Educator Development

Using Education Technology for Meaningful Collaboration

Claudio Zavala is an educator and Instructional Technology Coordinator at Duncanville ISD in Texas. Read on to learn what inspired Claudio to become an educator and what he sees next for edtech!

What is your education background?

I started out in college with the intent of being a firefighter/paramedic. I had about one semester to go when I switched over to education. My initial goal was to teach Spanish in high school and coach baseball.

Out of college I entered an alternative credentialing program in San Diego City Schools. I was placed in an elementary school and loved it! I taught 11 years there, mainly fifth grade with a couple of years in grades three and four. During the last four years in California, I took an interest in technology integration in the classroom. I quickly became the tech liaison for our school.

My last year there, we made the move to Texas where I taught fifth grade for two years, while also being a tech lead for my team. In 2008, I made the jump from classroom teacher to district instructional technology specialist to trainer and to my current role as coordinator. My, how time flies!

Wow, you have a lot of experience in elementary education! What is your area of expertise?

My expertise is in technology integration. I use web tools and apps to support and help assist with learning. My strengths include advanced use of Adobe Creative products (Premiere, Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Audition, Acrobat and Spark). I am experienced in photography and filming. Lastly, I am also a musician (drummer).

What inspired you to work in education, especially given your diverse interests?

I think at one point during my collegiate studies, I decided that firefighting was not my calling. I enjoy teaching and showing others how to learn and do things.

What is your biggest motivation in education today? What do you see shifting?

I’m excited for what’s on the verge to happen in education! I see great tools like Flipgrid, Adobe Spark, Buncee, Apple Clips, etc. and the potential impact those tools and others will have on learning. I want to be part of the paradigm shift in education. Learning is going to change!

Back in California, I was assigned a classroom of third and fourth graders. It was a common practice to mix grades. Well, that group of students looped with me the next year to become a fourth and fifth grade class. Fast forward another year where I had fifth grade only.

My group of third graders that had started with me were now in fifth grade. They were like my own children. We knew each other. It was cool because they knew classroom protocol. Not in the sense of rules, but just how we did things. They were excited to hear stories I had shared the previous years.

When the final day came for promotion, we hugged it out and high-fived each other. I was so glad to see that they had accomplished and improved throughout the years they were in my classroom. Best moments in my teaching career!

Connect with Claudio on Twitter @ClaudioZavalaJr and join his #SingASong education movement!