“Ultimately, I want kids to pursue life goals based on passions they encountered in school – similar to my school experience.” – Brian Aspinall, Canada
When we first spoke with Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert Brian Aspinall last year, he shared his passion for helping his students solve problems systematically, all with the help of computer science and STEM.
While Aspinall’s a veteran of using technology in his classroom – Minecraft and coding have been part of his teaching toolbox for years – he has never viewed it as a silver bullet for education transformation. Aspinall’s popular blog shares that philosophy, as well as his perspective on assessment, professional development, coding and 1:1 learning environments.
Today, he gives us a bit more insight into his personal journey in education, as well as his most inspirational moments as an educator.
What inspired you to become an educator?
My late grandfather was a high school chemistry teacher who always taught me about mixing ingredients to create chain reactions. He instilled in me a love for science and learning. This persuaded me to enter the education sector.
What was a defining moment in your career when you felt proudest to be an educator?
A few years back at our grade 8 graduation, a student’s father approached me, teary-eyed, and thanked me for changing his daughter’s life. She went from an insecure junior student to a confident, successful grade 8 graduate. I will never forget that moment.
Why do you feel passionate about innovation and technology in the classroom?
With appropriate pedagogy, technology has the power to give all kids a voice. With access, we can reduce other equity issues and provide all kids with opportunities to feel success and build confidence in their learning. In one case in particular, a former autistic student was able to demonstrate mathematical understanding using Minecraft. He even began pursuing books on Minecraft, something his parents said he had never done before.
Whether it’s a day-to-day challenge or larger problem, what’s the biggest obstacle you or your country or region has had to overcome, or will have to overcome, to ensure a quality education for students?
Access. We live in a very rural area. My own home does not have access to DSL or cable. It can be challenging to “flip” classrooms without proper bandwidth.
In terms of education innovation, what are you most excited about for the future? What is your biggest hope for today’s students?
I am excited to see computer science fully integrated into the elementary sector, not only as a discipline, but as a means to engage kids in mathematics, literacy and other content areas. My biggest hope for today’s students is that they explore their passions and strive to learn about what interests them. Ultimately, I want kids to pursue life goals based on passions they encountered in school – similar to my school experience.
About Brian Aspinall
Grade 7/8 Teacher, Web Developer, Speaker
Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert
Lambton Kent District School Board
Chatham, Ontario, Canada
- Blog URL: brianaspinall.com, mraspinall.com
- Birthplace: New Liskeard, Ontario, Canada
- Educational background: Bachelor of Science Degree in Computer Information Systems, currently working toward a Masters of Professional Education in Math and Computational Strategies.
- Website I check every day: Flipboard app
- Favorite childhood memory: Camping with my family.
- Favorite book: Slash (Biography) – Hey I’m an 80s baby 🙂
- Favorite Microsoft product, tool, technology: Minecraft
- What is the best advice you have ever received? It’s OK to be where you are, it’s not OK to stay there.