Ten years ago today I started my first day as a teacher. I have taught in various schools in different contexts and all of that brings me to today as I write my reflection on teaching for 10 years. This day is important to me as it’s a long time ago that I started my career as a teacher. My full-time teaching work began this day in 2009 as I stepped into the classroom at WJ Mouat to teach Science 9 and Chemistry 11 on a short term contract that would take me to June. I was to finish off the semester with the student and get ready for Science 10 in the second semester. I enjoyed my work and saw my students like being in my class learning science. I had arrived after changing careers from a research scientist at AnorMED.
But that arriving was just the beginning of my journey and looking back, I can’t believe what I’ve seen and learned. I’ll try to catch a bit of this here as I reflect.
- January 2008 to December 2009 – Professional Development Program at Simon Fraser University – B.Ed.
- January 2009 to June 2009 – WJ Mouat Secondary – Science 9, Science 10, Chem 11
- September 2009 to June 2010 – Yale Secondary – Science 9, Science 10, Earth Science 11, Essentials Math 11
- September 2010 to January 2015 – Abbotsford Virtual School – Science 9, Science 10, Earth Science 11, Essentials Math 11, Foundations and PreCalc Math 10, Math 11, Math 12, Chemistry 11, Chemistry 12
- January 2015 to June 2016 – District Helping Teacher for Technology – STaRT Education
- September 2016 to January 2019 – Abbotsford Virtual School – Science 9, Apprenticeship and Workplace Math 11, Chemistry 11, Chemistry 12, ADST 9-10, K-2 Science, Grade 3-5 EdTech, Fusion 6-8, Fusion 9-10, Library Learning Commons, Secondary Department Head
I have learned the craft of teaching and apply it in my space as I work with students at all levels from Kindergarten to Grade 12 and Adult Learners currently. The diversity of people and levels has challenged my thinking about pedagogy and how to scaffold learning to meet the needs of those I’m teaching.
My space has included Secondary schools, Abbotsford Virtual Schools and many of the schools in the Abbotsford School District. Professional Development has grown me in my craft over the years in significant ways. My significant growth and shift to tech integration came as I had settled into being a good teacher at AVS and in the January 2013 was challenged to integrate an iPad into my practice to augment the work I was doing with paper and online courses. I used it for a year and on February 21st, 2014 presented my first workshop at the Share Learning Conference 2014 called “Paperless: A Paperless Workflow for Teaching and Assessment using an iPad” and later in March 2014 I repeated a more polished presentation at the Distributed Learning, then again at CUEBC 2014 (presentation). It was so cool to be able to get up in front of peers and share my learning. I was nervous but overcame that after much practice. In my early years I couldn’t figure out how teachers could present at a conference with so much to do in the classroom but then learned that having a passion project outside of your regular teaching assignment sharpens your skills as a educator as you are growing professionally to be serve your students better.
I had a short experience for December 2014 as the Acting Vice Principal at the Abbotsford Virtual School where I learned more about leadership under my Principal, Brad Hutchinson. Brad has mentored me from the very beginning is still with me today.
Then, enter my time (Jan 2015 to June 2016) at STaRT Education as a District Helping Teacher for Technology as I worked with Shelley Wilcox, David Ennis, Gary Toews, and Deirdre Degagne. I learned so much about technology integration as I was one of the “experts” on a team in our district. Each of these people challenged my thinking and were there to grow me. I learned how to present technology skills and information to adult learners and would often invade certain classrooms to try out new tech ideas and lessons. Over my time at STaRT, I grew as that was my job to take in Pro-D so that I could offer Pro-D to teachers in my district. We had a pilot project that had begun before I arrive with Google Apps for Education that set a base for my desire to learn about Google and how it could be integrated into our space. I attended my first EdTechTeam Summit featuring Google for Education in Vancouver at Mulgrave School. My mind was blown as I saw passionate, I mean crazy passionate, educators tell me things that were possible with technology and different ways to approach education. Well that’s the beginning of my EdTechTeam journey which I will talk about in a moment. My time at STaRT came to an end as there was not sufficient funds to carry my contract into another one. I was bummed out at the time, but carried on. I returned to AVS in the fall of 2016, and this past 2.5 years has been fantastic and would not have been possible had I stayed at STaRT.
Since returning to AVS I have been integral in our “face to face” learning at the Secondary and middle school levels as I was given a teaching space and had about 10 Grade 9-10 student who came to learn technology skills. I taught them all things Google that I had learned at STaRT and dug into Google Classroom and content creation webapps to further their growth with 21st Century skills. Our program has grown and changed from 2 mornings to two full days per week as students learn academics and technology. I’m not the only technology teacher at AVS but do focus attention to online webapps, whereas Craig Amendt pushes into the physical realm with 3D printing, coding drones and virtual reality.
EdTechTeam has been a significant influence on my learning from my first Summit in 2014. I have attended 7 summits, hosted 2 in Abbotsford and have also lead a custom workshop recently in Ottawa for EdTechTeam. I have watch many presenters at these Summits share their learning about technology integration from all the Google apps to other tools that can engage students and deepen learning. EdTechTeam-ers who have had a significant impact on me are: Michelle Armstrong, Charity Helmen, Sandra Chow, Tracy Poelzer, Trevor McKenzie and Holly Clark. There are many other EdTechTeam-ers who have presented who have made a difference in my learning, but cannot mention them here for fear that I would miss too many.
My journey has brought me to NOW. And now is the time to begin the next ten years.
Thank you to the Abbotsford School District for taking a chance on me and I am grateful for the teachers and administrators who have poured their lives into this work of education that I could follow and grow in my own practice.
I’ll stop now but know that this is not the end. I may not blog much but this post is important to me as I reflect on the journey. Thank you for reading.
Bryon Carpenter BSc, MSc, BEd
Abbotsford Virtual School