When I unwrapped that Commodore Vic-20 computer Christmas morning of my 3rd grade year, little did I know my destiny would be sealed. It wasn’t just a computer I received for Christmas; I received the freedom to create; to inquire; and to teach. I never looked back. From that moment on, I knew that learning went beyond sitting in straight rows and turning in assignments. Learning was limited only by my own imagination and grit. My life experiences have been a product of that spark created at nine years old.Former middle and high school English, Journalism, Reading, and Yearbook teacher, Instructional Technology Coach, Ed Tech and IT Director, and now Executive Director of Innovation & Design. Also serving as SDCUE President.
Spotlight on RECENT PRESENTATIONS
Women in Educational Leadership Symposium – Innovate Forward
Many educators remain stuck in the daily conventions of ‘schooling.’ It’s hard to be innovative amidst standards, test scores, and parent pressure. This talk highlights the extraordinary steps one school district has taken to revolutionize the school experience. Starting with a mission/vision refresh, district leaders have created a bold plan that pushes new mindsets and new routes to success. Participants glean ways to unite students, staff and stakeholders together to advance the world!
SDCOE Equity Symposium – Academics and Innovation: Getting it Right
The world of education is buzzing with topics such as tinkering, project-based learning, maker spaces, personalized learning, and design thinking. All of these have a place and a purpose, but not in the absence of academic rigor and instructional expertise. In this session, teachers and leaders will examine practices which focus on high-quality instruction, a strong academic core, and the skills that matter most for today’s students. Participants will explore structures where learning is the focus and drives the intentional use of tinkering, project based learning, maker spaces, personalized learning, and design thinking. Environments can come alive with critical thinking, real-world applications to solving problems, and curiosity that is encouraged through creativity and innovation.
#DesignCamp – Designing the Extraordinary School Experience
Design Thinking isn’t just for UX designers. Kindergarteners can do it, too. In Del Mar Union, our mission to ignite genius and empower students to advance the world through extraordinary school experiences is resulting in a radical transformation of classroom learning. Learn the WHY, the HOW, and the WHAT to revolutionizing the traditional school experience to better prepare today’s students. Pinpoint the systems, structures, and beliefs that shape the current educational landscape. See how design thinking empowers students of all ages to be thinkers and change-agents. Leave with strategies for building a culture of innovation and examples of design thinking in the classroom to help you on your own transformational journey.
CUE BOLD – A Crash Course in Design Thinking
This conference was actually 3 different sessions. Two on Design Thinking and one interactive panel on remixing the ELA lesson plan.
Design Thinking is not just about Post-Its and cardboard projects. It’s a human-centered process and mindset to tackling complex problems through an empathy lens. By giving students the skills to think and act like a designer, they learn how to solve problems in a way that contributes positively to their community. Not only does using this process increase student engagement, improve critical and collaborative thinking, and foster an understanding of the real-world implications of their learning, Design Thinking also allows students to fail fast and learn by doing rather than avoiding failure by striving for initial perfection. And hey, it’s a lot of fun!
This crash course will provide an overview of Design Thinking, as well as tips, tricks, and strategies (and a few bad jokes) to re-engineer a traditional lesson to reflect the Design Thinking mindset.
WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING
“You are an inspiring and brilliant thinker and writer! I look forward to learning from you so that I can increase my ability to more effectively use writing and story telling to share my thinking and wonderings.Your tireless efforts to provide leadership that broadens the pathway to understanding is very apparent. Your toiling and increased influence over the past months is apparent and I am grateful. Thank you–you are making a BIG difference!” Peg LaRose, Principal, DMUSD
“Laura can pivot at any point to personalize, adjust or adapt her plan to dial it in to exactly what folks need right then. Her skills, ability to create excitement for educators and in-event engagement are top-notch.” Jon Corripo, CUE Executive Director
“Dr. Laura Spencer’s vision and educational expertise is well known, but her power to effect positive change comes from her generosity and her ability to build positive relationships. Laura proactively shares with her close peers as well as with a wide range of educators, wherever they might be from. Whether it be small 1-on-1 collaborations, or at scale, via her role as the President of the San Diego CUE, or through the many other organizations she’s involved in, Laura is always learning and sharing ideas that lift up those around her. Always keeping the focus on what’s best for students, Laura is a force to be reckoned with and is not shy to ask hard questions to determine how specific educational practices, teaching strategies or broader systems might be improved.” Terry Loftus, Technology Director, Oceanside Unified
“Laura Spencer was a integral part of the Lakeside Union School District’s Educational Technology Program. Under Laura’s direction, the 1:1 iPad take home program was successfully implemented in grades 4-8. Laura helped shape the vision that all Lakeside students are problem solvers, communicators, and collaborators. She inspired teachers to think outside the box and encouraged them to rethink what teaching and learning looks like. She constantly shared cutting edge ideas’ and resources to increase students engagement and learning. Laura supported and encouraged innovative ideas at all levels – from district support staff, administration, teachers to students. In addition, Laura put LUSD on the map by creating a social media presence to showcase all of the amazing things happening in classrooms and throughout the district. Not only was she admired and respected throughout the district, Laura’s excellent communication and leadership skills were an asset to Lakeside.” Sandy Patterson & Kay Little, Digital Learning Coaches, Lakeside Union
AWARDS and RECOGNITIONS
Cox Business Exemplary Honoree Winner, Top Tech Exec Awards, 2017
Innovative Educator of the Year, Classroom of the Future Foundation, 2016
SDCUE President and Board Member, 2013-Present
CUE Deployment Squadron, 2015-Present
CUE Rock Star Faculty, 2016-Present
Apple Teacher, 2016-Present
Achieve Award, Classroom of the Future Foundation, 2013
Administrator of the Year, American Heart Association, 2011
Innovate Award, Classroom of the Future Foundation, 2010
“Best of NECC” Conference Co-Presenter, 2009
Innovative Educator, Tech4Learning, 2007
Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers, 2006
Microsoft Innovative Teacher, 2006
Achievement Gap Task Force, SDCOE
Association of California School Administrators
California Educational Technology Professionals Association
California Reading Association
Central Valley CUE
CUE Annual Conference
CUE Leadership Development Institute
CUE Rock Star Admin Camp
CUE Rock Star Teacher Camp
Equity Symposium, SDCOE
International Society for Technology in Education (formerly NECC)
Leadership Development Institute
San Diego CUE
University of San Diego P.O.S.T. Tech Fair