Passion-Driven Teachers Study Personalized Learning: The Merakis

The MerakisIn my last blog post featuring a group of 6th Grade Teachers from Mercer Elementary, an organic group named Meraki surfaced. In fact, it surfaced so frequently; I wanted to hear more from its founder, Cary Harrod. The Merakis are a group of dedicated educators that get together, on their personal time, to learn about personalized learning. Cary opens her home to 18 teachers, most teaching 5th or 6th grade English Language Arts. The Merakis represent ground-up, sustainable innovation.

I want to bring special attention to the impact Cary Harrod has had on my life as a professional. When I began my career at Forest Hills six years ago, I was more “techie-focused” than “education-focused.” I understood how to write code, manage a server, handle large scale technical deployments, and I thought I understood what educators needed…until I met Cary. In my first weeks at Forest Hills, I began looking at the infrastructure with a critical eye. In response to tight budgets, I’ve always tried (and still try) to find efficiencies. I thought moving away from wireless projection to cabled projection could save the district significant dollars. Cary was an instructional technologist at the time, and I mentioned my finding to her. She sat in my office and tears welled up in her eyes. I was aghast and asked, “What’s wrong?” She said, “We’ve spent the past five years getting teachers accustomed to moving around the classroom, working with students individually or in smaller groups versus being tethered to the front of the room. Wirelessly projecting is critical to making this work.” I sat in my chair feeling like a heel. This interaction was a turning point for me. I knew that I needed to learn more and educate myself. Cary provided resource after resource to help me learn and understand. I did. I listened carefully to her wisdom and voraciously consumed resources she provided. The professional I am today was and is influenced by Cary’s work. Cary moved away from being an instructional technologist and into the classroom this year. Her dedication to education and particularly personalized learning continues. She’s the founder of the Meraki group. Here’s her story (audio only):

Attention Meraki Members:

If you are in the Meraki group, please leave a comment with your Twitter handle so others can follow you!

Tech Hack: Cary and I used iPhone’s Voice Record Pro to record the interview. This app is FREE and allows you to upload directly to YouTube for quick insertion into your blog. The app also allows for transmission via email, SMS, Google Drive, DropBox, OneDrive, and iCloud. Naturally, Cary recommended to tool!