“Our students must become problem solvers, collaborators, and creative life-long learners.” – Helen Gooch, USA
I’ve traveled a good bit in 2012, and I met a lot of inspiring educators along the way – a major perk of my job at Microsoft. And participating in major trade shows and conferences such as ISTE and BETT – where I will be next year – is always a powerful opportunity to engage meaningful discussions with them. For instance, I talked with one of those innovators, Helen Gooch, at the 2012 ISTE conference. She’s a Microsoft Innovative Educator who works with teachers in her district to find the right connection between technology and learning for any given lesson, classroom or teacher.
Gooch established a Moodle distance learning system to support professional development in her district. Teachers complete the required course online and Gooch facilitates. For 2012, all 200 new teachers in the system were expected to complete the orientation module online. But Gooch isn’t content to train new teachers; she’s keenly aware of the importance of continuous learning. “My goal is to provide a way to communicate with the teachers of Clarksville-Montgomery County and provide them the information and tools they need to use technology integration in their curriculum,” she says. “Our students must become problem solvers, collaborators, and creative life-long learners.”
Gooch knows she’s on the right track based on the feedback she receives from teachers in her district. “By the time I’m 30 minutes into the training, it never fails,” Gooch told me. “(Teachers) will say, ‘You changed my life today.’” She notes that the ever-increasing demands on teachers’ time are an ongoing challenge, so the time-saving technology tools she’s been able to introduce in her district have been well received. Gooch uses the Partners in Learning Network as a tool to help teachers connect to resources, and programs like Partners in Learning’s Innovative Educator Program (led by recent interviewee Taryn Benarroch) plays an important role as well.
Here Gooch tells me what it’s like to be a Microsoft Innovative Educator. She also shares her insights on helping teachers adapt to new technology, and on how to find just the right fit between the teaching/learning need and the technology tool used to meet it.
About Helen Gooch
Helen Gooch is Instructional Technology Coordinator for Clarksville-Montgomery County School System (CMCSS) in Tennessee and a Microsoft Innovative Educator. CMCSS has 31 schools serving more than 28,000 students and 1,800 classroom teachers.
For more insights from Helen Gooch, see her blog, Keeping up with the Digital Natives.