Teaching Experience is STILL a Learning Experience
I entered the educational community in 2006 with a B.A. in Social Science about as green as can be at the worst possible time in a state with an already starving education fund. The struggle made the job I currently have all the more cherishable, and I can honestly say, yes, it was in fact all worth it!
I began my quest aiming to become a High School History Teacher in the very community and High School where I grew up in Santee, California at West Hills High School. Under Master Teacher Pete Bentley, and the guidance of a star studded Social Science department (including #TLAP Dave Burgess, Dan McDowell and Ruben Hoffman, among many others rock star educators), I was very fortunate to learn from the absolute best! After completing my student teaching, I began working as a GUHSD substitute in search of an opportunity to actually prove myself. Despite the 2008 economic crash, raining pink slips year after year and the constant nudge to change career paths, I stuck with education and landed a few early opportunities teaching at private schools like Day-McKellar Prep as well as Converse International School of Languages (as a summer ESL instructor). However, it became evident that I was better off making connections subbing than trying to jump onboard a sinking ship that was never leaving the dock in private sector education.
Finally, in 2010 I got a break and received a temporary contract at my old high school, where I was graciously welcomed by both staff and students and had the opportunity to teach 9th grade Geography. With about 200 students, I experimented and valued the opportunity to break away from the traditional structures students were accustomed to, but unfortunately, when the temporary contract was up, I went back to subbing the following year.
After a colleague suggested I apply at his wife’s Charter School, I reluctantly accepted the fact that I had to find full time work wherever an opportunity presented itself. In order to clear my credential, I did the unthinkable, breaking away from the unified school districts, I interviewed and began my career at The Learning Choice Academy in La Mesa, CA. This turned out to be the best career decision I could have ever made!
Beginning as a middle school math teacher, then back to social science, adding on yearbook, plus High School Geography, and… you can see trend, I was teaching a lot of stuff my first few years. I would teach 7-8 completely different courses each year! Early on at TLC, I accepted an offer to complete STEM training through Project Lead the Way (PLTW) as our STEM program was growing. This was the moment that I transformed as a technology integrating educator. Developing skills in CAD, 3D printing, code, robotics, and multimedia, I was expanding my technology horizons year after year. Over the course of my first 8 years I would teach 16 different courses (mostly STEM, but also just about every 6-12th grade Social Science/History course in existence). Just a few years back, I developed online and blended courses like Computer Applications and Coding, as well as Computer Science Principles through code.org.
As for my continuing education, in 2015 I enrolled in the Learning Design Technology (LDT) Masters Program at San Diego State University. This is where I supercharged my tech skills as an educator and gained the confidence I needed to begin pursuing Computer Science training opportunities and some serious STEM projects that I never dreamed I would be able to accomplish in my classes. After graduating from the LDT program in 2017, I continued to work with the LDT community as a guest presenter at SDSU symposiums and as a client partner, guiding and overseeing LDT student groups as they produce instructional technology content to be used by K-12 educators and students all over the world. In spring 2020, I accepted an opportunity as a lecturer in the LDT department. I am currently teaching LDT 525 – Virtual Reality, Virtual Worlds and the Future of Learning. I am also actively working acquiring funding to develop VR and AR learning experiences with the VITaL lab at SDSU.
After various COVID distance learning challenges, shifting tides and new opportunities drove me to a new position at De Portola Middle in San Diego Unified School District. Currently, I am teaching STEM exclusively as a PLTW course called Gateway to Technology in one of the Genius Labs in the district. My classroom is set up with many advanced engineering tools, machines and gadgets, which makes every day an opportunity to push what I am teaching to new limits.
In the near future, I aspire to begin offering Teacher Professional Development opportunities for 3D tools, such as OnShape for mechanical engineering ad design, CoSpaces VR and AR, as well as JellyBox and MakerBot 3D printers. I strive relentlessly to make all of my courses exceptional and I look forward to continuing to share resources and experiences, inspiring and helping other educators enhance their classrooms with cutting edge technologies.