I’ve been in Dominica for a week and posting on my IT for Dominica trip blog, but as I was hiking yesterday the notion of “trails optional” became very literal.

When I choose  my blog title I was out for a run through the coulees of Lethbridge where I often won’t follow a trail and run where my feet take me.  This often leads me to a dead end, or with a very steep uphill ahead of me.  I thought this notion of trails optional was a really appropriate metaphor for how I approach the use of technology in my classroom.  I am often trailblazing and trying things that others in my division aren’t doing.  I dive right into new technologies without hesitation.  I strive to integrate educationally relevant technology and bring a complete 21st century learning environment to my students.  I have chronicled these projects over the last two and a half months.  I will continue to share new ideas and refine older ones so that other teachers and student can benefit.  When it comes to using technology, for me trails are truly optional, I strive to be ahead of the pack and bring new things forward.  This isn’t always successful, but on the whole I love what I’m doing, and I see the tremendous benefit to my students.

My whole life I haven’t been afraid to put myself out there and try new things.  I’ve moved to completely new cities, where I might have known one or two people, three times now.  I’ve taken leadership positions in high school, at the university level, and within my schools.  I’ve never been in a formal administration role, but I’m not done in the classroom.  In seven short years teaching I am continually astonished with how much I have learned and grown, and I’m not done yet.  I have more to share and learn from my students and fellow colleagues.  There may be a time when I leave the classroom, but I’m not there yet.

The IT for Dominica project has been another chance for me to venture out into the world, internationally this time, to learn from others and share what I know.  I’ve been fortunate to travel twice to this beautiful country, full of engaging and loving people.  Yesterday I toured a part of the island that has the narrowest, highest, windiest roads.  It doesn’t get many tourists and it is very poor.  I hiked up a small trail, which was more in the river than on the land.  The final destination was a beautiful waterfall in the middle of the rain forest, a place where trails are optional, but the journey itself is the reward.

The post below is from my It for Dominica website, but it tells the tail of my never ending quest for new and uncharted territory where trails are optional.

If you can’t see the youtube video, or want to download smaller chunks – the video is in six parts linked below:

Victoria Falls

Jen Not Telling Her Mom What She Just Did

Insane Rocks

Rain forest

White River

Emerald Pool

Saturday was absolutely fantastic. We decided to visit the south east portion of the island, a place where neither Paul or I had been. We drove through Grand Bay, Bagatelle, Petite Savanne, La Plaine, and many more lovely little villages. We hiked up to Victoria Falls, a fairly short but intense walk. You cross the white river 3 times, which meant a lot of shoes on and shoes off. Towards the top the trail is the river and you have to climb over, around, through, and even under huge boulders. It was scary, and really quite difficult. We had a guide, Dixon, who stopped me from slipping to some sure broken bones many times. We definitely wouldn’t have made it without him. The view at the top was amazing, check out the photos and video.

The second stop of the day was the Emerald Pool, which is an earthcache. An earthcache is a geocache with no container, you have to take a photo of yourself and email the cache owner the answer to a question. They are in geologically sensitive or significant locations. This one is in Morne Trois Piton National Park, a Unesco World Heritage Site.

Emerald Pool
Victoria Falls
Jen at the Falls – and over all those rocks in bare feet!
Looking back to the Caribbean Sea