No Fancy Titles Here

by Ariel Jankord

I’m Ariel Jankord. I started my teaching career in Gardner, KS. Eventually moved to the Olathe, KS. I took a slight detour in the private sector down in KC, MO and am now back in Olathe. I have taught 1st, 2nd, and 4th grades.
Many people describe me as passionate. In fact, a couple friends from my early teaching years told me not too long ago, “you know we thought you would have outgrown that excitement for education after your first couple of years but you just never did.”
My passion energizes some and annoys others. I think some people are even jealous (but if you had to live in this brain you may change your mind).
I have really struggled with my unique, “passionate” personality UNTIL recently when I found MY tribe. The amazing educators who are equally as passionate about the kids we serve. Equally passionate about growing as teachers. And equally passionate about being innovative and preparing kids for their futures.
This tribe of teachers encouraged me to follow my dreams and came alongside me in seeing it through. You see, I don’t have a big, fancy title and sometimes I let that stop me from dreaming big. I am a 4th grade teacher with a deep passion to change the world of education and I have learned in the past 6 months that you don’t need a title to make magic happen.

It all started last summer, when one of my people was willing to join in on one of my hair brained ideas to drive 7 hours for an Edcamp (Flipgrid LIVE). On the way home I was dreaming of having an event just like it at home. I once read in a book that if you say an idea out loud it’s more likely to come to fruition. So I said it out loud and my friend, April, said “Yes let’s do it!” So here we are 9 months later, with an Edcamp that brought together over 100 educators, representing 13 different districts from 2 different states.

The most amazing fact is that we planned the first annual Johnson County Edcamp 100% virtually. Not once did we meet as a whole crew to plan. Between Voxer and Google Drive we were able to collaborate and communicate everything that needed to be done (talk about 21st Century learning skills). We look forward to growing our planning team to include representatives from other JOCO schools and we plan to create a volunteer base to help the weekend of Edcamp 2020.

We hope to see the event grow not for glory and fame, but simply because we know that conferences are few and far between. Our mission is to break down the walls between the districts in our area and build connections that encourage us to grow in the profession. We want to make sure we are doing the best for the kids we serve!

I wanted to tell my story for two reasons:

A) I’m just a teacher but I have learned over the past year that I don’t have to carry some fancy title to inspire others around me, to push for innovation, to take ownership in my professional development and to learn how to love and support my students better.

And B) If you haven’t found your tribe already, put it on your to do list… these lovely people who came along side me to plan this Edcamp are amazing but not a single one of them is in my building. With technology your building that is stuck in the past is not a viable excuse for inhibiting your growth. Get on Twitter, attend Edcamps, find a way that works for you to connect with others. BUILD your tribe!