Throughout college, I worked as a sales associate at a popular big-box electronics store. The company had a unique compensation model for the industry. They paid a higher than normal hourly wage but they did not give commission in any form; no bonuses, no percentage of accessories, no SPIFF for adding on an installation service or warranty...nothing. They simply expected their employees to be highly educated on the products and services they were selling, and they expected us to share that information in a non-threatening, non-pushy way with customers. It made for a great working and shopping environment. The job was fun and the lack of pressure to sell add-ons (they didn't even track individual sales in any way) was a welcomed change from other retail positions I had held previously.
After my 4th year in the classroom as a science teacher, I switched from a very small, private Christian school, to a large traditional public school. Not only did I drastically change educational environments, I also switched from science to math — the subject area I was officially qualified to teach. In the transitional summer, it was explained that I had to attend a week-long PD session in order to teach Algebra. In my prior school, we did not have the resources to deliver PD, so this would be my first PD experience. I was actually pretty excited because it had been almost a decade since my last math course and I was eager to brush up on my math and hone my skills so that I could be a highly effective teacher.
I was recently reflecting on my time as a science teacher at Hamilton Heights Christian Academy in Chattanooga, TN. It was my first “real job.” It was my first position in a career field that I loved. I was teaching groups of teenagers about science, but I knew I was also teaching them about life. It was a chance to open their eyes. It was enthralling to watch a boy grow into a man. It was unbelievably fulfilling to prompt a teenage girl with questions until she realized her real potential. It was exciting to learn new material and to experiment with instructional strategies, classroom management techniques, and assessment ideas I had only previously read about.
One of the biggest hurdles I see in education reform is that of handcuffed leadership. When managers, administrators, and teachers are overly restricted, creativity is squashed and the monster of apathy begins to grow. When an organization promotes a talented, zealous, competent employee to a leadership position, they must ensure that she is given enough freedom to actually take advantage of her talents. Far too often in education, the trend is to inadvertently stymie legitimate potential for improvement through restrictive legislation, overly litigated collective bargaining agreements, fear of punishment, excessive red tape, and/or disproportionate workloads.
I was recently honored to speak at the Computer Science Ed Week kick-off event that brought together 100 CS teachers from across the county in Boston, MA. For my portion of the program, I was asked to share ways to use Sphero™ brand toys/robots in high school CS. Just three weeks prior, I had purchased two of Sphero SPRKs™ for my 6 and 3 year-old daughters for Christmas.
I was introduced to Sphero™ brand toys in the fall of 2014 when I won a grant to purchase robotics equipment for a high school. The relatively large grant was intended to purchase the human social robot, Nao™ but I had about $2,500 left over that had to be spent on robotics. After some research, I decided to give Spheros™ a try, purchasing about 20 balls and 6 Ollies™.
GE Foundation Leadership Summit
Leveraging Innovative Technologies for Learning
Texas Open Innovation Conference
Mar 27 - 29
Emerging Innovations in Education
Authentic Learning through PBL
FFT Leading & Learning
Connecting Global Education with the Tennessee Valley
reMake Education Summit
Sonoma County, CA
Keynote, Making Making Work in Education
National Governor's Association
Teaching Governor's to Code
US Dept of Education
Round Table with Secretary John King.
K-12 Pathways for CS
Ed Foo--Making in Education (breakout session)
K-12 Education Panels
Strategies for Reducing the Racial Gap in Computing
Boston Museum of Science
Teaching with Toys--Using Robotics as a Gateway for Computer Science
US Dept of Education
MSP Computer Science Proposition
§ The Great Miscalculation
§ Five Facts About Failing
§ Oh! That's STEM?
§ My Mom Isn't
an Engineer and That's