I entered the formal field of education in 2002, teaching third grade for Rockingham County Public Schools in Elkton, Virginia. I spent six years in Virginia, getting to know their Standards of Learning and working toward student success on the state’s culminating standardized tests. I entered my first year of teaching eager to learn, and I did just that. Through the course of my six-year stay in Virginia, I learned and changed as a teacher. I began with whole group instruction for nearly every subject during my first year, based on my studies in college. After a few graduate courses and discussions with colleagues, I ended up with individualized education plans for every student in every subject area. Small group instruction was taking place based on the needs of individuals rather than the whole group. Each year I was also afforded the chance to work with special education teachers, with whom I would collaborate and co-teach lessons. I spent time writing grants to bring in printers, scanners, and SMART Boards into the school for the first time. I took on leadership responsibilities as Yearbook Coordinator, Summer Science Camp Leader, and Student Council Advisor. Participating in these roles, I learned to understand students in a different context, and gained knowledge and an interest for school politics. After six years, it had come time to move forward. After contemplating this next step, I decided to look into the international teaching scene.
I left the United States and accepted a position as a fourth grade teacher in Monterrey, Mexico. I spent six years at the private school, American School Foundation of Monterrey, or ASFM. Teaching at ASFM, I had the challenge of altering my teaching strategies and goals from students passing standardized tests, to open ended assessments where students’ thoughts and ideas would be measured. I successfully adapted to utilizing the workshop model approach to teaching, empowered students to analyze and interpret information, while still incorporating the strategies I picked up in Virginia. I learned about balanced literacy programs and student problem solving strategies through professional development sessions from consultants visiting ASFM and conferences abroad. While learning new, research based practices, I was also able to share the expertise I had with working with technology and developing 21st century skills in the classroom. Fortunately, I had access to a SMART Board and various iDevices to assist my students with learning in the 21st century. My fourth grade classroom also piloted a year of 1:1 MacBook use. Working at ASFM provided me with the opportunity to grow as a teacher leader. I applied for and was accepted in the leadership roles of Fourth Grade Team Leader, Elementary Lesson Study Facilitator, and Elementary Digital Teacher.
Recently, the time arrived once again for me to consider moving forward. Upon thinking forward, and staying at ASFM, I looked into furthering my experience by meshing two interests together, education and technology, particularly with the goal of becoming a Technology Integration Specialist. Acting on this goal, I enrolled in Michigan State University's Masters of Educational Technology program, overseas cohort. I just completed the program in Galway, Ireland, and now have my Master's of Arts in Educational Technology. I have also just begun my second year as an Elementary Technology Integration Specialist at ASFM.