My entire journey through this course was centered around my desire to seek answers to my future. I had hoped to find clarity and define a vision for what lies ahead. I have engaged in meaningful reflection, through viewing stories, crafting responses, and reading text. I hope to be able to share that path with you through some additional reflection on my work.
One of my earlier pieces was a reflection on a digital story I watched about making difficult decisions. I felt empowered after watching it and reviewing her work. A quote she stated really resonated with me as I was launching my journey – “Hard choices seem to be occasions for agonizing, hand-wringing, the gnashing of teeth. But I think we’ve misunderstood hard choices and the role they play in our lives. Understanding hard choices uncovers a hidden power each of us possesses.” What I’ve taken away now is that the time for decisions will always come, but I have the opportunity to handle them in a way that best suits me.
The first scholarly piece I viewed was on 7 Things to Know about Digital Storytelling. When I initially approached this portion of work for the class, I was seeking information more generally on digital storytelling, given that I didn’t consider myself to have a lot of content knowledge in this area. When I went back to reread my work, I realized that this was a starting point for being more introspective and reflective on the strengths I have and how I view myself. Part of me was craving a plan for my future because I felt as though it was a gap and I’m not sure in reality that it was. Becoming more reflective through this journey supported me in defining my direction. Learning more specifically about digital storytelling has allowed me to uncover my voice in a new way and bring to the surface ideas that potentially would have remained hidden. While reflecting on Empowering Student Voice I was able to consider how I would empower my own voice, as an educator and generally. This was brought out in my response to The Art of Digital Storytelling. My reflection on this piece supported my understanding that digital storytelling is accessible to anyone, regardless of knowledge, expertise, or skill level.
I really loved engaging in the Daily Creates in this course. I think more than any other assignment, these quick responses connected me more through social media than anything else I had posted. The consistent use of hashtags brought a community together in a space to thrive creatively. My favorite was a simple photo of bikes. I had a few friends reach out after I posted it to ask if I was currently visiting California because they recognized the Google bikes right away. It’s funny how much more connected we seem through social media rather than in person. Whether we have 140 characters or a full blog, people generally share more insight using these tools rather than in conversation at work or with friends. What is it about these platforms that drive us to share more about our personal lives?
In addition, within the DS 106 challenges, I was able to utilize tools that I had not yet been exposed to. They allowed me to share my “voice” in a multitude of ways. I am a lover of music, so I especially loved engaging in the audio assignments. In the first audio challenge, I considered how I could have redone work with podcasts with my students. I wish I had seen the potential of them when I was still in the classroom. Even with a tool I had used before, I learned of new capabilities through the reverse challenge. I really liked trying to guess other songs and seeing additional examples before completing the work myself.
I had a lot of fun creating with students for the DS 106 video assignment. I think until this point that I had really considered digital storytelling to be more of an independent work than something that could be done collaboratively. The students I worked with were able to do so many cool things that really expanded my knowledge of stop-motion video. The DS 106 assignments expanded my knowledge on tools that I could use to craft my own stories, but I wish I had felt a greater connection to the DS community. In this space, I reviewed other work, but didn’t interact with the members of the community. I am curious about what new learning I would have gained from them if I had been more intentional about building these connections.
Along the way I landed on Dalton Sherman’s keynote for teachers at the beginning of a school year. What I loved about his talk was how inspiring he was for a room full of adults – and through the video he inspired me to believe in myself and those around me. Through his story I started to listen more to my gut and my heart rather than try to guide this journey through my head. It became more important to be to do what felt right, rather than create a plan because I felt like there should be one.
One of the largest turning points for me was through the Gallery Walk, both in creating my personal reflection and then engaging in reviewing other work. I have always considered myself to be fairly reflective, but it was within this protocol that I realized reflection shouldn’t just be about my own thoughts, but truly bringing in multiple perspectives and ideas. Through the review of other stories and posts, I was able to gain insight into greater insight into the art of storytelling as well as the science. I reviewed how different people approached the work and how that impacted the overall quality and design. Sometimes I get too boxed in myself and don’t always appreciate a different way of thinking – I believe this assignment, along with the general reviews every other week helped open that up further. I really appreciated how much this helped my general work as a learner and leader.
What I ended up defining for myself at the end of my journey was something I found (rather ironically) in the first digital story I reviewed. I had watched a TED talk on happiness and shared this in my response: “Success isn’t going to bring me happiness. So instead of focusing on success, I need to focus on being happy and positive in the moment. And for now, instead of trying to answer the questions about my future, I’m going to focus on training my brain to be more positive. Even an optimist can be more positive, right?” (You can find my full review here.)
Through all of my work and reflection, I landed up right back in this spot. I decided that no matter what my path holds, I want to be happy.
The final piece I’d like to share in my portfolio is my full digital story. I believe it tells the story of what I’ve learned about myself through this course. I titled it “Unexpected Expectations” because what I expected to find was different from what I did learn, but ultimately I knew this about myself before I even started on the journey. I just hadn’t allowed myself the opportunity to have it appear on the surface and be comfortable with the answer.