Heading into the new school year, a teacher of teachers shares her thoughts.
INTERVIEW | by Victor Rivero
In a helping profession such as teaching, teachers need help, too. Krina Shah is on the Edthena content and community team where she focuses on supporting the award-winning edtech company’s community of educators. Krina started her career in education as a K-3 teacher in Brooklyn, NY. After leaving the classroom, she coached teachers of all grade levels and content areas, supporting instruction, classroom culture, and leadership development.
‘I enjoyed supporting others in feeling successful with the knowledge and skills they were struggling with and I started to feel like it was the right field for me.’
A double BA degree in Communications & Economics from Rutgers University, she received her Masters in Elementary Education from Hunter College. In this EdTech Digest interview, Krina shares her insight on her own purpose in education, the power of communication, an overlooked but key action for educators, the current state of professional learning and technology’s role, and why she’s excited about the upcoming school year.
What prompted you to enter the education arena, and what are your thoughts on technology in education?
Krina: I never imagined I would enter the education arena, but I had done some tutoring in college and loved it. I enjoyed supporting others in feeling successful with the knowledge and skills they were struggling with and I started to feel like it was the right field for me. I joined Teach For America and started my career in education as a classroom teacher. I taught all subjects in K-3 grades for five years, and it was an incredibly hard but rewarding experience.
While I was a teacher, edtech for me was using interactive whiteboards. And when I became a coach, I would record videos of teachers on my phone so they could watch themselves after an observation. Now, I’m in awe of how much technology integration there is in classrooms and for coaches and school leaders supporting teachers.
Any highlights from your past that inform your current approach?
One of the biggest things I learned was about strong communication, whether it’s with students, with peers, or with new teachers and school leaders.
One-size-fits-all is not applicable to any sort of teaching or coaching – people are different and so are the ways they respond to and process information. Whether it’s differentiating content for a range of kindergarten learners or meeting a new teacher specifically where they’re at in their development, it’s all about tailoring information in the most digestible—and fun!—way. This really means taking a people-first approach.
In my role now, I use those same skills for sharing information about the company and professional learning in clear and engaging ways to different audiences. It’s really exciting when I have something interesting to share, such as examples of helpful data or roundups of the most timely resources for school leaders. Finding the best way to deliver that to people and thinking through what they can connect and relate to is what I love about my job.
What are you working on behind the scenes and upcoming that is interesting – any hints at least?
I just wrapped up some blog posts about end-of-year reflections for teachers and coaches which I think can often be overlooked in the whirlwind of teaching. It’s so important for educators to reflect on their teaching and growth if they want to continue to get better – you can’t progress if you don’t look back at how far you’ve come and assess where you’re at. I loved writing about what I’ve learned in over a decade in the field about how to boost that type of professional learning and self-improvement.
Coming up I’m really excited about creating and sharing similar content for the beginning of the year: what teachers and coaches can reflect on to start the year off strong, aside from looking at curriculum and setting up classrooms. It’s about building relationships with colleagues and laying a strong working foundation because without that it’s really hard for anyone to grow and improve.
As a team in general, we are busy ramping up to support district and school leaders and teachers this coming school year as more teachers and students return full-time to classrooms. This is going to be an important moment to ensure that teachers are feeling supported through ongoing and regular feedback about their teaching. Our video observation platform provides a streamlined way for teachers to get feedback from their coach or colleagues.
‘This is going to be an important moment to ensure that teachers are feeling supported through ongoing and regular feedback about their teaching.’
Your thoughts on the current state of professional learning and on technology’s role in that?
Education is a field where there is always more to learn and improve upon, and I think this can sometimes feel overwhelming for teachers. Not to mention, it’s easy to get bogged down in the day-to-day grind in the classroom.
I think now with so much more accessibility to the different forms of PD and multiple ways to get together virtually or watch and give feedback on teaching videos, it’s easier to engage in that learning. It also saves a lot of time for educators who already are always squeezed down to the last minute.
What are your thoughts on a post-pandemic state of education and technology’s role? Any key or notable trends as we move into this new school year?
I really believe in video coaching and think it offers so much potential to coaches and others that support teachers by making feedback quick and easy to give.
Especially as the new school year begins and the return to classrooms this fall feels uniquely challenging, teachers will need support in meeting students’ needs and recreating classroom culture.
Video provides that view into classrooms in a way that I, as a former teacher-coach, envy because it makes providing that support asynchronous and therefore so much easier logistically. I know that’s something that everyone in schools can benefit from.
Victor Rivero is the Editor-in-Chief of EdTech Digest. Write to: [email protected]