In Spring 2017, Natick Education Foundation voted to approve a one-time, special compensation grant to help support a one-year “Teacher on Special Assignment” [TOSA] role within the Natick elementary schools. A TOSA is a teacher leader hired from within a school system, whose task it is to offer instructional coaching to their district. NEF is thrilled that Brown Elementary third grade teacher, Jed Stefanowicz, was appointed to the position of TOSA, acting as a “Technology Integration Coach” for his peers across all five schools. NEF had the chance to catch up with Jed at the all-staff, fall kick-off meeting on August 28 to snap a quick pic and ask him a few questions about the new hat he’s donning for the 2017/18 school year:
NEF: What are you looking forward to most this year in your role as TOSA?
JED: I’m really looking forward to collaborating with staff across the district in a new way. As a coach, I hope to provide leadership, staff development, and job-embedded instructional support to all elementary staff in integrating technology to support school improvement efforts. Through this role, I am launching an initiative called STATION (Students and Teachers Accessing Technology, Innovation, and Opportunity in Natick), part of which includes library lending shelves with STEM kits at every building. This project also provides training to teachers, access to materials for every student in the district. We piloted a smaller version of this project at Brown last year, and it was exciting to see teachers dive into explore new materials with their students.
NEF: What is your favorite educational app?
JED: For teachers, I’ve found Twitter to be a game-changer in terms of connecting with other educators and finding inspiration. It’s amazing to see and share the innovative ideas and teaching happening around the world or even right down the hall. For parents, it can be a powerful glimpse into the classroom to see authentic learning and activity occuring.
For students, I think Seesaw is an incredibly powerful tool to allow students to show what they know and create digital portfolios. Students can share thinking, writing, videos and more. Just like Twitter can be a glimpse into a child’s classroom, Seesaw can be a peek into their desk!
NEF: What do you think will be the biggest challenge in this new role?
JED: I suspect time will always be an issue. I truly want my role to be rooted in instructional support, and helping teachers progress from their point A to their point B. Just like every student is unique, so is every teacher, and whether someone’s tech skill or comfort level is emerging and developing, there is room to transform teaching and learning in any learning space, but I also know that the process takes time to happen best.
NEF: How did you become tech savvy? or What got you into using social media and technology as a classroom aid?
JED: I’ve always been interested in integrating technology to enhance instruction, but I’m particularly interested helping shift students from consumers of content to creators. Rather than using devices to simply access information or collect knowledge, today’s technology and resources allow student to curate and share their own thinking in dynamic ways. Social media provides an opporrunity to share that thinking and learning beyond the walls of the classroom.
NEF: What’s your favorite local ice cream shop?
JED: Without a doubt, Tangerini’s Spring St. Farm (Millis) is my favorite spot. There’s no better place to have a cone, listen to goats and catch a sunset!