About Me: Who is Chris Duane?

Hi! First I want to thank you for taking the time to read my posts.  I post because I need a place to exercise my voice and by doing so, I hope to engage you in thinking that introduces you to ideas or builds on ideas you’re already constructing.
Currently, I am currently an  In-Class Learning Support Teacher, a member of the Future Ready Schools for New Jersey Task Force Technology Team, a member of NJ ASCD’s Executive Board, and a certified teacher of and in distance learning. I hold two bachelor degrees and two masters degrees, which I am using to promote teacher education through my daily school work and my professional development organization, SpEdcampNJ.

SpEdcampNJ

I am the founder and head organizer for the SpEdcampNJ team, a not-for-profit organization that provides a free day of professional development to all levels of educators.  While our focus is on attending to the needs of the special education population, i.e. innovative strategies, curriculum and instruction, Universal Design, etc., we know that good teaching is good teaching and that special education benefits students across the entire academic spectrum.  Our primary goal is to improve instruction. Period.  Whether it be between co-teachers, administrators, paraprofessionals, or parents, each of these groups are on the continuum that impacts learning.  And that is where we want to be.

My achievement of being nominated into Kappa Delta Pi (KDP) was a highlight of my academic career.  As a late starter, (I graduated with my leadership degree when I turned 60), KDP inspired me to use my leadership talents outside the box.  In 2014, I attended my first leadership program where, while closing the day, the leader charged us:  find a problem and solve it.

As I drove home that day, I wondered why professional development wasn’t reaching the special education community. After all, behind bussing, special education is generally the one of the largest budget items in each school district.  And thus, SpEdcampNJ was born.  We held our first event in 2015.  My co-founder and I had a heck of a time pulling it together.  But, we did and we had ~45 people at our first event.  In 2017, our third event hosted ~225 people from around the NE area: New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, Delaware and Connecticut! Our 2018 event is set to bring in more attendees because we are the only SpEdcamp in the northeast and we have a super enthusiastic supporter in the sponsoring superintendent, Dr. Michael Salvatore  (@msalvatore).  I am proud to say that our organization has inspired SpEdcampOH (Ohio) and I believe that SpEdcampCO (Colorado) is beginning it organizing this spring.  To inspire a national movement is something that, well, I find humbling.  I think it speaks to my ability to unite people around a vision and motivate people to support it.

As a proud member of KDP,  I feel that my work exemplifies the leadership role KDP promotes.

As you know, education is under more and more pressure to do more and more with fewer and fewer resources.  I believe that providing a free day of teacher -driven, vendor free professional development is something our teachers are thirsty for.  Networking with other highly motivated educators is what drives me and other teachers who don’t always get that kind of enthusiastic support from our own school districts.  Knowing that we can turn to each other on Twitter and use each other’s energies to form our own PLN is what has saved me from leaving the profession; it has, in fact, given me hope for the future.

Twitter

I’ve also developed a true appreciation for Twitter! It was on Twitter that I found our first SpEdcampNJ sponsor!  Running into roadblock and ‘no’ after approaching several districts, a plea on Twitter brought me to a principal who supported my vision.  Twitter allowed me to  see and understand how isolated I was as a teacher and grad student. As you know, sometimes our work environments aren’t as supportive as we’d individually like them to be.  Sometimes we need some inspiration and a place to know that we are part of a larger group trying to develop our Craft.  Twitter has given me a PLN (Personal Learning Network) of educators who are as excited as I am at tapping the potential each of us holds.

Professional Growth: Speaker and Apple Teacher

Chosen to present at the Annual NJPSA/ NJASCD Convention, I spoke on the impact of the latest Supreme Court decision, Endrew F v. Douglas County School  District (2017). While New Jersey’s 3rd District Court has provided rulings that support the exemplar job of New Jersey schools, Endrew’s impact is yet to be determined.   At our un-conference events, I frequently present on the Whole Child and technology integration at the classroom and administrative level.

Ever the learner, I recently earned my Apple Teacher Certification.  My goal is to be an Apple Distinguished Educator and being a part of the Apple Teacher Group has motivated me to take on new projects to incorporate interactive learning activities into my classroom.  As a resilient learner, I look forward to meeting my goal.

Please feel free to contact me if you need a burst of inspiration yourself!  Thanks so much for reading!

 

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