Tapped In Member Perspectives: Meet Heather Burleson
Heather is currently teaching Technology Applications in a rural East Texas middle school. A teacher since 1978, she has moved from teaching Theology and French at the high school level to teaching English in middle school, and has finally found "her place" as a Technology teacher. She has been a member of Tapped In since October 2004, and is also a Helpdesk volunteer.
When I first ventured into Tapped In, I was one of those shy newbies who wouldn't say anything, just kept bouncing from room to room, trying to figure things out on my own. I had never been in an online environment and was a little scared of the whole experience.
I now know I was giving the Helpdesk volunteers some grins as I boinged my way in and out of Reception without saying a word. It wasn't until BJ waved to me that I stopped long enough to ask her how she had done that. From that moment I was hooked. Cookies and hot chocolate were offered on my first Tips and Tricks tour, and I realized that I had found a very friendly place where I could explore and learn without getting in anyone's way.
When asked what keeps me coming back to TI on a regular basis, the first things that pop into my mind are: being able to talk to and explore ideas with like-minded people, the camaraderie, and being able to find new ideas for teaching in the various groups and offices.
One of the greatest ideas is using a classroom on the K-12 campus for my 8th grade students. I found this entry in my blog, from June of this year, which pretty much says it all:
Students as Teachers
I had a chat with one of my students this evening. No, not at the local restaurant, or in the checkout line at WalMart. We were online, in our classroom at Tapped In.
Now it might seem a bit unusual, especially in a small community like ours, but we find it perfectly normal to chat in the classroom that is somewhere out in cyberspace. Have you noticed anything unusual? We were chatting. Not a lesson, not an assignment...this young man was online, in a classroom, just so he could have a chance of meeting a classmate or his teacher!
It's amazing to me! He was in a totally secure environment (no one can enter the classroom without my explicit permission), and was hoping to run into someone he knew. During the summer! And only people he knew!
He was fortunate this evening, because I happened to check on the classroom and found him there. After a little while, another teacher (with whom we collaborated during the spring semester) was working in her classroom. We invited her to join us, and all three had a very pleasant chat.
Summer. School. I don't usually associate those words with a bright 13 year old boy! But he knew that there was a chance that he would be with people he knew, and with whom he could communicate.
Would he call me? Not likely, in fact no more likely than me calling him. But we talked. He fussed about having to clean his room (typical teen), and then suddenly made a neat connection with a novel he's required to read this summer! How often does that happen in the local grocery store?
Perhaps it's not that unusual, but I'll fall asleep tonight dreaming of the learning continuing.