Throughout my eleven years at The Roxbury Latin School, I’ve been fortunate to serve as a teacher, advisor, technology integrator, makerspace director, and technology team leader. At this stage of my career, I’m pivoting away from IT management in order to focus on teaching and developing both curricular and extracurricular technology programs. Two of my driving motivations for pursuing graduate studies were my desire to substantiate and validate the lessons that I had learned first hand in the classroom through research and best practices, and to stretch the boundaries of my knowledge and kindle new fires of curiosity and interest for ongoing and future learning. As my time in the Master of Art in Educational Technology (MAET) program at Michigan State University (MSU) comes to a close, I feel that the first of my driving motivations has largely been satisfied. I hope to discuss now three goals that I have developed for future learning based on elements of the program that have particularly resonated with me:
Build a better understanding of racial, ethnic, and cultural implications on educational experiences
Develop a broader view and perspective, both historical and contemporary, on educational systems, both public and private, throughout the United States and the world
Construct a stronger network of local Makerspace educators
2020 has drawn the world’s attention to the experiences of people of color in the United States, particularly in regards to their experience with law enforcement and the criminal justice system. Education leaders have long been advocating for greater attention and focus on how to provide holistic and healthy experiences of diversity, equity, and inclusion, and equal opportunities for all students. Discussions throughout the MAET program surrounding implicit bias, systemic racism, and Universal Design for Learning (UDL) have widened my eyes to the problems and challenges we face as educators. It is clear to me that as individuals, we need to be educating ourselves on the basis, causes, and history of racism in America, and developing understanding and empathy with historically oppressed people. The next step in my exploration of these ideas is to read Ibram X. Kendi's wildly popular How to be an Anti-Racist.
Too often in this program, conversations about problems in education have come to the conclusion that systemic problems, baked into the system as we know it, are complicating or stunting efforts at innovation, improvement, and change for the better. I’ve only ever taught at an independent school, and I’ve been largely shielded from the challenges of our public education system. My curiosity (and often perplexment) about these issues are accompanied by a sense of obligation to learn more, since such an overwhelming number of American students (myself included) are or were a part of the public school system.School: The Story of American Public Education will serve as a preliminary resource, and exploration of the writing of John Dewey, particularly Democracy and Education will help to inform a historical perspective, along with, and relating to my previous goal, The Mis-Education of the Negro by Dr. Carter G. Woodson.
I have been a tangential part of the Makerspace “world” in the greater Boston area since we first imagined our space many years ago, but as our program expanded and my available time contracted, my most meaningful connections faded or atrophied. While I am an outsider looking in on a handful of listservs and message boards, I am not an active participant or contributor. The primary Makerspace directors at several local schools and I formed a cohort that met semi-regularly when we were first becoming established, and as I transition into a role where more of my time and attention will be focused on this space, both academically and extracurricularly, I hope to renew and reinvigorate those connections. The community of educators that I have been surrounded by at MSU, particularly the Hybrid Online summer cohorts, have reminded me how valuable it is to have similarly curious and interested like-minded educators with whom I can bounce ideas around and share experiences. I plan to become more of a regular contributor to broader organizations as well, such as theK-12 Fab Labs and Makerspaces Google Group, Independent School Technology Educators (ISTE), and the Computer Science Teachers Association (CTSA).
Teachers are most effective when they’re also proactive and passionate learners. One of the most beautiful things about learning is that each new piece of knowledge and understanding has a tendency to motivate a new question. I look forward to the new questions and curiosities that are inspired by my exploration of these three areas.