Innovative Teacher in Three (Easy) Steps
This is Part 2 of a multi-part account chronicling eduCanon's history and the startup journey. For Part 1, click here.
When I think about how I developed the mindset and fostered the environment to create eduCanon, I have developed a short (non-exhaustive) list:
1. Embrace your quirks.
When I began teaching in Northern California, I opted to live on a sailboat for less than $300/month and avoid the escalating costs associated with renting in exchange for the constant risk of sinking (I was lucky, actually, that the sailboat had been pulled out after springing a leak the week before a tsunami hit the California coast).
Living differently encourages thinking differently. My home became a mainstay (sailing jargon) of the videos I created and content I delivered to engage my students' learning.
2. Nothing beats collaboration.
In working on developing my middle school physical science curriculum, I decided to collaborate with another teacher, Robert. I was a chemistry major, but my previous teaching experience was in high school English. Middle schoolers are...a unique challenge.
Fast-forward: Robert and I spent countless nights refining a curriculum developed for our students, their background interests, and differentiated learning needs. As a result, we had the time and energy to lead twice monthly coffee hours with local, Bay Area science teachers during which we shared the strengths of our curriculum and discussed ways to further improve it.
3. Instructional technology can adapt to your teaching workflow.
This one is really core to eduCanon's philosophy: Technology must empower the teacher and not displace him/her. And our curriculum did just that—it was flexible, yet self-directed. Modularly implemented into any classroom, regardless of teaching style, because it relied on incorporating engaging videos with formative assessments into existing teaching workflows. And our philosophy really shined bright at the end of the year when Robert and I saw identical 250% growth in our students' achievement.
I agree that California State Test scores are only one metric of growth and, unfortunately, one of the few that's easily quantifiable. Nonetheless, it continues to surprise me that two teachers with such distinct teaching styles would happen to see parallel growth. For context, let's list a few of our differences:
5'10" v. 6'7"
overweight v. athlete
sitting v. football
reclusive v. gregarious
absurdly fast v. paced
humor v. respect
I hope we can all agree on the fundamental differences in our teaching style and classroom presence. Yet through collaboration and embracing my quirks, I found myself pursing a risky and exciting entrepreneurial path.
Next time: A case study on coding with NO experience. Feel free to follow us @eduCanon123 or learn more at www.educanon.com.