Today, we have Dr. Tara Kaczorowski join us in an episode of Practical Access, which was recorded live at the 100th CEC Conference. Dr. Kaczorowski's primary research areas are in teacher/faculty preparation, instructional technology, video-enhanced reflection, and math/STEM instruction for students with high-incidence disabilities. Currently, she also serves as the President of the Innovations in Special Education Technology (ISET) division of the Council for Exceptional Children.
Tune in as Drs. Rebecca Hines and Lisa Dieker honor, celebrate, and reflect on Dr. Kaczorowski's career, and the Council of Exceptional Education (CEC) 's past 100 years while also thinking ahead to the future. Don't forget we love to hear from our listeners! If you have any questions, feel free to reach out. We look forward to receiving your questions on our Google Phone (407) 900- 9305, Facebook (Practical Access), Twitter (@AccessPractical), or Instagram (@Practical_Access).
Lisa Dieker 0:07
Welcome to practical access. I'm Lisa Dieker.
Rebecca Hines 0:09
And I'm Rebecca Heinz. And Lisa, we're about to get real practical. Who do we have?
Lisa Dieker 0:14
Ah, so we have a dear friend colleague, Tarik has a Roski Tara, thanks for being with us.
Dr. Tara Kaczorowski 0:19
Oh, you're so welcome. Thanks for having me.
Lisa Dieker 0:21
Well, we're excited. Tara is a professor at Demian College and the director of education programs. But I know Tara as a tech lover, so I'm gonna define her in that realm. And I know Becky also is in that realm. So we're excited to have you with us. And we have kind of been kicking this season off by just asking folks, what are you really proud of, in your accomplishments in the field, especially to this point?
Dr. Tara Kaczorowski 0:46
Well, I feel like especially for my age, I feel pretty proud of kind of where I have grown in my leadership skills. I think, um, I, you know, I got my PhD in 2015. And now I've kind of moved through the process of an assistant chair. And now I'm the chair of a department in the director of education programs at a college and I feel like I've really crafted those skills. And I think a lot of that came from my, my technology skills have been, I'm pretty organized with my tech. I can clean up a lot with that. So I'm pretty proud of that. I've been I've been doing quite a bit. I've been at this at Daemen. College for since August. And I I'm proud of the processes we've put together.
Rebecca Hines 1:24
Yeah. And you're also a journal editor.
Dr. Tara Kaczorowski 1:26
Yeah, I was. So I'm on the editorial board for for J set. And I've also was doing some work, we have a SOTL journal that we had started at my previous institution at Illinois State University. So I'm on associate editor for that as well, I feel us thank you for that service. And that work?
Lisa Dieker 1:44
I mean, it seems like you're pretty busy. I'm gonna have to take you back to your school days.
Rebecca Hines 1:51
What do you what do you think when you when you're thinking about contemporary classrooms? And as somebody who trains teachers, you know, what do you think are the greatest needs there? What do we need to be teaching? Today's young, or new teachers? What's the top two? Three things you've got?
Dr. Tara Kaczorowski 2:15
Okay? Well, I'll tell you right now, I mean, I like to address everything needs for teachers as from from a person first standpoint, and we always think about our students from person first, but but as a teacher, I think the most important thing that teachers can do right now is to take care of themselves. We are we are living in some some tough times right now. And you're not going to be able to help and serve your students, if you're not serving yourself. So to me, that is what I'm seeing in the pandemic is probably the best advice I have for teachers. Because that old saying on planes, you know, you've got to put your own oxygen mask on first. And it's, it's so true right now, I'm finding it hard for myself to to draw clear lines, I'm like, I can just get this one more thing done. And you know, I'm never going to be caught up on work teachers who are never ever going to be caught up. So just accept that and draw some lines for yourself. In terms of other like actual skill sets, we are really seeing in the pandemic, it's just brought it all to the forefront, the need for fluency with technology skills. And I mean, down to the basics, you would think that, you know, young people coming up, they've used technology, they've immersed in it, but we have to teach it explicitly, like what do you do? I mean, just down to organizing your Google Drive your files into folders, and how to share thing, like share things appropriately. You don't always have to make a copy of everything. We don't need 5000 copies of the same document. You know, there's a lot out there that technology can make our life easier, but it can also make it a lot clunkier if you don't know what you're doing with it. So yeah, I
Rebecca Hines 3:46
definitely see that in in higher ed. I think there's a real disparity among institutions on what we're actually training these young teachers to be able to do. And I always encourage my undergrads, well, if you don't know how to do it, then Google it. Right. But what do you think that what do you think that we should be preparing them with skill wise in technology?
Dr. Tara Kaczorowski 4:10
There are a lot of things that I think we are pairing them with. But I think starting with those those basic functions, we actually just redesigned. We have a one credit lab class, a tech lab that's attached to our one of our early classes, our instructional design class. And it used to be much more like tech specific, like, Okay, we're going to use this tool later. So let's teach how to use this tool and this tool. And now it's become we've set new objectives. It's much more open. It's more about the purpose driven technology, right? So how do you take the technology? What is it that you're aiming to do and how's the technology going to help you do that and pushing them to problem solve early on and figure it out on their own? Creating content? You know, technology is more than just, I found this cool tool and it's fun to you know, for engagement in the class. It's okay, what are the students doing with the technology? How is it shaping your life? So I think setting those expectations early on teaching the bees Is it skills that need to be taught explicitly, but then giving the opportunity and pushing people that being not a tech person is not a thing anymore? Right? Not an option.
Lisa Dieker 5:08
You mean that filmstrip class that I had, for the one credit lab was not what we should be doing it. I love it. I love it. So I have a question kind of moving us forward. And I think you're such a great visionary. And you really have done a lot in the field very fast. And again, we appreciate that. So what do you think the tech teacher of the future in special education specifically? What would that look like if there was like the perfect tech model teacher and special ed?
Dr. Tara Kaczorowski 5:39
Honestly, I think the perfect tech model teacher is the is the everyday teacher, I don't see it as much as a specialty anymore. I think it's it's just a skill. That's it's a teacher skill. Now, technology is not this separate thing. It is a tool, it's no more a tool than a pen or a pencil is you know, it's it's choosing the right tools for the task so that the technology teacher of the future is just the teacher of the future, who knows how to pick the right tools.
Rebecca Hines 6:06
And speaking of tools. And I agree wholeheartedly, it's about teachers understanding how to find what they need for the student or the task. What have you found recently, that you think is a good tool that you can use with a wide range of learners or were with peers?
Dr. Tara Kaczorowski 6:30
Honestly, my go to tools, I always pick and I, we you think about what tools you have available to you first at the school. So I'm at an institution that is Google institution. So we have the Google Suite, I was previously at an institution that had all the Microsoft tools. So I kind of start there, the infrastructure piece is really important. We can't forget about, like privacy and data responsibility. So I always, you know, start with the kind of the network that my school has. And I'm thrilled that this one is Google school, because the Google suite of tools is that's my go to, I mean, there are a lot of add ons for Google Slides from from Pear Deck to Nearpod, where I can make more interactive presentations. But to be honest with you, I do most things in Google Slides, I make interactive drag and drop the kinds of activities in there for students who create slide decks of activities. So all things Google have been just kind of a go to, I follow so many different Facebook groups and Twitter, Twitter handles on just how to hone those skills you can do just about everything with that sweet.
Lisa Dieker 7:35
I love it. And so I'm gonna ask you kind of when that we didn't tell you that, you know, maybe it was coming. But what about parent tools? Because I know you're that mom. But you gotta know, parent parent tool that lets you so that's because I know Google's out there. And the beauty is, it's free. So that's the nice part is
Dr. Tara Kaczorowski 7:53
Oh, that's a good one. Honestly, for the for the parents, I think a lot of times, it's not a specific tool that I would say it's about digital organization and count like calendar tools and and file. I think when I hear from parents, sometimes they can feel pretty overwhelmed with this tech tool and this tech tool, you know, so to me, it's about that communication piece between teachers and parents and creating that central hub. So I think it has to kind of be a back and forth. For a parent, you want a central place where you keep all the stuff. It's about being digitally organized. Like I said, whether it's a calendar or even a Google Doc with your hyperlinks to everything, never underestimate a really simple document that you have bookmarked somewhere that can get you everywhere else. So I don't know that it's one specific tool because I'm very much a match the tool to the task kind of person, what are you trying? What are you trying to do so, but digital organization is like, to me, everyone, this shouldn't be one of their top priorities because you can it's easy to be overwhelmed by the number of different tools. But if you have a central hub, it's becomes a lot easier.
Lisa Dieker 9:04
I love it. I think that's something you should design. I love it. Well, we appreciate you joining us, Tara some great advice. Really some fabulous ideas. And if you have any questions, you can post them on our Twitter page at Access practical or on our Facebook page. Thank you again, thank you
Dr. Tara Kaczorowski 9:22
so much for having me. Appreciate it. Thanks