Online Teacher of the Year finalists share passion for technology-driven instruction: Renee Citlau

Renee Citlau, 2013 National Online Teacher of the Year Finalist

For the fourth year, SAS is a sponsor of the National Online Teacher of the Year Award (NOTY), which recognizes an outstanding online teacher for exceptional quality in online K-12 education. Through education initiatives and innovative resources such as SAS Curriculum Pathways and SAS Mobile Education apps, SAS is a strong supporter of online and digital learning.

The NOTY Award is organized by the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) and the International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL). This year’s judging committee evaluated 49 nominations of online educators in public schools and state virtual schools from 19 states to make the selections. Three finalists were announced, and the 2013 National Online Teacher of the Year will be named March 7.

I asked the finalists about their experience teaching with technology and what it means to be a finalist.  I would like to share their responses, though I had to pare them down. Did I mention they’re passionate?

First up is Renee Citlau of Anaheim, California. Renee is an online business teacher at Cypress High School and lead online teacher in the Anaheim Union High School District (AUHSD).

How does technology impact your ability to teach?
Technology enhances and expands my ability to teach by giving me a variety of tools to increase student learning and engagement.  In addition, it expands the school day so that teaching and learning are no longer bound by the constraints of time and location.

Technology tools help me to differentiate instruction and support student learning. Webinars, mind maps, simulations, threaded discussions, podcasts, videos, and games allow students to learn material in a variety of ways.   Through analysis of online assessment data, I modify instruction and develop individualized learning plans for students so that they can learn material at their own pace.

Online resources and materials provide relevant, real-life information.  21st century skills such as communication, collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking skills are integrated into lessons using various Web 2.0 tools including collaborative documents, Wikis, threaded discussions, and online bulletin boards.

Communication with parents and students is increased through the use of email and other technologies.  Parents and students are able to view assignments and grades at any time through our learning management system.  As a result of these technologies, I get to know students on an individual basis even more than did in my traditional, face-to-face classroom.

As the AUHSD lead online teacher, I facilitate my district’s online teacher Professional Learning Center.  Through this PLC, I collaborate with other online teachers to continually reflect and improve my teaching practice based on iNacol Standards for Quality Online Teaching, student and parent feedback, and current research in online pedagogy. Our online teacher PLC uses threaded discussions to discuss books and research, and we incorporate a Wiki for reflections and to develop district-wide best practices.

What does it mean to you to be nominated for the NOTY award?
It is an honor. The nomination gives me a greater voice to communicate the benefits and challenges of online learning. It brings more attention to the potential of online learning to transform education and to the importance of developing quality online courses that are accessible to all students.

Online education has the potential to change education from a 20th century, teacher-directed model, to a 21st century, student-directed model.  We need to make sure that online curriculum is accessible to all students including special populations, English learners, and students from different cultural backgrounds.

In addition, online courses need to incorporate community, a sense of teacher presence, real world, project-based approaches to learning, and the ability of students to think critically and collaborate with their peers.  It is critical that all students have access to quality online courses that incorporate 21st century skills so that they have the skills necessary to compete in a global economy.


About Author

Lee Ellen Harmer

Outreach and Collaborations Manager

Lee Ellen Harmer is a member of the Social Innovation Division at SAS, a team committed to finding innovative ways to apply SAS® technology to the world's most pressing needs. While focused heavily on global sustainability issues, the Social Innovation team also works to support the next generation of innovators, introducing young learners to data, how it can be used to better understand global issues, and how to turn those insights into action in their own communities. Lee Ellen's role encompasses marketing, communications, and partnerships to help promote the adoption of data literacy, coding, and AI for K12. SAS believes in promoting learning for all, with the goal of building a global community of innovators. Lee Ellen has a Bachelor of Science degree in Business with a marketing concentration from Wake Forest University (Winston Salem, NC).

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