A Year Later

Today marked one year since the Tohoku earthquake. Over the past few weeks, most of us in Japan have been rethinking all that has happened in the days since, and all that remains to be done to try to bring a sense of normalcy back to the people of Tohoku. As much as those of us in the rest of Japan have resorted to our routines, there still remains a great deal of physical need in many communities, and the emotional turmoil will continue to take its toll for many years to come.

So this sunny and calm afternoon, we gathered in our neighbourhood seaside park to observe a moment of silence and reflect upon all that has been lost and the hope for what might become. At 2:46pm, a hush fell across the park as the gathered crowd turned to face the sea and bowed its collective head.

But after only a few fleeting seconds of silence, the Hikawa Maru, a former ocean liner that sits permanently moored beside the park as a tourist attraction, blasted its horn loudly across the harbour. Far from a moment of silence, we had a moment of loud reverence for the power of nature and its ability to change and erase lives in an instant. Although I’ve lived a couple of blocks away from the Hikawa Maru for several years, it was the first time that I had ever heard its horn put to use, and it was an appropriately blaring reminder of the violence and torment that was unleashed on so many one year ago. As the horn sustained its scream, I thought of the images and stories that I have born witness to over the past year, and thought about how quickly life can shift or disappear altogether. Above all, I thought about perspective, and the quiet resolve and incredible human spirit of the Japanese people in the face of such enormous and loud catastrophe.

As the ship’s horn finally silenced, a school choir from Sendai began singing a song called ‘Arigatou’ or thank you. Humbly, and not too loud.

My ePortfolio

©2011 Brian Farrell

As a culminating task for my masters program, I was required recently to create an ePortfolio illustrating my journey and progression through the program. While the forced reflection was good for reminding me of how much I’ve achieved over the past few years, it was also an eye opener in terms of how much more there is still to do and learn. Of course the ePortfolio could be an indefinite work in progress, but I did need to finalize it as much as possible for my program. The fruits of my labour should be viewable here (don’t be fooled by the similar layout to this site – you’re at the right spot!).

I’m happy to be finally done with my program, and will hopefully now use some of my newfound free time working on other things like my awful Japanese language skills and playing around with photography. Balancing the commitments of the program with full time work has been a challenge, but in the end, I’m happy to have completed it.

Apple Distinguished Educator Reject

**UPDATE: I have since been selected to join the Apple Distinguished Educator class of 2013

My application for the Apple Distinguished Educator program was recently rejected. This is the second year in a row that I’ve been turned down for the program, and this year, I’m really left scratching my head. Last year, in a rush to honour the deadline set out for applications, I admittedly submitted a subpar application video. But this year I really devoted a great deal of time and effort to putting together an application form and video that I thought was pretty good (I shared this video here in a previous post).

So I’d love to hear feedback on how you think I might improve my application and chances for success if I choose to apply again in future. Particularly those of you who are already part of the ADE network, I’d really appreciate hearing any advice and tips that you might have to offer. In my application document, I highlighted my development of a Japan-wide reading program site that I created and now moderate, my work with my students in using databases and ebooks, my work in my masters of educational technology program, my professional learning community on twitter, my role as coordinator of online courses at my school, and my involvement in the design and implementation of the upcoming 1:1 laptop program at my school. What am I missing? What makes some applications stand out over others? Please be brutally honest with you comments, as I’m really at a loss here.

Apple Distinguished Educator 2011 Application

The end of the school year is sneaking up on us, and I’m also several weeks into the last course for my Master of Educational Technology degree, which will last me well into the summer. Add to that an impending apartment move, the usual summer vacation planning, and an impending wedding to plan, and, well, things have been very busy lately!

I made a point though to put some quality time into creating my application for the 2011 run of the Apple Distinguished Educator program here in Japan. I was disappointed to not be accepted last year, as I feel that this program opens the door to a great network of like-minded educators both locally and around the world. I’m still a little lost as to what exactly they’re looking for in potential applicants, but hopeful what I put together is a good representation of how I see my role in our school.

The video application is below, and any feedback would be greatly appreciated (but please be gentle, I hate talking about myself!)

Brian Farrell Apple Distinguished Educator 2011 Application from Brian Farrell on Vimeo.