This was a summer like no other. I was selected for the SAS Curriculum Pathways Teacher Institute, helping to develop, design, and evaluate their lessons, tools, and apps. I'm always looking for better ways to engage my students and explore new resources, so I went in ready to learn more about SAS Curriculum Pathways and the edtech world. I'm leaving with so much more.
Make a connection. Four other lucky teachers and I arrived the first day anxious to learn more about SAS Curriculum Pathways and ready to share our classroom insights. We met the curriculum specialists, developers, and designers; we were given our individual assignments based on our experience and content areas. The SAS team fully immersed us in the unfamiliar world of data servers, system requirements, functionality constraints, nightly builds, and release dates. As a lifelong learner, I was intrigued by the technical side of developing and maintaining these amazing products. As we dug deeper into the content and research behind these lessons and tools, I felt a bridge connect us, a common language between the initiatives and mission of SAS and the goals and passion teachers have for education and students. We focused on learning targets, differentiated tasks, engaging resources, and data collection; we discussed the realities of student access to technology and the constraints schools face. Perhaps best of all, we explored edtech tools, their impact on achievement, and their ability to inspire students to be creative problem-solvers and global thinkers.
Think outside the box. Each week, we would critically evaluate a tool or an app. Our assignment was to research competitors, share features we liked, clarify what we thought was missing, and identify pain points or usability issues. We were challenged to think about teaching and learning from multiple perspectives. When evaluating the products, I had to put myself in the shoes of a teacher new to technology or a student logging into Curriculum Pathways for the first time. What if I were a parent who wanted extra practice for my child, content for tutoring or home-schooling? I thought about the user experience through varied grade levels, different learning needs, and multiple educational settings. I asked myself a series of questions. How SAS Curriculum Pathways could best support student engagement and learning? What are the best practices and latest research behind these skills and how can we build it into these products? How can we build-in goal-setting and metacognitive strategies where students can show growth over time? What new products can be developed? This summer, I was given time to step outside my day-to-day teaching life, think about what was important for me, and reimagine what tools and features could make the most impact on my students.
Collaboration is key. In collaborating with SAS Curriculum Pathways this summer, I found that face to face interaction and brainstorming have been the most productive form of communication and growth. As teachers, we were able to share our experiences, discuss the most effective edtech tools, and clarify the reality of a typical classroom today. The curriculum specialists at SAS shared with us the constraints on the edtech side and the process for making product updates and changes. In viewing the barriers from both sides, we forged a clearer understanding of how to move forward together. I came to understand that behind every tool there is a team of specialists, developers and designers putting everything they have into these products. Having this summer to experience the development process firsthand makes me excited to begin using and sharing these tools. I believe the collaboration between teachers and edtech will change our classrooms and help students learn.
Build your network. SAS Curriculum Pathways Teacher Institute gave me the wonderful opportunity to connect with four incredible teachers and tap into their opinions, values, and areas of expertise ranged though varied grade levels and content areas. Together, the #SASTeacherteam instantly connected through own experiences and our passion for teaching and learning. These amazing teachers taught me how to use social media to connect with a much broader educational network. I learned about many new edtech tools and implementation strategies to ensure those technologies will work in the classroom. The experience of working with this group was invaluable to my teaching practice. I now realize how essential it is to connect with a wide network of educators for motivation and inspiration all year long.
Be inspired and spread the word. As I reflect on my summer at SAS Curriculum Pathways, I am grateful for the time I had to think about my priorities in the classroom and reignite this spark of passion and creativity. I want my students to be curious and have the tools they need to find the answers and explore new ideas. I am passionate about creating opportunities for students to be engaged with their community and to help solve real-world problems. I have been inspired to continue the mission of SAS Curriculum Pathways and continue to advocate for access and equity, community outreach, and the best possible learning experience for students. I can’t wait to spread the word about SAS Curriculum Pathways and all of their FREE resources to my school, community, and network of educators. My summer as part of the SAS Curriculum Pathways Teacher Institute helped me learn and grow more than I knew was possible.