Feb. 7, 2023

Episode 172: Workforce Ready: Using EdTech to Prepare for the Future

Join Leena Marie Saleh, the Edtech Guru, on the My EdTech Life Podcast. Leena is a former educator with 10+ years of classroom experience and has always been passionate about the modern world of technology and how it transfers into the classroom to make students #workforce ready.   Leena firmly believes that providing students with the critical skills needed for our future is absolutely vital in providing a more equitable opportunity for all students, as well as exposure leading to economic opportunity. She has worked with Educators, Administrators, Thought Leaders and Edtech companies, advising them on how to prepare for this new 'ERA' of modern education. Tune in now to learn more from Leena!

--- Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/myedtechlife/support

Thank you for watching or listening to our show! Give us some feedback to see how we're doing. 

Until Next Time, Stay Techie, My Friends.


Let's Connect on Twitter! https://twitter.com/myedtechlife

Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/myedtechlife/support

Buy me a coffee to keep the creativity flowing! https://bit.ly/3LxSojF  

Check out our merch store! https://myedtechlife.myspreadshop.com/  



Episode 172_ Workforce Ready_ Using EdTech to Prepare for the Future


[00:00:00] Fonz: Check, check one, two. There we go. Hey everybody. Hi. Hey, tech happens. But again, hey, that, that's all part of being live. So again, thank you so much for joining us on this wonderful, wonderful Monday. Oh, boy, has it been Monday already? Geez. Thank you so much for joining us and for all our friends, Amanda Messias.

I already see you in the chat. Thank you so much for joining. Uh, you know, Looking forward to today's chat. It's gonna be a wonderful topic. We have an amazing guest, the EdTech guru herself. I am just so excited that we've managed to connect and make this [00:01:00] show happen. I know that, uh, you know, we've had busy schedules, but thank you.

Thank you so much for being here this evening. How are you doing this

[00:01:07] Leena: evening? I'm doing great. Thank you so much for having me. Sorry about our technical difficulties

[00:01:13] Fonz: there. Oh, don't worry. It's all me. What I, what happens is I accidentally moved my mic and then I accidentally hit mute. So that's what happened there.

so it's not you. It was me. But it happens. And that's all part of the show. But thank you so much for joining us this evening, and I know you had definitely a very busy schedule and, but I do thank you for, you know, being flexible and making time to chat with us today as this is something that's exciting.

For me to be able to connect with you. And, uh, today's topic that we're gonna be talking about also is just, you know, getting future ready, you know, through EdTech. And we're gonna talk a little bit about yourself, your origin story, which, you know, everybody that gets to come on the show. I love to hear their origin story to make sure that our.

Uh, listeners [00:02:00] get to connect with our guests, and of course we'll just talk about your body of work that you do, everything that you do because you do so much. So I'm excited to hear about that as well. So again, for all of you joining us, I see Mel who's joining us too as well. Thank you so much. So how are you this evening?

How are things ?

[00:02:20] Leena: I'm doing great. Today's been, sorry, an exponentially busy day, but I'm so thankful to be here with all of you and, um, Just to get to share, you know, EdTech with my love of EdTech with all

[00:02:32] Fonz: of you. Love it. Love it. That's so exciting. So thank you so much for joining us and let's go ahead and jump in and get into this conversation because definitely there's a lot to cover and especially what's so much going on in tech today.

Obviously we know about, you know, the AI and we're seeing all these AI tools, but we'll talk a little bit about that. But you know, as. Talk about that section, about getting future ready, but let's go ahead and just for our audience members that are joining us this evening, [00:03:00] and for anybody that has not connected with you yet, if you can give us a brief introduction and then your context in the education space and in the EdTech space.

[00:03:09] Leena: Yeah, sure. Um, so I, uh, taught in the classroom for 10 years, so I spent a majority of my life working in elementary. Um, I've done some middle school and then did like a little, you know, just like summer workshops with like high school. Um, my passion has always been with STEM and STEM integration. Um, and so I've done workshops, delivered, you know, curriculum and content and all of those types of things for teachers.

And just a few years ago, um, I stepped away from. The education world. Um, and um, then transitioned to a company called Code Monkey. And then I, um, developed a coding curriculum and did a little bit of sales and kind of dip my toe in. And then a year ago I, um, transitioned to Camba. And so now I create content for, um, our.

Canva facilitators [00:04:00] in order to, um, deliver content for them. And then just on my own, I have my own YouTube and podcast. Um, and so yeah,

[00:04:08] Fonz: that's a little bit about me. That's amazing. You are doing so much stuff and, and you were so concise about it, but we're definitely gonna dive in deep to a lot of those things that you're doing.

Cuz I'm just curious too, especially about the coding part because I remember being in a, uh, what is it, six years ago, maybe seven years ago, still in the classroom and. Using, you know, a lot of coding and doing Code Monkey and you know, code Combat and you're doing all of that. So that's something that's wonderful and something that's still very important, I believe in that should have a place in the classroom.

But then on top of that, like you said, everything else that you do, and now recently working for Canva and then doing your own thing too, as far as podcasting. So that's definitely great. But now let's go ahead and dive in just a little deeper. Like I said, because I, this is my favorite part of the show too, where I get to meet just some amazing superhero.

And as you know, every superhero has an origin story, so you kind of give us just a little [00:05:00] brief overview. But my question to all guests is, uh, is, was education something that you always, uh, planned to start off and go into? Or was it something that came in kind of later, you know, a career change, career move, uh, coming into Educat?

Yeah, so my

[00:05:16] Leena: mom always says that, uh, the very thing, very first thing I ever wanted to be was a teacher. And that was in kindergarten with my very first teacher, Ms. Kundy. Um, I've tried to find her these days, but I still cannot, uh, probably spelling, who knows? She was my kindergarten teacher, um, to let her know that she inspired me.

Um, but I always wanted to be a teacher, always dreamed of being a teacher. The first thing I, even in high school, we had, uh, the opportunity to teach in the schools, um, and deliver, you know, Go in and in, in exchange for credit. Um, so I went in and I taught in the first grade classroom and then I ended up staying for the rest of the year.

So I led reading groups and I did all of those types of things and, and that really solidified that I wanted to be a teacher. So went to [00:06:00] college. Obviously I finished in like three and a half years, and I started teaching when I was 22. Um, and was quite was quite young, um, in that, in that thi in that age range, I guess, of like starting to teach.

Um, and I taught fourth grade, which I loved, um, a hard group of kiddos, but I loved every minute of it. Um, so education has always been a place where I thought I would be, and I honestly thought I would retire in education. Like I would be a superintendent or something like that. Um, and. My heart and everything that I do is with passion for education and educators and trying to empower and give back as much

[00:06:36] Fonz: as I.

There you go. Well see, I, I still say like, even although you may not be in the classroom, you're still heavily involved in education and really, you're still an educator now. You're simply working with the adult side of it too. And then of course, you know, making sure that those trainings get to our teachers.

And then of course from our teachers, To our students. So still you are very, very well connected into the education space. [00:07:00] But that is really cool, you know, that transition, you know, 10 years in the classroom and then of course, obviously, you know, now working, you know, with companies and then of course now working with Canva and then of course, you know, and then just doing whatever else is out there that, you know, peaks your inches.

So that's something that is great. Uh, so now let's talk a little bit about just that transition. I, and, but, but before that, let's just get talking a little bit about that coding. I mean, obviously, you know, if something that, that you kinda went into or followed or pursued, uh, with, uh, you know, coding must have been something that you might have integrated in the classroom too as well.

I mean, so if you can tell us just a little bit about that coding experience in your classroom, because I definitely wanna pick your brain because that's something that, since I haven't been in the classroom for a while, Definitely do some STEM camps, but just wanting to know how you would implement, uh, coding while in your curriculum, in your teaching days in the classroom.

[00:07:53] Leena: Such great, um, such a great question. So I'll kind of backtrack a bit into how I kind of got into the coding [00:08:00] space and kind of my passion for that work. Um, I've always been super techy from like a super young age. I was always, um, you know, taking apart things and rebuilding them. So that's always something I've been like really passionate about.

But I think right around the, when co.org very first came out, we were the very first, um, school. Like getting our feet wet. So I went to a code.org training and I was like, oh my gosh, this is amazing. This is something I've always wanted to do. Um, and so then we started to kind of implement it in our, in our school and throughout the district.

And we had our very first like, day of code. We had, um, all of the school, all the kids in our district are all the kids. School. So we had about like 600 kids and every single kid did an hour of coding that, um, day. And we had involved everyone, art, pe, music, we had brought in, um, parents to kind of, you know, help facilitate different kinds of unplugged and unplugged in activities.

And so, um, always just [00:09:00] knew that, um, It was something that we can integrate anywhere in our classrooms and so, and so how a teacher who had never, has never coded or anything like that in the classroom is you're doing computational thinking all the time. So that's basically step-by-step processes. So any kind of problem solving is just really like a problem solving framework is a really good way to think about it.

There's a lot of failure involved. Learning, a lot of iterating that's kind of going along with that. Um, but you can really do coding at any period of any time. You could do it with stories, um, you could do it with anything. So I always just had, you know, always started with like an activity of using the tiles on the floor.

Um, and having students ha like I would take big pieces of paper and have them draw like an arrow, um, and use their body to like, move. So I did it with like kindergarten. So they would move f if their arm was forward, they'd move one step forward. If they turned to the right, then their whole body had to move to step because that's how, um, you do in coding.

So, um, You know, coding is quite easy to implement cuz it [00:10:00] is a mathematical framework. It's a problem solving framework so you can really use it in anywhere that you do anything. And I had students building, you know, um, I taught fifth grade, so they did multi-step addition problems by building a scratch story and telling a younger student how to do multiplication using the story.

So there's lots of ways that you can integrate it. I think a lot of times teachers get super afraid though, um, of kind of taking that. First step into coding or getting used to it because you're scared, you don't know how to do it, you've never done it before. So start really basic. Just do something like, and take an hour of code yourself first and see, but your students are just gonna fly off the handle once you introduce it to them and their love and excitement.

And it's a workforce readiness skill that everyone and

[00:10:43] Fonz: anyone can do. Absolutely. I agree with you and I love that activity. And actually, you know, it's so funny that you mentioned that cuz that's one of the activities that I first start off with on our STEM camp Day one, we don't even touch the computers at all yet.

What we'll do is we'll work on understanding what an algorithm is, a variable, [00:11:00] and then we'll do the arrows. And then we'll have the, the, like you said, the kiddos will say, okay, like this is the symbol to move forward back. So they're commanding them. And one of my other favorite activities, and I'm sure you're familiar with it cuz I learned it through one of those cord, uh, code.org workshops is, uh, where we do some debugging.

So I would give 'em the big uh, post-it poster boards and then. Give them each a prompt that they would select and say, you know, tell me how to tie, how to tie a shoe, or tell me how to make an ice cream or a peanut butter jelly sandwich. Yeah. Or how to brush your teeth. And I love that the students would just kinda write the steps and then all of a sudden it's like, as they're doing their gallery walk, it's like, wait a minute.

But you didn't say open the cap. But wait a minute. You didn't say how much peanut butter to put. Well, wait a minute. And so it was really neat and like you said, it's that mathematical framework of understanding, you know, the problem, the process and breaking everything down. And I think that that is definitely a workforce ready skill that is definitely needed for sure.

[00:11:58] Leena: Yeah. And another activity that I [00:12:00] love to do is, um, have students have like a, a bowl or a cup of something. And so you just kind of put something in it and they have to. That bowl or cup or whatever to the other side of the room. And the other student has to be the driver. But the one student who has the item has to be blindfolded.

So they have to give them the steps and see how they do it. Um, and then, and then they switch roles. The other person then reads the, reads those steps to the person who ha. Had originally given them and see if they get the same result and often it's not the same because they missed a step or someone interpreted it in a different way.

So that's always like a surefire way. Also a really great activity to do at professional development

[00:12:39] Fonz: days. Ooh, nice. That's definitely for sure. So now you're giving me all excited too, especially just talking about this cuz this is something that I'm definitely passionate about. So then, you know, you introduced the coding in the classroom and so on, and then of course, Now, you know, transitioning out into the classroom and, you know, doing professional development and so on.

So tell us a little bit about [00:13:00] just that transition from classroom now into working with teachers and maybe even in your current role right now, also at Canva, because you do design some of those instructional lessons for, you know, customer serv, or, I'm sorry, C, what was the title? CLTs, or, yeah, cambo Learning Consultants.

The, you did your research. Yeah. , .

[00:13:22] Leena: Um, so, so the transition from the classroom to the world of EdTech, um, I had been a meetup organizer before that, so I had, um, organized just the, a meetup locally in Austin when I had moved from Colorado to Austin and just wanted to kind of build my network. And so we had a partnership between EdTech companies and teachers, and we just did a lot of that like networking piece.

So I always knew there was a space for educator. In ed tech, um, on the other side, you know, on the more corporate side of things. And, and I've always done workshops for teachers, so that part for me was not a total, um, wasn't, wasn't as challenging as it might be for like others. But I think [00:14:00] what's more challenging is that when you're creating this content, Or these like professional development trainings is you really have to speak less to your personality and more to like represent the company and what, what the mission is because you really need to train teachers the best that you can on the product so that they use the product in the classroom.

Um, what, whatever company it is that you work for. So there's a lot of feedback that goes in and I think oftentimes when people transition out of the classroom and into these roles, it can get really tough, I guess to like, you know, hear hear the feedback sometimes, but really it's just, it's just like when we give our students like feedback.

So you have to really try not to take it, I guess, as personal. But I think working with students and working with teachers, . It's just amazing because when you're in your four walls of the classroom, you're only just working with the students in your building or the students in your, in your classroom.

But when you are working on this other side of this ed tech field, you are actually getting the chance to, [00:15:00] um, You know, meet more teachers and touch basically your work then impacts more students. So for me, that's like the most meaningful part of it. Um, you know, and just being able to be iterative.

That's a really important piece of it. .

[00:15:16] Fonz: It definitely is. And, and I must say, uh, also myself just transitioning from outside the classroom into this current role too and, and being able to work with teachers and training teachers within our district. Man, you know, sometimes that first feedback was like, oh, wow, you know,

[00:15:31] Leena: things at first, right?

And then you're like, okay, it's not

[00:15:33] Fonz: so personal. Yeah, it is. But, but you know what it. It. It may hurt at first just because you may not be used to being on that other side. You know, like you said, working with students, we do give them the feedback, but then it's kind of like, okay, that's cool because now it's like, uh, like my friend, uh, oh my gosh, Al Kingsley, you know, sometimes I would be like, oh man, like I did terrible.

This was such a failure and so on. . But you know, learning from that feedback, you just take those little wins and [00:16:00] then you use those as stepping stones to get better for the next, you know, PD and just really seeing and getting to know your audience a little bit more. I mean, just because I was in one school and didn't get to meet all the teachers and all the district up until now, and still, you know, with new teachers coming in, you know, teachers retiring and then so you're filling those spots.

It's always new teachers coming in and getting to know them and building those relationships. Definitely an important piece, that's for sure. So now you said you did the meetups, you grew your P L C, you know, or your professional learning network or, uh, personal learning network, like I like to call it too, that personal learning family.

Um, you know, definitely something that's very important to continue to help each other grow and lift each other up. So then, you know, tell us a little bit then about now your transition into. Also working with Canva. What is kind of, just give us a little maybe overview of what your, uh, duties and responsibilities are for can.

[00:16:59] Leena: [00:17:00] Yeah, so at Canva, and if anybody doesn't know, which I'm sure you guys all know, but it is free for all educators. So if you're interested in exploring that, make sure that you definitely sign up and kind of have access to that. But my current role is basically helping to create the content based on where we think the users are and where AKA teachers, where teachers are and where students are, and kind of put putting together content that is going to.

Basically reach our users and, and help to empower them and enable them. And that's like the biggest, you know, part of the, of the work that I do. And so then hearing the feedback and iterating, then we put together content. So whether that's workshops, um, it could be, you know, um, more of like a webinar based type of thing.

You know, something kind of like we're doing right now. Just kind of, you know, the, the webinar leading type of content. Um, and, and, And then somebody else delivers the content. So I put it all together, package it up with a nice little [00:18:00] bow, and then give it off to our Canva Learning consultants, and then they're the ones who are actually doing the facilitation.

Um, and then as far as my transition from CodeMonkey, CodeMonkey is a very small company. I love it. We've done like really great work. Um, but there was about 13 people. Um, and they are based in Israel. So that was something that I had to learn, kind of, you know, how to collaborate and communicate with people in a different country in a different time zone and things.

And, and Canva has about 3000 employees, so it was an even bigger adjustment of learning how to communicate and collaborate and, you know, who's the right stakeholder talk to and different things like that. Um, but our small team is, Quite tiny and quite mighty in our design school team. Um, there's three of us.

There's uh, bell, which she's our boss or coach, as we say at Canva, and she's located in Sydney. And then my other coworker, Charlotte, she is located in Perth, Australia. So on the other side. Um, and then I'm located in Texas, so we're kind of all working in collaborating and doing everything that we do actually all day in [00:19:00] Canva.

We speak to, we speak the product and we're in the product, I guess you would say, every single day.

[00:19:05] Fonz: So, yeah. You know, and that's so great. I mean, and obviously the, the Canva is a product that I absolutely love and it's really what I used to here for my graphics that you see and anything that is on social media too, as well.

And it's really has become that one stop shop, you know, for educators, for creators. Because of just how robust the platform is and what it has to offer. So definitely kudos to you also for the work that you're doing. I have seen, and I have been in some sessions, uh, with some of the CLCs as they train and they share and I'm like, wow, this is just amazing.

Just, and, and of course like you said, they all speak the language. They are all like, you know, in it, they're immersed in it and it's great. And I. T c a this last year, I, I was there and it was great to kind of catch up with Tish, uh, Richmond also, who was there, got to meet her and got to meet, uh, actually Scott Noons also.

Mm-hmm. , great [00:20:00] friend of mine. It's always great to connect with him there too as well. So definitely like you said, although you say that it, 3000, a team of 3000, that's definitely a mighty team for sure. For as much as, uh, you guys continue to grow and. within our educator space and creator space as well.

Mm-hmm. . So thank you for that and all the work that you do. So let's talk a little bit more about the future or the workforce. You know, getting ready, getting workforce ready, using EdTech to prepare. Because I know that not only do you do the work for Kava, but also you know, you've expressed in your bio two sharing how you're always passionate about.

Ed tech and the future of work, working with kids and even with adults, administrators, seeing and guiding them to what is coming. And as we all know, you know, within the last month or so, we've definitely seen a, a great change in the education landscape and in the creator space through the use of AI technologies.

Uh, but before we get into that, just, uh, into specific technologies, you know, as far as [00:21:00] workforce for yourself, what do you see currently right now? Through your experience, through your lens, and of course through the the landscape here, what would you say would be some of the most important workforce skills or the ones that you share the most with administrators maybe at this time or with uh, teachers?


[00:21:21] Leena: I would say when I think about workforce readiness skills, I really think about those timeless 21st century skills. So they really just have a different package, different way of like thinking through it. But I think about what, what are the tools and what are the resources and skills that students can have beyond the world of K-12?

Because we often just think about how to get them to the next place. So you know, things. Like Prodigy or you know, class Kick or Nearpod, they're really great and they're really great for instructional delivery tools. But the tricky thing about them is they're not gonna, you're not gonna go to the workplace and be like, Hey, um, can you gimme a Nearpod subscription for the work for the workplace?

That's just like, not exactly [00:22:00] how it works. So really introducing them to tools that kind of, our lifelong tools. And I think when I think about workforce, I think about what are, what's going to set a student up for success? And that's being able to. That's being able to collaborate, that's being able to present on a topic and being able to just kind of share, you know, take, take their research and be able to kind of prove their findings by presenting it in a creative way.

Because our workforce today, if you just think about it, You spend all of five minutes on TikTok, you're able to see that people are way more creative, more authentically creative than we'd been in a long time. Like a lot of, it was a lot of filtering, a lot of like all these other things. Wow. That still exists.

Those, you're not gonna be specifically filtered in, in the workplace. So it's, you know, taking those collaboration and the communication skills and the technology once you learn a technology really well, whether that's your, whether that's Google or OneNote or whatever, those skills. And strategies transfer to most of the other [00:23:00] tools that you're in, that you'll interact with.

And so it's that and the upskilling piece that's really important. So if you're not able to learn something, how do you learn it? Everyone goes to YouTube now, right? Yeah. . I was just speaking to my sister. She's um, She does Airbnbs and she was just like, well, if I can YouTube it, I can do it . You know, there's a lot of failure that's involved with those.

Like it may seem super easy, um, but it's just, you know, there's a lot of learning that takes place in that. And I think the failure piece is also a big piece. Like we have often been so afraid to fail, and we've been taught to be afraid of failure. . If you don't fail, then you never learn. And I think that's the most important thing, is what do you learn from the failure that comes from that.

[00:23:44] Fonz: Oh, absolutely. I definitely agree with you on all of your points. And mainly also just the communication piece as well, like you said, even though you know, yes, this, this world that we currently work in, You know, is riddled with ad tech everywhere, but that communication piece [00:24:00] is definitely so, so important.

So I know that for a lot of teachers, one of those things or the scares was like, oh great, there goes through teaching job. Now that we see something like, you know, the, uh, artificial intelligence. We've got Chad, G P T, and of course now we've got, uh, , what is it? Brand or, or I can't even remember. Google just named it today too.

And I was just saying, oh yeah, they did just name it . Yeah. I was like, yeah, maybe they should have put the name in the process and the AI again to see if they can come up with a different name. But , I mean, I, that's my thought, but again, you know, it, it's interesting, but I was, uh, actually you mentioned TikTok and there is a creator there that I follow and she's a teacher and she shares how she uses, uh, chat g p T in the classroom and they actually got interviewed.

I believe. Good Morning America. And the students did. And one of the questions was, do you fear that AI is gonna take over? And, you know, eventually, you know you're not gonna have teachers anymore. And they absolutely just in unison were like, no, [00:25:00] you know, there's things that teachers can do that the AI can't, which is, you know, and they were talking about that collaboration, that communication piece, those things.

And so it was so neat to hear and hear. From a student perspective, you know, as opposed to sometimes as a teacher, we just think the worst. We like, oh my gosh, this is over. I'm not gonna have a job because AI is gonna take over all those things. What have been, or what has been your experience, because I know that Canva has a tool, you know, it has the ai, you've got the magic docs, and then of course you've got the other one, uh, where you can create, you know, using text as well.

And so, Through that experience, you know, what is it that you would see now, you know, to get workforce ready? Do you really see that AI's gonna take over a lot of things? Or do you see that there's still gonna be a place for, you know, educators and creators everywhere?

[00:25:56] Leena: So I think there's two folds. I think when a tech first [00:26:00] came out, teachers thought it was gonna take their jobs, right?

Like that's always been a fear. There's always going to be something that's going to be there. And technology isn't going to stop creating and stopping innovative because at this point we're beyond the, beyond the point of like things going back to stone Age. Like that's just what it is. So I think as a teacher, I think.

Ed tech and, and AI and everything is not designed to replace you. It's going to help make things easier, as much as possible, but it's never going to replace you. And I think that's like the number one thing. Now, do we have to teach about it? We do, but there's been Jasper, there has been like Quill Bot, there's been all these like AI things.

It's just chat, G P T um, just came to the forefront and now is like the big hype. And you're right in Canva, we do have, um, , we have Kava docs and in Kava docs is Magic Wright, which is the same sort of technology that is, uh, Chad, g p t. Right now, we don't have it turned on for educators because we are trying [00:27:00] to weigh what's the best way to do that and how to do that so that teachers feel safe, administrators feel safe, and that we're not having that like, you know, fail safe from students.

But what I think about AI is we, it's just something we're just gonna have to teach. Like how do you do it? How do you critically think? And the biggest piece about anything in technology today is how do you. Critically and be able to disseminate information from what is available. Um, I do think chat, G P T and all these other things, I use it.

I think it's very useful. It's very useful when I am like, So brain dead. I can't think of anything. And I'm like, okay, give me like some topic recommendations. And then I'm like, okay, that's kind of good. Or, oh, that's not so good. You know, it's going to continue to iterate and get better with time, but we can't think of it as the enemy.

We have to think about how can we celebrate it, but how can we do it in a, so in a way that's going to be meaningful. Because these students, when they come out, They're not gonna just have chat G P T, they're gonna have something that's like exponentially, way better than that. Right. [00:28:00] And AI for a really long time has been taking, has been coming into play, but we're not seeing it like readily weeding out people in their like roles when they are in these people facing roles.

We see it happening in automation, right? We've seen it in the backend happening with evaluating students' data and doing adaptability and all these ed tech tools that are like, okay. Student is failing here, so we're gonna give them this. And you know, like Waterford or whatever, those other reading programs, they've been using AI for so long, we just haven't seen it on the front side.

And now we're seeing it on the front side and using it as a tool. So we have to think about it as another tool that's going to help make our lives easier, but also teach students. the right way to use it, how to use it, you know, the, I mean is, is the 10 page essay dead maybe, but does it really matter or is it really about how you can get your point across, how you can do it accurately and how you can do it, you know, concisely and all those other ways with doing the research and things like that.

So I think it's just a teachable moment, but it's a way, [00:29:00] it's just scary cuz we don't. Right, but there's everything that we don't know, right? Like how does a, how does a car automate driving? People are been using it, right? They, they use the Tesla feature without fail, right? Sometimes there's accidents that happen, but people don't stop using it.

They just continue getting better, and the programs continue to iterate over time. .

[00:29:19] Fonz: Yeah, absolutely. And I agree with you on that, on every aspect. Also too as well, because you know, being familiar with the tools and of course working at, with ed tech, I mean here in our district too, like you mentioned, there are several programs that do the same thing where where they gives the diagnostic, sets the student on a specific path, and as the student gets better, then they continue to move, move up in skill level and so on.

But you're absolutely right, it was just that fear of. It's here. It's right in front of us. Oh my gosh, what's gonna happen? And you know, seeing districts just shut everything down. And you know, my question is, I mean, I know our d I think after T C A, our C T O definitely shut it down cuz I didn't have access to it today.

But I was thinking, [00:30:00] I was like, can you leave the access open for teachers? And I, you know, I belonged to a CTO group. Uh, chat group, and they're like, yeah, I mean, we left it open for our teachers. We just don't allow our students to use it just because of the 18 and over kind of deal, which I understand, you know, the students will still go do it at home, but if you do have those teachable moments, it's definitely something that's very important to go over with them, how to use it properly.

And, uh, going back into the essay part of it, even in my doctoral studies class, my professor was all right. I know what's out there. I know that this is happening, but if you are going to be using a tool like this, you know, please make sure that you know, you let me know where it is that you used it, and I want citations, and I want a reason why you used it there.

So he wasn't saying like, Hey, I'm gonna give you an F and I'm gonna fail you. , let's use the tool. We know it's there and you know, we are aware, we, we don't have [00:31:00] a set kind of idea of what we're gonna do yet, but as long as you meet these parameters and you can prove to me where he used it and you share it with me, I'm okay with it.

But, You know, the rubric states, this is what I need, that's all I need. And then of course he says, if I have any questions or anything, then we'll meet one-on-one and we'll have a discussion. And if you need to write something over again, just write it over again, but I'm not gonna fail you. So I was like, okay.

So it's interesting to see how even higher ed is like, Hey, it's out there all. , let's figure it out. You know, we're in this together. So it's kind of a very interesting moment per se. I'm, you know, so what are your thoughts on that too, as well?

[00:31:42] Leena: Yeah, I think, I think leaving on for teachers is essential. Like I think that when you, I get the understanding for shutting it off for students, but a teacher isn't.

wasn't born yesterday. They know that a student did not write that . Okay. Then there has been all kinds of programs for a long time to write these [00:32:00] sort of essays. It's just this is the specific tool that's getting the light that's basically shining the brightest right now. Um, and I just think you have to do, it's unfortunate, but as teachers, we have to teach these like teachable moments and, and who cares?

Have a have chap g p t write an article about something live and, and ask them like what's the kind of work choice that it's using? Are there any adjectives that are here? Is there any way we can improve this to be better? Like, what are the ways that you can bring, bring yourself into it because when you read it, while some of them are great, have it write a wrap for you.

Have it write a. It lacks a certain amount of, like, emotion, I guess you would say. Like it's really good at being concise about something specific, but the emotional piece is like, is missing, right? Like, it's not, it's not, it's not getting me, I'm not feeling like I'm reading a Nicholas Sparks book. It's just a very like, you know, pro, pro, pro.

Sorry, pragmatic way of, of writing something. So [00:33:00] you, we have to just embrace it and unfortunately we do have to teach teachable moments about it cuz you're right, they are gonna go home. They are going to ask it to do things. And as much as we try at schools, the first thing we ever do at schools is block things always right.

We block Bitly, we, we block everything. That could be anything. . You know what's more dangerous sometimes is like doing a Google image search. Sometimes those are some racy photos that come back, right? Like there are things that are just, there are unavoidable things that we have to do, but it's just how are we going to do it?

And as a superintendent, as an administrator, these are conversations you have to have and, and you have to show teachers that, you know, give some examples. Unfortunately. , it's out. It's live. There's nothing we can do about it. It's not gonna reset and go away. It's just gonna continue to propel itself forward.

So how can we adapt and embrace it? And education's tricky cuz we. It's much slower to adapt. Yeah. And embrace things. But I think the pandemic has shown us that we can adapt and we can embrace things more [00:34:00] than we ever thought we could. So I think it's just kind of taking that step back and drawing and, and collaborating like you're saying, you're just at tca Right.

The co topic. was on fire. I'm sure every person you met was like, Hey, how are you doing this? How are you using this? Oh, did your district block this? Oh, who? Who are you going to for these resources? The conversation's already happening, but why don't, instead of one district, let's say San Antonio is s d, I don't know.

I don't know anyone there, but let's say they wanna, they wanna embrace chat G P T. Well, why don't you get with somebody who's been doing it for a bit of time, or somebody who's been talking about, see how they've been doing it and adapt it. We don't have to do this alone. I think that's the biggest indicator is.

We need to collaborate, communicate, and network with each other to kind of embrace it, collect.

[00:34:44] Fonz: I love that, that you said, you know, and right now, as soon as you were saying that kind of reminds me, you know, oftentimes, even as a classroom teacher, we were kind of in our own little silos, you know? And even at now, at the district level, right now that we're discussing topics like this, it [00:35:00] seems like we're also in our own silos.

And it's like, hey, You know what? Let's knock down those walls. And it's okay to ask the neighboring district, Hey, how are you doing this? Or Hey, how about you guys? You know, and just have those discussions because again, you can learn from each other. But oftentimes, like Amy Mayer says, she, she coined this phrase here, or she shared it here.

It's, uh, the tadi. This is the way we've always done it. And so a lot of times we suffer from the, this is the way we've always done IT syndrome. And so we just shut everything down, block everything and try and sweep it under the rug like it didn't exist and just continue in our merry way. And I was like, but that's, that's not the way Ed.

Uh, you know, ed Tech goes, you know, there's so much more that is out there. And we were actually having a discussion earlier today. There's, uh, some teachers or a teacher that, um, you know, still uses, uh, note cards to do citations. And, you know, I shared with them, I was like, Hey, you know, do you know Google does citations?

You know, an m l a [00:36:00] and they're, nope, this, they gotta do it on the note cards because they need to know this is an important skill and I. You know, I told her I was like, in my master's, and even now in my doctoral studies, I don't need to do the note cards. There's extensions, there's, uh, webpages. That'll do it for me perfectly.

I mean, we need to move forward from those things too as well. And I'm fine

[00:36:19] Leena: to lose it. Right? Like, I don't need to know how to do a citation. Yeah. Probably if you ask me now, like in my master's, like I use those tools like a while, like Easy Bib or whatever else was like around, I was like, bye, I don't have to do this.

Perfect. Like there are some things that we, it's okay to just say. Yeah. Like you can just let go some of those

[00:36:35] Fonz: things. Yeah. So now in your experience too, now that we talked a little bit about ai, but what else do you see, or when you do have the opportunity to present, you know, be, you know, in front of educators, thought leaders and so on, what are some of the other things that you share with 'em as long to get ready for this new era of modern, uh, you know, modern EdTech and modern educat.

[00:36:59] Leena: [00:37:00] Such a good question. Um, a lot of times when I am meeting encyclopedias, that's funny. That's, um, yeah. You know, ask a student about encyclopedia today, they don't even know what they are. Uh, but I used to love those in the library. Going to get those. Um,

[00:37:14] Fonz: I was, I'm sorry. Real quick, I just wanted to add, that used to be my chat, g p t and I, I shared a story when I think I did a, a podcast episode, like maybe about six episodes back, and I said, you know, when they would drop me off at the public library, that was my chat, g p t at the time, I would just open up encyclopedia and then I would just word for word copy my research paper on spiders.

Because, just because, and that's what I did. Yeah. It was so good. Right. I didn't know how to find research at the time, but that, that was my, my source and I knew that everything there was gonna be. Right. So just went straight to the source, .

[00:37:48] Leena: Exactly. Um, I would say when I'm meeting with teachers and who are trying to like, Like what's coming?

I guess what's coming for education is we don't know, right? Like that's just, that's [00:38:00] just how it's going. But the, it's already evolved, right? If, if you think about the pandemic, like if we would've prepared for the pandemic, would we have been accurately prepared? No. Can we prepare for chat G P T? We can't.

But what we can do is we can adapt. So I think, I think the biggest learning about anything that's coming for education or anything is to learn how to adapt and then learn how to leverage your community. I think your P L N, your PLCs, whatever you call them, wherever you are, cuz they're different from state to state com, community to community, your network and being able to adapt are the biggest things that you can take away from anything and just.

Exactly what you're saying. When I was a classroom teacher, I thought about just me, my direct cooperating teacher who sat next to me and we were the two grade level experts. . But when I think about it now, being back, I'm like, oh my gosh. There were so many other experts in this district, let alone the world of Twitter, let alone all these Facebook groups.

You said you were in a C T O group. The [00:39:00] T C A groups are really great. The communities that the communities on LinkedIn, like adapt, leverage, communicate. Those are the three things that you can. Entirely to just prepare for what's next for education, cuz we don't know who knows what's coming.

[00:39:14] Fonz: Ooh, I love that.

I love that. And that kind of goes along with, I always share with people, my three words for education are, are just because of my, you know, 16 years in education. Uh, , the three words that have always helped me were, have been improvise, adapt, and overcome. Mm-hmm. Those words. I love those two. Yeah. Yeah. They were shared with me good ones many years ago by a friend of mine who's a former Marine, and he said that that was the three words that they were taught and I applied them, you know, here to my education career and it, it's very helpful and especially when you see where education is going and the future of work and the future of learning, and just to kind of keep us on our toes always and just kind of take what's coming and seeing.

Okay. Like how can we. Implement this. How can we learn this? How can we not, and just not fear it right away. Just [00:40:00] embrace it and see what's happening, how we can adapt it, and then how we can overcome and wait for the next big thing to come. Because it's all, it's just gonna keep coming on from here on out.

Yeah. Yeah. I mentioned

[00:40:11] Leena: this, I mentioned this on, on a podcast episode that like I'm going to be on, but do you remember when online dating first. . Oh yes. Who were like, people are like, oh, I cannot, I cannot swipe right. I can't do it. You know, like they were so, they were so embarrassed. But if you think about most people in the modern age and how they met their partners was from online dating.

Mm-hmm. . Um, and so just think about that, how that changed the world of how we date. So I think everything that we do is exactly what we said, overcoming , um, and just leveraging what we have. . We just can't prepare for what's next, but we can learn from what we've done and how to adapt for the next.

[00:40:56] Fonz: Absolutely. Wow. Well, this has been an [00:41:00] amazing conversation. Thank you so much for your time. I know you had a very busy day, so definitely respect your time so you can get some rest, because I'm sure you've got a week ahead of you and everything. But before we go, I definitely, this is one of my favorite segments too.

Just the last three questions that I love to ask all my guests. So my question to you is, or the first one I should say, is, in the current state of education, what would you say is your current EDU kryptonite?

[00:41:28] Leena: Ooh, my kryptonite. Um, ooh, such a good question. Um, kryptonite, I guess I would say . I can't believe I'm saying this.

Camba is my kryptonite. Like I can't, I can't go one minute without using it, like in my personal life or anything like that. But, but I am like really embracing this Chad g p t magic, right? Um, world and just learning how to, I'm terrible at it. Like I, I know there's cheat sheets and things like that, that I can help you, but like I've got to really learn how to like [00:42:00] really leverage this tool for my life.

Um, so I. . I think that would be like my kryptonite right now is like learning how to do it the best

[00:42:07] Fonz: I can. There you go. Hey, and it, all it does is it takes time in practice and as we know, it's another career that's up there, like on LinkedIn and Glassdoor. People looking for prompt engineers, you know, people that can mm-hmm.

really put in some great inputs to get the not my college output. Out of those. Yeah. Out of those. I mean, yeah, definitely. All right. Question number two. If you could have a billboard with anything on it, what would it be? And.

[00:42:34] Leena: I think it would be take a no thank you. Taste. So I think with, um, ed tech, I think many people get really afraid of technology and everything that we do.

So I say take a no thank you taste, so just try it. Um, I used to say that with coding, once you just try it, you're gonna be hooked. Um, so I think just taking a, no thank you taste with everything that you do is what I would put on a

[00:42:58] Fonz: bill. [00:43:00] Nice. I like that. Great answer. All right. And the last question.

Let's say that this was your podcast this evening and your hosting, and I am your guest. What would be one question you'd like to ask me? Hmm.

[00:43:13] Leena: Such a good question. Um, I guess my question for you would be, , if you could go back to your first year of teaching, what is the one thing that you would tell yourself to prepare you for today?

[00:43:28] Fonz: Hmm. My first year of teaching. All right, so my first year of teaching, I transitioned from mar business and marketing into teaching. So probably the first thing that I would've a done as soon as I would've come into my classroom is really seek. Like math, like, uh, like really find somebody that can teach me math the way it should have been taught.

Because what happened is now 16 years later, [00:44:00] working with my content specialist, I realize now that I was teaching math the way that I learned it. , and I wish now I would've taught the math the way it was expressed in the tes and knowing more and making it more visual for my students. And I oftentimes, I really do think a lot about that and say, man, I, I, I might have done a disservice to my kids because I didn't bring out manipulatives or concrete objects or pictorial models and so on.

So I guess from that point on, is. Try to be open about learning how to do things in a different way instead of just, just know, this is the way I've always taught it. This is the way it's always going to be, and nothing has changed and. That's probably what I would've done. I would've just tried to correct myself and learn how to do it a little bit better and to allow more students to be successful.

So yeah, that would probably be one of the things that I would've done , but Good way to look at it though. [00:45:00] Yeah. Yeah, definitely. After 16 years, I would. Still reflecting on that and I'm like, man, I could have done so much better. So it would've been great. All right. Well thank you so much. I really appreciate you being here.

Thank you again as always for your time and you know, continue to do the work that you're doing because you're doing some amazing things. I have been sharing your website here at the chat. I have been sharing your Twitter handle as well, but we all know that will be on the show notes as well. And I don't know, is there anything, anything else that you'd like to share for our audience members where they can come and find you or how they may connect with.

[00:45:33] Leena: Um, I am just Lena Marie SA and all the social networks, so you can connect with me there. Um, oh, I also have YouTube, so feel free to do that. Um, but I just have enjoyed spending this time with you today.

[00:45:47] Fonz: Oh, I really appreciate it. Thank you so much. It has been an amazing conversation. It is just awesome, and especially about a topic that we both love and of course for our audience members.

Thank you so much for Amanda. For Mel, who's joining us. Tim, [00:46:00] who stopped by briefly, and for all of you that are, uh, watching right now live, or we'll be catching the replay. Thank you as always, from the bottom of my heart for making my EdTech life what it is today. I really appreciate you, uh, doing all the likes, shares, and follows continued listening to our podcast.

So please go to our website@myedtech.life. My edtech.life where you can check out this amazing episode and the other 171 amazing episodes where you can learn from great educators, creators, and practitioners. And you can take a little bit of that knowledge, sprinkle it onto what you are already doing.

Great. And if you'd love to support our mission, you can definitely stop by our web store. To as well where you can get yourself some myEd, tech life merch, or you can just stop by and buy us a cup of coffee. Either way, it'll keep the creativity flowing. So thank you as always. I really appreciate y'all and my friends.

Don't forget as always, until next time, stay techy.

Leena SalehProfile Photo

Leena Saleh

Design Educator Canva/ the Edtech Guru

Leena Marie Saleh has been coined The Edtech Guru. She is a former educator with 10+ years of classroom experience. She has always been extremely passionate about the modern world of technology and how it transfers into the classroom to make students #workforce ready. She believes that providing students the critical skills for our future is absolutely vital and is important in providing a more equitable opportunity for ALL students. She also believes that exposure generates economic opportunity.

Leena has worked alongside many Educators, Administrators, Thought Leaders and Edtech companies to guide them through execution and preparedness for this next new 'ERA' of modern education.