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EdTech Fast 5 - Catlin Tucker on Giving Students Autonomy

August 7, 2018

Catlin Tucker is a Google Certified Innovator, bestselling author, and noted speaker who encourages teachers to think outside the box. You can read more of Catlin's writings on her blog or connect with her on Twitter.

1. What’s the most overrated topic in education right now?

Hmm...I don't know that I would label any topic overrated. I'm fascinated by almost every aspect of education, from technology to social and emotional health. I'm a huge dork and love learning. I enjoy exploring any topic related to education. Learning is how I grow in my practice, so I'd rather explore and attempt to understand the various aspects of this space as opposed to labeling them "overrated" and dismissing them.   

2. Does technology motivate creativity?

I don't know that technology motivates creativity, but it does give us a myriad of tools to express our creativity. I'm amazed by the artistic work my students produce online. They sketch using digital art tools, mix sounds to create new music, produce videos and record podcasts. Their social media feeds are also creative expressions of their identities and personal narratives.

Not only does technology offer new tools to create, but the internet connects students to an authentic audience for their work. Connecting students with an authentic, and potentially global, audience is one of the best incentives we can give students to do their best work.

3. What app can’t you live without?

Google Keep. I love that I can sketch out ideas, notes, and concepts, create lists, take photos, and record audio notes on the go. Inspiration strikes randomly, and I want to capture those ideas. Plus, everything saves to my Google Drive, making it easy to access from anywhere.

4. What events from your own experience as a learner have informed your approach to your work in education?

If I'm honest, I don't remember many of my teachers’ names. I only had two or three teachers in my entire career as a student who left an impression. My classes followed the traditional "sit and get" model, which I did not find interesting or engaging. My favorite moments were engaging with my classmates in discussion or collaborative work; I remember learning a great deal from the people around me. I valued the collective intelligence in the classroom and longed for more opportunities to interact with my peers. It seemed like such a waste to spend the majority of class sitting quietly in my seat taking notes.

Now, my classroom is a student-centered and student-driven space. I want students to enjoy a high degree of autonomy and agency. My goal is for them to do the work in our classroom, not me. I am there to be an architect of learning experiences, but students execute the lesson.

5. Which actor would play you in the movie about your life?

Reese Witherspoon. We are both fiery, Type A, and driven. She has the air of someone who gets stuff done. That's how I operate.

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