If energy and passion are essential to achieving success, then this month’s Featured Educator is the epitome of both. Meet Chrystal Hoe, a technology integrator with a desire to support education in a multitude of ways. Her ability to lead others in the charge to create meaningful, engaging learning experiences is evident in her work with peers, teachers, and students alike. As the leader of TEC Collaborative’s Tech Integration Job-Share Alike group, Chrystal coordinates monthly meet ups with other technology integrators for surrounding school districts. Her collaborative style sets others at ease from the get-go, contributing and learning from those who share the same challenges and love for educational technology. “It is so fun for me to talk with my peers about what projects they are involved in at their schools and we give resources and ideas to each other. It is a great support group to bounce ideas back and forth!” states Hoe.
A Google Certified Trainer and Apple Educator, Chrystal expands her reach with others both in and outside of her own school district. As a member of the Massachusetts Steering Committee, Student Data Privacy through The Educational Collaborative, she and her peers connect to ensure that vendors are keeping student data safe. She also kick-started Hopkinton’s efforts on Student Data Privacy.
Innovation for All
In 2014, Chrystal was selected to the Google Innovator program where her innovation project involved establishing a badging system for Hopkinton’s Middle and High Schools. “My focus was connecting PD for staff, students and parents on Google products as we moved to a 1:1 district,” she said. This soon evolved from newsletters and tutorials by students teaching each other tips/tricks on the Chromebooks, to innovative ways to teach Google basics to staff. GSuite soon became natural, and a large group from her district soon finished the Google Certified Educator Level 1 Badge. This led Chrystal to explore more on badging for professional development and reaching out to others for ideas. ”I connected with other Tech Coaches like Greg Mertz in Dedham, Kasey Bell from Texas, and Kyle Pace in Kansas City, to see what their best practices were to implement a badging system at our school,” said Chrystal. “I learned a lot about how to set it up on the back end, as well as the motivation to get badges. I was super excited when one of my teachers created a badging world in the classroom to motivate students to learn on their own.” The final phase of her goal was to teach parents how to connect and communicate with their children via Google, sharing Google Calendar events and Google Docs with each other or just saving files and photos in Google Drive.
Since completing the Google Innovation program, Chrystal has coached other Google Innovators. “This was very exciting because it gave me a chance to give back to the Program. Basically, if you are looking to make change in your community, educator or not, this Program helps you get your ideas started in a Design Thinking way where you learn by failing fast and getting inspiration from many mentors,” said Chrystal.
Choice in PD
Chrystal’s approach to teacher professional development is heavily weighted upon choices. The badging program she developed for her district provided a variety of ways for teachers to grow their skillset. Among these choices were integration with educational apps, suggested reading, and building professional learning networks through social media. Teachers worked independently, with each other or with Chrystal if they needed support. “My biggest takeaway was how teachers embraced this form of professional development, engaging so much in the idea of badging, that one 7th grade teacher gamified his entire classroom using badges,” stated Chrystal. The option to earn badges was even offered to middle and high school students if they chose to create tutorials to help others learn a new skill. The effects of Chrystal’s PD design were soon far-reaching, as she so eloquently conveys in her video, ‘Mind the Gap’.
An Educator First
A sixteen year veteran educator, Chrystal majored in French and Education, continuing to earn her Masters in French Pedagogy. “I began teaching French I through AP in Ohio, then moved to Boston where I continued teaching French. I’ve always loved using technology in my classes to teach real-world experiences to my students,” said Hoe, who had a desire to share the impact she was making with other teachers. After becoming a Google Certified Trainer, Chrystal started presenting with EdTechTeam and working with them to present and train faculty and staff. In addition, she was a Keynote Speaker about GSuite products and innovation in education. “I love showing teachers new ways to teach students and get them excited about their content, make real connections, have real conversations, and collaborate with anyone around the world.” She soon found herself in Hopkinton where she became an educational technology coach for the district. “The more I presented and connected at conferences like MassCue, DLD Medfield, and ISTE, the more meaningful my job became,” she said.
The Crowdsourcing of Education
Chrystal finds her highest motivator to be answering questions. These could be from others but are mostly of herself. Questions such as: “How can I do this lesson better?” or “What app can make this easier to give feedback to my students?” to “How can I differentiate this lesson?” or “How can we make this content more dynamic by changing it to a Breakout Edu or use Google Expeditions to virtually see Mount Everest?” There are new questions every day for her to explore and help create a spark for learners, teachers and students. Keeping ahead of the ed tech trends can be difficult, but being connected to a PLN is easy, according to Hoe. “The more people you can easily reach out to and ask “How can I do this better?” is the best.” states Chrystal. She believes social media has created a new space for the crowdsourcing of education. “I can reach out to my friend in Medfield or Bahrain for an answer,” she said. Chrystal also keeps up with educational technology by reading and networking at conferences to help keep things new and fresh. With regard to her own district, she states that Hopkinton is very supportive of their educators growing as learners, encouraging staff to attend conferences and workshops. “We bring our learning back to our schools and show how it will impact our district,” said Hoe. “We all share in this community and our administration is also ready to learn as are our students…another reason why I love my job.” It is very clear that Chrystal is passionate about what she does and enjoys the relationships she makes along the way. She is ready to help anyone who needs it and has a desire to see everyone transform learning in their classrooms. “I know that the more I train and help others that I am making a greater impact on education.”
Congratulations to Chrystal on a job well-done!
Chrystal Hoe is a Technology Integration Coordinator in Hopkinton. Her many badges include Apple Educator, Google Certified Trainer, Innovator, Google Product Expert, & Certified Educator. She is a keynote and spotlight presenter and works with schools on how to integrate Google Apps, Chromebooks, and other emerging technologies into learning. Her latest endeavor is working with Harvard University Teacher Education Programs (TEP) to prepare them with Google Suite tools for K-12 schools. Her background is in Modern Language Pedagogy with a Masters in French. She holds a license in French, Educational Technology and Administration. She has been featured at Google Certified Innovator Program as a coach, BLC Boston, Tech and Learning, MassCue, Google Summits by EdTechTeam, ISTE, and Deep Learners.
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