New Tool/Strategy Implementation

There are so many that I’m not sure where to start!

One of my biggest takeaways from our Summer Institute was the camaraderie that I took from my fellow Kenan Scholars and from the alumni that participated. The profession of educating is often looked down on; we receive “low pay” according to most people (although I have an entire rant I could go on in regards to this…) and often considered little more than babysitters. This has been evident now more than ever as parents push to fully reopen schools in the midst of a pandemic simply to thrust their children back into our arms. This stance becomes a self fulfilling prophecy: low pay and a lack of prestige don’t exactly pull the top of graduating classes into the profession.

Because of these factors, it is not too often that I feel surrounded by colleagues. Surrounded by equals. Yes, I am regularly surrounded by coworkers, but they don’t get up at 5 am every day and work 60 hour weeks. They don’t put the blood sweat and tears into this profession the way that the few of us who are truly driven do. Seeing the group of Kenan Fellows gave me hope that there is in fact a group of educators out there like me. Who are willing to put everything into the profession. That has been a motivating factor through these difficult times of remote learning. It is likely the greatest item that I took from the Summer Institute.

Quite a few other items have greatly helped me with remote learning also, and I want to outline them here:

  • Access to software through Dr. Li at NCSU has allowed me to model systems for students that I otherwise wouldn’t be able to
  • Several web tools from KF alumni, including Goose Chase, Symbaloo, and Edpuzzle have all been helpful additions (though I’m still working on mastering them!)
  • iNaturalist has been life changing for my retired Landscape Architect mother who can now identify every plant that she sees almost instantly!

In the end, I’ve grown and continue to grow. I greatly look forward to what else this program has to offer as we continue to work though the school year.

Knowledge of Career Opportunities

I’m late again! Posting this prompt response beyond the requested due date. I’d blame the craziness of our profession in the remote learning world, but everyone is dealing with this and I’m probably the latest!

I don’t know that I can specifically say that there has been an expansion in my knowledge of career opportunities due to my Kenan Fellowship. The majority of my work thus far has been remote and through my sponsor, Dr. Fanxing Li, and one of his TA research assistants. While both have been as supportive as they can be through the remote process that we have been thrust into, I certainly was aware that professors and TAs existed before this experience!

I can certainly say that there is a level of tech support available at Universities that I did not previously realize. Going through the process of accessing terminals remotely to work led me through numerous levels of tech and log in informational tech support. Knowing that tech support is one thing, realizing that there is are three separate entities that support similar tech is dizzying!

I fully believe that I would have learned a great deal about additional careers as a result of being in person were that possible. Seeing the actual lab in action would have shed light on the range of employees necessary to make sure a lab function. My hope is that I will be able to get into the lab by the end of my fellowship in order to see these careers in action!

Creating a Product

Determining how to correlate the work that I am immersed with into my classroom is a monumental task. Not just because of the in depth nature of carbonaceous energy conversion and carbon dioxide capture that I am working with Dr. Fanxing Li to study, but because of the remote learning methods through which I will need to share this information.

Step 1 – Understanding. Gathering information on the processes involved has been the first step. I’m learning much more chemistry than expected!

Step 2 – Modeling. The processes completed in Dr. Li’s lab are modeled with software, called Aspen Plus, that is available through NCSU. Receiving access to this software has been a technical nightmare given the fact that I cannot physically access the lab. But, thanks to the IT departments at NCSU, I recently received access! Time to get practicing…

Step 3 – Plan. As of now I anticipate developing a PBL (Project Based Learning) unit that will provide students in our STEM Energy and Sustainability Academy learning opportunities relating to this material. The plan is still developing!

Step 4 – Roll out. Somehow this needs to be done remotely! Only time will tell what that looks like…

KF Summer Institute 2020

What a week! Learning about everything that will be included in this program was a whirlwind.

Goods – I learned quite a few things that I plan to implement! Many remote learning tools were modeled, such as iNaturalist and GooseChase. This will turn out to be invaluable tools when we return this fall. And the PD leaders were fantastic!

Bads – it was extremely disappointing that we didn’t get to hold this PD in person. Obviously not a fault of the organizers, who did a fabulous job in the wake of our remote learning situation, it was still a let down. But no time to complain!

What do you hope to gain from your Fellowship experience?

I’m late! That makes writing this entry difficult, as it is long past the due date for my first entry (late points will be deducted…).

What I originally hoped to gain has shifted based on world events. Remote learning, driven by the COVID19 pandemic, has led to a new model for teacher output in relation to students. My big question now is: how do I teach students from a distance?

Thus my goals for my Fellowship have shifted from what they originally were, making my original intentions irrelevant, and my new goal is to answer that question. During my experience, I hope to answer the above question.

During a staff meeting today, one of my APs put it best: “so what, now what?” The complaints about whats happening are irrelevant, best left to those internet trolls who look for any reason to complain. For those of us truly “in the arena,” as the great Teddy Roosevelt put it, it is time to get to work.