Teaching Technology to Expat Teachers

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Recently, I had the good fortune to attend the educational professional development course, Teaching Technology to Teachers. Justin Reich and Tom Daccord  led the class. The training was held at Harvard University’s Adolphus Busch Hall. Below are some notes and reflections I found useful for international educators. Additionally, I have provided some links from the course.

Justin clarified to me that effectual educational technology assists students to:

Collect information needed for understanding.

Relate to each other in collaborative learning groups.

Create meaningful, authentic performances of understanding.

Donate their work to a broader audience.

Moreover, Justin and Tom got me questioning my teaching habits, such as, “What is my educational technology mission statement? How do I spend my time? How specifically does my technology choices improve student learning? How do I differentiate my audiences’ level of technical comprehension?How can I use technology to more readily collaborate with my teammates and teachers?”

I envision that this class will help me prod my teammates to contemplate their own philosophies on use of educational technology. I hope to offer opportunities for students colleagues and parents to appreciate that technology is not a cure-all but rather a tool delivering content.

Reich and my cohorts shared teacher-tested professional development models including:

Digital Educator Academy: (Providing college credits for Ed Tech professional growth.)

Nine tech lunch talks throughout the school year

Ed Tech prize drawings provided throughout the school year

Bagels and Laptops: Monthly voluntary breakfast meetings where cohorts share tech secrets and successes

Tech Leader Representatives per Teaching Team or Department

Geek of the Week (I love this idea in spite of the label)

Technology in practice weekly blogs

Technology Fairs where teachers are given time to informally” test drive” tech ideas

Reich explained the rewards of challenges to inspire confidence to change. He presented digital challenges that show, and not tell, teachers the joys, benefits and relative ease in using technology.  A highly engaging challenge is here.Expat teachers can reach available protocols and tutorials to cut issues that will appear. You can use your students and teachers partners to develop tutorials and screencasts. Commoncraft is one such site that has a bevy of tutorials. Screencastomatic is a simple and free site that allows users to produce screencasts while instructing. They can later be linked to teachers’ websites for future viewing.

Upon reflection, the course, Teaching Technology to Teachers, will profoundly affect how I teach my students. Specifically, my students will more markedly share their work with fellow learners worldwide. This is a path to improving student learning.I strongly recommend that international educators consider enrolling with Justin and Tom in the future. I most definitely plan to attend again next summer. I am quite grateful for this time well spent.

Have a great year and I hope this helps. Below are some links that had a great deal of buzz:







Questions? Comments? Thoughts? Please write back.



Year End Blues

Each year, without exception, I become a wee bit out of sorts. The school year is over. The students are gone and I am without meaningful work. It truly is a difficult transition for me. Fatigue, the changes in routine, and the stress of saying farewell, all play a role. I imagine I am not the only teacher who feels this way.

Lack of structure is especially challenging. I take pleasure knowing that I have a job to go to each Monday morning. To be needed and held to high standards is a source of pride. To go from high stress to zero professional responsibilities is a cognitive challenge. Living overseas adds another level of difficulty. To combat the end of the year blues, I plan.

Below are several tips on how I cope:


I have already ferried off to Macau for an overnight with my wife. I have set up some family trips to New York City, Central Pennsylvania, Southern California and three weeks in Boston. I hope to reconnect with my American family in a big way. I will visit a few minor league baseball stadiums. I  have set up some chores to do around my mom’s house.

Teach Summer School

I really enjoy the weeks I spend teaching summer school. It is a joy to create my your own curriculum and to experiment with lessons. The dress code is casual, as is the learning.


I generally try to read about ten to fifteen books during the summer. I also spend this time lining up books for my expat book club. I try to visit local libraries wherever I am. I generally read two hours a day during the summer.

Take a course or two

This summer, I am studying Japanese online and taking some technology for educators courses at Harvard University. I will be meeting teachers from all over the world.


My road bike is ready to get a workout. I hope to refrain from renting a car while I am in the states. Biking, as a means of transportation is fun, saves me money and gets me in shape. I haven’t owned an automobile since moving to Asia. I take it as a challenge to map out my routes each day. I never clock my times or chart my miles on the road. I bring a small towel and clean up in public bathrooms.


I have previously worked in soup kitchens when I living in Washington DC. This summer, I hope to help get out the vote for the upcoming US presidential election.

Work on that hobby

This summer, I am continuing to practice my ukulele. I am forming a band when I get back to Hong Kong in August. Right now, I am mastering the intro to Pinball Wizard by the Who.

Accept that little is accomplished:

Each summer, I force myself to appreciate the time away. The understanding that there will be a job to return to is a great help for me. Accepting that there is little expected of me and that I need to rest and recuperate is essential. I remind myself each morning that this is my time to recharge. My goals for the day are drastically reduced.