A Reason to be Open

The ILTA EdTech conference got underway today in IT Carlow, and I was among a group of presenters speaking about the ILTA-ALT partnership, which is sponsoring ten Irish applicants for CMALT certification. My meagre contribution, though well-received, was my decision to openly share my portfolio.

But I’ll be writing about this decision in depth another time. The real reason that I’m writing a post in my hotel room is that I got some unpleasant, but not unexpected news late this afternoon.

I started working as a Learning Technologist in the Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT) at NUI Galway three years ago tomorrow. Don’t worry – I’m still going to be working there. I was lucky enough to receive a part-time permanent contract in November 2016, and had been fortunate enough to maintain full-time work under temporary contracts. As of tomorrow, I will be back to part-time. It’s not ideal, to put it mildly. My first reaction was to fight back tears, but with some effort, my vision cleared. Then I felt an odd sense of calm.

I had been a secondary school teacher in the United States and Ireland for most of my career. I loved my students. I still love teaching. I will always miss it. But I was not always encouraged or supported. I didn’t have many opportunities for CPD or professional growth. That’s not to say that’s ubiquitous across the sector, but that was my experience.

So, what does this have to do with open practice?

Just before I received this email, I was talking to one of the other CMALT applicants about my philosophy around open. Very simply put, I am not into self-promotion. I’m not entirely comfortable putting myself out there. However, I believe in being open as an educator. While we all have triumphs, we also make mistakes, and sharing and reflecting on these moments is worth sharing. It’s worth being proud of our practice. It’s because education matters. It matters a whole lot to me. We learn by sharing. I’ve learned so much from open practitioners that are willing to share their trials and tribulations, so why shouldn’t I do the same?

The reason I felt a resounding calm after receiving bad news is simple, it’s because I’m happy where I work. For the first time, I work for great people. I work with great people. I want to be there. I work with people who support me, who care about me, and encourage me. Maybe I can use this time to reflect more, to read more, to write more, to share practice more.

If I hadn’t started working in CELT, I wouldn’t be part of the CMALT cohort presenting at this conference. I wouldn’t have so many opportunities that are now available to me. I’m grateful, and I felt like sharing it with others. Sometimes it takes an unexpected jolt to help us recognise our privilege.

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