A dream realized: In celebration of Techniques turning 25

A dream began in 1999 when I took a job at Clinton Technical School in Clinton, Missouri. I became a career and technical education (CTE) teacher in the same building where I was once a CTE student.

As a student, I studied business law and accounting, becoming a state competitor in FBLA as a senior in 1993. Just six years later, in 1999, I took a marketing education position down the hallway. Later, I worked as a teacher and administrator at the Career and Technology Center in Fort Osage, Missouri. And, since 2011, I have served as director of Northland Career Center in Platte City, Missouri.

In each of these amazing places, CTE provided me with a purpose in my career. It has been my calling, to watch students learn and grow while finding their pathways into the real world.

Over these past 22 years, I have maintained a passion for learning and innovation. And my most trusted sources for CTE-specific professional development have been the Association of Career and Technical Education (ACTE) and Techniques magazine. I have had the privilege of being a Missouri ACTE member, an ACTE member, and a subscriber of my favorite professional magazine, Techniques, for all 22 years of my career.

Techniques is valuable.   

I commend ACTE for its work with the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) and Advance CTE. By attending ACTE national conferences and reading Techniques, I learned about SREB’s Technology Centers that Work (TCTW) initiative and Advance CTE’s career clusters. Techniques and ACTE provide members like me with meaningful and relevant articles that ignite effective instruction and school improvement.

As Techniques turns 25 in 2021, I celebrate the impact this publication has had on my career and on the careers of many of my colleagues. In each of my roles in CTE, I have turned to Techniques for a variety of reasons.Consistently, I knew I could find inspiration and innovation in facilitating CTE instruction and leadership. 

Techniques is versatile.

The versatility of Techniques for CTE educators is unmatched. Innovative instruction, CTE funding, marketing, work-based learning, experiential learning, career pathway development, and leadership. These are only some of the many concepts that educators can read about in print or on the digital site. 

Techniques offers additional benefits in my life, outside the classroom. Additionally, Techniques has helped expand my knowledge of career pathways available for my children, who possess very different skill sets and interests.

In my own educational advancement, I have resourced many Techniques articles in written work. In fact, in a paper I wrote during the final stages of my Education Specialist degree, I cited 19 articles from various issues of Techniques, including from my favorite issue of all time — Changing the Image of CTE (2011).I also have recommended issues for other CTE educators pursuing their own research. Techniques is NCC’s go-to publication when seeking stories of CTE success from across the country.

Techniques turns 25.

Along with all of my personal and professional appreciations for Techniques, it is important to note the broader impact: Techniques turning 25 aligns with a rebirth of CTE. Techniques has helped guide the shift to a whole new world of CTE in 2021. CTE is now having its moment in the spotlight, and Techniques has been a catalyst in changing its image. 

Amid these exciting times for CTE, this anniversary year for Techniques happens to occur during a unique time in our society. This past fall, Northland Career Center celebrated 40 years. And we celebrated as best as we could during a pandemic, showcasing the past, present and future of our organization.

Best wishes to Techniques as they celebrate an anniversary during these unusual times. The past offers history and tradition. The present offers insight and direction, and the future offers an important connection to tomorrow for CTE educators. Cheers to the next 25 years, Techniques!

Brian Noller is director of Northland Career Center. Prior to this role, he served as a marketing teacher and DECA adviser at Clinton Public Schools & Fort Osage School District, also as assistant director and summer school director at Fort Osage Career & Technology Center. Noller has dedicated a commitment to CTE. He is married to Anita Noller and together they have two children, Camden (11) and Delayna (8). Email or reach out on Twitter.

DEAR LINDA: What is asynchronous learning in CTE?

There are many times in the life of a teacher when we are filled with fear, doubt and confusion. Literally, that would be the title of my first year as a teacher. And now, in 2020, we all feel that uncertainty renewed as we navigate a new normal in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The all new Dear Linda column on PAGES, a Techniques blog has been in planning stages since fall 2019 but there seems no better time than now to launch. Dear Linda is a space for career and technical educators, where they can feel supported and encouraged to ask questions, seek answers and uncover valuable resources, now and going forward.

Dear Linda,

My school district provided guidance that we should teach using asynchronous learning. What does that mean for a career and technical education (CTE) course? –A Teacher from Connecticut

Hello and thank you, Connecticut, for your question.

This is a great question. I, too, felt overwhelmed by the word “asynchronous” when I first heard it and so what did I do? A search! Google defines the term:

Asynchronous learning is the idea that students learn the same material at different times and locations. Asynchronous learning is also called location independent learning, and is opposite to synchronous learning where students learn at the same time by activities such as attending a lecture or laboratory.

After reading this, I took a moment and really thought about the CTE classroom; I realized that we have been asynchronous for years.

Think about your own classroom.

You provide the content through slides and demonstrations; then students are offered time to work on their skills independently. The key word there is independently. CTE students are resilient and able to adapt to a variety of situations. Why? We prepare them for the ever-changing workforce.

Now, in the midst of the current COVID-19 crisis, the only major difference is, your content will be delivered via a platform such as Google Classroom.

What exactly does asynchronous learning look like?

    • Content can be delivered (whether review or new, district depending) via Google Slides. You can use Google Meet to review the slides live or you might record them and publish in your classroom. There is value added for students as they listen to you point out the key elements of the lesson.
    • Questions can be answered during Google Meet live sessions or during virtual office hours I have also been scheduling check-in times where students can come just to talk like they used to in my brick and mortar classroom.
    • Skill videos can be uploaded from a variety of resources or if you have materials at home, you can simulate. In the video below you can see how I have modified a partial bed bath for my nurse aide students using a baby doll.
  • Attendance can be taken using a Google Form, which transfers to a Google Sheet. Another idea is to set up an expectation for “roll call” using your system’s chat feature, where students simply comment “here” when they enter. If you are doing a Google Meet, there is an add-on feature that tracks attendance automatically.

Keep in mind

Many students will benefit from the added flexibility of an asynchronous learning environment; they can enter your classroom day or night to view and complete the assignments.

Try not to stress. Keep things simple. Remind yourself as you remind your students… We are all learning together. Focus on keeping your virtual classroom environment, safe, loving and a place where your students feel comfortable coming to talk and learn. Let them always know how much you care!

Be safe and thank you again for this wonderful question.

Linda Romano


Send us your questions and Linda will have the answers. Questions for Dear Linda can be emailed to

Linda Romano is vice president of ACTE’s Health Science Education Division and a health science/nurse aide educator for Newburgh Enlarged City School District, where she has been a CTE teacher since 2006. In 2018, Romano was named ACTE’s Teacher of the Year. She also serves as president of the New York Health Science Educator Association.

Romano is an active registered nurse and serves in several volunteer capacities for her state of New York and within the local Newburgh Community/ Newburgh Armory Unity Center. In addition to mentoring new teachers, Linda Romano developed and leads a program called Scholars in Scrubs, which provides education, health and wellness, and opportunities for young people (pre-K to high school) and their parents/grandparents.

Techniques Returns with A VISION of High-quality CTE

It’s here! It’s here! It’s the happiest time of the year! A new school year brings a fresh start, new pens and crisp paper — and Techniques! For 2019–2020 Techniques returns with A VISION of High-quality CTE. As the premier event for career and technical education (CTE) professionals nationwide, ACTE’s CareerTech VISION 2019 is the place to ask, “What is high-quality CTE?” In Techniques in September, discover new best practices as they relate to the 12 elements of ACTE’s Quality CTE Program of Study Framework.

What is high-quality CTE?

A few years ago, ACTE embarked on an initiative to bring clarity to the conversation and to help CTE educators and administrators develop and improve the quality of their programs. Resulting from this initiative was our evidence-based framework defining high-quality CTE across 12 elements:

  • Standards-aligned and Integrated Curriculum
  • Sequencing and Articulation
  • Student Assessment
  • Prepared and Effective Program Staff
  • Engaging Instruction
  • Access and Equity
  • Facilities, Equipment, Technology and Materials
  • Business and Community Partnerships
  • Student Career Development
  • Career and Technical Student Organizations
  • Work-based Learning
  • Data and Program Improvement

For the second year in a row, educational program sessions at ACTE’s CareerTech VISION 2019 will be tagged to match these elements. Attendees can identify sessions that address issues about which they want to learn more, in order to improve their programs. And now you can get a head start. This issue of Techniques offers a sneak preview of what to expect at VISION and what the elements look like in action!

One featured article highlights cybersecurity programs and touches on a number of high-quality CTE elements. “Teaching Cybersecurity Through Virtual Labs and Hands-on Experience” (on pp. 28–33) meets criteria under Facilities, Equipment, Technology and Materials; Engaging Instruction, Student Assessment; and Business and Community Partnerships.

Another, Shannon Sheldon’s article on “Supporting the Gender Expansive Student” (on pp. 35–39), addresses the Access and Equity element of the Framework and demonstrates the ways in which traditional language, classroom procedures and social norms work against inclusion — while offering suggestions to help readers develop improvements to lessons and language.

And further, Peggy and Steven Bridges are “Class Disruptors” (on pp. 40–43), offering insight and inspiration as they encourage teachers to shake up their classroom management with the art of disruption — related to the Engaging Instruction Framework element.

These articles provide a brief glimpse into the wide range of high-quality CTE programs around the country, and we hope they provide you some insights that will help you improve the quality of your programs too!

ACTE members can read Techniques‘ September 2019 “A VISION of High-quality CTE” issue online now.

EXCERPT: Instructional Coaching & Its Role in Career Development for CTE Teachers

What is an instructional coach?

Quality teacher professional development is essential to the outcome of student achievement. In their careers, teachers must be challenged with new ideas in order to foster a classroom culture of student engagement. The instructional coach is an embedded professional development practitioner who helps teachers attain these lofty educational outcomes (Blackman, 2010).

Instructional coaches share the responsibility of teacher leadership with administrators in the district. Typically, however, coaches are not teacher supervisors and serve a non-evaluative function (Hanover Research, 2015). Coaches employ their pedagogical expertise and the relationships built with teachers to influence change.

CTE and Instructional Coaching

Career and technical education teachers face unique challenges in the secondary educational setting, where many arrive from industry following a change in careeer. Though they may be experts in their subject matter, they often have minimal training in pedagogy (Foster, Hornberger, & Watkins, 2017). New CTE teachers benefit from mentorship and coaching.

New CTE teachers must learn how to instruct in both classroom and lab environments. Training in classroom safety protocols is a priority. They must learn how to implement classroom management and best practices for engaging students. New CTE teachers also will benefit from understanding, more generally, the field of education. They need to be informed about work expectations, academic achievement, special populations and school policy.

In a large school district, as CTE administrators are busy with the day-to-day business of running the department, important communications with teachers can be lost. Instructional coaches provide mentorship to teachers and they also listen to the teachers’ aspirations and concerns. As a result, through listening, the CTE instructional coach can counsel the teacher on their goals.

Monica Amyett is a CTE instructional coach with Fort Worth Independent School District. Email her.

ACTE members can read the full article, “Instructional Coaching & Its Role in Career Development for CTE Teachers,” in the May issue of Techniques. Not a member? Join! ACTE is the largest national education association dedicated to the advancement of education that prepares youth and adults for successful careers.

Blackman, A. (2010). Coaching as a leadership development tool for teachers. Professional Development in Education (36)3, 421–441.
Foster, J., Hornberger, C., & Watkins, D. (2017). CTE administrative leadership: 10 things to know in your first year. Alexandria, VA: Association for Career and Technical Education.
Hanover Research. (2015). Best practices in instructional coaching. Arlington, VA: Hanover Research.

CTSOs Engage Students: Discover Ag Under Water

“Career and technical student organizations (CTSOs) enhance student learning through contextual instruction, leadership and personal development, applied learning and real-world application.”

So defines the mission and purpose of nine CTSOs by the National Coordinating Council for Career and Technical Student Organizations (NCC-CTSO) (2018). Educators and invested stakeholders offer unique opportunities for students to develop the skills for success in careers of their choosing. CTSOs engage students in CTE via activities, programs and competitive events. Students gain experience in leadership roles at local, state and national levels as they network with their peers and potential future employers at events such as ACTE’s CareerTech VISION.

Over the next three weeks on PAGES, a Techniques blog, you will hear from the CTSOs themselves. Learn more about the work of these nine organizations as they enhance student learning to increase global competitiveness.

Let’s begin in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

National FFA Organization

To learn more about how CTSOs engage students in CTE, ACTE members can read the February 2019 issue of Techniques online today. And be sure to come back to PAGES each Monday, Wednesday and Friday through February, when we’ll feature a new CTSO.

National Coordinating Council for Career and Technical Student Organizations. (2018a). About. Retrieved from
National Coordinating Council for Career and Technical Student Organizations. (2018b). CTSOs. Retrieved from

Teaching Strategy: The Carousel

“I wish all students would participate in the discussion.”

If that sounds familiar, you might want to try this strategy.

The ability to engage students with hands-on learning activities has long been a strong advantage for career and technical educators. However, the excitement that students experience in the lab often does not follow into classroom learning. When an instructor announces, “Let’s head back to the classroom.,” the response is an audible groan from students. Their bodies slump. The students find lab activities more engaging than classroom instruction.

To fix this problem, leverage lab attributes that create engagement to design classroom lesson plans. Consider how:

  • Labs allow every student to be actively engaged (equity)
  • Labs allow for students to openly discuss ideas as needed
  • Labs allow for freedom of movement
  • The teacher serves the role of facilitator
  • There is a de-emphasis on grades (learning for the sake of learning)

Equity, Engagement and Productive Talk

Emphasize the power of speaking and listening between students — what is known as productive talk. Productive talk is speaking that leads to learning. It happens during conversations in which students do most of the talking, while teachers guide them to listen to each other, explain their thinking, question and challenge each other’s ideas, and revise their own opinions based on input from others.

Productive Talk Improves Literacy

When people participate actively in conversation, their brains sync, mirroring and anticipating the neural activity of the others in the conversation (Stephens, Silbert and Hasson, 2010). Engaging in conversation as we learn, rather than simply listening to new information, helps make this neural activity more likely. As we learn, our brains forge and strengthen new pathways through which information can travel.

The Strategy in Action

How long will it take?

20-30 minutes, depending upon how long you want to debrief students.

When should I use the Carousel teaching strategy?

As a pre-assessment or a review game of a broad, multifaceted topic. When you need to get everyone involved, instead of hearing from the same few students each time.

What’s the gist?

An extended, active version of Think-Pair-Share, the Carousel gets everyone moving around the room to write and discuss various topics.

How It Works

  1. Post 4–5 large sheets of paper around the room, with plenty of space between them. On each paper, write a different question or statement that can elicit a broad range of responses.
  2. Divide your students into 4–5 teams, and give each team a different colored marker. Each group begins at one of the posted questions.
  3. Set a timer for two minutes (or another amount of time). Instruct students as follows: “When I say go, you will have two minutes as a group to write as many intelligent points as you can on your board. When I call time, every group will take their marker and rotate to the left, just like a carousel.”
  4. When groups rotate, instruct students to read through what the other group(s) wrote. If a student or group disagrees with something written previously, they are encouraged to draw a line through the statement and respond. After that, students begin to post their own additional thoughts.
  5. Continue rotating until all groups have responded to every question. Then facilitate a class discussion. All it takes to get great conversation going is a couple of lines drawn through comments of another color.

Students encouraged to respond and defend their own words are more invested than if they were just listening to the arguments of others. By responding first in a group with short, written statements, students feel safe to critique and defend their own ideas and are more likely to discuss their ideas aloud afterward.

Example Prompts from an Automotive Classroom

  1. List everything you can think of that relates to Geometry (This is to connect to prior knowledge and emphasize the role of geometry involved with upcoming content on suspension and brake systems.)
  2. List everything you can connect to the concept: alignment.
  3. List every detail you know about wheel bearings. (This serves as an excellent pre-assessment tool, to gauge student knowledge on this topic.)
  4. How many ways can we connect tires to brakes? (This serves to launch the new learning and gives the instructor time to use what students already have told him to lead the discussion.)

Final Thoughts

Productive talk will flourish when your classroom culture promotes learning for its own sake. Decades of research, from 1933 onward, have made it clear that grades are often problematic (Kohn, 2011). Reliance on grades reduces students’ interest in the material, the quality of their thinking, and their intrinsic drive to take intellectual risks (Kohn, 2011). Risk-averse learners “downshift” their brains into a kind of survival mode, looking for the right answer instead of seeking understanding.

People do better creative work and engage more readily in learning when they know that what they’re doing is relevant beyond a quantitative assessment. When we use external rewards to motivate others, we may unintentionally undermine their intrinsic motivation (Pink, 2011) and risk extinguishing their love of learning. Especially in career pathways work, it is important for students to internalize and embrace the intrinsic value of the learning that could become their lives’ work. A class discussion will be more dynamic and productive when students, freed from a preoccupation with their own achievement, can take interest in the topic itself.

Sandra Adams is a teacher and instructional coach with the Career Academy, Fort Wayne Community Schools. She co-wrote the ACTE-supported book But I’m NOT a Reading Teacher!: Literacy Strategies for Career and Technical Educators with Gwendolyn Leininger. Contact her to learn how you can implement the Carousel and other innovative teaching strategies in your CTE classroom.

For more from Adams, find her at ACTE’s CareerTech VISION next week where she will be on site to sign her book, But I’m NOT a Reading Teacher! Adams will also deliver two educational program sessions: “The Technology Integrated CTE Classroom: Embedding 7 Future Survival Skills” on Friday, Nov. 30 and “Creating Equitable Access to IT Courses” on Saturday, Dec. 1 during the STEM is CTE Symposium.

Kohn, A. (2011). The case against grades. Retrieved from
Pink, D.H. (2011). Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us. New York, NY: Riverhead Books.
Stephens, G.J., Silber, L.J. & Hasson, U. (2010). Speaker-listener neural coupling underlies successful communication. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Retrieved from

iTeachU: Building Upon National and State CTE Teacher Recruitment Efforts

For more than two decades we have heard alarms, warning of the shortage of secondary teachers in content areas such as agriculture education and family and consumer sciences… In response, national initiatives emerged to address the need to recruit teachers into these career and technical education (CTE) fields. The National Association of Agricultural Educators (NAAE) (2018) began the Tagged to Teach Ag initiative in 2009 and turned a spotlight on the need to recruit and retain professionals in that space.

A Kansas-based campaign coined “Say Yes to FCS” was adopted in 2014 by the National Association of State Administrators of Family and Consumer Sciences (NASAFACS) (Randel & Spavone, 2016). The American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (AAFCS) hosts online resources to fill the FCS teacher pipeline. These campaigns and others have heightened an awareness of the need for teachers in these fields of CTE.

Statewide CTE Teacher Recruitment Efforts

Capitalizing on the buzz created by the national Tagged to Teach Ag and Say Yes to FCS campaigns, statewide recruitment efforts are underway to recruit the next generation of CTE teachers in South Dakota.

Each year, South Dakota FFA members who plan to attend South Dakota State University (SDSU) to major in agricultural education are invited to participate in the event, which mirrors an athletic signing. The student, their agriculture teacher and SDSU faculty sit at a table and sign a framed letter of intent to teach agriculture.

South Dakota has undertaken additional statewide efforts to recruit family and consumer sciences teachers… In addition to the traditional means of recruiting, SDSU implemented iTeachU in 2011. The one-day, annual event on campus is a joint effort between the agricultural education and FCSE faculty in the department of teaching, learning and leadership, and introduces participants to a career in teaching while simultaneously providing a glimpse into college life.

Associated faculty take on the logistical roles of organizing and planning the iTeachU program, while current SDSU students facilitate the event. This joint effort between faculty and students with diverse interests is purposeful. At SDSU, several of the core education courses are cross-listed between these disciplines, and many students, pursuing degrees to become agriculture and/or FCS teachers, will attend classes taught by both faculty throughout their time as students. These shared classroom experiences help students recognize the CTE connection that agriculture and FCS share.

ACTE members can read the full article, “iTeachU: Building Upon National and State CTE Teacher Recruitment Efforts,” in the November/December issue of Techniques today. Watch your mailboxes for the print edition to appear this week!

Not a member? Join! ACTE is the largest national education association dedicated to the advancement of education that prepares youth and adults for successful careers.

EarSketch: Inspiring Persistence in Computing Through Music

“[EarSketch] teaches and sets us free. It’s like our own playground wherein we’re able to make whatever we want. We finished our projects,” said a young, female computer science student. “Yes, I consider myself a programmer.”

During a focus group, the student quoted expressed a changing perception of her interest in computer science and of herself as a programmer. This student exemplifies the significant improvement in both student engagement and content knowledge we have found to occur when students use EarSketch, a browser-based learning platform where they explore introductory programming through music remixing.

EarSketch engages students by enabling them to learn computing creatively through personal expression and music. Students learn elements of computing and mix music samples. They write Python or JavaScript code to algorithmically create music in popular genres including but not limited to trap, dubstep, hip-hop, rock and pop. Coding concepts (e.g., loops, lists, and user-defined functions) mix musical samples, beats and effects to develop tracks that students can access and modify anywhere with a broadband internet connection.

Curriculum and Teacher Materials

The EarSketch curriculum is aligned with the programming standards of the College Board’s advanced placement (AP) computer science principles (CSP) course, as well as a related (non-AP) computer science principles course that is standard for high school students in the state of Georgia. AP CSP was launched in the fall of 2016 with a goal to offer a rigorous introductory curriculum that would broaden participation in computer science. The course introduces students to the creative aspects of programming, abstractions, algorithms, large data sets, the internet, cybersecurity, and the impacts of computing across multiple domains (Astrachan et al., 2011).

Thirty-five CSP learning objectives are organized around seven big ideas and six computational thinking practices. Its curricular framework is broader than that of traditional computer science courses, with a focus on collaboration, analysis, communication, creativity and connections to other disciplines. In contrast to other introductory computing courses, CSP is language-agnostic. It does not mandate a specific programming language or problem domain: Students submit performance tasks created with a programming language and/or within an environment of their choice. This all facilitates the integration of EarSketch.

Computing teachers may be unfamiliar with this approach and the idea of teaching CSP within the domain of music. We have thus developed scaffolding and supports for teachers that include lesson plans, slides, worksheets, mini-tasks, rubrics and other teaching materials; face-to-face and online professional development; and an interactive community where teachers can ask questions, share materials and review additional training resources.

ACTE members can read the full article, “EarSketch: Inspiring Persistence in Computing Through Music,” in the October issue of Techniques today. Watch your mailboxes for the print edition to appear this week!

Not a member? Join! ACTE is the largest national education association dedicated to the advancement of education that prepares youth and adults for successful careers.

PAGES will feature excerpts from articles published in Techniques and wholly original content.

Launching PAGES, a Techniques blog

Hello, world! Welcome to PAGES, a Techniques blog.

Since joining the staff of ACTE in 2017, I have worked for this day. We’re live! PAGES will feature excerpts from articles in print and wholly original content (interviews, case studies, news items and more) based on the theme of each new issue. We’ll talk about topics trending in career and technical education (CTE). And we’ll highlight stories of educators and programs doing the work to ensure our students graduate college- and career-ready.

From PAGES it is my hope you will find increased value in Techniques online, expanded opportunities for engagement and even more stories of CTE success. Written for career and technical educators by career and technical educators, Techniques addresses the issues ACTE members care about most, providing input you can trust when making decisions for your classrooms, programs and school systems — in print and on the web.

Are you interested in writing for PAGES?

Let’s collaborate! View the 2018–19 Editorial Calendar and reach out via email to discuss your ideas. At conferences, in conversation with students and on the Expo floor at VISION, think of Techniques (and PAGES) often. Bring me your stories, because they are the stories that matter to CTE educators like you.

Check back next week for a preview of our celebration in San Antonio: ACTE’s CareerTech VISION 2018.