From Where I Began

In elementary school, middle school and high school I was a mediocre student at best. In  Sparks Nevada, every tenth grader in 1985 met with a school counselor to talk about the future. Looking at my grades and assessment scores, the counselor told me I shouldn’t even bother going to college  & I didn’t have “what it takes.” Fast forward six years later and I returned to the same high school I graduated from as the youngest substitute teacher in the history of the Washoe County School District for that era ( I was 21 years old).

In 1989 and 1990 I was the Education Coordinator for the Reno Boys and Girls Club. I helped students with homework and assisted with activities to encourage learning. We had a small but powerful MAC lab. Students could sign up to play Oregon Trail.  That was my first introduction to technology and learning. Unlike many of my Ed Tech nerd friends I was not a gamer in school nor did I build my own computer. I didn’t have a game console and only used a word processor as a requirement to write my college papers. You would not refer to me as an early adopter.

In the early 1990s while attending a bachelor’s program which began in special education, I taught small group instruction at a non-public high school and worked as an aid in the larger classes. I then decided to leave education altogether.

I returned in 2003 as the first Data/Ed Tech Coordinator for Pittsburg Unified in Contra Costa County. I was tasked with responding to office civil rights (OCR) complaints and putting to gather data systems for school administrators and teachers.

During the 8+ years in Pittsburg Unified, I had a chance to work closely with teachers as they attempted to integrate technology into their lesson plan design. This time was long before online testing and Chromebooks. Much of what we experienced came as a result of a teacher’s willingness to take risks and fail.

And now in 2019 I feel the formula is still very much the same. In order for a teacher to reinvent their lesson delivery style and change their classroom management protocols attempting to integrate technology with student agency and voice and choice, teachers have to be willing to take on a feeling of risk and failure.

There are volumes upon volumes of resources on this topic in the business world and in the education environments that we now live in. Here are my tips for all the educators out there on this path:

  1. Do only 1 thing at a time, not 2, or 30- just 1. Pick the one thing that is true to your style.
  2. Know it will be as messy as every day of teaching is….Embrace the mess, that’s the risk and failure.
  3. Bells & whistles are just that. Our students need access to you, your content, & guidance. How you get there, what road you are on, what tools you use: they do not generally care…
  4. Repeat 1. Repeat 1.

How can I help you on your journey?


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