Tara Linney is an international, award-winning educator who has helped several schools nationally and internationally with launching and sustaining effective 1:1 programs over the course of the last decade. She holds a B.A. in Mass Communications from the University of South Florida, and a M.S. in the Science of Instruction from Drexel University. . In 2015, she was the guest of Congressman Bill Foster for the State of the Union. In 2016, she received the 21st Century Learning Award for Innovation in Educational Coaching. Since the start of her career in Education, Tara has played an active role in many professional communities. In 2017, she served as the ISTE Global Collaboration PLN President, where she led an organizational pivot to focus on SDGs in Education.
Her understanding of how technology fits in education is vast. In both planning and training, Tara can speak both IT and education technology. In 2018, Tara authored and published the book, Code Equity: Keying Girls into Coding, as a guide for educators looking to make a more equitable learning environment for their students, particularly in the teaching of computer science topics. Her overall mission is to create a culture of equitable learning conditions for learners of all ages.
Tell me about a time you were in the trenches: First year teaching. Was in non-profit & marketing arenas the first 7 years of her career. First year was working in Philly and received a pink slip at the end of the year. She was working on her grad degree & teacher certification. Budget cuts, had laid off many teachers (this was in 2010). Got back into marketing for the summer but stayed in education. She applied to every opening; tech teacher or coach. Landed in N. Carolina, geographically it didn’t really matter cause she was only in Philly for a year.
Discuss the shift you are seeing with girls getting into coding and what you researched for your book, Code Equity: Keying Girls into Coding: When she first got into teaching tech, she became an ISTE member. It helps her try new tools, stay up to date, be open to changes every day. She didn’t attend the ISTE conference in 2010 or ‘11 but has attended the last 8-9 years. She’s build actual relationships with people and built a common thread. Applied to google teacher academy, 6 times before getting accepted. She’s been the person people come to when they want to be connecting.
Talk to me about how teachers could be “taking the temperature“ of students when they don’t have the camera on & they’re not participating in virtual classes: There are different alternatives we can use. Students can use emojis to respond in a chat. Their voice is still included. A lot of video conferencing tools can have a blurred background. If they’re “lead by example” teacher can use (the blurred background) example. How can we ensure we’re hearing from all students and what to do if they’re not responding. What should teachers do with assignments, grades that are due if students aren’t turning in work? Engagement piece, you could have a poll or inquiry on google classroom like “How was today’s math lesson?” they can score 1-5. It takes the pulse of the class. THEN give the assignment. Often, students will be checked out during a live session. Create a discussion chat before assigning something allows for uncertainties to be weeded out. Give a deadline of 3-4 days and look back at Likert scale data to see who they need to check in with. Incorporate SEL time into the school day, take 20 minutes to focus on releasing anxiety. Starting remote class off with meetings, SEL strategies. It’s a sheer engagement aspect. SEL doesn’t have to stand by itself. At some point it didn’t stand by itself. SEL is being human. Think about like when you have a staff meeting, or calling family member. You always start with a greeting. In upper elementary, use breathing or music exercise to transition to another subject area.
Tell me about bridging the equity gap, and your research about girls in tech. Right after she was in Charlotte, she was a tech coordinator at an all-girls school in D.C. Saw how girls reacted when things went wrong. Had a girls coding club at elementary. High academically gifted girls were introduced to computer coding, they started to panic. Did research on why that was. Interviewed students and did a mini-case study. Then went to work at a camp with both boys & girls she noticed how both genders approached problem solving.Moved to Singapore and started a coding club. We need to take an inward look into how we’re building gaming into or computer science clubs/classes. What kind of games are they making? Could use scratch to use math. Digital storytelling can help with programming. Get girls hooked based on a purpose.
What are you seeing this school year in terms of lack of internet infrastructure, not just lack of devices? We’re starting to see inequities that exist in communities. What are the pockets even within urban & rural communities where there aren’t enough recourses. Companies have started to step up to purchase hotspots, like wifi equipped busses with bagged lunches. In the middle of the mud pit, it’s hard to identify what our community is doing. By 2025, we’ll see a full evolution of what education is like. We can’t go back to inequities in terms of internet resources. Ready, player one, 2, you read it you get goosebumps. Very interesting to see how RP2 has been written in that book of fiction.
Key quote: Simple- “Breathe, remember we’re all human”. View this episode on YouTube: https://youtu.be/d74OvxQ_-UI
Follow Tara online: Twitter & IG, LinkedIn @taralinney and visit her website www.TLspecialists.com