Darren Tran, Marshall Academy: Teaching Technology Via Technology
As the technology teacher at Marshall Academy, Darren Tran is known for pushing a tech agenda. His latest passion is an introductory elective to coding class for his middle schoolers. He likes the improvements in technology happening this year. Especially the training. Tran is a big believer in ongoing training for teachers. He’s a strong believer that teachers are more than willing to learn new methods if provided consistent training each month. Teachers love to learn.
But technology is a tool not a way of life for Mr. Tran. “I was the one who stood outside my door every day to shake everyone’s hands and greet them as they come in. It’s tougher to do daily check-ins over a computer screen.”
However, there is also the opportunity to concentrate on a pedagogy he really believes in… the 4 C’s. Critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, and communication. With so many assignments looking different this year, Mr. Tran plans to simplify his projects and daily lessons to focus on the concepts that will ultimately help students better their social and emotional health.
“My middle schoolers miss talking to middle schoolers their own age. So what I am going to be pursuing is collaborative groups using Zoom. More group projects but also turning a lot of formerly individual projects into partner assignments so that students can have the opportunity to talk and work with each other over Zoom.”
As the campus tech trainer at Marshall, Tran can attest to how hard teachers are working to create the best possible experience online for their students. Even the more tech-illiterate are reaching out to Tran about setting up “Bitmoji” classrooms and other creative ideas to make students welcome.
“I think a lot of teachers this year who maybe didn’t used to believe in collaboration projects are seeing how much collaboration is helping us teachers during this pandemic. I think teachers from now on will be focusing a lot more on collaboration in their classrooms. That really should become the goal of our teaching anyway. Not just teaching skills and concepts, but allowing students to use what they’ve learned in a productive way together like they will need to do in the real world.”