What a Year…

I’ll be honest, once I finished the Master of Arts in Educational Technology (MAET) program last August, I definitely dropped off caring about maintaining this site. I’m glad I had an opportunity to come back to it today! I’ve updated the About Me and my digital Resume (though I have not yet updated the PDF, hopefully I can do that next weekend).

My husband and I moved to Arizona in August 2020, and I struggled to find a new position to fit my ideal career path that also didn’t put me in an unsafe environment at the height of COVID-19. However, my husband and I decided that we wanted a dog, but we couldn’t get one until I found a job. So I found one.

Crossing Guard

It was unexpected, and definitely not my favorite (being awake and at work by 7:15 am…outside…in sub-freezing temperatures), but I worked as a crossing guard for a school within walking distance from our home. It was important to me to stay connected to education, even if I wasn’t working full time, or working with students directly. Having an excuse to get out of the house safely was important for my mental health.

Meeting Moose

As soon as I accepted the Crossing Guard position, I was browsing the local shelter’s site daily to see what dogs they had available. One I fell in love with early was named Moose — an Australian Shepherd and Black Lab mix. What the shelter didn’t list on the site is that he had recently had a femoral head ostectomy (FHO), and was relearning how to walk.

The instant my husband and I met him Moose melted my heart, and I knew he would be our dog. We adopted him a few weeks later, and he’s been with us for almost a year now. Though we have discovered that he’s actually half German Shepherd, not Australian…if those ears didn’t give it away. I spent October through December 2020 training him on how to behave and work within our home. Now he sometimes even helps with laundry!

It’s amazing how similar knowledge about learning is transferrable to working with animals. A lot of the behavioral psychology and learning practices that I knew from the MAET program and from my undergraduate program in education helped me manage training much better than I would have expected.

Returning to Educational Technology

At the end of 2020, I was fortunate enough to accept a position as the Instructional Technology Liaison at Mansfeld Magnet Middle School. The program, school, and position were almost exactly what I’d pictured as the next step in my educational career and I was really excited to begin! I learned a lot in January:

Program

Expected – this school is 1:1 with iPads, and teaching virtually during this entire school year. The program itself (Verizon Innovative Learning Schools or VILS) is a grant that provides the iPads along with 5 GB/month data plans so students can complete classwork at home. They probably have some kind of learning management system.

Reality – the three VILS schools were the first schools to be 1:1 in Tucson, and the rest of the schools had to catch up when virtual learning started. We applied to extend our VILS grant and build a VILS Lab, and were granted both. The data plans were bumped up to 30GB/month to provide for the virtual learning. We have no learning management system, but are hoping to implement Canvas by the 2022-2023 school year.

School

Expected – the school is a STEM Magnet school with high rankings across the board. You have to work in person, but there will be no students this school year.

Reality – the school is a STEM Magnet school that continues to win distinctions, but is also a historical building registered with the Arizona Historical Society. Turns out this means we can’t remove the original chalkboards in the original building, and the cafeteria has gorgeous columns and carvings around the stage. Districts were required to provide an in-person option by March 2021, and about 50% of our campus returned for in-person learning. The 2021-2022 school year will be entirely in-person.

Position

Expected – I’ll get to work with teachers and students to help integrate technology in the curriculum, create professional development, and maybe help fix some technical issues. I’ll get properly compensated for my experience.

Reality – I am the technical issue person. Turns out there was already an instructional technology coach, but this was not made clear in the application/interview process. However I’ve really enjoyed learning the technical backend of how you keep a 1:1 school running! I’ve learned how to use and manage a mobile device management (MDM) system, keep inventory, everything about iOS and Apple products (I’ve always been an Android/Windows person), and create budget proposals to provide for a self-sustaining program. I took a $50,000/year pay cut from my position as a teacher with a Master’s degree in Washington.


It’s been a lot to learn and adjust to over the past year, but one thing I’ve always prided myself on is being flexible. Would I change anything? No, I like where I am now. I’m looking forward to the adventures I get over the next few months, including:

  • Working with grant funds to create a self-sustaining program
  • Introducing our staff to Canvas
  • Supporting Desert Bus as a moderator for the sixth year
  • Moving to a new state
  • Learning how to be a mom to my firstborn (due in February 2022)

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