Elementary Technology Teacher, Souderton Area School District

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You are just as smart as the other people in the room. Your ideas are just as important.

Jennifer Kling

What do you do?

In a typical week, I work with 500+ 6-11 year olds. I teach them Digital Citizenship, Computational Thinking Skills and Design Based Learning. We laugh together, we build LEGO robotics and research concepts together. Sometimes technology is very frustrating! We try to learn to sit with digital road blocks, problem solve together and help each other. I would call it my dream job.

Why did you choose this field?

My mom laughs sometimes because I hated primary school so much. She can't believe that I would grow up to be a teacher. But, I've had some amazing teachers who made learning feel like play or purposeful work that would help the Earth. Mrs. Baker taught us how to churn our own butter while reading Little House on the Prairie, Mr. Heller gave us all personalized nick-names and insisted we memorize poetry (I still know those poems by heart), Sister Connie let us build a Rainforest in our classroom for weeks and my college history professor fired a musket in our classroom and feed us home-baked cookies during our finals. I try to find ways to create experiences for my students that they will never forget. I am not always successful but I haven't stopped trying.

What do you look at and think, "I wish younger me would have known this was possible"?

I wish all teachers knew that donors will support their efforts and if they can dream the lesson and experience they might find the funding to share it with their students. I didn't know that I could run 9 miles if I just added a little bit every day consistently. I never imagined that someday I'd be able to travel to other countries and see how very alike we are around the globe.

Why do you love working in STEM?

I wake up looking forward to children telling me that they don't "DO that!". You can insert robotics, coding, mathematics, building circuits, designing a Power Point or iMovies into "that". And then they try, their friends help them, we laugh/cry/sigh and suddenly they can do it and they love it!

Best advice for next generation?

You are just as smart as the other people in the room. Your ideas are just as important. Great things don't happen in isolation. We need you to be a part of the team and not be afraid to share your ideas. You will fail. You will be told that you are wrong. Parents will tell you that you are not doing a good enough job as a teacher. You will not be everyone's favorite teacher. That is a gift. When you fail, it allows you to learn and refine your practice. People might laugh at your idea when you first say it. Don't give up. A few days, months or years from now you will see others use and appreciate your ideas. Have confidence in yourself. You are here for a reason. You have a purpose.

Inspo quote / fun fact / role model

To be of use by Marge Piercy taken from Poems to Live by in Troubling Times - edited by Joan Murray.

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