EDTECH: How did your experience as an emergency medical physician translate to the classroom?
JENSON: In medicine, I loved working with residents, students, and I never planned on having an interest in teaching at all, but I loved it. There was a unique opportunity in the school district near me; they were trying to set up an introductory class to healthcare. I jumped in and thought I would do it for one year. I ended up moving to a traditional high school and taught high school science for nine years. Around year five, I realized there are a lot of health issues in schools that schools are not prepared to solve.
The ideas for process changes to reduce these issues are scaled from healthcare. The individuals who started them in healthcare are way more intelligent than I am. All I’m doing is pointing out to the schools, “Here’s the data that shows it was great in healthcare. Here’s how you can make those changes.” Healthcare has a whole host of problems, but not with workflow efficiency.
EDTECH: What was your experience with technology as a high school science teacher?
JENSON: Kids can acquire information from anywhere so quickly, far better than I can. You can access information anywhere. I used to catch students off guard by saying, “Go ahead, pull your phones, use Google. Based on the information you have, how would you solve this problem?”
Some of my favorite activities involved technology and blended learning. Let’s say we were talking about pneumonia. I would have students write a public service announcement that kids their age would actually listen to. I didn’t care if it was a video or an infographic, I needed them to take the knowledge they’d learned and create a product. They learned how to problem-solve and leverage that information.
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EDTECH: Do you feel technology is contributing to the burnout among educators?
JENSON: One way that technology is helpful is that it fast-tracks your ability to teach and operate in a classroom. There are learning management systems that are great; the ability to put your work online and post it for kids is fantastic.
On the flip side, there is no way to pretend you’re not available. When I walked out of the emergency rom, my shift was done, and no one bothered me until my next shift. I was caught off guard when I went into teaching. I said, “Is there a closing time on this?” I think that’s one area where technology, unfortunately, is placing stress.
EDTECH: How can schools get started implementing the workflow efficiencies you talked about?
JENSON: The first thing to do is talk to your team. Make a triage algorithm together. Agree on the needs to address immediately, what comes second and what comes third. Can you think of everything? No, but you categorize it. You can’t think of everything in medicine, but you get a feel for where things fit. At the end of the day, it is a beautiful thing to know you did exactly what you were supposed to do. There’s still stuff that can be done, but I’m going to be human.
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Educators can also set up workflow operations for how they want to job share. Maybe this week, I’m the one who runs the copies for our science team. You’re the person who sets up the activities for our science team, and the third teacher is the individual who helps kids before and after school. Then the fourth teacher has nothing to do. They go home because the other three of us have covered it, and they come back, hopefully refreshed, next week, ready to do their share.
EDTECH: Can technology help educators and school districts implement these workflow and process changes?
JENSON: A lot of people have created schedules internally on Google calendars, and they’ve tracked their time with forms like Google Forms. The teachers like to involve the tech because it’s open and transparent. Technology allows the left hand to know what the right hand is doing. Also, as you’re studying the data, you can make changes in real time.