Bring Your Own Technology Advances Classrooms

Heather Cox

Heather Cox is being honored as a Connected Educator Champion of Change.

As the daughter of two educators, I always understood the importance of education. Of course, as the daughter of two educators, I was also aware of the challenges in education. As a result, my path to teaching took a slightly curved route as I went to college and received my B.A. in Political Science from The Ohio State University. When my degree didn’t seem to “fit” my interests, I enrolled at John Carroll University in Cleveland, Ohio to pursue my Master’s degree in Early Childhood Education.

Upon graduation, I faced a struggling job market and decided it was the perfect opportunity to take a chance move south to Alpharetta, Georgia.  I spent my first eight years teaching at Medlock Bridge Elementary School in Johns Creek, Georgia. Here I began my work with technology integration, piloting the first Promethean ActivBoard in our building and joining Fulton County’s inaugural Technology Leadership Forum.

Though an incredible school, the hour-long drive to and from work began to take a toll.  To begin the 2012-2013 school year, I transferred closer to home and landed at Crabapple Crossing Elementary School in Milton, Georgia. 

As I began the new school year, my desire for technology integration in the classroom continued to increase. I again joined the county Technology Leadership Forum and attended my first meeting in the fall, where I had a chance to listen to Dr. Scott Muri, Deputy Superintendent of Academics for FCS, speak about how we could make a difference with technology in the classroom.  It was then that I knew I needed to start making some noise. The county was looking to expand their pilot of Bring Your Own Technology (BYOT) programs and schools would be selected based upon their interest and initiative. With that, I returned to my school and started asking questions. Before long, the BYOT journey began at our school. 

Like many new endeavors, the BYOT program was met with resistance.  Whenever people are faced with change, especially in a school, questions erupt.  Once we could bring in new technology to the school, we had to find ways to incorporate this with the instruction already in the classroom.  With the help of a team-teacher, I developed an after-school technology club for students to learn more about the devices we would be using in the classroom. 

In addition, I began providing instruction and training for my team members to introduce them to new and different ways they could personalize learning for their students and transform their instruction.  As the 2013-2014 school year began, the BYOT pilot expanded to include our fifth grade and Talented and Gifted teachers.  Now, as a member of Fulton County’s first Vanguard Technology Team, I provide training and instruction for teachers, model lessons for other educators, and I continue my work as a fourth grade-teacher and grade-level chair. 

However, the key to success with technology integration isn’t held within one person.  This White House Champions of Change program is honoring Connected Educators with the key to success in the word CONNECTED.  In order to lead any technology integration in schools, it is important to draw upon the connections – the innumerable incredible minds of educators near you and around the world.  The greatest gift technology gives us is the ability to be connected and expand our classroom beyond the four walls that surround us.

Heather Cox is a fourth grade teacher in Milton, GA who loves finding new ways to inspire students, find each child’s gift, and incorporate technology into teaching.

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