I have been an elementary-school teacher for the past twelve years. In that time, I have learned a great deal about myself as both a person and an instructor. Although specific long-term goals have either solidified or shifted direction, my pedagogical mission has strengthened.
I am still dedicated to:
- Ensuring that ALL children can learn. I believe that learning does not depend on socioeconomic status, gender, or race. Therefore, I have made it my mission to raise the achievement of all students while narrowing the gaps between the highest and lowest performing students. I want to eliminate racial achievement disparities in public education.
- Preparing ALL students for their future. I believe that students can only reach their full potential if I facilitate and inspire creativity using digital tools and blended learning resources.
- Setting the expectation for lifelong learning. Learning should not be just about test preparation. State mandated tests only occupy a small percentage of a student’s life. I teach skills that will be used forever.
I have always been a classroom teacher; however, over the years, I have assumed more of a leadership role in my district. Currently, I am an Elementary STEM and Innovation Coach in the Cherry Creek School District. I coach…INSERT JOB DESCRIPTION TEXT HERE
I have never been one for the spotlight (e.g.: spearheading education initiatives); however, I have always been very passionate about my role as a teacher. I feel that I need to be a highly-qualified teacher in order to best reach my students and help them achieve academic excellence. So, throughout my career, I have participated in professional development and professional learning that I feel improves my own classroom pedagogy. As a result, I have since been asked to take much of my learning and expertise to my staff and to other schools within the district. Being a male elementary school teacher, there is always a push toward an administrative role. I have resisted this path because of my commitment to the individual students in my classroom year after year. Each new group of fifth-graders provides me with the opportunity to strengthen my leadership and pedagogical practice. I simply want to be a highly-qualified fifth-grade teacher.
However, now as a STEM and Innovation coach, I get multiple opportunities to interact with students and coach teachers throughout the district. What started as my small classroom of fifth-graders, has now turned into multiple K-5 classrooms. I now get to help other teachers integrate STEM-foundational thinking into their classrooms as well as implementing blended learning models so that all students benefit.
At Rolling Hills, I am one member of our district’s CARE (Collaborative Action Research for Equity) cadres. The Cherry Creek School District has worked closely with Pacific Educational Group to address systemic issues of educational inequity. Being a member of this cadre allows me to sharpen my action research skills, collaborate around implementation of promising practices, and develop cultural competency through a focus on four key levels of learning and teaching: (1) Improving relationships among teachers, students and families; (2) Incorporating instructional practices that are culturally responsive and relevant; (3) Expanding curriculum that is culturally relevant; and (4) Authenticating assessment practices so they indicate learning and teaching quality (http://www.pacificeducationalgroup.com).
- Continue my education in order to develop an expertise in equity and Critical Race Theory, and how these apply to changing educational systems.
- Create access to technology for marginalized students
- Provide teachers with professional learning opportunities that will improve the quality of instruction in my school and district.
As a fifth grade teacher and anti-racist leader in my building, I provide culturally responsive techniques to staff members, while also using culturally relevant pedagogy in my classroom. My main goal as a teacher is to close the opportunity gap at Rolling Hills Elementary by engaging teachers in courageous conversations about race patterns found in student achievement data, and asking why the data shows a gap. I focus on two specific areas using a hybrid model of online and face-to-face professional development: (a) to have a faculty with strong skills in culturally responsive pedagogy and the capacity to use this critical pedagogy in improving student achievement, and (b) to have faculty capable of identifying and confronting the negative dynamics of socially constructed power and privilege inside and outside of school. These targeted areas are essential if I am to inspire and collaborate with teachers to close the opportunity gap. Teachers need to understand certain core assumptions about race and student achievement, which have justified and perpetuated racial inequality in public education.
Since my Master’s degree in Information and Learning Technologies (ILT), I have sharpened my ability to integrate learning technologies into my classroom so that I can prepare my students for the 21st Century. As a teacher, I am required to be creative in my instruction, collaborate with colleagues/parents, and think critically about important issues in education.
Throughout my career in education, I have:
- provided culturally responsive techniques using Common Core State Standards
- facilitated and inspired student learning and creativity using digital tools and resources
- designed and delivered 21st Century lessons and assessments using a SMARTboard
- integrated Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) into curriculum in order to shift my role from teacher to more of a
- organized and hosted our annual STEM Education Nights
- exhibited school-wide leadership by organizing and participating in collaborative-action research professional development focused race and achievement
As a professional educator, I have presented at the Colorado Council for the Social Studies (CCSS) and have attended the 2014 Legacy Summit hosted by the Colorado Education Initiative. As a teacher-leader, I want to see professional learning be focused and effective. I want teachers to focus their efforts on a few key issues (e.g.: equity, technology) and have productive conversations about system changes, not learning how to do things. I want to have a larger role in what is addressed in our professional learning community. However, I realize that my interests are not the same as many other teachers’, so it is difficult to have everyone agree with what I feel is important. Finally, I want to build trust relationships with teachers so that change is meaningful and sustainable.
My wife and I met in high school and have been married for eleven years. We have three children: Oliver is seven; Julian is five years old; and our youngest daughter, Emerson, is three. I currently teach the fifth grade at Rolling Hills Elementary School in the Cherry Creek School District, and been doing so for the past eleven years.