At TCEA, our members are what make our association so successful. Without the passion, innovative ideas, and diverse viewpoints of our members, we wouldn’t be what we are today. Each month, we like to feature some of our incredible members to share ideas and show what’s possible when you get creative and embrace using technology to fully engage students and transform learning.
Today, I want to introduce you to Christi Coplin, a veteran teacher serving Texas for 20 years and constantly striving to find new, more effective ways to use technology in the classroom. She is also continually educating herself by attending technology events all over the country. Here’s a little more about Christi and her teaching philosophy that will shed some light on why she is such a dynamo both in and out of the classroom.
What Keeps Her Going Through Long Days
Christi’s day starts at 3:30 am so she’s able to get ready to drive a school bus (she obtained her class B drivers license last year) before starting her busy day as a teacher at Commerce High School in Commerce, Texas (north east of the Dallas metroplex). At Commerce, she teaches a number of classes to provide students with digital literacy skills. “I have taught a combination of career and technology courses ranging from Business Information Management to Web Technologies. This year I am teaching Video Game Design, Computer Programming, and Principles of Information Technology,” says Christi about her current schedule.
After a long day of teaching and then driving the kids home on the bus, Christi goes to her home to look over student work and get ready to start the marathon all over again the next day. However, she’s doing what she loves. When asked what the best part of her job is, Christi is quick to answer: the kids. “I want to instill a love of learning into my kids. After all, they are the future, and they are the reason why I get up every morning,” she explains.
Always Learning and Transforming
Christi is constantly striving to improve her knowledge base and gain new strategies and resources to better teach her students. This is never more evident than when she describes how she spent the past summer:
“I applied and was awarded the Oracle Academy Scholarship for first timers to attend the Computer Science Teachers Association annual conference. I learned so much that week. Plus, I got to build a robot and program the robot for the first time. When the week was over, I flew to Boston, Massachusetts to attend an educator’s weekend at Harvard University where I learned about Harvard’s CS50 course for the high school Computer Science Principles AP course. From Harvard, I flew to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to attend Carnegie Mellon University’s summer educator’s bootcamp where I learned the Alice 3D Animation program. I then ended my summer at The University of Texas at Austin where I took an Oracle Academy Java Programming class. I am so excited about all my knowledge that I acquired this summer, and I look forward to having students compete in different contests, both in the UIL Computer Science category as well as different contests in the technology industry.”
Outside of her summer of learning, Christi makes sure to attend the TCEA Convention every year. To extend her learning all year long, she listens to TCEA Lunch and Learn webinars.
Christi’s Favorite Tech Tools and Tips
Christi shared her best technology tip for educators who are nervous about encountering new or unfamiliar technology: “Don’t be afraid to learn as you are teaching your students. You would be surprised at how understanding the students can be if you let them know beforehand that you are learning the software at the same time they are. Students understand that it is impossible to stay up to date on every new website or new software program.”
And when asked her favorite tech tool for the classroom? Christi is all about the power of social media to connect teachers and share solutions: “Believe it or not, it is a combination of Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+. I follow topics that I am currently teaching or topics that relate to what I am currently teaching. On Twitter, this is how I find out about student competitions and teacher scholarships for the different conferences I try to attend. Google+ has great resources for everyone from new teachers to veterans like me. I use Pinterest to help me come up with bell ringers. For instance, I might want a motivational saying to be showing as the students come in the classroom. Or I might want to use something from Pinterest that could help me brag on my kids. Brag Tags are a hit, even at the high school setting.”
I hope you enjoyed getting to know one TCEA’s valued members. To learn about other innovative educators doing incredible things, you can read some of our previous member spotlight posts here, here, and here.