Julie is a Digital Learning Specialist at St. John’s Prep, a 1:1 iPad school serving 1500 students in Grades 6-12 in Danvers, Massachusetts. She previously taught middle and high school History for seven years, served as the Director of Curriculum for Amplify Learning, and was a curriculum writer and trainer for the Teachers’ Curriculum Institute. Throughout that time, she’s continued to lead professional development sessions, as well as presenting at state and national conferences. Julie is an advocate for infusing digital citizenship and student voice and choice into all classrooms. She refers to herself as an ed tech enthusiast who is passionate about using tech to create engaged, self-directed, lifelong learners.
We caught up with Julie recently and discovered so much more about this visionary educator. Julie draws her inspiration from other like-minded educators, particularly other digital learning coaches. She has forged relationships with others outside of St. John’s Prep, and learns from seeing what they are doing at their schools. She also considers teachers in her own school to be a part of her professional learning network and draws a lot of her inspiration from them.
Building her professional learning network (PLN) has been a game-changer for Julie. As a digital learning coach, it is sometimes difficult to grow without having connections outside of our own schools. Working with job-alike peers, they help each other with ideas and creativity across content areas. Attending conferences is also an opportunity for growth for Julie. While she is a professional development designer for her own school, she attends conferences to gain different perspectives and see what current trends or tools might be useful for her teachers and students. These learning opportunities may be face to face at conferences, as well as virtual ones such as Twitter chats.
When asked how she inspires others, Julie’s response was quickly a humble one. A regular presenter at conferences such as MassCUE and ISTE, Julie finds it most rewarding when she hears of a teacher who implements something she showed to them at one of her sessions. Julie hopes that she’s able to inspire others – both at her school and beyond – to take risks in pursuit of continually refining and improving their teaching practice.
At her own school, Julie consults with teachers to find new and engaging ways to foster digital learning. She also visits classrooms to see how things go, lending a hand if needed, and following up after each lesson. She finds it gratifying to see lessons she has co-developed with teachers come to fruition, and is always looking for new ways to support her teachers.
An perfect example is JumpStart, a mini conference which Julie has co-planned and run for the past three years at her school. Each summer, teachers descend on St. John’s Prep to engage in new experiences to upgrade their digital teaching practice. This has helped to foster the pedagogical shifts toward digital learning, a necessary step in this 1:1 school. This is just one way that Julie’s efforts have helped to shift the focus from technology to its use for teaching and learning. This year, JumpStart introduced an EdCamp component. After the first two days of session offerings, attendees contributed ideas for EdCamp topics for the remainder of the week. Teacher choice in their own professional development proved to be a big win for Julie’s school. As always, Julie looked for feedback on this updated professional development model. The number one benefit teachers found was the value in conversations with colleagues outside of their own department. They also expressed appreciation for having choices, as well as small group interaction.
This featured educator has not only helped others to grow, but finds she has grown as a coach based on feedback given to her. Julie’s humility is an inspiration in and of itself: “How am I going to grow as a coach if I don’t have feedback?” Congratulations and best wishes to Julie in her continued success to Educate, Connect and Inspire!
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