Educator Spotlight: Meet Marcus Borders
Tech coach in Atlanta arrives with compassion to encourage thoughtful use of devices
This story is part of a weekly series that celebrates outstanding teachers in our Flipgrid community. Stories by Angela Tewalt.
For Marcus Borders, technology isn’t just a flashy new tool to experiment with and then clutter the classroom. It’s an opportunity to teach responsibility.
After twelve years in education, he knows you cannot hand over a laptop to a student or even a teacher and expect them to thrive. The opportunity to learn with something new comes with patience, communication and empathy.
“To innovate is not a fly-by-night idea,” says Marcus, who works as an instructional technology coach in Atlanta, Georgia. “Just as much as I plan a lesson or come up with activities to teach, I, too, manage and troubleshoot devices, talk to my students about expectations, and we develop a plan together so they can be held accountable.”
Working with elementary teachers, he’s mindful to share that devices aren’t meant to overwhelm the classroom or distract from the learning but to enhance the student experience. There is complete joy in using tech, but success comes when students understand themselves the great responsibility they now have, not when a teacher micro-manages the experience.
“I think we’re still working on the value of technology in education, and fear and apprehension will sometimes keep people from trying,” Marcus says. “But I always push teachers that we have to innovate, because we’re teaching students that are hopefully going to do amazing things in this world! We must carefully plan and prepare and do all that we can – not for us, for the students.”
Compassionate Teaching and Coaching
Marcus is a big guy. He stands at 6’4” with a bellowing voice, rosy cheeks and a memorable smile. He’s an absolute presence in the room, enough to make you think he’s the intimidating one in the high school hallway. But teachers always surprise us.
Instead, Marcus began his career in colorful primary classrooms, where he towered over the littles on ABC rugs singing songs to learn vowel sounds and making up games to teach math.
“I’m pretty introverted and shy, but the babies that are 8, 9 and 10 years old allow me to be goofy and fun without feeling like I have a spotlight on me for everyone to pick out my idiosyncrasies like a middle school student might,” Marcus says. “Teaching forces me to come out of my shell.”
Today, Marcus is an EdTech Specialist with Kennesaw State University, where he works with K-5 teachers in the Fulton County School District to model lessons, offer PDs and present at conferences, but he still shows up with that same soft approach, kindness in his eyes and compassionate demeanor.
“I would never walk into a classroom and say, ‘Hey, you need to do project-based learning,’ when that teacher barely knows how to turn on a computer,” Marcus says. “Instead, I will always walk in with empathy. I want to meet them at their level, patiently learn about them and passively push them to do it on their own.
“I don’t want them to try something new because I told them to, I want it to be because they realize the great connection between their content and how technology can support what they’re doing.”
Marcus is organized, thoughtful and methodical and is always keeping the reluctant teacher in mind. He understands that technology isn’t always easy, but when you ask questions, organize your thoughts around capability, work step-by-step and trust the resiliency in both you and the student, anything is possible.
“I vow not to be closed off to change or evolution,” Marcus says. “And I encourage all teachers to remain open to what’s happening in the world. Technology is a changing spectrum! But it is also a strength when you have a willingness to grow.”