Rachelle Dene Poth is a Spanish and STEAM: What’s nExT in Emerging Technology Teacher at Riverview Junior-Senior High School in Oakmont, PA. She is the host of the weekly #formativechat. Rachelle is the President of the ISTE Teacher Education Network and the Communications Chair for the ISTE Mobile Learning Network. Rachelle was selected as the 2017 Outstanding Teacher of the Year by PAECT and by the NSBA as one of the “20 to watch” educators in 2017.
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Rachelle is the author of three books. And, by the way, she is also an attorney. I’m lucky to know Rachelle virtually and to get a hug and selfie with her at conferences. We did this podcast in February 2019 where there were extreme snowstorms back east and Rachelle was in a hotel room for a conference. I hope you enjoy this post and the podcast.
You and Your family
I am an only child and grew up in North Huntingdon, 30 minutes east of Pittsburgh, PA. When I was growing up my parents worked. Most of the time when they worked, I stayed with my grandfather and grandparents at their farm where they had a large property with fruit, vegetables and underneath was a log cabin. I spent a lot of time by myself because there were no other children in the house to play with. So I passed my time “playing school” or hanging out with my cats.
I’m very thankful for how I was raised because we didn’t have the distractions of technology in the 80s. My parents really emphasized school and studying to be prepared. My grandparents helped me with my work ethic and had me pick strawberries on their farm at 6:30 in the morning. When I think back to all of those times I spent with them, the experiences that I had started to form who I am as a teacher and as a person even before I knew I wanted to go into teaching.
Immerse Your Students in AR/VR
What it was like for you as a student
I did struggle with social studies and my dad would question me on geography. I really had a hard time remembering where things were on a map. My grandmother would quiz me on the state capitals, the times table, and a lot of those basic things growing up. Math was a little bit difficult for me. I didn’t have any struggles in school until the seventh grade when I started to take algebra. Then in ninth grade with geometry. I didn’t know how to study for it. Once I had a handle on that, it improved.
I’m not sure that I was that creative in school. It’s interesting when I think about my memories. Do I actually remember this or is it because I see a picture and formed a memory based on that picture? I’ll find artwork or worksheets that I did in boxes my grandparents saved. It’s interesting to go back and see how I was taught to find out who I was as a student. In seventh grade, we had to do an anthology of poems. I had to use a typewriter to type and write about 70 poems. I drew on every poem a kind of illustration. But, after that, I don’t remember being creative or thinking out of the box.
I originally thought of being a paralegal. I read a lot of books on law and developed an interest in it. When I graduated from undergrad with French as my major and secondary education as my minor, I couldn’t find a job. I was substituting for a while and really enjoyed that. Every interview for a job as a French teacher encouraged me to get additional certification. One of the suggestions was history and another one was math. I thought I could not do either one of those. So I went into Spanish at Pitt and we had to do medical and legal translations. It was then that I started thinking about the law. I got my Spanish certification and started teaching Spanish at Riverview Junior-Senior High School in Oakmont, PA I love teaching but I had this idea of personally fulfilling this. I applied to Duquesne University School of Law and didn’t even tell anyone. They have an evening program because I knew I couldn’t take time off of teaching during the day. When I got the letter that I was accepted, I found that it was four years, four nights a week, four different classes per week.
For those four years, I still wonder how I did that. Most of the time, I stayed at the school library, went to class, and then back home which was a lot of driving. It was difficult to balance going to school and teaching. I also knew that putting myself out there was because I was invested, I had to do whatever it took. I graduated in June 2006, took the bar that July, and passed it. I’ve done some work on the side, but I’m not practicing. It’s a choice that if I want to pursue it, I can.
Inspire Creativity and Transform Instruction
Viewing through a Different Lens
I do think going to law school pushed me to think in multiple and different ways to problem-solve and become a better teacher. I became more aware of student behaviors and communication. There was a situation where one student who I was trying to build a relationship with dropped a crayon. Through my Forensic Science classes, I was able to figure out why the crayon was pushed into the floor and have a conversation with the student about responsibility instead of punishing.
[This is Barbara — you just have to listen to Rachelle’s story around 12:45-18:00]
I need to be more intentional about trying to have conversations about what’s causing something instead of just reacting. Take a breath. Take a minute. Then think about it. Am I seeing the student or the behavior? I want to know information about the student that I need so I can provide the best that I can provide for them. There are other things I don’t want to know that might form preconceived things about who they are based on behavior they might have had in the past. In one of my books, I talk about seeing the students.
The communities you are involved in
ISTE PLNs – President of the Teacher Education PLN, in Mobile Learning PLN
Edugladiators Core Warrior, Pushbound EDU, and I are proud to be involved in several communities including being a Buncee Ambassador, CoSpaces, Flipgrid, an Edmodo Certified Trainer, Nearpod PioNear, and Certified Educator. I am an author, I wrote chapter 3 of the Edumatch book “Snapshot in Education 2016” about Blended Learning and a Chapter on Project Based Learning in Snapshot 2017 and Chapter 12 of Snapshot 2018 about the Power of a PLN. I am a contributing author to “Gamify Literacy” from ISTE and the IGI Global Publication of Social Presence, with a chapter on building an online presence for learning and Stories in EDU. I also blog regularly for DefinedSTEM, Getting Smart, and Kidblog, and continue to look for opportunities to highlight student work and student’s voice.
Going Global with Nearpod and Project-Based Learning
Twitter chats and Twitter Groups
- #formativechat – Every Monday evenings at 7:30 pm ET
- #my53s – friends that I connect with over Voxer
- #4OCFPLN – started with a book study of Four O’Clock Faculty and continue sharing
- #edugladiators – Edugladiators Core Warrior – the main group of educators
Presentation on Augmented Reality at FETC
Blogger at Getting Smart, TeachThought and other sites
Some time ago, I was asked by SurveyMonkey to write a blog. I didn’t know what that meant. They gave me some guiding questions and length between 700 and 1000 words which I thought was a lot and had no idea what I was going to write about. I did one and then several more and then realized that I was just writing about my experience. So I started to write for TeachThought about 5 years ago on technology integration. Then with Getting Smart, they have different themes each month. I do like to write things I’m comfortable with and what happening in my classroom, but I also like the challenge of doing some research and trying to figure out things that are new to me to stretch my thinking. Some of the topics included Artificial Intelligence, Social-Emotional Learning, Virtual Reality, and Gig Economy that pushed me in a new direction definitely out of my comfort zone. What I learned I was able to bring back to my classroom. A few blog posts:
Practical Ways to bring SEL into your Classroom
What if students designed their education?
The Importance of Being a Mentor and Have a Mentor
3 Books – Yes, Three!
I am the author of “In Other Words, Quotes That Push Our Thinking,” now available. I am also writing two additional books due this year, “The Future is Now” with Edugladiators Publishing. Ver excited to have several guest contributors to these books, two student chapters as well as many illustrators sharing their work in the books. I am currently working on a book to be published through ISTE, tentatively titled “Creativity Unleashed,” due later this year.
Link to In Other Words https://www.
Rachelle Dene Poth is an EdTech Consultant and teaches Spanish and a course called STEAM: What’s nExT in Emerging Technology at Riverview Junior-Senior High School in Oakmont, PA. She is also an attorney and earned her Juris Doctor Degree from Duquesne University School of Law and has a Master’s Degree in Instructional Technology. Rachelle has presented at conferences such as ISTE, FETC, iNACOL, PETE&C, PSMLA, ShiftinEDU,ST4T, Summer Spark, TCEA and additional local conferences, on technology and more ways to benefit student learning. She is the President of the ISTE Teacher Education Network and the Communications Chair for the ISTE Mobile Learning Network.
Rachelle was selected as the 2017 Outstanding Teacher of the Year by PAECT (the Pennsylvania Association for Educational Communications in Technology, the PA affiliate of ISTE) and by the NSBA as one of the “20 to watch” educators in 2017.
- Blog Website “Learning as I Go: https://rdene915.com/
- Website: https://sites.google.com/view/rachelledenepoth/about-me
- Twitter handle: Rdene915
- Twitter chat: #formativechat #edugladiators
- Author at Getting Smart https://www.gettingsmart.com/author/rachelle/
Interested in checking out more of the Rethinking Learning podcasts and reflections, click on the podcast tab at the top, the logo below, or go to https://barbarabray.net/podcasts/
For more information about Barbara’s new book, Define Your WHY, go to this page or click on the image of the book for resources, questions, and links.