Helping Teachers Design Meaningful Learning Experiences

Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

Moving to Beijing in 2011 was supposed to be temporary, but as I was given opportunities to grow as a leader, I took advantage of each one. My application to the Master of Arts in Educational Technology (MAET) program in 2018 aligned with a promotion to Assistant Principal of a Nursery-Grade 6 school in Beijing where I was already involved with technology initiatives. On my application, I stated that, “professionally, I would like to develop the technology-related offerings in our early years and elementary classrooms so that children are enthusiastic about using technology to solve real-world problems.” As I have moved from one school to the next, I feel that this goal has been refined into two goals that will drive my future learning.

Goal: To demystify technology in the early years and help teachers understand that the concepts and mindsets related to design and technology do not require a screen or specialized equipment. 

I love helping teachers improve the learning experience for their students. In the past two years, I have been able to lead professional development sessions and speak at conferences to share my experience with teaching design and technology while using hands-on, screen-free activities for the youngest learners. By helping teachers understand affordances and limitations of technology, I see teachers taking risks and designing experiences that will prepare students to create and communicate in elementary school. Working with teachers to refine their teaching experiences brings me joy and I hope to continue inspiring teachers to expand their understanding of technology integration using the Technological, Pedagogical and Content Knowledge (TPACK) framework (Mishra & Koehler, 2006).

Goal: To leverage technology as a tool for bringing parents into the classroom and bringing the classroom into the community.

We know that children learn best from trusted adults. Families are diverse- single parents, working parents, traveling parents, non-parent caregivers, and all deserve to have a role in the classroom and school communities in ways typically limited to stay-at-home parents or those with flexible work schedules. If physical classroom involvement is impossible, perhaps it time to look at how technology tools can involve other adults in the learning process, particularly in the early years.

Presenting on developmentally appropriate practices for technology use in the early years during an MAET poster session.

The MAET program has ignited my passion for research and innovation. I am beginning to establish research connections and hope to explore the affordances of technology in bringing the community into schools and improving childcare settings. As I make decisions about my future career, I am seeking out opportunities to improve the quality of early education, particularly for families who speak English as an Additional Language. I hope this will include doctoral studies or research partnerships as I transition back to the United States. My hope is that my global experience and passion for appropriate technology in the early years can be a catalyst for designing learning environments that benefit the student by bringing parents and communities together. By inspiring teachers to seek out new tools for leveraging the resources around them, my goal is to continue contributing to the improvement of early education.

References:

Mishra, P., & Koehler, M. J. (2006). Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge: A new framework for teacher knowledgeTeachers College Record. 108(6), 1017-1054.

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