Monday, September 15, 2014

Meet Kristy Vincent

Kristy Vincent - @BigPurpleHat
Where are you from and what do you do?
Houston, TX - Director of Digital Learning serving 1300 students of Hardin ISD.

How are you connected to Beth? Beth and I met on Twitter when I was searching for resources and help about Moodle. As time, blogs, and tweets passed, we became online colleagues and then friends. It wasn’t until January 2014 (about 4 years since we first connected) that we met face to face! Now, we are pretty inseparable even with the miles between us. 

How did you get involved in educational technology?
By accident. :D While finishing my undergrad, I took a job as a long term sub at a small school district. When the district lost its superintendent, principal, and business manager almost simultaneously, we found ourselves without anyone including a tech consultant. Because I knew how to turn on a computer and wasn’t scared to figure out the rest, I was handed a key to the server room and found a password on a sticky note. I decided to join in education and received from teaching certificate. I knew I wanted to come out of the server room and work more with students and faculty. From there, I was immersed in edTech. 

How has being a networked educator impacted your life?

There is NO WAY I would be where I am now if I wasn’t connected. While working for ESC XIII in Austin, TX I first joined Twitter (and shortly “met” Beth). I learned how to seek help and ask questions. I started presenting at conferences that I found out about on Twitter and my PLN began to grow. Without hesitation I go to the Twitterverse to ask questions, find out about new research, best practices and more. I also give back to the community sharing the resources I’ve created. I would not have the job I do or walk confidently into many trainings if it wasn’t for my PLN cheering me on from online.

What is some advice you can give to teachers about how to start finding resources and building their own PLN.
Find a medium that makes sense to you even if it makes you uncomfortable. Twitter was my starting place. DON’T get caught up in the numbers game. It really doesn’t matter how many followers you have or how many someone else does. If it is helping you grow and connect, that is the right size for you right now. Participate in Twitter chats. Basically that means following a hashtag at a set time. For instance, Thursday nights at 8:00 PM Eastern Time, #DENchat takes place. At that time, go to Twitter and search for #DENchat. If you really connect with anyone or like what they say, click on their profile and follow them. Continue doing that (finding people that resonate with you and following them); you are growing your PLN! When you feel ready, interact with someone on Twitter. You will be amazed at how open people are and willing to converse with you.

What is a tool that has captured your attention at the moment? What do you like about this tool?
I’m very much in love with photo editing right now. I have a number of different apps on my phone and use a myriad of tools on my computer. For creating graphics that I use on blogs, websites, etc. my preferred tool is Canva.  Even a novice can create stunning graphics using the templates they provide. There are many customization options including importing my own images.

What is one piece of advice that you can give to educators who are just getting started with integrating technology into their classrooms?
Start small. If you make only one change, you are one step farther than you were. It is easy to get excited about trying something new but everyone loses if you burn out. Try to make one change the first time. The next time, try a little more. More than anything, don’t compare yourself to what everyone else is doing in your building and on Twitter. Remember: You get to see everyone else’s final production, not their backstage drama.

What are some things you hope to accomplish professionally in the next year or two?
Professionally, I would like to become a Discovery Education Guru and continue connecting and working with this great community. Bar none, the Discovery Educator Network (DEN) has shaped and continues to shape my professional career more than any other PLN in which I am a member. Just this summer, I learned so much about education grants and plan to write (and receive) more grants for my district because of that workshop. It is a very competitive process to become a DEN Guru with phenomenal educators applying each year. I’m equally excited about the journey to reach this summit.

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