I am a Lucky Girl – Gender in EdTech

We had a guest visit with Audrey Watters on the topic of Gender in Educational Technology. Completing the pre-reading for the night left me with a new vocabulary word: “mansplaining”. I’ve experienced this in a variety of ways in my career but also personally. My husband is very adept at navigating this when a salesperson begins deferring to him when I am the potential customer.

I enjoyed Audrey’s visit with us and her passion for creating an inclusive community online. She is well-researched and has a great sense of humour. As Audrey spoke I reflected on my own journey as a female edtech dabbler.

I think that I have an unfortunate bit of a Pollyanna perspective on gender issues. This comes from a sincere place in my heart, though. I have been a lucky girl. I have also been a stubborn girl. I know that there are huge imbalances between the way women and men are treated. I know that this is true historically, and continues in our present day. I have witnessed and been subject to unfairness that seems to be based on my gender. But, I am a lucky girl. I was raised to believe that I could do anything that I want to do. Being told “no” (whatever the reason I was given) was an invitation to begin negotiations. My parents encouraged and supported my explorations, my curiosities and my passions. I came home muddy, bruised and exhilarated. I pushed boundaries and asked endless questions. And things did not always work out how I had hoped, and when disappointments ensued, my parents were there to answer my new questions, offer the insights that I missed, and to encourage me to dust off and try again.

While Audrey spoke, I actually took a moment to text a quick “Thank you” to my Mom. I’ve loved technology since before my parents brought home our first computer. We used to record audiotape letters to send to my Great Grandma. My parents shared a tape with me where the toddler me was demanding “Heidi do” to set up the taping that day. Dad kept insisting “Daddy do”, and had apparently already “done” setting up the taping, forever capturing my stubborn young self attempting to take charge with technology.

Our Vic 20 later upgraded to a Commodore 64. My parents encouraged my use of this technology and I remember sharing our discoveries about these tools as a family. Print Shop became one of my favourite obsessions, and I created endless streams of dot-matrix brilliance. Looking back now, I can’t believe that my parents didn’t shut me down about wasting printer ink, reams of paper (who needs another banner??!?), or even my time – maybe I should have been doing more homework? My parents ensured that I lived a balanced childhood, and I still carry my love of technology AND my love of the outdoors with me. I should be saying thank you more often. I am a lucky girl.

Audrey’s talk, and my sense of feeling blessed makes me wonder what my role is in supporting others. My road has not always been easy, I have had my ideas belittled, stolen, and claimed by others. I have been asked to feel shame because of my emotional nature. But, I storm on.

(I often cry first, but then I storm on)

How do I stand beside those who are being left out? How do I ask the right questions? Who do I ask? Where do I reach out my hand? I take my parents’ teachings and practice them with my students. I know that they can do anything. How do I extend this mindset beyond my classroom walls?

I am a lucky girl. And I should be doing more to help.

(Thank you, Mom and Dad)

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Reflective Teaching – Day 26

Te@chThought‘s Day 26 Challenge is: “What are your three favorite go-to sites for help/tips/resources in your teaching?

Two years ago, this would be an harder question to answer! My go-to sites included SMARTTechnologies SMARTExchange, Youtube, and just general Googling!

Now, I am primarily using Twitter. I curate great ideas by favouriting tweets, or reaching out to the author for more information. I post questions with hashtags and seek out answers, tagging in people I think that may be able to help me.

I am filled with gratitude to be teaching in a time where global connection and collaboration are celebrated and invited. Ideas and resources are shared freely and conversations spark innovation. It’s exciting!

Go-to sites are shared quickly. Teachers also create and share their own resources. It is no longer a matter of bookmarking key sites to return to repeatedly, social bookmarking has become more important for the flow of ideas. There is a growth mindset about teaching and a desire to support others in their own learning and efforts.

What a great time to be teaching!

Reflective Teaching – Day 10

Te@chThought‘s Day 10 challenge is:

Share five random facts about yourself.

  • I love to read
  • I love to swim and usually swim in every body of water that I encounter
  • I am a former volunteer fire-fighter/first responder
  • I have quite tiny feet for my height
  • My favourite flowers are Sweet Peas and Lilacs

Share four things from your bucket list.

  • Go back to Cuba to celebrate our wedding anniversary
  • Sail on a liveaboard somewhere warm. Maybe the South Pacific?
  • Eat lobster on the East Coast
  • Dive historic shipwrecks

Share three things that you hope for this year, as a “person” or an educator.

  • to extend a growth-mindset into more areas of my life
  • to narrow down my Masters topic!
  • to listen to my learners (past and present) to ensure that I am growing as an educator and providing dynamic and inviting educational opportunities

Share two things that have made you laugh or cry as an educator.

  • Laugh: too many to count! Middle School is hilarious. The “inside jokes” keep me going. Unexpected phrases that have little meaning to others, but cause uproarious laughter whenever they are uttered are priceless! Some examples include: “base-jumping bacteria”, “we’ve got the sauce” (screamed in the IKEA “start the car” fashion), “squirt”, and “Ducky”.
  • Cry: the times that I could not find my way in. The students I was unable to support in the way that they needed. The relationships that never quite gelled. The kids who didn’t feel connected to the classroom community.

Share one thing you wish more people knew about you.

  • I have an outstanding family. My parents work hard and care deeply about my brother and me. We had a great childhood. My husband is an incredible man. He supports me and encourages me in my journeys. I am surrounded by loving, thoughtful and generous people. My family taught me to read, gave me a love of play, keep me young, and encourage me to celebrate – often. I feel blessed.