Embrace failure. Missteps and roadblocks are inevitable but are ultimately an opportunity to learn, pivot, and go after your goals with a new perspective. –Jenny Fleiss
2017 was a hard year for me, and I am hoping that 2018 is a whole lot better. On January 5, 2017 I had a colonoscopy because I was having GI problems, and although my primary care doctor was certain my gallbladder was not functioning, the surgeon refused to take it out until I got the colonoscopy. I had that and an endoscopy performed on the same day. Some polyps were removed, and I was told to come back in a few weeks to get the results. That was a Thursday. The following Monday I received word that my father who was vacationing in Hawaii had a bleeding mass in his stomach. By the end of the day, we had confirmation that he had stomach cancer. Wow! What a way to start the year. On January 30, I spent eleven hours at Parkridge Hospital in Chattanooga while my dad had 2/3 of his stomach removed. About a month later, he began an aggressive treatment plan that included several rounds of chemotherapy, several rounds of daily radiation and chemotherapy treatments, and more rounds of chemotherapy. He lost nearly 100 pounds during his battle, but thank goodness he is cancer free.
I don’t think that I have ever addressed my childlessness in this blog, but I cannot have children. In 2016, I started the process of becoming a foster parent. State agencies move as fast as pond water, so it took a long time for me to get approved. I got approved right as my dad began his treatments. I decided that I could not devote my attention to my dad and a foster child so I told the agency to put me on hold. That wasn’t a good idea because I was imagining the worst possible outcome for my dad and was driving myself crazy. I realized I needed somebody to take care of so I wouldn’t continue to worry about my dad. On March 27th I got a call asking if I could provide a home for an 8-year-old boy. I immediately said yes. That was the best decision I could have made for myself. My dad was getting the care he needed, and I had someone who needed my attention. For 235 days, I had the opportunity to provide a loving, nurturing home to a child in foster care. While he was with me, we discovered he had some medical issues that needed to be addressed. We did, and then I turned my attention to my own care. Remember the bad gallbladder? It had progressively gotten worse, so I made plans to have it taken out right after the new year. I didn’t want my foster son to have a crappy holiday season because I was recuperating from surgery. I had my plan and expected everything would be fine. Not so. He left right before Thanksgiving. To say that I was devastated is an understatement. Two weeks later, I was in the back of an ambulance on my way to the emergency room thinking I was having a heart attack. I wasn’t. I was dehydrated, my potassium level was pretty close to non-existent, and my gallbladder had just given up on me. I spent the weekend in the hospital and decided that since the little one was no longer with me, I would move the surgery up. My gallbladder came out on December 13th. I spent the Christmas holidays recovering although that is not what I wanted.
Don’t get me wrong. Personally, I don’t want a repeat of 2017 because I feel like I couldn’t get my feet on firm ground. Professionally, things weren’t so bad. I did not accomplish everything that I wanted to, but in retrospect, I think I had my hands full. At the beginning of the year, the book I co-authored with 19 other phenomenal educators came out on Amazon. To see my name on the cover of #EduMatch: Snapshot in Education 2016 was a dream come true. In April, I was named the ISTE Edtech Coaches PLN Award Winner for 2017, and in June, after two failed attempts, I was accepted into the Google Innovator Academy as part of the #WDC17 cohort. Getting that email was definitely the high point of my year.
Too many heart wrenching things going on personally. Great things going on professionally. I just couldn’t figure out how to mesh my personal and professional lives. I have been at home since December 13th with lots of time to think. I still don’t have all the answers, but I do know this: I did not accomplish all that I set out to accomplish in 2017, but I will in 2018. How do I know this? I know because I come from a long line of strong people, and we are resilient. Things were shaky last year for me. That’s not the case in 2018. What I didn’t do in 2017 will get done in 2018. What will get done in 2018, you ask:
Ernie’s STEAM-tastic Mobile School Bus
This is my Google Innovator Project. My intention is to renovate a school bus and turn it into a mobile STEAM lab that will travel around our district providing hands on learning for our students and professional development for our teachers. I have a lot of work to do, but I look forward to the challenge.
As yet to be determined book penned by Leslie R. Fagin
I have met with my publisher and should have had the first draft of my book done in September. That didn’t happen. I am thinking of changing my initial idea so that I can write about something a little closer to my heart. My publisher and I will be meeting again in a few weeks to discuss the direction of my book.
The completion of my Google Innovator project and my first solo novel will not be the only things I work on during this year. I am on the leadership team for two of the ISTE PLNs – the Digital Storytelling Network and the Edtech Coaches Network. Both PLNs have a lot planned, and I anticipate being very busy. The Edtech Coaches Network is kicking off a book study via Twitter in just a few weeks, and I will moderate several days of the book study. Of course, since I am heavily involved with two PLNs, I will be at the conference in Chicago this June. I love going to ISTE because I am able to make connections, renew acquaintances, and gain so much new knowledge. I must admit though, ISTE 18 will be a little different for me this year. Not since ISTE 14 have I not been a presenter. I was brand spanking new to my job when I attended ISTE in Atlanta. Since then, I submitted proposals for the conference, and presented in Philadelphia, Denver, and San Antonio. In addition, I worked in PLN playgrounds and was a conference volunteer. I was worn out when I came home from San Antonio. My fellow coach and I asked our boss if we could attend and not present. Thankfully, he agreed. I am looking forward to being able to attend more sessions and actually play in the playgrounds.
In February, I hope to be presenting at the EdTechTeam Southern Summit. I submitted two proposals and hope to hear any day whether or not they were accepted. I love attending their summits because I get to see so many wonderful educators sharing tons of Google goodness. Our district is moving towards blended learning, so Robin and I will be in Rhode Island at the Blended Learning Conference in April.
So, for Leslie Fagin, AKA The Faginator, my #OneWord is #resilient. I will bounce back from all that I dealt with last year and keep moving forward. I have to. In an earlier post, I was excited that I was chosen to be a Google Innovator. That means I have a project to finish. I have a book to write. I have teachers to learn with, from, inspire, and collaborate with for the benefit of our students. We tell our kids to keep pushing through. I have to do the same.
Until Next Time,
4 thoughts on “#OneWord 2018”
Thank you for sharing your personal stories. I am so sorry to hear about the challenges that you went through in 2017, but I appreciate your willingness to share and I am glad you and your dad made it through the year. Far too often I see educator/edtech superheroes (like you!) and wonder: “how do they do it all?” It amazes me that you find a way to do everything you can while dealing with a number of health and personal issues. Keep on rocking and let me (and the ISTE Teacher Ed Network team) know if you need any support!
Thanks Torrey! I decided to share my journey with others because I think it’s helpful for educators to know that we are not alone although we often feel as if we are. I know I can’t prevent challenges, but I can do a better job in dealing with my response. I appreciate your reaching out and offering support. You will most definitely see me in the TEN playground at ISTE. I enjoyed it last year, and look forward to it again this year.
Wow, what a year! Thank you for sharing your story. Resilient definitely captures it and that resiliency I’m sure will lead to new adventures in the year ahead. Can’t wait to follow your pln adventures & the STEAM bus idea developing. I wish I could remember what the one from SMU was called? Heard a bit last year at SXSW edu.
Thanks again for sharing. Wishing you a wonderful 2018!
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