A New Adventure in Innovation


Last night I had the opportunity to speak on an alumni panel to answer questions and offer advice to a group of education students who are graduating from Bryn Mawr College and Haverford College next month. Sitting in front of them, I appreciated the chance to pause and think about my own educational and professional journey since I graduated.

I have had the privilege to learn and experience so much these past few years! Each year has been different (check out this infographic) and offered its own opportunities for adventure and growth.

As I recounted to the students how I chose my master’s program in International Training and Education because I wanted to go deeper into global education and international work, I realized how much those experiences have shaped me. It was during that program that I started my own consulting business, began managing social media and websites for education clients, first traveled to Africa and then returned to help oversee the use of technology as a tool for collaboration and community building across 30 West African nations. I also started this website and launched a second one for my capstone, offering tools and research to support early childhood educators in “going global” and then taught a graduate class on technology for global learning.

That work informed my next steps in looking for a full-time position back in Philadelphia. I knew I wanted to bring together my passions for using ed tech as a tool for meaningful learning, including a strong focus on global partnerships and collaboration, and working with young children and their teachers to think critically about teaching and learning. I found the perfect mix of those passions in my job as a Lower School Technology Coordinator at Episcopal Academy.

At Episcopal, I have had the opportunity to do such exciting work with a group of amazing and dedicated faculty. They were willing to take risks over and over again, as I suggested new project ideas and ways of infusing technology into the curriculum. This work has included everything from partnering each Pre-K to 2nd grade class with a global partner in another country, to trying Google Glass in the classroom, to connecting with park rangers, paleontologists, and app developers via Skype. Faculty opened up their classrooms so I could observe their expert ways of working with students, the warm, Responsive Classroom approaches they used to build community, and the unique perspectives they bring to each area of content (and related tech integration) they teach. I had the chance to design a coding curriculum and implement a digital citizenship curriculum with their students and help create the I.D.E.A. Studio, an amazing space for Pre-K to 5th grade students to practice design thinking, work as tinkerers and makers, and use their imaginations to invent and create!

With the support of the school, I was able to further my knowledge of design thinking, making and tinkering, instructional coaching, and ed tech by attending professional development experiences like Constructing Modern Knowledge, FUSE, Google Edu Think Tanks, and the Teaching, Learning and Coaching Institute. I had the chance to present at NAIS, SXSWedu, and a variety of other conferences and also design and facilitate #EAInnovates each summer (sign-up for July 2016!).

I have grown so much through these experiences. I have become a better presenter, designer, coach, facilitator, teacher, maker, and lifelong learner. In reflecting on all of these experiences, I also know that I have so much more that I want to learn, as well as work that I want to do to make schooling and students’ educational experiences the rich, relevant, engaging, global, student-centered ones that I want for all children.

Throughout these years, my PLN has supported me and pushed me to keep growing. I want to thank all of the educators, designers, makers, and innovators across the globe who have shared resources, encouraged me to take risks and try new things, helped me lean into the challenges, and been amazing sources of inspiration! This network of friends and colleagues are the spark behind my current innovation project that I hope to release in alpha form soon.

And now, I am excited to announce that I will be starting a new adventure in innovation in the coming school year! I will be moving into a new position at the Agnes Irwin School as the Director of Middle and Upper School STEAM Innovation. I am thrilled to have this opportunity to grow in new ways and challenge myself to work with older students, in a new school context. I am looking forward to diving into new projects and collaborating on the new Innovation Team there, partnering with two other Directors of Innovation (Lower School and MS/US Humanities) next year as we work with faculty as catalysts, coaches, and collaborators.

If you’re someone who has stepped into one of these new innovation roles I would love to hear what advice you have for starting a new adventure like this!  


Sparking PQ & CQ in My Community

As I wrap up my last course for my Graduate Certificate in Educational Technology from Michigan State University, I was asked to examine my own passions and curiosities. These two ingredients, also know as PQ and CQ (Friedman, 2013), are so critical to innovating in education and sustaining meaningful engagement in teaching and learning.

I spent some time reflecting on exactly where my passions lie and what things I am currently (and constantly) curious about in my life. I realized that many of them (e.g., global collaboration and travel, design thinking, coaching, scaling innovation) are topics that drive my use of technology. I participate in a variety of affinity groups (Gee, 2013), such as the Teachers Guild, the #dtk12chat and #makered communities, ISTE Early Learning Network, and most recently the Google for Education Certified Innovator group (shoutout to the #MTV16 cohort!). My engagement with these groups is driven by my passions and curiosities and I also use technology to enact another passion of mine, being a creator (vs. a consumer) and sharing my creations with my different affinity groups. Most of those creations are digital, so on a regular basis I share blog posts, videos, tweets, presentations and resource docs with others in my community, both locally and globally. 

I think my participation in these digital groups and my shared, online creations help me express my passion and curiosity and in turn, I can take what I discover in these groups and bring it to my students. I work to scaffold their use of technology to help them create products that also express their passions and engage their curiosity. For example, I try to provide options and involve students in open-ended brainstorming, so if they decide they want to use 3D printing, a green screen, or recycled materials to express their ideas and curiosities, they can! In addition to using methods like design thinking and hands-on tinkering, I strive to support mindsets that will encourage my students to discover their passions and embrace curiosity, such as show, don’t tell and failure as a first attempt in learning

Ultimately, my own passion for teaching and learning inspires a never-ending sense of curiosity that pushes me to keep exploring and discovering new things (I keep a running “Learn List” of things I want to learn each year). Using the relationships I have developed in my affinity groups, I am constantly exposed to new ideas that lead me to create new lessons and projects with my students, which then motivates me to learn and do more. In a world “driven by Moore’s law,” Friedman (2013) argues that this type of individual initiative, sustained by a person’s level of PQ and CQ, is imperative to success.

To help spread that sense of continual renewed motivation to my students and the teachers I work with, I decided to create a collection of wallpapers (inspired by a previous MAET student) for our student iPads and screensaver images for teachers’ laptops. I found this project really exciting because it brought together my own passion to create (and embrace childlike wonder) and my curiosity to explore new tools (I pushed myself to embrace my creative confidence and sketch them using Paper by FiftyThree). I was also able to share some of the knowledge I have gained from my affinity groups and pass it along to my students (and their teachers) by creating these simple wallpapers. My hope is they will inspire the passion and curiosity of anyone who wakes up these devices, leading them to be inspired, to wonder, to be energized, or to pause and reflect.

Check out a few examples below! Over time, I hope to make a whole collection that I can share with my PLN. As I was brainstorming, I created this list of ideas and would welcome suggestions for additions or improvements on the short prompts. Eventually, I would like to have a collection that includes a variety of different categories, such as creative sparks, mindful pauses, reflection reminders, confidence boosters, etc. I know that having wallpapers like these each day across my different devices would definitely help to engage my own curiosity and reignite my passion when I see them and hopefully my students and colleagues can benefit from that too.

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Embrace Your Creative Confidence Inspired by Tom & David Kelly’s Creative Confidence

Stay in the Now Inspired by Mary Cantwell

Believe in the Impossible Inspired by X

Yes, and … Inspired by the Stanford d.School


Friedman, T. (2013, January 29). It’s P.Q. and C.Q. as much as I.Q. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/30/opinion/friedman-its-pq-and-cq-as-much-as-iq.html?_r=0

Gee, J. P. (2013). The anti-education era: Creating smarter students through digital learning. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan