Thursday, April 02, 2015

Extending and Enriching a Career Through Writing / CSA Newsletter March 2015

Extending and Enriching a Career Through Writing
By Mark Gura

Being a retired educator can be a challenge. While  I don't miss the daily suit-and-tie or rush hour traffic, I still feel the need to remain involved in my field - educational technology. I was  aware of that desire from Day 1 of my retirement.

I found a new outlet, however, that allows me to help my colleagues and has given me a great deal of satisfaction - I've become a write.

Shortly before I left the NYC school system 10 years ago, I wrote  and published Making Literacy Magic Happen, my first book for teachers. I've kept at it and most recently, one of my publishers, the International Society for Technology in Education, has released Teaching Literacy in the Digital Age: Inspiration for ALL Levels and Literacies.

Of the dozen education books I've written, this one presented the biggest challenge. Not simply because its subject, the important intersection of literacy instruction and technology, has evolved into a broad area, but because this book is a compendium of practices, a collection of insights from some of the most talented colleagues with whom I've had the privilege to collaborate. But it's one thing to talk about the material, quite another to help 17 people who are not professional writers put their thoughts on paper in a coherent manner that is illuminating and inspiring.

I reached out to as many colleagues as possible who might contribute a chapter, and I accepted proposals on subjects that struck me as illustrating something important about combining technology with literacy instruction. I also wanted easy-to-implement, effective practices that involve the use of free or commonly available digital resources.

'I don't miss rush hour traffic,
but I need to remain
involved in my field.

I settled into the long process of conferring with each author as they formulated and then wrote his or her chapter. To do this I drew upon my experience at the Department of Education as well as the skills I've acquired in retirement. Many months later, all the coaching, mentoring and editing resulted in the book, a satisfying experience to say the least.

In many ways, the process took me back to what I did for so many years for the DoE, which was to motivate and guide educators in producing professional development content and curriculum. I remember that I wanted them to not just develop instructional materials; I wanted them to design materials that would move our colleagues to try new things given the new technological possibilities and to see their jobs in that bright new light. For me, writing has been the perfect vehicle to continue and extend my commitment to the field. It's one I highly recommend to my colleagues and fellow CSA members everywhere.
Mark Gura was the Director of the Office of Instructional Technology from 1997 to 2004, when he retired from the NYC school system. Visit Mr. Gura's blog at Upload:


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