Welcome to the iTeach Manor Blog! We have had quite a few changes in our department over the last 6 months with lots of new faces. As a matter of fact, we are experiencing an interesting season in the Technology Department of Manor ISD. In order to get started at making this blog a meaningful and inspiring resource for you, we thought we would start with each of our team members writing a bio post first. It is important that for as mobile as we are throughout the district, you understand the context we are coming from. We have huge plans, hopes, and dreams for the students of Manor and rely on our connectedness to the classroom, its teachers, and its students to make those dreams reality. That said, on our team of 4 there are 3 brand new faces from outside the district. I am the one from out of state. Let me rewind and explain how in the world I ended up in my dream job.
So almost a year to the month ago while we lived our happy little life in Fresno, CA, my husband received a job offer in Austin. We knew change was a comin’ and leaped through the door that opened. In my time at a special little elementary school in Manor’s sister city of Selma, CA, I was incredibly blessed to be in a small town with big leaders. My admin and district leadership were visionaries most do not have the fortune to work with. I was WELL trained as a teacher-leader and flourished in many years of struggle. I started in an overflow classroom, moved with my bubble, and finally got settled in the most perfect situation a teacher can imagine. I finally had the collaborative buy in and freedom to try many things in my District-technology in the classroom being one of them. I was fortunate to work in a district where the doors were always open and I was able to be involved at the top level to support the classroom level. Somehow I found a niche in technology.
Technology was my survival skill for the most rag tag kids to the ones at risk of being bored in their brilliance. It was through simple technology usage on a campus with no wifi and no devices other than a teacher Dell desktop, 4 broken thin clients, and a thin client computer lab bound by district directed programs that I was able to help create a culture of increased teacher collaboration and high levels of student tech usage at very young ages. My final year in Selma was magical. My kids could effortless explain appropriate usage to district personal, demo new technology, and even act as MY IT Support. It was this very special class that made me send my husband off to Texas and join him 7 months laters once the school year was over. Hardest thing I’ve ever had to do, but how those students transformed in that time was worth every minute of it.
At this point the plate spinning act of running a classroom that was challenging and innovate while getting my feet wet with District responsiblities and extracurriculars had me labeling myself with what educators know as “burnout.” When you are trained, they tell you to pace yourself, they tell you to set boundaries, but then you have 32 little faces that deserve every opportunity you were born with. This gratifying season of burnout in a job done well also had me realizing that I could multiply my efforts by becoming a teacher trainer. I had no idea what that looked like. I knew I was pretty comfortable presenting to colleagues, fairly energizing, and passionate about creating an environment that truly prepares kids for Century 21. I also new I happened to be moving to a technology hub in Austin. I started asking “What if?”
What if I didn’t teach? What if I could do anything? What if I could teach teachers how to use technology? What if I could see more kids succeed as much as Room 6 did? Then I thought…Well, insert any insecurity here. After 30 applications knowing that seeing “California” on my credential kicked me out of many piles, this strange thing happened when my husband asks if I had heard of an app called Meetup. He tells me to search “Edtech” and I found an EdTech Austin Meetup happening the next week. Angela Matthews, Manor’s Chief Technology Officer, was on the discussion panel as was another teacher who is now on our team, Stephanie Cerda. I was so impressed with the heart of the technology usage in Manor as a way to bring equity to east of the 35 that I email her the next day (something I would never normally do) and the rest is history.
So in this introductory novella, let me share what drives my involvement in educational technology. First and at my core, I believe in equity. That each and every child deserves the experience of doing something that makes them passionate and benefits this world. I was born into educational privilege and want to see the kids from rural, migrant, language learning, under-serviced, and forgotten communities to have the same opportunity that others are often born into. Secondly, I believe in efficiency. I cannot load the dishwasher without thinking there must be a way to do this faster, better, and with less stress so I can spend that time with my family. You are in the trenches, overworked, under-appreciated, tired, and weary. Technology provides the opportunity to save precious time, energy, and resources so that you have the juice to innovate with your students and still be a human being with the capacity to engage in your family and community on more than just the weekend and during the summer. I hope you will begin following me @whatifclass as I strategize with teachers, coaches, students, and administrators to make Manor classrooms as an exemplar of innovation and 21st century learning.