John Shoemaker is a Technology Specialist who facilitates Project SMaRT, a long-term professional development technology initiative for secondary teachers in the School District of Palm Beach County. Shoemaker supports over 12,000 teachers in integrating all forms of technology, including iPads and Edmodo. Currently pursuing his doctorate at Grand Canyon University, Shoemaker is also an Edmodo Certified Trainer, an Apple Distinguished Educator, and serves on the Advisory Board for the iBooks Author Certification Program.
Shoemaker’s EdmodoCon session, Innovate & Flourish: Setting Your School or District Up for EdTech Success, will run from 10:30 am–11:15 am PST. Whether your use of technology is grassroots or fostered by administrators, tune in to observe how one district successfully integrated Edmodo across its schools. From strategic planning to hands-on training, this session will give you ideas and tips on how to meet demand, support teachers and staff, personalize learning, take tech beyond the classroom, and more.
What inspired you to apply to speak at EdmodoCon?
I have thought about presenting at EdmodoCon for several years now, but I never really knew how to narrow my topic to something that is relevant to the larger audience at hand. Originally, I felt the same way this year, but after thinking about it, I felt like there are enough people using Edmodo in a similar role to mine. I believe many people in the Edmodo Community are looking for ways and ideas on how to get Edmodo to grow in their school and district.
How did you feel when you found out you were selected?
I know that a rather large number of people apply to present at EdmodoCon each year, so when I found out I was accepted, I felt honored to be a part of such a great group of teachers and teacher leaders. I am extremely excited to get to San Mateo and meet my fellow presenters, so I can learn some new, amazing things from them.
What’s the one thing you hope people take away from your EdmodoCon presentation?
To find at least one thing they can take back to their school or district to help get more people using Edmodo. By providing a wide range of examples from a district and school level, I really hope to provide something for everyone to take away.
Why did you become an educator?
I have always been a goal-oriented person. As a young kid growing up in Pittsburgh, I had always had the goal of becoming a teacher in Florida. My interest in teaching started when I was in third grade with my teacher, Mrs. Karen Harlack. Other amazing educators throughout my schooling career included Miss Kathleen Mancinelli and Mrs. Melanie Sandrock, both of whom really inspired me through their innovative teaching. The passion for their craft and care for their students that these educators had while I was in their classes solidified my desire to be an educator.
What do you like most about being an educator?
I have a passion for working with the student that other teachers tend to shy away from. While I was in the classroom, I started off teaching Middle School Special Education. From there I moved to teaching Intensive Reading in that same Middle School. Intensive Reading is a class students must take if they did not do well on the state standardized test. My students ranged in reading levels from beginning reader to two years behind. While this population is not the easiest to work with, I knew I could inspire my students to find the book that would unlock their love of reading. Once they unlock the love of reading, everything else will fall into place. I love seeing the spark inside a student when they finally find that book that unlocks their love of reading.
Today, I teach teachers how to integrate technology into the classroom. It is a great position that allows me to do something different every day. My main goal now is to pass my passion for technology on to other teachers, so they can impact their students.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received from another educator?
I believe the best piece of advice I have ever received from an educator came during my student teaching in a small town just north of Pittsburgh. My supervising teacher, Anita Alberti, told me to go room to room with my camera and copy everything I could from my peers. She was not telling me to steal, instead she was showing me the importance of learning from our peers. Why recreate an entire project when the teacher down the hall has a great project that you could just tweak to meet your needs? By “harvesting” ideas from our fellow teachers, we get more engaging lessons and projects; more importantly, it saves us time in the long run. Why reinvent the wheel when your neighbor has a great wheel next door you can start from?
What have your students taught you?
Over the years, my students have taught me a lot. One thing I learned from my students early on is something I include as the introduction to my philosophy of teaching. My students showed me they are all learners. My philosophy of teaching states: I believe that all students possess an inherent need to acquire knowledge, no matter where they come from, their economic status, or their level of cognitive development.
We all hope we get an email like the one I received recently from a student I taught in 2006. He wrote, “The reason I am reaching out to you is to let you know that you were a great inspiration to me and I learned the importance of language and application of technology in education from your class. I am currently a Junior at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign studying Finance and I am the Chief Financial Officer of a local Chicago, Illinois, based start-up.” That warm fuzzy feeling I get from reading that is what my students have taught me!
What’s the first thing you do when you get home from school?
Being the social media addict that I am, the first thing I do is check-in with Swarm/Foursquare. Once I get upstairs to my house, I can usually be found on Twitter or Facebook. There are other times that I have doctoral work, so I have a few different things I do once I get home.
- Food: Pasta
- Movie: Anything Pixar/Disney-related
- TV Show(s): Huge fan of Clarence on Cartoon Network
- Music: Top 40
- Book: A Child Called It by Dave Pelzer
- Superpower: Telekinesis
- Quote: “For the kids, [technology is] like using a pencil. Parents don’t talk about pencils, they talk about writing. And kids don’t talk about technology—they talk about playing, building a website, writing a friend, about the rainforest…To them, technology is like the air.” –Don Tapscott, Grown Up Digital
Three things I could never live without:
- Macbook Pro
- My loving husband, Chris Frison!