Educator Spotlight: Meet Stacey Roshan
Director of EdTech, new author in Maryland encourages compassion in the classroom
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.
With teacher Stacey Roshan, technology has never felt so comforting.
Education can feel very fast-paced today, with gadgets and expectation and demanding curriculum to meet. Even with young students, it can be difficult for the teacher to make time for individualized learning.
When technology is introduced into that bustling framework, it would seem to only heighten the tension. But Stacey helps all of us to take that deep sigh of relief by removing the burden we might see in tech and showing it to us instead as the big warm hug we’ve all needed for a really long time.
“Technology helps us get to know kids on a more personal level,” says Stacey, who serves as Director of Innovation and Education Technology for Bullis School in Potomac, Maryland. “When used well and with thoughtful intention, you can get so much insight into what each kid needs and what each kid is wanting to say.
“Every single student has a different comfort level with communicating, just like us, and technology allows us to explore and understand how students communicate differently. I just want every student to feel confident in sharing their voice, whatever that voice may be.”
Empathizing With Students
When Stacey was a young student herself, she was a perfectionist. She was extremely disciplined, and it was important to her to please her teachers. But whenever she was called on in the classroom, she had a difficult time responding to the teacher. Spontaneous answers recited aloud to her peers wasn’t helpful to her.
She craved time, compassion and patience from her teachers to be able to share the knowledge she knew she had, so that’s what she gives her students today.
“So much of the teacher I’ve become is the teacher I wanted to have,” Stacey says. “I remember teachers saying to me, ‘There’s no way you are doing this well on tests when you don’t answer the same questions I ask you in the classroom.’ I was just a very slow processor! I understand – you think the kid who doesn’t raise their hand doesn’t want to contribute. But they might just need time to think!”
Today, she helps teachers K-12 introduce technology into their own teaching that is beyond automation or a disconnected classroom. Instead, she encourages compassion with each click, tap and ding.
“I think it all begins with asking ourselves, ‘What do we need?’ and then continuing that conversation with, ‘Why are we using it? What problem is it solving?’ ” Stacey says. “So often, we overwhelm both ourselves and our kids with too many platforms. Yes, a lot of them do have a huge value to add, but we can only do so many things well at one time, so we need to be choosing our tools thoughtfully and then always going back to why we started using it in the first place – which is to empower our students.”
Compassion in the Classroom and Building Trust
Last year, Stacey published her first book, “Tech With Heart,” which addresses the need for compassionate relationships in the classroom and how technology can help to bridge any distance.
“I want to give every student an opportunity to contribute to the class conversation without fear of making a mistake,” Stacey says. “Part of that is classroom culture, but a lot of it is how we’re allowing students to communicate. Technology does not separate us! It can help us to build relationship with our students.”
Compassion is not just in Stacey’s teaching. It’s in her voice, in her eyes, and so prevalent in her heart. She doesn’t come with bells or balloons or overwhelming fervor to announce a new concept. Instead, she comes gently, with empathy and with a sensational conviction that everything is going to be ok.
“It was scary to be so vulnerable in the book and to talk about things I had never talked about before, but there are now teachers who either see themselves or their own students, or parents who see their children, and they’re beginning to understand learning differently,” Stacey says. “Making changes can feel so overwhelming sometimes, but it begins with trust. And infusing technology into my classroom allows my students to trust me, then trust themselves more. Once there is trust, I can help them build confidence and thrive.”