It’s the Journey, Not the Destination

I’ve been in education for 14 years now. I was never asked why I do what I do until I helped open a New Tech school. The emphasis that New Tech places on the why and culture at a school was completely transformative.

At Central Coast New Tech, I found my why. I approach the classroom everyday as an opportunity to encourage people to be their best and to find their passion. I look at my role as somebody who is supporting kids to grow.

I recently completed my Master’s degree project on digital badges. When New Tech Network started working on the idea of badging and micro-credentialing, I was really happy that I got to share a lot of the literature that I had spent a year digging through and researching. The biggest finding with digital badges is they’re only as valuable as the system that they are in. The digital badge in and of itself is meaningless and not very motivating, but when it is in a system that’s going to then show a proficiency toward something and it means something, that it’s backed by an organization like New Tech Network or a school district that has some credibility, they’re very motivating and very valuable way to show skills.

Another benefit is that digital badges are performance assessments and performance tasks. I can study for a test, and learn that material because I know that I’m going to be tested on it and then take the test, pass it and then forget the information. That does not mean I have to do it in the classroom. That just means that I studied and passed the test and I can still go back to traditional ways of teaching. This badge system makes you actually do what it’s asking. There’s a performance assessment of what the actual skills look like in a PBL classroom – setting norms or facilitating collaboration. You have to do it in order to get the badge instead of just learn about it or study it and then pass a test on it. This piece is just systematizing good PBL practices in all of the New Tech schools.

Doing what they teach others to do has always been a part of the NTN culture. Even in their new schools training at NTAC, they’re teaching through PBL. Why would we be training teachers to do PBL if we aren’t going to do it ourselves?