The Common Sense Ambassadors are an exceptional group of Common Sense Certified education leaders who share their passion and inspiration about our mission with others.
Today we're spotlighting Ambassador Jeff Richardson.
What do you do?
I am an instructional technology coach serving Berry and Simmons Middle Schools in Hoover, Alabama. In our 1-to-1 Chromebook environment, I have the awesome responsibility of building relationships with the teachers and empowering them to utilize technology as a tool in instructional design and planning, student learning, and their own professional growth. I support our teachers at the exciting intersection of technology and learning through lesson planning, co-teaching, professional development, observation, and feedback. I am also a leader for our district's digital citizenship education program.
How is Common Sense Education's mission making a difference in your work?
In a district with nearly 14,000 students, a key component to the success of our 1-to-1 "Engaged Learning Initiative" is to consistently provide relevant digital citizenship education to our students, teachers, and parents. That's where Common Sense Education shines for us. The passionate team at Common Sense Education provides the trusted resources, support, and encouragement necessary for successful implementation with sustainability. Because of what we have learned from Common Sense Education, we know this isn't a one-and-done effort. I have personally been challenged and empowered to lead in this area with the hope of seeing positive changes in our schools and community.
Describe a digital learning project or initiative that you're currently working on.
One project that I'm immersed in is achieving Common Sense Education Certification for our district and maintaining that status in the future. My team is promoting the importance of teaching digital citizenship as a key component for digital learning as well as leading our schools through the curriculum provided by Common Sense Education. In this process, I have organized two very successful teen panels for our parents. These powerful events became a catalyst for conversations and helped to promote our vision to parents. I am also working on getting a "Genius Hour" going with several teachers as a way to further digital learning and creation.
What's a teaching strategy or tip that you could share with other teachers?
With so much of what kids learn originating from the digital space, I would encourage teachers to take every opportunity to help kids develop the skill of carefully evaluating what they consume online. If teachers frequently talk through their thinking and explain how they evaluate digital content and how they purposefully connect it to what the students are working on, I believe students would be more equipped to think critically in the digital space. I believe we often take for granted the processes that seem natural to us and assume students apply these same processes and structures when they clearly don't.
What are you most excited about right now in education?
I am most excited about the radical opportunities available to our students and teachers. Students have the world at their fingertips with incredible opportunities for individualized learning, creating, and sharing their wild, brilliant ideas on a global stage. Teachers are poised on the edge of an educational space that is hungry for innovative practices that empower students to truly develop their abilities as lifelong learners. All they have to do is take the risk and step over the ledge. I love being in a position where I get to help teachers and students take that step and challenge the status quo daily.
Why did you become an Ambassador?
Because I am both a parent and an educator, I feel a huge responsibility to make sure the kids I am around are well-equipped digital citizens. It's my hope that kids will learn to make decisions in the digital space based not on popular culture but on their own values, empathy for others, and sense of self-worth. I began digging into the Common Sense Education resources and realized that they are as passionate about this stuff as I am! When I met some of the Common Sense Education staff in person at ISTE in 2016, I could tell that they truly care about their mission and will do whatever they can to see it become a reality.