Meet Makayla, a technology teacher who has paved her own path at her school. Since starting teaching 2 years ago, Makayla's position at the school has morphed into a science + technology teacher for 20 of the classes in her building! Makayla is a Harry Potter mega-fan and even has a tattoo of the Deathly Hallows. Pair her love of Harry with her other loves of pizza and wine, and I think I've found my teaching friend soulmate!
Your job as a technology teacher is so new in your district that you kind of had to create it as you went along. What was your most valuable resource as you created your technology curriculum?
It was a struggle at first. I was nervous, and a little stressed having no curriculum and nothing to go off of on top of being a first year teacher. Luckily, I had a great STEM background from my job in Grand Junction at the John McConnell Math and Science Center. When I worked there, we did a lot with science and technology so I used a lot of lessons from that experience. I also really love Pinterest, so I definitely get some great ideas from there! Lastly, I just create my own ideas based off what I know my students will enjoy.
What devices do you use regularly as a technology teacher?
We have a collection of 15 laptops that we use with classes of 26 students, on average. We also have Ozobots and Edison Bots, and we just recently tried out 3D pens. I also consider some of our weather tools technology.
There is a lot of controversy and debate surrounding young kids and technology. What would you say to someone who disagrees with technology education in elementary classrooms?
My school is an Applied Technology school and have a strong focus on blended learning. Yes, kids should not be staring at a device all day and parents should not use it as a babysitter, but the programs we use at school are meant to enhance their learning. It is used as another way to do math and reading and help students grow. Students need to see and use technology because our society is moving to one that is very technology-based. All future jobs are going to include or be primarily technology based jobs.
What are some websites and apps you can’t live without–both personally and as a technology teacher?
As a technology teacher, I cannot live without code.org, Plickers, Pinterest, Google, and Epic Books. This isn’t a website or app, but all technology teachers should have Netsupport if possible. It doesn’t work on Chromebooks but it allows the teacher to see every student's screen at once and manipulate each student's screen as well.
Personally, I cannot live without Facebook, the Weather App, Pinterest, Libby(where I can listen to books for free), and Groupon.
Do you think 1:1 is necessary for all elementary classrooms?
Even as a technology teacher, I do not think it is necessary. My school does not do 1:1, and in my classroom we do not do 1:1. I think this is okay and gives opportunity for teachers to teach subjects in different ways. For example, when I teach coding, I have half of the students on the computer and half off the computer doing an unplugged activity like robots.
My school also does rotations when in math or reading. One group will be on computers, one with the teacher, and one working individually.
If you were going to teach on a desert island for a month, what 3 teaching necessities would you bring?
Well it's only a month, so really, we could just do a lot of experience-based things! We wouldn’t need much except the things around us. I feel you could make use of a lot of the things on the island. It would be like a summer camp and that sounds fun! But if I had to pick I would say:
- Something for every kid to write on like a white board or chalk board with a writing utensil.
- 1 computer with unlimited battery life!
What has surprised you about teaching?
I was surprised by how much a student's home life can affect their behavior and attitude about school, in a positive and negative way. We really need to build relationships with students whose home lives are not the greatest. We need them to know they are loved before we can expect them to learn from us. I did not encounter this as a student teacher. The students I have now really value respect, and if they aren’t given it, then they won’t give it back. Some people think kids should respect adults first, but with what some of these kids go through, it is hard for them to trust adults. And we need to understand that and value that.
I was also surprised about how much a student can grow over a year, behaviorally and academically! It's amazing! I love watching it happen.
It was also surprising to see what students are capable of. We often do not challenge students because of their age, but kindergartners are capable of coding just like 3rd graders are.
What do you do to take care of yourself and unwind after a long day?
After a long day I like to go to the gym, have some wine, go to a brewery with friends, or just cook dinner and watch Ghost Adventures with my boyfriend.
Your favorite technology teacher hack or tip that not many people know about:
I just discovered that if your projector won't turn on you, you should unplug it, hold the power button on the remote down for 30 seconds, then plug it back in and it will work!
Just for Fun:
Favorite social media platform: Facebook
Favorite day of the week: Friday
Favorite school lunch to pack: Tacos!
Would you rather have a 4 day work week or unlimited personal days?
Hmmm…good question! I would rather have a 4 day work week because that would mean less sub planning!
Reading: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Listening to: The Maze Runner series
Looking forward to: Summer school field trips! We are going hiking and to the zoo!
Teaching: 2nd grade
Thank you so much, Makayla! If you'd like to be the next featured educator on our Meet the Teacher series, head over here! To read more installments of Meet the Teacher, head here!
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