The Story of Me
Troubled to Teaching
A troubled youth. This is how some parents, including my mother-in-law, referred to me during my early adolescence. Between the ages of 13-15, I was in trouble with the police on a few occasions. My infractions were not egregious, but they were serious enough to put me in front of a judge and put me very close to being sent to juvenile detention.
Three years later, in the spring of my senior year in high school, I had my last visit with my probation officer. During those 3 years, he had seen me elected Class President, play the King of Siam in the school musical, become captain of the football and track teams, President of the school choir as well as earn a full academic scholarship to college. During our last meeting, he told me that I had been one of his most successful cases and he was curious what had helped me turn my life around. At the time, I think I responded that I had never been a bad kid, and that I hadn’t really changed at all.
When I think about this today, I now know that I had been getting in trouble trying to impress my peers through various feats. I was well-known among my classmates for taking on any dare. Growing up in an affluent community where my family did not make much money, and where my mother cleaned the houses of some of my classmates, I was acting out in order to gain status. Fortunately for me, there were two teachers that helped me redirect my energies and find positive ways to gain status. They saw potential in me and they also made it clear that they expected better of me. They essentially dared me to be better, and I responded.
During college when it came time to declare a major, I decided that I wanted to be able to help people the way that those teachers had helped me. If I could help even one person realize their potential, then that is what I wanted to do with my life. That is why I became a high school teacher and began working with at-risk youth both in public schools and in a juvenile detention center.
Although this was very rewarding, I felt that I needed more life experience in order to become a better teacher. I made a decision to join the U.S. Peace Corps and serve 2 years in Niger, West Africa. My time in Niger tested my will and taught me more than I had learned in all my years of education prior to that. There is too much for me to write here, but some of my experiences are reflected in the Artifacts of this site.
Technologically Challenged to EDTECH Master
Upon returning home from Niger, I could not help but notice how much I had missed. I had been living without electricity or running water, living in a village of 300 people and sleeping on the ground. Normally, Culture Shock is associated with leaving your culture and going to another one. There was definitely some culture shock when I began my service in Niger, but I didn’t expect to struggle with it when I returned.
Before I left, I didn’t know anyone who had a cell phone. Now, everyone had cell phones, and they never went anywhere without it. It also seemed that you could not be productive without a computer and access to the internet. In college, I used a Brother Word Processor and I only started using a computer for my papers during my last semester because I had to do a thesis paper and my roommates could not stand to watch me try to write a 60-page paper on a word processor. They brought me to the computer lab and introduced me to MS Word. Aside from my thesis, that was the extent of my experience with computers before leaving the country.
Upon returning, I began a contract position at a college in the Residence Life office and one of my tasks was to update their website. I needed some technology training. I was provided with a login to Element K where I had access to hundreds of online courses, and a whole new world was opened to me. I began taking courses on anything I could find and I fell in love with learning online. I was amazed at all the possibilities and I wanted to know more. Specifically, I wanted to know how I could apply it to teaching and I wanted to know what was already being done to integrate technology into public education. It was obvious to me that the students I would be teaching would know much more about technology than I did and I was convinced that I could use their mastery of the technology to aid in instruction. This is when I began to research Educational Technology programs. After researching programs throughout the country, I decided to visit SDSU. One visit is all that it took. Ten months later, my girlfriend (my wife now) and I were driving cross country, with all of our belongings, to San Diego.
A year later, I began the SDSU EDTEC Masters program and have been learning new lessons and applying them to my life and work ever since.