Episode #107: Engaging Learners in the Online Environment with Dr. Cynthia Sistek-Chandler
Dr. Cynthia Sistek-Chandler, a staff developer, trainer, and professor of educational technology at National University works with schools and the San Diego County Office of Education. Since 1998, Cynthia has primarily taught online EdTech courses. She currently the new Program Lead for Master of Arts in Social and Emotional Learning.
What was it like for you as a student?
During my early elementary experience at Maple Leaf Elementary in Garfield Heights. Ohio, my K through 3rd-grade teachers created a warm and caring environment for me. I was a majorette in the Twirling Sweethearts, a brownie, and at our talent show, I twirled a circular fire hoop! Believe it or not, I was also a budding accordion player. I ask you, who plays accordion nowadays? I did back then. As a granddaughter of a musician, who was a music store owner and an inventor, music, and entertainment was in my DNA. Polka music, ethnic food, and dancing was my life.
Then, when I was in 4th grade, my parents divorced and my life crumbled. I had a new stepfather and entered into a transient way of life. We moved four times in the next four years, to Arizona and back, and then in the 9th grade, we left Ohio for the west coast.
Overall, my experience as a learner was impacted by transience and trauma. My mom was a bartender and a waitress. Being a daughter of a twice-divorced, single mother with her disdained occupation, my interactions with others were sometimes wrought with prejudice and indifference. Regardless, I was always a great student in school and was deeply connected with all of my teachers.
Your journey as a teacher
I knew I always wanted to be a teacher. My younger sister was my first student. Each day, I came home from school and taught her everything I learned that day. By the time she entered kindergarten, she knew how to read, write, and do simple math. She excelled in her school career.
Fast forward, I pursued my passion to become a teacher and persisted in college as an adult. Even though it took me nine years to obtain my bachelor’s degree and another 2 years for my Master’s and teaching credential, I have always been a teacher.
As a graduate of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, I began teaching first graders. It was my dream job. In the mid-1980s, computers on wheels (COWS), were just becoming commonplace in the classroom. My kiddos were in awe when they saw their writing roll off the Imagewriter printer. I saw the promise of EdTech as a catalyst and motivator for these youngsters. Programs like the Children’s Writing and Publishing Center came alive for students and for my parent volunteers. Hypercard, Hyperstudio, and Laserdiscs were on the scene and educational software became a catalyst for learning.
CUE Changed My Life
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