My Ed Tech History (to 2006)

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I began teaching six years ago in a very different environment. As I've moved from school to school and state to state I have seen the impact different environments have upon students, especially with regards to technology.

My first teaching assignment was in Utah for where I got experience in classroom management and started my experimentation with technology. I vividly remember creating PowerPoint slides and connecting two and then three televisions together for maximum viewing by my junior high students. Additionally I remember the TI graphing calculators made available to evaluate for a month with students. I was new to teaching and very unsure of my abilities, my technological prowess, and myself as a teacher. I was fortunate to meet colleagues who guided me through the year and helped me begin to learn the profession of teaching. I remain in contact with my wonderful department head, who still teaches in the same district.

My next teaching assignment was in a rural high school in Hollister, California. I made the giant leap from a safe middle school environment to a “scary” high school of over 2500 students. It turned out to be another valuable lesson in educational technology. I began teaching with TI graphing calculators in Algebra and saw success when students began to understand difficult concepts because they had the tools of technology. I also published my grades and grade book online for students and parents to access. This provided a needed communication tool between my students, parents and me. The rural nature of the large high school and the digital divide of my students caused me to reflect on the importance of technology and the need for educators to teach students skills both in a disciple (like mathematics) and necessary to gain employment upon graduation.

While the weather was wonderful, and northern California is a beautiful place to live, I needed to achieve the American dream of home ownership not readily available to beginning public school teachers in California. I moved to Connecticut and began teaching at a very different rural high school on a university campus. While the digital economic divide so prevalent in California was smaller, I found many of the same technological difficulties. I needed to find my school as a teacher, one with an administration willing to take technological risks and allow me flexibility to experiment with new technologies. I learn much about the politics of high school and the value of small class sizes. I saw how technology coupled with small class sizes and appreciation from administration could really impact students. Yet I didn’t feel I belonged to the faculty; I again went searching for additional teaching positions this time within the same state, Connecticut.

My third teaching year was back at a middle school that truly believed in the middle school philosophy of teaming. I as a math teacher, together with two English teachers, a science teacher, a history teacher, and a French teacher, worked as a team with 100 or so students. We met as a team daily to discuss curriculum and student achievements, accomplishments and problems. It was here at the middle school I gained the understanding of how teaching doesn’t need to be in isolation. The teaming atmosphere showed me how one and one is more than two as the power of the team inspires greatness. I continued to try to understand how technology could enhance education, utilizing all available tools but felt frustrated and limited by the ever presence school budget with it’s strict limits on technology spending especially by new teachers.

Connecticut funds education mainly at the town level. This fact causes much stress to local administrators who must determine budgets based on voter approval. I was the newest math teacher and told in March the budget may need to be trimmed and my position could be eliminated. This instability frightened me as my dream of homeownership had just begun and I needed to keep making mortgage payments. Once again, I began the search for a school I could excel and help students yet would meet my financial needs. I found the Connecticut Technical High School System (CTHSS) and a position as a Math Lab instructor. The school climate including teachers and administrators seemed right, the resources were available, and I finally felt like I had a school where I could “begin” my career. The next two years I spend building my teaching skills utilizing technology. Again, I had availability to teach with PowerPoint slides, graphing calculators with overhead units were available and I succeeded in garnering donated computers to enhance my classroom (although these came at the end of the year and I have yet to teach with them).

Thus, I arrive at today. I have been appointed chairperson of the technology school improvement committee. This team works with the “big chairs” committee on a school improvement plan to help teachers in all areas of teaching from technology (my committee) to curriculum, to professional development and to school safety.

I also during the last two years have been working towards a master’s degree in learning technologies at the University of Connecticut (UCONN). I see the blogosphere, together with podcasting as a place destine to change education and the impact it is having in many classrooms, yet if these new technologies are used at my school I have not heard it.

Over this summer (2006) I will develop a plan of study for my masters thesis. As a classroom teacher and master’s candidate I want to know how new media can help teaching, specifically math teachers. I see very positive uses in History, English, and even science. It is difficult to find meaningful uses for podcasting and blogging for the math instructor that will truly enhance the students’ experiences. Therefore, I started this my blog. I hope to get feedback initially on what other math teachers are doing with blogs and/or podcasting. As technology committee chairperson, I also would like feedback on introducing these new media to the faculty and administration. I will be presenting my ideas and thoughts as I plan for next year.

At UCONN I’ve studied various models of learning. One that I think is of importance to the blogosphere is social cognitive theory. This theory (which I’ll attempt to explain later) states that knowledge is created in social networks. I believe the medium of blogging can create that network.

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