Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Innovative Educator takes its first step

I’ve spent as long as I can remember being an educator, student or both, passionate about authentic, meaningful, fun, and relevant schooling. In first grade my school informed my mother that I spent most days sleeping and they were concerned I had a learning disability, though in those days, I believe my teacher told my mom she thought I was “retarded.” Frantic my mother took me off to UCLA medical center for a battery of tests where they advised my mother and my school that I tested much higher than average in all tests and my issue was boredom and under stimulation.

They recommended I skip a grade. That helped a little, but I spent most of my school years in what felt like a meaningless, dreary torture chamber. My teachers promised that though what they were teaching might not seem important then, I would need it when I grew up. 

I couldn’t wait to grow up and figure out why all this stuff was important. I hurried on my way to growing up, graduating college at 19. I didn’t know how it was that growing up would teach me the meaning of what seemed an irrelevant school experience, but I was excited to finally have the mystery solved.

Once in the real world, I realized it was all a farce. There was very little that I learned in school that was valuable…especially after 4th grade. I felt cheated and disappointed that I had spent countless excruciatingly BORING years in classrooms and had nothing to show for it but a bunch of diplomas and boxes of reports graded by my teachers that no one cared about.

As an adult, I have been fortunate to personally connect with some fantastic authors and experts (Alan November, Will Richardson, Marc Prensky, David Warlick, Lucy Calkins, Marco Torres, Penelope Trunk, Peggy Sheehy…all highly Googleable) interested in making learning real, meaningful, fun, and authentic. I am fortunate to have the pleasure of learning a lot from them. I consider them my personal learning network experts.

Something I’ve learned from these experts is that if you want to be taken seriously, you have to have a digital footprint. It’s not enough to talk about the work you do, do the work you do, and spread the work you do. Even if it’s in one of the world’s largest school systems. To be taken seriously, you must become a more formal part of the conversation. 

It is toward that end I have begun developing my own digital footprint beginning with this blog. With more than ten years experience working in the field of educational technology for the New York City Department of Education and Teachers College, Columbia University, I have gained a lot of valuable information that I believe will be helpful for educators and other interested parties and I’m ready to share my ideas for making the learning environment a more exciting and meaningful place. 

If you are an educator or someone interested in education I hope you find some of what I share valuable and that you are inspired to put some of my ideas into action.


  1. As a parent of two teenage children, one in middle school, my older in high school, I totally understand what you went through growing up. In my house, all I hear is "why do I need to know this, its stupid and does'nt mean anything to me". For a long time I fought with them and tried to convince myself and them that what you are learning in school will be important when you get older. I have been awoken to the fact that these kids may actually be right in their interpretation of what, and how they are being taught in the mindless institution called school, is actually useless. Day in and day out, they come home with ridiculous assignments, projects and reports that need to be done. I look at these in a new light these days, and ask myself, "what is the value of these meaningless exercises". I say this because, these kids are being taught the same way that I was taught, many years ago. My kids have computers, internet, cell phones, Ipods and all the other electronic gizmos that todays kids have. Do they use these for educational purposes? Very rarely!!! Why? Because their teachers and school administrators do not even know where to start using all this technology for educational purposes. These kids are digital natives, while they are being taught by digital natives. What is the value of that!!! Anyway, my point is, I'm glad that there are people like you that see the value of technology in education, and I will be following your blog so that I can learn what is available to help MY kids create their own digital footprint. Good luck Innovative Educator. I look forward to your innovative ideas, and can't wait to share them with my kids!!!!

  2. I have read your introduction and I want to tell you how much I admire what you are doing here.
    20 years ago when I just started to teach in NYC I said that the school system is 100 years behind the rest of the society.
    We are catching up slowly because we are bring the "gizmos" to the classrooms, but the gizmos will take over very soon and very fast because it's business and they sell and because so many people appreciate them so much :) including myself.
    I believe you suffered so much in school because all they taught you was memorization. Memorization of facts listed in books or on the computer is borrrriiiiingggg. If you need to know something you can always pick up the book or open a website on the Internet and check it out. We have to prohibit ;) memorization and admiration of somebody's good memory.
    If you learned how to solve a problem, or how to find the answer, or write about what YOU think, the learning would not be so boring because you would be personally involved.
    I think the schools are moving in the right direction we are teaching the kids How... instead of What... more and more. We do use modern technology more and more. Even our tests changed they require thinking during the test instead of trying to remember what was there that I memorized. This is why we have Reference Tables for the information that might be needed.
    I agree with you on the major opinion that the administration and their filters are holding many of us back.
    Now one question ;) how soon will you know about this post of mine? I am learning how this works :)

  3. Welcome to the conversation Maria! You will find through participating in the read/write web you will develop an amazing personal learning network with more to offer than you could ever experience in school. I appreciate your words and feedback. I encourage you to visit and comment on the Techomnivore's blog post He speaks of the subject of memorization and I think you would add value to the conversation.

    I'm glad you've joined the read/write web and are well on your way to begin establishing your own personal learning network.


  4. Thanks. I empathize with, and understand your passion. I'm glad I discovered you--like many others must have--through the recent New York Times magazine!!

    I'm Guila Muir It's essential to me to make learning meaningful for adults, too. THANKS for the work you are doing.


  5. @Guila, thanks so much for stopping by! I hope you'll come back often. My desire is that my writing and speaking will help affect change in big ways. I've already seen some impact and love connecting with others who share my passion to transform education in ways that will enrich the lives of our future. Stay tuned to see what magic we can make happen :-)