We are honored to introduce Jaime Chanter, of Horace Mann and Grant Elementary. Jaime's teaching career was sparked by learning the value of helping others, and we're inspired after hearing how one teacher's passion is equipping so many students with technology!
Congratulations on being chosen as teacher of the week! Can you start off by telling us a little bit about your teaching background?
When I was in high school, I worked at a grocery store that helped individuals with disabilities join the workforce. The teaching bug bit me when I saw employees teaching skills and participants graduating from the program. I knew I really want to get into Special Education and was credentialed in PK-12 in Special Education and PK-8 in General Education. My heart and soul was always in Special Education and after teaching a General Education first grade class, I switched districts to do a 3-5 intervention. I was a huge advocate for inclusion in General Education classrooms, which spiraled into technology. Technology was key to help level the playing field for students with disabilities in the inclusion environment, and 2 years ago a position in the district opened for a Curriculum and Tech teacher. Now I work with 600+ kids and get to help teachers integrate technology into their classrooms.
What do you love most about teaching?
I love the excitement when I walk into a classroom- the kids are super excited to work and be engaged. Students love what we’re doing, it's fun and they're willing to work because they want to learn.
Why do you think it’s important for kids to learn how to code and develop 21st century technology skills?
Coding makes something happen. Kids have to start with an idea,work at it, and then make something out of it. It involves critical thinking, collaboration, failure, and perseverance. Kids crave to go back and try something else, they want to make progress.
What is one of the most exciting things you have seen happen with coding in your classroom?
Doing the hour of code has been so exciting for us. Seeing kids and teachers experience coding for the first time and get hooked on it has been really exciting. At home, my 3 year old uses Kodable, and my other daughters love coding. They're so proud of what they are doing.
What are some challenges you have had implementing coding in your school?
Time is a huge challenge. Teachers are always pressed for a time and it’s not always easy to see how important coding is if they haven’t seen the results. Money is also hard. Kids can use free apps and websites for a long time, but it’s so nice to get robots and subscriptions that make apps better. Finding a way to budget time and money is really important. I started a Future Club with a focus on coding, robotics, gaming, and making. Three schools (soon to be four) hold weekly one hour meetings before school for alternating groups of students. We had such a huge response, we had to rethink budget, space, and time! I'm so lucky to work with amazing teachers who volunteer their time to lead the club with me. My administration has been so generous, which is huge to have that support. I’ve also written grants, which has been a really successful way to get what we need.
What is one coding goal you have as an instructor?
We have a local company called Hyland Software that held a contest for high school students. The students got to work together to develop an app and students from our high school won. They were awarded with an internship through the company, and I would love to see some of my current students get that opportunity. I want the kids in our coding club to have that chance, I really want to get our k-5 kids ready for that project in high school, maybe find or even start one for elementary students.
We have to ask: How do you make time to take care of yourself during the school year?
I wake up at 4:45 on school days and do 1 hour of spin class. I don’t check my phone; that hour is mine and mine alone. I sacrifice sleep for it, but it's so worth it. It makes the whole day better. I'm more productive, energetic, and happier. I'm awake and feeling good!
What do you think is the most important thing for kids to take away from their education?
Skills. Less focus on content and information, but to be able to communicate, collaborate, think critically, get creative. Student led passion and discovery.
Lastly, what do you like to do for fun outside of teaching?
I have 6 kids. I like to take and edit photos of them and turn them into movies. I add text and audio to them, I love to get creative with it. I want the movies to be really special for my kids later in life.
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