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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