In 2007 I had three life changing occurances that has lead me to this point in my life. Each of them very different but all have affected me to reach the goals that I still am yet to achieve. Sit down I hope you are ready for a long read!

In 2007 I was working in an DETNSW IT Selective High School acting as the Head of Computing. I thought with sheer arrogance that no one else was as good as me and that everyone would want to know my knowledge of how to implement technology across all KLA’s. I never visited other schools outside of the local area and often schools would visit my domain and we would show their staff how good we had it as far as all of our technology and our students ability.

Then the first life changing moment happened:

The Pasha Bulker ran aground off Nobbys

Thats right the Pasha Bulker ran aground at Nobbys Beach not far from my house. Not only did this happened but on one side of my property my Retaining Wall failed. It didnt collapse but it pushed the poles that were holding it up to tilt 60 degrees. Consequently my next door neighbour sued myself and my wife for whats known in legal terms as a “private nuisance”. That was three years ago and we are comming to the end of the mess and it looks more than likely we will move shortly. Why a life changing event….well it has taught me who my true circle of friends are. Friends come and go I know that but friends who stick by you when life is tough….really tough… when you just want to scream tough….and those friends stick by you and let you scream….they are the keepers so hold onto them. Also it has taught me a lot about human spirit and the need to survive and protect my children. I have three wonderful boys and they have been great through all this and it was important for us to be open and honest about what our neighbour has done to us. My eldest has his first GF this weekend and is a State champion for rugby league. I couldn’t be prouder!

Back at my previous school I had a wonderful principal whom was very supportive and one day in 2007 she sent me to this conference that changed the way I looked at a classroom and life in general. Hence life changing moment number 2. She sent me to the QLA conference where I met David Langford. He is such an inspiring educator and he helped me to change the way I was teaching and to try things in the classroom that traditionally were deemed radical by me. I started to implement some of his teaching methods into the classroom and I got amazing results from learners whom some teachers would deem unteachable! I became a facilitator rather than a prison warden. If ever you get a chance to see him speak or Youtube him you will see what I mean.

The third change lead me to where I am now…..at my current school. I felt I wasnt getting anywhere with the DET and an advertisement came up at a very exclusive private school in the Newcastle area. I managed to secure an interview and the first question that the Headmaster asked me was “Why did you apply for this position?”. I passed him my Langford resources and said this is why. It took me half an hour to go through all of my reasons of why and what inspiriation QLA had on me and the reason for wanting to teach. I knew that it could sway their desicion either way about me. The interview went for 2hours where the panel fired questions at me. When I got home my wife was crying thinking that something bad had happened to me because I was gone so long. I didn’t hear from the school for about two weeks and by that time I didn’t think I had got the job. Even sitting my family down at the dinner table one night an telling them I didn’t get it. Then one day my deputy told me that he had been asked to provide information about me to the Headmaster at the new school and the thing that he said about me that stuck in my mind was “sometimes you just have to let the good ones teach”. He said this because he wanted me to become an executive and I didnt want to after meeting David Langford. I got the job by the way. That all happened in 2007

Last year I applied to present at ELH2009 and they accepted my application. I was to talk about self paced learning using Moodle. I had built at my current school an entire curriculum online for students to complete at their own pace using some methods that I had learnt from QLA. I was heading down to ELH thinking that once again I would be king of the realm. Well wasnt I up for a humbling experience. I met so many wonderful educators who shared the same ambitions as I did in the classroom. I came back with a computer full of resources that I doubt that I will ever implement all of them. What was more important than that was the bonds I have formed with people I met down their. These people have inspired me to be the best I can be with the use of technology in the classroom and also to assist other educators to be the best they can be. Evento the point where I went and visited one just recently to see what he was implementing in his school. His name is Steve Collis and you can see what he does here http://www.happysteve.com/ or do what I do which is follow him on Twitter @Steve_Collis. He is an amazing gentleman and what he does in the classroom is incredibly humbling.

Another person I met down at ELH is Jenny Luca. She is the one that got me into Twitter: @Jennyluca and her blog post are truly inspiring as well http://jennylu.wordpress.com She I believe is world known and I look forward to her blog posts which she keeps up to date everyweek! She helps me to wook at the world of education in a different light and if every school had a librarian like her I think students would want to enter their library often.

The other person I met last year was Andrew Douch @andrewdouch and http://andrewdouch.wordpress.com . This guy is amazing! He was the Microsoft Innovative Teacher International award recipient last year and spoke so wonderfully about what he does. This year I was amazed to see that he is teaching Biology VCE without a face to face timetabled class! You can read how it is going on his blog.

From these three educators I have been able to form a network of people that I follow on Twitter @ablackwellngs and use their resources for the benefit of my students. I have seen the rewards from the effort I have put in. Not just from the students but from the teachers around me. I am now moving into the 3d virtual world environment and using OpenSim and Sloodle to develop resources and it is a long way from my first attempt at sharing resources!

So back to the title….Am I missing EHL2010. Yes and No. Yes because it would be great to catch up with educators from last year and meet new ones. No because I have been watching it streamed live by Steve Collis from his laptop. If I miss a session I can go back and watch what educators are saying about the latest trends or resources. I couldnt make it this year, not with all the things happening with my house. Plus my wife wouldn’t let me go. She thought I had too much fun last year with the belly dancer! BUT I WILL BE GOING NEXT YEAR!

Thanks for reading

Talk soon Andrew Blackwell

Follow me on Twitter. I thought I would never say that!

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