My dream Job! How I got here had many twists and turns.
by Cathie Maglio, Blended Learning SPECIALIST
From 5th grade on all I wanted was to be a math teacher. And I did that after graduating from college, but it turned out not to be a good experience for me, so I left the classroom and looked for other forms of instructing. I worked as a data technician, a technical illustrator and tech writer, and a marketing assistant. I got closer to teaching in the classroom when I worked in textbook publishing and got to influence how math concepts were taught in the classroom.
Then fate stepped in and I was asked to work on a technology product. I knew I had found my calling! I had always recognized the compatibility of technology and math education and I loved having the opportunity to help others see it. While working in publishing, I had the opportunity chance to work with teachers and show them how technology can enhance what students are learning in the math classroom. Concepts that are hard to visualize or demonstrate on a static two-dimensional whiteboard are can be presented dynamically through technology. I enjoyed seeing tech products used in the classrooms and observing how students were able to understand concepts they had previously found hard to grasp.
This narrative brings me to my present position as Blended Learning Specialist at JFYNetWorks. Every day, I get to work with teachers and students in the classroom to integrate technology into the curriculum. Since I started my career as a math teacher, that is where my natural strength lies, but I have also become proficient using software in the English classroom to improve reading comprehension. I have learned about Lexile scores and how to annotate a text for better understanding of what it is about. I have learned a lot about what it takes to increase reading comprehension. And I love how some of the readings have a math connection.
I have the privilege of working with great colleagues who are always there to help with instructional issues or understanding the interpersonal dynamics and politics of schools. We share our knowledge and talents with each other and complement each other’s skills.
In my position I have watched students grow stronger in math and reading. As an educator, it is rewarding to see the light bulb go off in a student’s mind when a concept finally becomes clear. It’s satisfying to help prepare young people to move to the next grade level and eventually enter and succeed in college.
A side benefit of being in the schools, I have an opportunity is the ability to develop relationships with administrators, teachers, and sometimes students. Since I share a love of education with the teachers, this makes for the foundation of a trusting relationship. The students get used to seeing me in their classrooms and I will get a “hi” passing in the hallway. I get to celebrate with them when they do well. I also share their hurt when things don’t go well.
I was at one of my schools, an urban school with a diverse population, the day after the presidential election. I saw the fear on students’ faces who were wondering if someone was going to come in and pull them out of school and deport them. I heard the administrators going into every classroom and assuring the students that they have rights and there are procedures in place to prevent them from being taken out of school. It was clear that the school had their backs.
My work is not always in the classroom. I also run reports and analyze data. This can be tedious, but as someone who loves numbers I enjoy this part of the job as well. I also meet with administrators to review student data and discuss how the program is going and how to fix problems.
Another school year is coming to a close. Seniors are taking their final Accuplacer college placement tests and 10th graders are through with MCAS. I won’t be able to follow all my students’ success in college, but I’m confident that one calculus student who won a full four-year scholarship will make us all proud. I will know how my students performed on the MCAS, and I know from past years that my work with them increases their scores. As for the seniors, I hope I have planted seeds of language and math competency that will germinate as they head off to college, the military, or work.
What I know most of all is that when I get out of bed every weekday morning, sometimes very early, I am setting off to a job that I love.