Changing Positions, But Not Changing Goals

Thirteen months ago, I set out ‘on my own’ to start EmpowerMINT, where I would focus on “Empowering learning through making, innovation, and technology.” Through EmpowerMINT, I set out “to be supportive and relevant to any and all educators who hope to bring innovation into the classroom to support student success”. Today, EmpowerMINT is scaling back as I take on these goals through a new role at San Mateo County Office of Education (SMCOE) as the Innovative Learning & Technology Integration Coordinator.

Over the past year, I’ve worked with several schools and organizations, including Krause Center of Innovation (KCI) at Foothill College, Union School District, Saratoga Union School District, Rio Salado College, New Teacher Center, and SMCOE. Working with the people in each organization has been a fantastic experience and I am so thankful for each opportunity. It was also refreshing to have some flexibility over my schedule after several time-intensive stress-inducing years in district administration.

My most intensive work was with KCI and with SMCOE, both focused on building educational makerspaces, in community college and K-12, respectively. Working with Kyle Brumbaugh and the KCI/Foothill team has been a blast as we envisioned how a makerspace could support an entire community, wrote a state grant, and received funding for up to $500,000. I do feel some guilt and sadness at not being available much going forward for that team, but I also know that they have a strong team and I will do what I can to help them see success.

With my SMCOE colleague (and mentor) Bruce Duncan moving over to Burlingame School District as the Director of Innovation, Teaching and Learning, a full-time position in the SMCOE STEM Center opened up over the past few weeks. We reworked the job description to fit more closely with my EmpowerMINT goals, specifically supporting equity and student-centered classrooms, and I eagerly jumped into being a full member of the STEAM Team. This position will allow me to move forward on these goals, with a focus on the 95,000+ students in 23 districts across San Mateo County.

EmpowerMINT is not closing shop, as my work with SMCOE will be a 90% role to allow for some flexibility in where my time is spent, but it does mean that I will not be taking on any large projects in the coming year(s) as I focus on supporting students and educators in San Mateo County. I will definitely catch up with my backlog of created/found artifacts that I used with schools as we worked on building makerspaces last year and will continue to share materials I create outside of work hours and those which I am able to share from my work at SMCOE. (I still believe in and will push for Creative Commons licensing, even within my new role.)

Thanks to everyone for your support this past year with EmpowerMINT. I look forward to continuing to make an impact and share with the community in this new role.

Out and about at Maker Faire 2017, promoting the Making Spaces initiative based out of SMCOE.

Out and about at Maker Faire 2017, promoting the Making Spaces initiative based out of SMCOE.

Top #SketchNotes From 2016

Phew. A lot to catch up on since the end of October. A LOT. Before diving into the new year and any of the other number of things that I've wanted to share or discuss in the past several months, this post is focused on sharing sketchnotes I previously had been hoarding in my iPad's memory or had shared in a fleeting Twitter post.

Each sketchnote will be presented in calendar order and will include a link to the event I was attending, the Twitter account of the speaker, and any other relevant items.

February 2016 - IntegratED Portland - Jennie Magiera (@MsMagiera)
This talk was also a shared "edventure", as you can see in the picture included in the sketchnotes. Jennie's talk was an inspiring trip of tips for taking your own edventure. Even better than these sketchnotes is her new book, Courageous Edventures, which captures even more of the Magiera magic.

March 2016 - Skyline College Featured Guest - Christopher Emdin (@chrisemdin)
This talk was amazing. First of all, as the crowd was mostly high school students, rather than educators or college students expected, Dr. Emdin completely shifted his talk in the moment to focus his message to the audience. I think the subtle oppression he referred to has begun to be a lot less subtle again, which only makes his points even stronger. If these sketchnotes interest you, then you need to read his book, For White Folks Who Teach In The Hood... and the Rest of Y'all Too: Reality Pedagogy and Urban Education. I have a full sketchnotes (with less sketching) of his book that I'll post sometime in the near-ish future.

June 2016 - ISTE - Ruha Benjamin (@ruha9)
Like Dr. Emdin's talk above, Dr. Benjamin did a deep dive into whose values are promoted in our current society and whose values are silenced. Rather than say anything more about this one, please watch her keynote. Top talk I heard all year and the one I continue to revisit.

June 2016 - ISTE - Chris Lehman (@iChrisLehman), Maggie Roberts (@MaggieBRoberts), and Kristin Ziemke (@KristinZiemke)
Micro-Writing... who else but these three educators would've thought of such a great way to bring together all of the social writing we do nowadays and illustrate it so succinctly? All three of them also have written some great education books, though I have to highlight Kristin's book, Amplify: Digital Teaching and Learning in the K-6 Classroom, which she co-authored with Katie Muhtaris, as it is the book I wish I had written. Pretty much everything in that book is what I aimed to do in my own classroom.

October - Fall CUE - Megan Ellis (@MeganRoseEllis)
Megan's session was a refresh of a session she'd done several years ago. She shared what she's changed in her classroom since then, what has worked, and what things she's still tweaking. I'd definitely recommend any and every high/middle English teacher hear Megan's talk, or at least follow her on Twitter!

Hope to have a lot more sketchnotes to share with you in 2017 and hopefully I'll share them in a much more timely fashion.

* Cross-posted on Medium.