How One Teacher is Introducing Students to the World of Animation
One of our most popular courses is our Web and Computer Animation course. Today we are highlighting Cathy C., who teaches the course at Pennsbury High School West in Fairless Hills, PA. In her first year teaching this course she has already seen the impact it has on students in engaging them and getting them to think about possible career pathways.
Cathy’s students are the first in Pennsylvania to earn Web Animator certifications from Web Professionals Global. She has had nine students earn certifications so far this year. We caught up with Cathy to hear about her experience so far with the Animation course.
How have you enjoyed teaching the Web and Computer Animation course?
The biggest thing that I love about this class is so many assignments that students do in school only have one right answer. And it’s a game of who can get the most right answers. I tell students on the first day of school, when you walk into my class, there is no right answer. There might be a few wrong answers, but there are no right answers. And if you come up with a solution I’ve never seen before, that’s called innovation. That’s what drives this industry. So I love giving students an opportunity to have something that’s very open ended and creative. And I like that a lot of the projects allowed students to bring their personal stories in. For example, the culturally responsive music video (project) had some really personal stories. And it got the students talking about their own cultures and sharing things with each other that the rest of us didn’t know. So that was really neat to see. But even some of the simpler ones like the parallax animation, even though it was a minor assignment, still allowed students to bring their unique personalities and senses of humor to it. And it was really neat to see their relief of not having to conform to the one right answer. As the teacher, it’s a relief to know that I no longer had to own the knowledge as the students were doing that.
What does it mean to get your students “future-ready?”
One of the big initiatives in Pennsylvania is getting students “future-ready.” This is the idea that all students should leave high school with 21st-century skills. Even if they’re not intending to go into a computer science field, there’s a recognition that every field involves computers in some way. And so there’s a real emphasis towards growing computer science in general. And there’s a sense that it should be not just rigorous, but also meaningful. The industry certifications have been a really big part of that. They provide a real legitimacy to the course, both from the perspective of school administration and from the perspective of the students themselves. It really proves to the students that they did something. They can get an “A” in a lot of courses, but to get an industry-recognized certification gives them legitimacy in the world at large. It’s something they can put on their college applications and job resumes.
How cool has it been to see the impact that the course has had on students?
It’s been great because the students have been extremely excited using the course. They really found it engaging, something different, and a real break from the grind of the rest of their day. And it’s nice to have a place where they can just come and be creative and do something they genuinely enjoy.
What do the students like about sharing their projects with each other?
It’s always so much fun for me to give one assignment and see the diversity of the student work. We have a small class, and so I was able to project everyone’s animation work on the screen. And that was the thing that students looked forward to the most. They loved to show off what they had done, but also see what others had done. And we had some really fun feedback days where they were playing off of each other’s ideas and showing their creativity and sense of humor. And that was really the most fun part of the course for me as well as for them. This was one of the ways I was able to inspire a sense of team in my class. Seeing my students own the knowledge and then help each other is the way the real world works. I just love it.
One of your students didn’t have many academic interests before discovering this course–what has it been like seeing him finally engaged in something he enjoys?
He has had some learning struggles and he just kept saying, “I’m not creative. I can’t do this. My mother is making me take it.” Now he’s one of my top students, and he found out that he really is creative. He comes at problems with such an unusual viewpoint, and the other students can’t wait to see his work because it’s always something completely out of left field. He’s discovering that this thing that he always thought was his biggest limitation is actually an asset, and he loves it.
What do you enjoy about the teaching world compared to working in industry?
I always tell kids the story that I took a pay cut to leave a job where I woke up every morning trying to come up with an excuse to call out. At some point, if you’re not doing what you love, the money is no is no longer worth it to you. And that’s why I try to expose kids to something where they can make their own path that they enjoy. Because ultimately, I don’t care what the salaries are. If you don’t love it, you’re not going to do it. I really love what I do as a teacher.
What would you say to other teachers who are interested in teaching this course?
Deploying the animation course and working with CTeLearning is a fantastic experience for the teacher. One of the biggest advantages is working directly with the developers instead of a salesperson. This means I’m always speaking directly with someone who knows the program, and who can answer questions and address any issues with speed and accuracy. The resources are all there to be able to lead the class. I really had everything that I needed for the students to get started. It was so rewarding, but there are a lot of moving parts with this. And the units require a lot of different mindsets and a lot of different approaches because the content is very wide ranging. So having an organization is really important. One of the most rewarding things is allowing the students to be creative. I enjoy encouraging my students to take an idea and go down that rabbit hole, do that crazy thing, because then it turns out to be something incredible.
Are you a teacher looking for exciting and engaging curriculum for your students? Contact us at 913-764-4272 or firstname.lastname@example.org for a free demo of any of our courses.