“Through technology we are finally able to level the playing field enough so that each student can contribute and grow successfully.” – Colleen Horzelenberg, Canada

Colleen Horzelenberg
Grade 2 Teacher, Principal Intern
Hamilton Wentworth Catholic District School Board
Hamilton, Ontario

Even as a young teacher, Colleen Horzelenberg leaned toward a student-centered approach to teaching and found great enjoyment in seeing her students have fun while learning. But only after 15 years of teaching did she finally feel validated in this approach —  mainly thanks to her colleagues and the leadership at Hamilton Wentworth Catholic District School Board.

“Being surrounded by extraordinary educators finally allowed me to think this way,” says Horzelenberg. “I have an amazing staff where teachers work so hard to make school an inviting and fun place to learn.”

Horzelenberg, who will be attending next month’s E2 in Paris, credits colleague Maureen Richardson and principal Dean Younger as two mentors who have helped her on her “technological journey.”

“Together on our journey,” she says, “we have learned that it is better to attempt the new opportunities that technology has to offer and have some tech fails along the way, rather than avoid trying and rob ourselves and the students of rich learning.”

Horzelenberg’s favorite tools are Skype in the Classroom, SWAY, PowerPoint and Flipgrid.  “With colleagues like Maureen, I have embraced taking teacher risks and modelling a growth mindset,” she adds. “Learning together builds a sense of community and models a growth mindset.  I believe this will help build resilience in our young learners, a skill they can take with them as they face inevitable adversities as older students.”

Flipgrid, in particular, has been a go-to technology for Horzelenberg. “I find success using Flipgrid in my Grade 2 classroom,” she says. “It can be used in endless ways to enhance any subject area or lesson. The students really enjoy it and the engagement levels are always so high when we use Flipgrid to communicate our ideas, learning, or opinions.”

Even with an extremely supportive community, Horzelenberg acknowledges that challenges still exist.

“In my opinion, the biggest challenge facing education today is the fact that we have such a diversity of needs to meet in our classrooms, with ever-decreasing support,” she says. “In the Hamilton Wentworth Catholic District School board that I teach in we are called to ensure that ‘Each Belongs,’ and we must reach the needs of all our students. Through technology we are finally able to level the playing field enough so that each student can contribute and grow successfully. ”

You can connect with Colleen Horzelenberg on her Microsoft Educator Community profile, Twitter, or her blog.

About Colleen Horzelenberg 

  • Educational background: McMaster University, University of Western Sydney, Australia (Teacher’s College)
  • Favorite Microsoft product, tool, technology: Flipgrid and SWAY
  • What is the best advice you have ever received? Communication goes a long way!
  • Website I check every day: Weather network 🙂
  • Favorite childhood memory: Going to the library.
  • Favorite book: A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry. (This tale reminds me that we have the ability as humans to survive, and even persevere, after the worst of adversities.)


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