Educator Spotlight: Meet Eric Garcia

Fifth grade teacher in California uses new tech to build relationships with students

This story is part of a series that celebrates Teacher Appreciation Month. Each day in May, we will introduce to you an outstanding educator within the Flipgrid community. Stories by Angela Tewalt.


When enthusiastic tech teachers like Eric Garcia discover new tools to use in the classroom, they do not keep it casual.  


They do not shrug their shoulders at possibility or merely think about how it might be cool. Instead, teachers like Eric scour for digital tools, learn all they can, maximize opportunity, tinker for hours into the night, introduce to their students with delight, play and learn some more and soar.  


Eric loves to teach – not only because he loves learning, too, but because he believes in the student to adapt, grow and thrive along with him.  


“I’m constantly teaching new things,” says Eric, a fifth-grade science and P.E. teacher in McFarland, Calif. “I’m always on the go, I never sit down, I’m always hands-on, I love having tech in my class, and I love watching my students discover something new.” 

Working with the Big Kids

Eric has been teaching for 15 years. He’s been mainly in the early elementary classroom but this year ventured up to the big kids in fifth grade. He’s reveling in the newness.  


“For one, they’re more independent,” Eric says. “They’re still wanting to do the work, still wanting to please you and make you happy, but now I get to work more in our fabrication lab. I’m teaching them how to 3D print, how to use laser cutters, and we do screen printing, too. It’s been really fun.” 


Eric enjoys science because it’s a lot of hands-on, never-sit-still, keep moving group work, and he sees longevity in that.  


“When they grow up, they’re going to be working with other people in the job field,” he says. “They need to learn how to collaborate and communicate with others in a group setting. I love helping them build on that and become the citizens they need to be.” 

Building Relationships with Students

Eric cares deeply about his students. He loves being there for them, supporting them in their growth, and he’s empathetic to their needs. One of the reasons he so vivaciously embraces new platforms at school is because it’s just another way to connect.  


When he started using Flipgrid a couple years ago, he noticed such a bright change in the students.  


“I have students who I couldn’t even hear while speaking right in front of my face,” Eric says. “Now, I actually have to tell students to stop making videos at 11 o’clock at night and to go to bed! They’re going to get me in trouble! But Flipgrid has become their platform, and it’s really brought about a different way to help my students succeed.” 


It’s also been a chance for him to build rapport with each of them.  

“There are so many ways that Flipgrid can help out our students,” Eric says. “But my inbox has really allowed me to get to know them better.” 


At the beginning of each school year, Eric creates an “Inbox” topic within his Grid where students can send him private video messages. He not only encourages kids to share positive updates or learning habits with him but to also ask big questions or open up about problems.  


“Maybe someone’s bullying them and they’re afraid to tell me in front of class, or maybe they’re having trouble at home or at school,” Eric says. “Or maybe they hop on to tell me they scored the winning goal that weekend.  


“Either way, next time I see them in school, we can build on that conversation together. I just want them to know that, even when they’re not at school, they still have a safe place to share anything with me.”  

He encourages other teachers to try out something new with his students, too. 


“I love showing teachers how to use Flipgrid because once I show them, they go on to show a ton of students how to use it, too!” Eric says. “It’s been such a great tool that has really changed my perspective in teaching.” 


“If other teachers really dive in and use Flipgrid to build those relationships with their students, those students will shine for you. They always do.” 


Follow Eric on Twitter.