Naomi Harm is a Tech Innovation Specialist, ISTE Instructional Coach, and Google Certified Innovator in Fairfield, California. She is an educational thought leader and influencer and Strategic Outreach Manager in Education for Wonder Workshop.
When it comes to human-centered design, design thinking, and brain-based approaches to teaching and learning, I seek out Naomi. I’ve known her for years and am honored that she joins me in a conversation about her journey. Below are excerpts from the podcast along with great resources that include pictures, videos, and links.
Learning My Work Ethic From My Father
I grew up in Northeastern Iowa on a dairy farm, and that’s where I got my work ethic. My father was my mentor and allowed me to be the maker of who I truly am today. I used to get up early to milk the cows and late at night to do my chores helped me learn to continue that work ethic in my college education, in teacher education, and when I earned my master’s degree in educational technology.
Being a teacher of 4th/5th-grade looping classroom also a year of kindergarten in Bangor Elementary in Bangor, Wisconsin gave me the utmost patience and competence. But what I learned from the kids was that I could inspire teachers. I saw the computer lab was not being utilized and sat there empty with 20 brand new iMacs. I decided to figure out how to use them and created the first WebQuests with kids. A regional agency saw what I was doing and then asked me to lead 26 school districts in Western Wisconsin. It was a very big job with a huge learning curve but it provided me the opportunity to create my network and relationships with educators across the nation.
Advocates for Jake
We have 3 children and our son, Jacob is our youngest. He was injured in a military accident over 3 ½ years ago. When we heard about his injury, we got to him in Texas within 12 hours. He broke over 50% of his bones in his body and endured a severe traumatic brain injury. He was in a total coma for over 3 weeks. My husband and I are grateful for the opportunity to be advocates for Jake and brought him to Minnesota to the Bethesda Traumatic Brain Injury Center. They worked with him to get to the next stage so he would be able to walk, talk, eat, and breathe without a respirator. We were told that he would be a vegetable and that we should put him in a nursing home. We would not do that. I reached out to find neurologists and surgeons that could help us. Everyone we talked to said don’t give up on him. They told us as parents we need to nurture him by stroking his hand and keep talking to him in small spurts so he knows we are there and that he has a support team. We are very thankful for the Augusta Health Unit in Minnesota. We got him home 175 days later and continued physical therapy at the local hospital at Gundersen Lutheran where my cousin Marguerite Costigan is the head of the physical therapy unit.
It’s amazing with a brain injury, your brain controls everything. With the amount of injury on his right side, he had paralysis on the left side of his body but he does walk now his way. He knows 3 ½ years later that he was in an accident, doesn’t remember the accident, and that he knows he has a brain injury. Because of that, we continue to work with neuroscientists across the US. They call him the miracle soldier in the US Army because he was not predicted to live. They are doing case studies on him because of the amount of support he has from us as educators and parents to help him live a productive life.
Jake’s Blog- where I dedicate most of my blog efforts instead of my personal blog: http://posthope.com/We-Love-Jake-Harm
Connecting the Teacher Story
Teachers are the essential ingredient in the classroom that can make or break a child’s learning cycle. We need to bring whatever we can to make teaching and learning successfully. Brain science is so important and we need to bring that into our classrooms for our teachers and our students. Every child can be successful if they have more processing time. Jake needs 3-5 more seconds to process and think about what you said to connect with his brain to generate a response.
So many times as educators we just put that question out there and don’t give students enough wait time to process the information. Even the high achievers, it gives them the opportunity to think differently. Teachers need to know how the brain is highly malleable and changes. That is called neuroplasticity. Every interaction we are having with a child is changing their brains. The more positive influences, interactions, or hands-on, minds-on learning experiences children have, it gives them opportunities to succeed in what they are truly passionate about. When we talk about the maker culture, that is very important now because it is meeting so many needs of our children so they find success. We need to build that culture and community each and every day so kids feel safe and productive. The teacher is the one to make that personal connection to each child so they have confidence in themselves. Listening to understand how the child feels, processes, and what they are truly struggling is about building the empathy connection so the relationships matter. That’s the game changer right now.
Becoming an Entrepreneur
I was asked long ago to do a keynote in South Africa and the person in charge of the agency would not let me go because they wanted me to stay in the area of Wisconsin instead of going internationally. During this time, my father had just retired from farming and developed pancreatic cancer. Before my father passed, he told me to either venture out on my own to inspire adult learners or open my own bakery. I loved to cook and bake. I have a chemistry background and love STEM. So I thought about how I could do both of these and ventured out to start my own consulting company. I took the leap and did do that keynote in South Africa. Actually, I was invited back three more times in seven years. It has allowed for me to scale my business and also inspire more women in educational technology in the Midwest.
I moved to California, but I still have my consulting company, Innovative Consulting Network, with 12 amazing women educational consultants that are leading the company for my back in the Midwest. We are better together because we share and learn from each other. It is like we are a startup where they are learning from their kids in the classroom and sharing back what works. I’ve been lucky to work all over the country with schools, organizations, and major corporations. I get to meet awesome educators in person who I met on Twitter that are doing wonderful things with coding and robotics. Jon Samuelson @jonsamuelson is in Beaverton, OR and has a Techlandia Podcast is blowing me away with what he is doing with an awesome group of women. They offered Tinker, Code, Make as an all free professional learning for teachers in January and called it “Welcome to the Petting Zoo.” #tinkercodemake
I now work for Wonder Workshop that allows me to continue working on my own as an entrepreneur and to be creative with everything STEM and coding with girls. Wonder Workshop sparks creativity with kids of all ages and inspires them to have fun, learning new skills with our robotics. Hands-on activities like these encourage students to continue building critical thinking, creativity, communication, and collaboration skills for tomorrow’s job market.
I wanted to put everything up that Naomi shared, but you just have to listen. It was a wonderful conversation. I was touched by Naomi’s story and her journey.
Naomi Harm is an educational thought leader and influencer. She welcomes every opportunity to share her expertise and best practices relating to mobile teaching and learning initiatives, coding, programming, and robotics, redesigning classroom learning spaces, human-centered design thinking approaches, and brain-based instructional strategies to support the student-centered classroom. Her 20 years in the educational learning space and her dynamic career focus reflects a passion-driven approach to leading and learning as Strategic Outreach Manager in Education, National Intel Senior Trainer, ISTE Faculty Instructional Coach, Google Certified Innovator, and CEO and founder of IEC Network http://IEC.Network
Naomi’s well-known specialty is delivering inspiring keynotes focusing on emerging technologies, transformative technology leadership, empowering student voice and choice, and brain-friendly teaching and learning environments.
As a Strategic Outreach Manager in Education for Wonder Workshop, Naomi Harm grows partnerships with schools and cultivates these relationships to successful implement coding and robotic best practices with Wonder Workshop products in K-12 schools. She defines long-term computational thinking and computer science goals for growth throughout the West Coast and MidWest regions. Naomi also builds relationships with educators, schools, districts, government officials and organizations in education, while leading educational industry discussions, conduct keynotes, presentations and workshops.
She has spoken at over 125 National and International technology conferences, and her most recent keynotes and featured speaker addresses include: ISTE – San Antonio, TX, CUE – Palm Springs, SSLA Saskatoon, Canada, AVEdTech Summit Palmdale, CA, Practical Pedagogies in Toulouse, France, NCTIES in North Carolina, ISTE, and SchoolNet South Africa in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Bloemfontein.
About Me: http://about.me/naomiharm
Best Keynote: http://best-keynote.com/naomi-harm/ (Linked to updated preso’s, live webinars, quotes from national edtech leaders I have worked with, and keynotes)
Wonder Workshop Blog: https://blog.makewonder.com/
Digital Buzz Podcast show https://www.spreaker.com/user/the_digital_buzz (last recording was one year ago with my contract with Intel Education)