From Arizona to Azerbaijan – Enthusiasm and Dedication Make a Difference

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I became a teacher because I didn’t like the way I’d been taught. I wasn’t inspired, I wasn’t encouraged, I wasn’t interested – and I didn’t want that for others – I wanted to make a difference. I needed to find unique and interesting ways to get my middle school kids in Phoenix, Arizona involved in their learning – and having them want to learn more. Back in 1999 (when technology was a relatively new thing in our classrooms) I had an incredible opportunity from Intel to learn how to more effectively integrate technology into my teaching.

The Intel® Teach Program provided me with new skills and tools to get my students excited while they learned to think, to collaborate and to communicate. But this excitement didn’t stop with the kids – I was lucky to become one of the first Master Teachers in Arizona, and this train-the-trainer model meant I shared my learnings with other teachers.

The Intel Teach Essentials professional development course changed my teaching practices. I moved from a predominantly teacher-centered classroom directing a lot of hands on learning to a student-centered classroom where my students took an active role in their learning. They learned to use technology in ways they had not before. They became digitally literate as they gathered information, connected to experts and accessed real time data. Through different levels of questioning they learned how to synthesize, analyze, and evaluate this information. They learned to communicate and collaborate with each other as they came up with solutions to problems and they presented this information to an audience. These were all 21st century skills that I knew these kids would need as they ventured out into the world. The truly amazing thing was that I saw kids participating who hadn’t seemed to care before. They could see how what they were learned connected to real life, they had an active role in our classroom, and now it mattered to them.

Intel Teach aligned with the way I wanted to teach. But it wasn’t just the kids in my classroom that excited me. Being a trainer, I saw the power it had to transform other teachers’ practices. I can’t describe the feeling when a reluctant, “new-to-technology” (and frankly a scared), teacher got really excited and said “I can do this and I can’t wait to take this into my classroom”. As I started training other teachers internationally, I saw that the common ground between teachers in my well-funded school district and the countries where teachers barely had tables and chairs, was their enthusiasm and dedication to seeing their kids learn – and their excitement in using technology to see how much their students could do and how deeply they could learn. Although it was tough to leave the classroom, I felt that I could have a much bigger impact working with teachers worldwide with the Intel Teach programs.

And that’s why – today – as the worldwide Intel Teach Program Manager, I’m thrilled to see Intel win a National Governors Association award, nominated by Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, recognizing our “outstanding collaboration”, as a company that “partnered with a governor’s office to implement a program or project that positively affects the state’s citizens.”

Being one of the first teachers trained, it amazes me to see that now more than 17,500 Arizona educators and more than 7 million teachers in 60 countries worldwide have participated. Whether in Arizona or Azerbaijan, teachers have this same opportunity I had that transformed my teaching and made a difference for my students.

Read about other Arizona teachers’ experiences with Intel Teach

4 Responses to From Arizona to Azerbaijan – Enthusiasm and Dedication Make a Difference

  1. Julia says:

    Shelley- I know all that you have done – from touching the lives of students and teachers.
    You have really made a difference to educators world wide – including me.

  2. Steve says:

    Shelley, I’m so grateful to you and the Intel Teach team for sharing this enthusiasm around the world. Technology is a transformational tool for learning when it’s in the hands of capable teachers who know how to engage students the ways you describe. Intel Teach helps teachers do that.

  3. Vicki Schmitt says:

    Oh my goodness – you still had a young son when we were in that first Intel class and now you’re read ’round the world. Would be interesting to find out what happened to the other 98 of us. I know where Margaret B and Cyndie M are…My old school still has that first Smart board that was part of our award!