CTE teaching is awesome!

CTE teaching is awesome!

Meet Matthew Green, a career and technical education (CTE) teacher, instructional coach and building leader at On Track Academy in Spokane, Washington. Green’s interview appears as the latest installment in a spotlight series on education leaders and members of ACTE’s Inclusion, Access, Equity and Diversity (IAED) Advisory Group.

What inspired your interest in CTE?

After 10 years teaching math at a comprehensive high school in Spokane, I joined the staff at the Riverpoint Academy (RA). RA was a radically collaborative, interdisciplinary, project-based high school located in a neighboring school district. And there I taught engineering, design, rapid prototyping and computer science.  

The school district paid for each of us to earn CTE certification. So, my teaching partner and I designed and built a makerspace and supported making across the curriculum. It was an incredible opportunity and one that changed my trajectory for teaching and leading forever.  

What was your education experience like? What did you study?

I was a good enough student in high school, and during college and graduate school. I had a home, supportive parents and enough financial resources. And I recognize that I am a child of privilege.  

I earned a Bachelor of Arts in mathematics from Whitworth University and a graduate. degree in educational technology from Boise State University. I’ve also completed coursework for a Doctor of Philosophy in mathematics and science education at Washington State University. I’ve come and gone from that program twice, leaving each because my deep love for the study of teacher education was eclipsed by my present work in innovative learning spaces. And by my desire to be a good partner to my wife and dad to my children. Maybe I’ll get another degree someday. Maybe not =) 

I am self-taught in most things I teach now. This has involved lots of false starts, many experiments and a very circuitous route to expertise. But the journey has helped me become a savvy, flexible learner >amp; teacher.  

What barriers did you face in pursuit of education?

I said it before, traditional education “worked” for me. By most metrics, I succeeded. But after 20 years of teaching in a variety of environments, I can say with confidence that I didn’t really engage in learning. High school didn’t really feel like it was for me. I got through it. I was active in sports, and I got along well enough socially, but I never felt all that connected with what I was learning. 

Please briefly discuss your role with ACTE’s IAED Advisory Group.

The work of IAED is close to my heart. I believe the gifts and opportunities I have been given are for sharing with others. I feel a beautiful obligation to make room for everyone. As a white man, I won the privilege lottery and am driven to help eliminate the deep systemic inequities that exist in our society.  

I care deeply about each student’s access to high-quality learning experiences. I have had the chance to work closely with educators, students and their families, and I’m convinced that radical access and co-design are the means to increasing student agency and buy-in. Humans crave the opportunity to shape their own experiences. All students can flourish if we work with them to eliminate the barriers in our learning environments. 

In your opinion, what are the greatest challenges facing education today? And how can CTE leaders act courageously to develop stronger, more inclusive learning environments for all? 

Students need access, belonging, personalization, agency, and the opportunity to find meaning in their work. As educators we share a beautiful obligation to strive ever onward. Co-create high-quality learning experiences alongside students. If we work to recognize that the student, guide (educator) and environment are equally important in any learning endeavor, and that students and guides all influence the environment, then we may gain the tools we need to work together. 

ACTE is excited to host its IAED book club this month! What can Techniques readers expect to gain from that experience?

I’m excited about the conversations that come from book club! I’m a CTE/STEM educator who could have been just as content in the humanities. I love the opportunity to connect with other people and share experiences and ideas. Book clubs, and the discussions they foster, can meet so many needs. They can spur and inspire. They can challenge; they can encourage and validate. I’m optimistic that those who choose to engage will find value for themselves and others. I hope you’ll join us so we can be inspired and learn from you! 

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

CTE teaching is awesome! It comes with so many opportunities! But they do come at a cost. More paperwork, more time, more details, more challenges. I think CTE teachers can feel unappreciated or unseen.  

We see you! We see how much extra time you put in to develop pragmatic and meaningful learning experiences. Your work will springboard them into the future. Thank you! 

Learn more and join the book club

Book club will occur as the culminating event of ACTE’s 2022–23 IAED in CTE webinar series — in April 2023. Those who wish to participate are encouraged to read one or both books listed below. Then consider how the work of Glenn E. Singleton, Ijeoma Oluo, Donald Walker and you can change people and hearts and entire organizations.

Courageous Conversations About Race: A Field Guide for Achieving Equity in Schools

Schools, like all organizations, face a nearly insurmountable hurdle when addressing racial inequities — the inability to talk candidly about race. In this timely text, author Glenn E. Singleton enables you to break the silence and open an authentic dialogue that forges a path to progress for racial equity.

So You Want to Talk About Race 

The stakes could not be higher, and the task ahead seems daunting. Ijeoma Oluo guides readers of all races through subjects ranging from police brutality and cultural appropriation to the model minority myth in an attempt to make the seemingly impossible possible: honest conversations about how racism infects every aspect of American life.

Learn more about CTE education leaders working to advance IAED in CTE.


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