TransformEd Change Agents: Kim Kirk

Two girls work on a computer, with the headline TransformEd: Class of 2030

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As part of Microsoft in Education Canada’s TransformEd initiative, we reached out to some of the Canadian educators who are empowering the Class of 2030 with future-ready skills and forward-looking pedagogy. Kim Kirk is the Student Success program Manager at Seven Generations Education Institute, an organization dedicated to lifelong learning and empowerment through language and culture that provides community-based and student-centered learning opportunities for First Nations students. She’s a passionate advocate for equity in education, especially for rural and underserved communities. Read our interview with Kim!

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What do you see as the biggest challenges that students in kindergarten right now will face when they graduate?
The advancement of technology in education is one of the greatest challenges that our current kindergarten students will face when they graduate.  As educators, we are continually learning and enriching our skills with technology and in digital literacy, but in order to stay ahead or at par with our learners, we need to be risk-takers.  We need to challenge ourselves to learn new technologies and continually invite digital literacy into our classrooms.  To support our students, we need exposure to new and creative uses of technology.  These technologies will continue to engage and support our learners as technology continues to advance.

What small changes can you make in the classroom that can have profound effects on long-term outcomes?
Allowing students opportunities to be problem-solvers is a change that can be made in any classroom that will have a lasting impact.  As technology evolves, students are going to need problem-solving skills to help them navigate through ever-changing technology.  If we can help students develop resiliency and problem-solving skills, they will be better-equipped adults, who can work through problems that may arise in their technology-based careers.  Effective problem-solvers use both analytical and logical skills, and have the determination to work through issues that may take more than a few minutes to solve.  Our youth are in a period of instant gratification. They want results, and they want them now!  Helping students develop problem-solving skills will also build perseverance and teach them that some results are worth the wait.

How have you used technology to foster an accessible environment?
Technology has been used in on-reserve First Nation schools to help close the digital gap and provide creative and engaging learning opportunities for students in remote schools.  Participation in Hour of Code and various robotics challenges have helped develop digital skills and connect students on island and remote schools to exciting global coding challenges.  The use of micro:bit, Makey Makey, ScratchJr,  and 3D printers have exposed students to new thinking and ideas. This exposure has helped develop coding, technological, digital skills, and access to digital careers.  Providing students in remote communities the ability to learn new coding, digital literacy, and technology skills without leaving their home communities is empowering those students to be leaders.

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Kim’s perspective is a crucial reminder that while technology is a gateway to education, it’s important that access to these tools is equitable. Check in over the next two months, and you’ll see more ideas from innovative education leaders across Canada as part of TransformEd. To learn more about the needs of the Class of 2030, find resources to enable your own future-ready teaching, or sign up for one of our Canadian Educator or School Leader Summits, head to microsoft.ca/TransformEd.

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