it is the door for me. I understand that the purpose of my life is not captured entirely by trips to the mountaintop or to the valley– both of which I have experienced several times– but rather in the journey– the adventure, into which I am called and to which I respond.

Two or three weeks ago on a Saturday morning, I put together this short remix of movie clip audio segments (and one song clip) that reflects some of my internal dialog about these issues. This favorite poem also comes to mind in this context:

The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.

J.R.R. Tolkien via Gandalf in the “Fellowship of the Ring.”

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On this day..

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5 Responses to What do I want to do?

  1. Robert says:

    Whatever you do, keep writing this blog! I have really come to appreciate it as one of the really consistently thought-provoking and challenging blogs in the edusphere. This is part of your role as a “change agent”, I think.

    Also, how exactly does one become an Apple Distinguished Educator?

  2. Wesley Fryer says:

    I certainly want to keep blogging and podcasting, Robert– so we’ll see what the opportunities are and how they would impact my ability to speak and write freely. I appreciate your feedback.

    ADEs are nominated by Apple employees and other ADEs, and selected by a committee (I think) based on different factors…. I know I was nominated by several people, mainly for the work I’ve been doing with 1:1 laptop immersion projects in our area. There are ADE’s from all levels, both K-12 and higher education, and people have very different passions and skills. Some are really into music, others into creative digital video, some into professional development, etc. It is a great community– really an AMAZING community, because there are so many passionate people involved who really care about kids, teaching and learning, and making a positive difference through their various educational roles. Apple doesn’t have a new “ADE class” every year, it depends on various factors, this year there is not going to be a new class from what I understand. I was in the class of 2005. If you’re interested I would recommend contacting your local or regional Apple sales rep and finding out who your regional development executive is. Apple is a great company and has more heart for the education space than any other corporation I’ve ever seen– technology company or otherwise. Most technology companies are all about selling the box or the product– of course Apple is focused on quarterly sales too, but their heart is truly in the education sphere. Just look how long they’ve been involved in education and doing research on things like technology immersion– ACOT is still the benchmark.

  3. Aaron says:

    Hello, Wesley.

    I just wanted to echo Robert’s ideas. I think you are playing a vital role for fellow teachers. A change agent. A thought provoker. I appreciate your honest reflection in this post. It’s never easy when you find yourself in uncertain situations, or at the threshhold of a major life change.

    I think, though, that the advantage belongs to those who trust in the One who holds the future. There is peace in the storm. Uncertainty yes. But great peace.

    I listened to a podcast yesterday that I think you may find speaks into your situation. Have you ever heard of Mosaic? Check them out. Their last series of messages have been just amazing!

    Podcast: He who saves one life, saves the whole world.
    URL: http://mosaic.org/podcast/
    I hope you enjoy it, I sure did.

    God bless you,
    Aaron, Mexico City

  4. Chris Barker says:

    Wes,

    Thanks for your transparency. I believe “change agent” is a very fitting description of you in a variety of arenas. I have found that when I am up against the wall with a large load of several projects holding me there some of my best work comes out. May your road go ever on.

    Chris

  5. […] I stumbled upon this post titled “What Do I Want to Do?” by Wes Fryer. I encourage everyone to take the time to read it for a small example of, what I believe to be, faith in the “real” world. Through Wes’s blog I am always encouraged to pursue God, even though his posts are not always about spiritual issues. Regardless of what he writes about it is obvious that he gives his job a great amount of effort. It is apparent that he believes the work he is doing will help people. I love how he serves the education community freely and faithfully, so that when he does speak of his faith he in essence becomes a reflection of glory for the Lord in his field. As Christ came into this world not to be served but to serve. Wes seems to be a classic case of a Genesis 12 fulfillment who has been blessed with much (skills, knowledge, etc.) so that he can be a blessing (educating, leading, etc.). I don’t know Wes aside from a few emails back and forth but I am sure the work he does allows him to have many conversations about the things in life that mean even more to him than his job. […]

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