Meet NCCE’s Craft-Savvy Teacher… Mary Elizabeth Pearson!


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Mary Elizabeth HeadshotWe are pleased to introduce Mary Elizabeth Pearson, NCCE’s Craft-Savvy Teacher!  We caught up with Mary Elizabeth recently in Merida, Mexico to chat Minecraft and educational technology!

Name: The Craft-Savvy Teacher, Mary Elizabeth Pearson

Location: Merida, Mexico

Your role with NCCE: Professional Learning Specialist

Current computer: Surface Book 1

Current mobile device(s): Galaxy Note 8

One word that best describes how you teach or work: Relationships

What apps/software/tools can you not live without?

Microsoft Translator and Minecraft

Share with us a time when you failed in your teaching or learning pursuits. How did you persevere?

When I first moved into the coaching role, I wasn’t sure how to make connections with colleagues in the role of peer coach. It was a new role, and some teachers looked at working with me as a sign they weren’t good at what they do. I took that personally, and it made it hard to connect. I began to seek out learning around the peer coaching from gurus in the industry. I learned that I can’t control what others think or do, I can only be myself and use my experiences to guide me. Once I shifted my thinking, it made it easier for me to focus on the experience of working with teachers to perfect our craft. Working with different teachers and in many different classrooms created an amazing learning opportunity for me. I became a thought partner, and it made all the difference.

What is your favorite organizational tip, app or advice?

In using Minecraft in the classroom, my favorite tip is to make sure you have a very clear naming convention for students to save worlds so that you lessen the opportunity for students to lose any of their builds.

What is your best time-saving trick?

The first time you use Minecraft in your classroom, let students log in and build whatever they want. This way you can make sure everyone is in and that there are no issues to fix before you use it in a lesson. You will save yourself the frustration of trying to teach and it not working, and since students are used to building without constraints, you will avoid a revolt.

What are your most valuable classroom/work routines?

When using Minecraft, tell your students NOT to ask the oldest person in the room how to do something in Minecraft, give them full permission to be up out of their seats helping each other.

What is your favorite avenue to connect with social media?

Why Twitter of course!

When you are not living the glamorous work life, what do you like to do in your spare time for fun?

My family and I recently moved to Merida, Mexico. I am enjoying the opportunity this has brought to my family to learn about living in another country. We are spending a lot of time together as a family as we explore our new surroundings.

As a tech-savvy teacher, what everyday thing do you feel you excel with/at versus other teachers/administrators/mentors?

I thrive in change. I am flexible in my thinking, and I am very comfortable admitting when I have made a mistake.

What advice would you give teachers today?

Take risks: I believe that if you don’t take risks with your own learning and step outside the box, you can’t ask students to take risks in the classroom.

Why Minecraft?

Why not? Using Minecraft in the classroom naturally creates a condition where the student is the expert and teacher plays a supporting role. It allows the teacher to focus on helping students make connections to content in a way that makes sense to the student.

What hopes do you have for the @craftsavvyteacher?

I hope to connect educators to each other through their shared interest in how they see Minecraft fitting into content. I do not believe that the teacher has to learn everything about Minecraft to use it in the classroom, but I do believe that they need to see examples on how they can incorporate their standards and learning outcomes through it.

Any parting thoughts you would like to share with our readers?

As I have shared Minecraft with educators around the country, I realize more and more how important it is for educators to engage students in their own learning. Minecraft can help us do that in a more genuine way. We have a tendency to want to control every aspect within our classroom, and while there are aspects where we need to assert control when it comes to students making connections to content and owning their learning, we need to have a more hands-off approach.

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