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How Geeks Spend Their Summer Vacation
First of all, let me tell you right up front that I can’t remember my last summer vacation. Oh wait, I remember now. In 2003, when I was pregnant with my son, I spent almost the entire month of July in Britain, primarily in Northern England. I must have upset some karmic universal balance, because I haven’t had a summer off since.
In the summer of 2004, I began working for IISME each summer. Industry Initiatives for Science and Math Education is a non-profit organization that places teachers in eight-week summer fellowships at companies, laboratories, universities, and other locations all over the San Francisco Bay Area. The pay is good, and fellows get paid to work on a project for their sponsor as well as to develop an educational transfer plan (ETP), which is generally some kind of curriculum. During my second summer at IBM as a teacher fellow, I helped pilot a blogging ETP option, and that led to my subsequent placement as the blogging peer coach, employed by IISME to help oversee other teacher fellows, every summer since 2006.
That summer of 2006 was also when I attended NECC (the old name for the annual ISTE conference) in San Diego. I have not been able to afford the time or cost to attend an ISTE conference since that one, but I have found other, more local opportunities for professional growth in addition to my summer job. One opportunity I heard about in late 2006 was the Google Teacher Academy. I applied and attended the first one, near me at Google headquarters in Mountain View, in November 2006. That really got me started in beefing up my own skills and working to educate others.
A few years ago, I joined the board of SVCUE, my local affiliate of Computer Using Educators, and that increased my attendance not only at our own local conference and others in my region, but I also began presenting at conferences. And then, in the Fall of 2008, I started graduate school. I blogged recently about my graduation, but I am not really done yet – not until August 18th – and it’s all fast and furious toward the finish line as I write this.
So, as I look back over my summer vacation thus far, I can’t remember too many times spent actually relaxing. I don’t really relax well anyway. My son and I finished school on June 11th, and my mother arrived from New Jersey on June 14th. She stayed with us through July 24th, so we did some day trips during that time (Santa Cruz, Monterey) as well as a five-day road trip to northern Oregon in which yours truly did all the driving. (Ugh.) Also during the time my mother was here with us, I presented at a local teacher institute, toured some Silicon Valley destinations (Google, HP, a high-tech middle school, and the Krause Center for Innovation) with a group of Australian educators, attended the culminating day of MERIT at KCI, filmed and recorded narration for a movie I created for graduate school, got coffee with a local author for whom I’ve done genealogy research, participated in a Google usability study, seen a former student perform in The Wizard of Oz, took part in the first Google Geo Teachers Institute, mentored for PBworks Summer Camp, attended a party for six year-olds at Pump It Up, and led sessions at IISME’s Midsummer event.
And the summer isn’t over yet. I just saw more students perform in Annie, Jr. the other night, and I am currently up to my eyeballs in iMovie and PowerPoint, creating a movie and slideshow that will be used at IISME’s End of Summer Celebration next week. I have to have that all ready to hand over by Monday, because I am attending Rock Star Teacher Summer Tech Camp for three days next week, and I have infected two of my co-workers with the geek bug, because they’re coming with me. I’ve held online meetings for my summer job and a face-to-face meeting with my principal about upcoming staff development at our school. I’ve still got a few weeks of grad school classes left, with projects and assignments to complete. We have tickets to a few Major League Soccer games, and I have a meeting with someone to help us start up a Cub Scout pack at my school for boys in my son’s grade. I’ve got two or three more events at Google in the second week of August. I have an eye doctor appointment and a former student’s Eagle Court of Honor coming up. And somehow, before school starts, we’re going to repaint a map of the United States on the playground at my school with a stencil I have sitting in a box, unopened, in my kitchen.
I share all this not for pity, and not to brag, but to give you hope. (I hope.) You can’t “do it all.” None of us can. But being busy doesn’t mean you have to say no to every opportunity that pops up. I could learn a thing or two about saying no to SOME of them, sure. In fact, if I could just learn not to say yes to all of them, I might sleep better at night. I’ve also spent hours in the pool, and watched endless episodes of Bones on Netflix on my iPad. I’ve slept in some days, and my tan is the best it’s been in years. My son is more than halfway through his summer homework packet, and I have a great lead on some additional (paying) work to supplement my income once my Masters degree is done. And of course, I am a little behind in my writing for HotChalk, so I am working diligently to get caught up on that.
I may be busy, but I am never bored. And THAT’s how a geek spends her summer vacation.
Picture of four generations of my family by Diane Main.
Pictures of Rock Star Teacher Summer Tech Camp attendees by Dee Reimer, used with permission.