Hello and welcome to the Women’s Month edition of our EdTech Superhero series.
Our latest EdTech Superhero, Dr Monica Burns, is an EdTech and Curriculum Consultant, author of EdTech Essentials (ASCD, 2021) and former New York City public school teacher.
Dr Monica Burns works with schools and organisations around the world to support PreK-12 educators with thoughtful technology integration. Monica’s website and Easy EdTech Podcast seeks to help educators place tasks before apps by promoting deeper learning with technology.
Are you ready to find out more about her?
Let’s jump in!
1. Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
My name is Dr Monica Burns, I’m an EdTech curriculum consultant. I host the Easy EdTech podcast and I write for the blog Class Tech Tips. My blog, Class Tech Tips, is celebrating 10 years this year in May. I’m a former New York City public school teacher and I have also written a few books around education technology topics, including my recent publication for ASCD which is titled EdTech Essentials.
“My blog, Class Tech Tips, is celebrating 10 years…”
2. What’s the first thing you do to get your day going?
When I wake up in the morning, I usually start with the same routine, I jump into my inbox and clean out anything messy that doesn’t need my attention. I then review my task list and my calendar so I have a sense of what’s going to be happening that day. I then typically start off with some hot water and lemon juice to kick the morning off before it’s time to dive in.
3. Which music artist or song best describes your working style?
I am definitely someone who likes to consume a variety of music when it comes to my entertainment style. When it aligns with my work, I am definitely more in that coffee shop focused mode. I use the tool brainFM a lot which plays ambient sounds and music in short bursts of time. I’m not true to the Pomodoro technique in terms of the 20 minutes on or anything like that but I do like to have that focus sound and time when it comes to working.
Check out some of Monica’s favourite ambient tunes below.
4. Can you tell us a little about your journey? Where did your interest in education begin initially?
I always loved working with children and as I was deciding on what to pursue in college and my career at the end of high school, I knew I wanted to go into the field of education. My mom is a former high school teacher and so I did my undergraduate degree in elementary education.
I knew right from the beginning that this was an industry that I wanted to work in. I loved being in a classroom. I still spend a decent amount of time in classrooms although with the current state of the world during this pandemic this time has been limited somewhat.
Although, just last week I was working in a classroom with a group of students. From the beginning of my career, I have always been very focused on education and I’m currently moving more into a K-12 space.
“I knew right from the beginning that this was an industry that I wanted to work in”
5. What inspires you the most in the Edtech space?
It’s wonderful to watch the different opportunities students have to share what they have learnt in ways that might not have been possible or been more challenging for them previously. Whether that is giving students who might be nervous to share with the whole class the opportunity to jump on video and record a quick video and post it for people to watch later, or the asynchronized interactions we’ve seen over the past two years which are becoming more popular.
Even just students being able to talk about what they have learned or capture their voice whether that’s a recording or voice to text. I think that’s what I find the most inspiring about the EdTech space. The increased opportunities for students to share is really inspiring.
“ The increased opportunities for students to share is really inspiring.”
6. What are your thoughts on this year’s Women’s Month theme? “Generation Equality: Realising Women’s Rights for an Equal Future”.
I think this theme is a really interesting one. I think the choice of the word ‘realising’ is really crucial. I don’t think this is a new concept or idea. There’s always been that acknowledgement so we are shifting more to a place of realising this and taking action, which is a very interesting way to frame your theme for this month.
7. What do you think educators can take away from the past 2 years in their dealings with the challenges that have arisen through the pandemic?
There are a lot of things that we’ve learnt over the past few years and decisions that had to be made really quickly, or on the fly at first, but now more purposely with regards to integrating technology into the classroom.
I am hoping that educators have taken away that they do not need all the EdTech tools in order to do something. They can streamline the process by keeping things simple by focusing on the transferable skills that students can use to bounce between applications.
Whether that’s a first grader knowing that the arrow button means they are going to share their work or a fifth-grader being able to navigate a file menu that looks similar across different tools. It’s about building that capacity for students to transfer what they have done in one space to another which is an interesting way to think about how we can take what we’ve learned over the past few years into the future.
“Educators …do not need all the EdTech tools in order to do something”
8. What is your Mantra for the year?
At the beginning of the year, I released an episode of my podcast with my one word for the year. My one word for this year was optimise and that’s kind of my way of thinking around working smarter not harder. I have a lot of systems in my work not just on the classroom side but also on the business side. I interact with educators but also have to run a business. Leaning into the systems that are working well instead of adding something new is really where that focus on optimisation came from.
9. Is there anyone in the EdTech or education space doing amazing work that you’d like to shout out?
I’m speaking to you today from California where I’m getting ready to speak at the Cueconference later this week and then I’m headed straight to Chicago for ASCD.
ASCD’s annual conference is this week and I’m really excited to connect with some fellow ASCD authors who are doing some really great work. There are a lot of them: Ally Rodman has a fantastic book on personalised professional learning which I think is doing some really important work in the space around getting educators and school leaders really thinking about what they need as individuals for their professional development; Tammy Lebonwski and Christine Arnold have a book called the minimalist teacher which I think is another really great angle to think about in terms of keeping things simple this year.
More about Monica
Thank you very much Monica for your time and for inspiring me with these pearls of wisdom. I hope other women and educators alike are moved to action by your words. It was an absolute pleasure talking with you.
If you’d like to find out more about Class Tech Tips and the Easy EdTech Podcast, visit the Class Tech Tips website and learn more about how Dr Monica Burns strives to impact the world of education.
You can also find out more about her recent book EdTech Essentials here.
If you found this article interesting, read more of our EdTech SuperHero series here, a series that was inspired by International Women’s Month. I’m exploring the themes in our greater series to draw attention to the role that we all play in creating a better and safer world for our students to learn and grow in.
If you would like to have a chat with me about the state of education in your school, globally, or would simply like to share some tools and tips with other educators, please don’t hesitate to reach out and contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org as I’d love to have a conversation with you.
Team Mobile Guardian