Year 1: Design Technology Facilitator

I have to say, I landed a dream job this year.  I don’t think this position exists in many places around the world.  It is the perfect balance of teaching, curriculum building, leading, presenting, program development and designing collaborative spaces.

That being said, I have learned so much this year.  It is exhausting and amazing to move to a new country and school.  I love seeing how different schools and systems work differently.  Everything from the schedule to homeroom structures to communications to curriculum to human dynamics is different.  It is always sometimes better and sometimes more challenging than other work places.  When you put yourself into this newbie position, you are vulnerable, you have to depend on others and you learn, learn, learn and do your best.

I didn’t have goals this year besides surviving and develop a Design program at ISB.  I had an action plan to work with which definitely helped out.  More importantly, I was very lucky this year to have a large amount of amazing people around me – both professionally and personally – new colleagues, old colleagues; new and old friends.  And that is what made this year amazing.  Not perfect.  But a great first year, for sure.

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Arduino Teacher Training – Thanks to Jonathan @ Creatica

First, I’ll start with things that I am proud of accomplishing this year:

  1. Creating a Design and Engineering Team to develop a K-12 Design Process for our school that connects design thinking with NGSS Engineering and can be used throughout our school – in classrooms, enrichments, After School Activities and even in our own practices of creative problem solving.  We still have some work to do as our program grows, but I feel like we collaboratively created a process that we can all work with.  I have developed standards and rubrics based on this process and will continue to make more support materials for teachers to use.

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2. Being very active in classrooms  – this was not so much my doing than the openness of the teachers I work with.  I was frequently invited to co-teach, facilitate and work with many teachers this year.  It was great to get to know our students, community and teachers so well in the first year.IMG_2934 (1)

3. Designing collaborative spaces for design thinking and engineering to take place.  It was amazing to have an idea and over Winter Break a new design lab was born for MS and HS students.  It is a great space (although basic) for students to tinker, learn, prototype, create and learn.  To add on to this experience, there will be another space for ES students and teachers to use next year as we develop the Design & Engineering Program through the whole curriculum.

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4. Collaborating on Personalized Learning Experiences

Before I arrived, ISB had a lot of great opportunities for students to follow their passions, interests and curiosities to choose their learning.  Middle School students sign up for enrichments – anything from band to yoga to robotics to textiles to game design to Genius Hour and everything in between.  I was able to jump in and help coach and co-teach Genius Hour which was a fabulous experience.  I worked with amazing teachers and we worked together to create a similar design in which students followed the design process to identify problem or opportunity and create a solution.  I help facilitate other enrichments, and I learned a lot working with other teachers.  I was able to “take over” One Day, which is a day that all MS students to design their learning.  It was difficult to take it over when I had only experienced it through Twitter the year before.  Due to a teacher leaving, I’m excited to be facilitating for the Passionate Project Class in HS, which will allow many middle school students opportunities to design their own learning experiences as they move through high school.

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One Day Construction

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One Day Student Collaboration

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Genius Hour Feedback Session

And now on to things I feel like I missed the mark on and need to work on more next year:

  1. Working with high school – Middle school is definitely “my space”.  This MS being full of exceptional teachers who welcomed me in all the time, I didn’t always leave a lot of time for HS.  I need to work harder to get into the HS.  Students are enjoying the experiences they have in middle school and I don’t want their design thinking skills and creativity to take a back seat as they enter high school.
  2. Evaluating what I do and how it connects to what my role at this school is.  This year, I rarely said no.  I wanted to learn more about the curriculum and my colleagues because in my role, relationships are everything.  Some work I took on, was beyond my job description, as it is with most teachers.  However, next year, as I work with a new colleague coming in and have a better sense of the school, I need to articulate my role better and stay focused on what I can do well and impact student learning the most.  I know this is something I will always struggle with and I feel like I want to do more and really be a part of a community, so I need to maybe even simplify this goal and think that if I take something on, I need to take something else off the plate.  This is a big school with a lot going on, so there is always something to do.
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Teacher Goal: Holiday Sushi Class

IMG_3086My teacher learning goal this year is to improve my technical skill levels – both with food technology and digital technology.  Over the past five years, I feel like I’ve had a lot of PD and growth with my teaching strategies and I have developed a good curriculum for our design department.  However, teaching a very skill-based course,  I need to acquire new skills, especially since I haven’t worked professionally as a designer.

One strategy was to attend cooking classes to:

1. Learn new skills and cooking techniques

2. See how other people teach cooking

3. Evaluate the kitchen space and how materials/ingredients are managed

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I not only gained confidence in creating sushi, I learned about Japanese ingredients I had never purchased or worked with before. I saw how much the teacher prepped for the class. (It was a lot.) But, I came to the conclusion that when creating a highly technical product, there may be more prep time needed, especially for a limited time frame (like my 60 minute class).  Our chef-teacher and her team had measured out the quantity of all the ingredients, while still leaving a lot of the prep to the participants, like mixing, cutting and manipulating the food.

One other huge benefit to the class, was to take the class in Japanese.  After that experience, it made me think that EVERY teacher, definitely every International School teacher should take a class in a language that they have limited proficiency in.  It was good to be a student in that environment and experience what many of our new students experience.  I was able to easily follow along, because the teacher did such a great job of demonstrating (with the assistance of the remote control camera-screen) and she was friendly and worked one-on-one with students who needed help. I think it is really interesting that you can identify good teaching without understanding language.  I’d love to try this again in a school setting to see if I can learn or see learning in a classroom without mastery of the language of the classroom.

In the end, this was a really rich (and FUN!) professional development experience.  I now give myself at least an hour to prep the kitchen for classes (which is time consuming) but worth it.  I get to spend more time giving formative feedback to my students and I can really have my students focus on the skills I want them to, rather than try to rush around and in the end make a big mess in the kitchen, because there wasn’t enough time to do everything.  I hope to do more cooking demonstration classes in the future to get more ideas to use in my classroom and continue to improve my own skills, in a variety of cuisines.

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Happy New Year: My Resolutions and Goals

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Photo Credit: yousuke_orenikki via Compfight cc

Every January, when everyone is sharing their New Year’s resolutions, I sometimes throw a couple on the table, but this feels like such an unnatural time for me to make resolutions and goals.

Since I was born, with an exception of about three years in between finishing my bachelor’s degree and starting teaching, my “year” has revolved around on a North American school schedule.  My parents were teachers and then I was in school and ultimately, I became a teacher. So August and September seems like the best time for me to make my resolutions and goals.

A few of these are personal and a few are professional.

PERSONAL

1. Drink more water – this seems simple enough, but I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve come home from school and realized that I didn’t drink more than a glass of water at lunch and I was active all day.

2. Be balanced – mostly this is making sure I’m not behind my computer screen all day and home at night.  I want to be with my kids 100% when I am with them, not trying to get work done in between playing games or having conversations with them over my screen.

PROFESSIONAL (more details can be found here)

3. Improve my technical skill levels – both with food technology and digital technology.

4. Improve the quality of my students products by improving their knowledge, skills and techniques –  using a differentiated, skills-based foundation for my design cycle units.

**This is the Design Department’s Student Learning Goal**

5. Further develop our Digital Citizenship curriculum around our Responsible Use Policy and the IB Learner Profile.

6. Work with our librarian and MYP Coordinator to articulate the Approaches to Teaching and Learning.

7. Integrate technology more holistically – plan and work with teachers across all content areas to make sure technology is authentically used.