Instructional Technology Specialist
Sharon High School
What is the one thing you are really passionate about?
I am really passionate about supporting teachers. Teaching is challenging work. It is also one of the most (if not the most) important professions in our society. Having worked in other industries outside of K-12 education, there is no question in my mind that few other jobs demand as much as educating children. This is what drives my work as an Instructional Technology Specialist. Where there are tools that can lighten the load of teachers and make learning more accessible to their students, I want to help teachers to find and use them.
What are your 2-3 favorite apps or tools?
This is such a difficult question. There are so many excellent tools out there that are transforming the way we work and learn. I suppose Google apps would be the easiest choice since it emcompasses within it so many other incredible tools for learning, collaborating and demonstrating mastery. I am a heavy user of Google docs, spreadsheets and forms, not to mention Google presentations and YouTube. Another of the tools I use most regularly is Socrative. I love how easy it is to give an impromptu formative assessment using the quick question tools and the exit ticket within Socrative. I also love how easy it is to export quiz results to my Google drive. If I had to pick another tool, I would pick a screencasting tool such as ExplainEverything since it makes it so easy for students to demonstrate their thinking.
What is your current project?
Currently I am working on a few different projects. One project is to support the curriculum development and professional development for our 1:1 program. One of the biggest obstacles to teachers utilizing student laptops in our district has been the lack of time for transforming the curriculum. We are hoping to work with teacher-led teams to address this issue this year. Another project is to revamp our Student Help Desk program. We are going into our third year of having a student-run Help Desk but this year we are changing the model in a way that we feel will allow us to provide better service to our student and teacher customers. Other than that, I am constantly on the lookout for better models of professional development for teachers. For the past three years we have organized a district-wide, teacher-led professional development conference called “Sharin’ Innovation”. While this has been very successful, the workshops are isolated sessions. This past year we experimented a bit with digital badging as a DIY (do-it-yourself) and gamified approach to professional development. We also tried to promote a multi-tasking approach to professional development called “PodWalks”, where teachers take walks together while listening to educational podcasts. This coming year we hope to expand on all of these programs, and to go back to offering some more traditional workshops.
Who do you admire most? Why?
It probably sounds cliché but I admire teachers. As I said before, there are few jobs as difficult or as important. I constantly marvel at the passion and dedication that teachers bring to their work. Most of the teachers that I know are caring, compassionate individuals who make connections with their students while trying to bring the curriculum alive so that it is relevant to the students in front of them. They do all this and still have to find the time to review student work, give helpful feedback and coaching to students, respond to parent emails and keep up with state mandates and other school-based responsibilities. But the teachers I know still come into their classrooms with their best selves, and they are constantly working to improve their practice. I find that incredibly inspiring.
How do you stay current on trends and new technology?
I subscribe to a lot of blogs and podcasts. I also follow different people on Twitter. Right now some of my favorite bloggers include Matt Miller, Jennifer Gonzalez, Angela Watson, AJ Juliani and Richard Byrne.
Stacy Wolfson Newman is an Instructional Technology Specialist at Sharon High School in Sharon, Massachusetts. Before returning to work in K-12 education, Stacy worked as a consultant, instructional designer and trainer for various companies, including KPMG Consulting, JP Morgan Chase, Marriott, Fidelity and the MathWorks. Stacy originally got her start as an educator when she taught religious school during her undergraduate years at the University of Pennsylvania. Following graduation, she went on to teach first and second grade in a bilingual classroom as a Teach For America corps member in the Los Angeles area from 1991 – 1993. Stacy received her Masters degree in Education in 2003, and has been working in the Sharon Public Schools since 2011. Stacy lives in town of Sharon with her husband and two daughters.