Jared P. Bitting, DTE is ITEEA’s 2016-2017 President as well as a Technology and Engineering Educator at the Fleetwood Area Middle School in Fleetwood, PA, where he also serves as Chair of the district’s Practical Arts Department. He can be reached at jbitting@iteea.org.

As I approach the beginning of my term as President of this association, I have begun to reflect on what brought me to this opportunity. I am honored to have been elected to serve as President of ITEEA. I would also like to thank the great many members and leaders who have come before me for your inspiration and influence. In my years in the technology and engineering education profession I have been afforded the opportunity to represent you as the ITEEA Membership Chair as well as a Taskforce leader, but neither of these opportunities would have been possible without an invitation and the confidence of individuals like former ITEEA Presidents Bill Bertrand and Tom Bell, not to mention a little wisdom and encouragement from John Brown every year at the annual ITEEA and TEEAP Conferences.

I have had the chance to take on a number of leadership roles in my own state of Pennsylvania, and none of those would have been possible if not for Gene Ritz, my predecessor as TEAP Public Relations chairperson, who invited me, as a first-year teacher, to join the TEEAP Board of Directors. Stepping back further, I would never have been a teacher at all if not for the guidance and confidence of all of the professors at Millersville University, including former ITEEA Presidents Tom Bell and Len Litowitz. I certainly would have never met any of those influential individuals without the confidence and guidance of individuals such as my high school drafting teacher, Steve Miller, who helped put me on a path toward technology education. Initially an architecture student at Temple University, I quickly realized that studying architecture was not what I wanted to do. Mr. Miller pointed me towards technology education as a way to use my passion for creativity to help students. Great teachers have a way of doing that, pointing students in the right direction.

Recently I have read many great books on educational innovation, motivation, and change, including Paddle Your Own Canoe; The Art of Innovation; The Death and Life of the Great American School System; Invent to Learn: Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom; Teach Like a Pirate; and finally, Learn Like a Pirate. The “Pirate” series resonated with me when I reflected on all of the great educators who have influenced me or who I have had the opportunity to meet as a part of this organization. I have created my own Pirate acronym for Technology and Engineering Education and would like to share it with you in this message. Argh, consider it a challenge me hearties! My challenge to you is be a Technology and Engineering Pirate! Look to one another and this organization to build a treasure chest of influence for everyone to behold!

Share Your PASSION for Technology and Engineering Education 

Passion is one great force that unleashes creativity, because if you're passionate about something, then you're more willing to take risks. – Yo-Yo Ma

As I reflected on what led me on the path to ask you to elect me to this position, the most compelling reason was passion for technology and engineering education and STEM. It was your passion that inspired me. The passion of all of the members I have met during my 10 years attending ITEEA Conferences. The passion I experience interacting with others on the IdeaGarden. The passion so many leaders and members of this organization have shared with me over the years to help me develop into the educator I have become. Passion for our subject can be contagious. Contagious to our students. Contagious to our colleagues in other subject areas. Contagious to the community on all levels. I had the opportunity to hear two special interest session presenters speak at our TEEAP STEM Conference on the influence of teachers on a student’s decision to choose a career path in the technical fields. My choice to originally enter college as an Architecture student and then switch to Technology Education at Millersville is directly related to the passion my middle and high school Technology Education teacher demonstrated for his subject and for helping his students succeed in the MST-related (Math, Science, and Technology) environment he created in his classroom.

As mentioned above, a great place to witness passion in action is on ITEEA's IdeaGarden. The educators who take part in this online community are certainly a passionate group. They are quick and excited to provide advice and support when a question comes in and sometimes even when no question was asked at all. If they learn something new or have something exciting to share, they do it, expecting nothing in return. Joining and participating in the IdeaGarden has never been easier. Visit the “re-engineered” ITEEA website, log in, and visit the IdeaGarden link under the Communities to sign up.


My view is there's no bad time to innovate. – Jeff Bezos

In order to survive in today’s education world, we need to integrate to invigorate and innovate what we do and help our colleagues in other subjects do the same. Technology is ever-changing, and it seems nearly impossible to keep up. The way we educate students needs to change, too. We do not need to, nor should we, do it alone. Working with fellow educators in your school in what are traditionally considered core courses, as well as other, what we refer to in Pennsylvania as related arts courses, allows you to create a classroom in which natural intersections of learning with other content areas occurs. Please be sure to visit ITEEA’s I-STEM Education resource page to learn more about Integrative STEM and how easy it is to implement its principles into your classroom utilizing the same materials and equipment you likely already have. It is all about how you teach the materials—and the connections you can make to other aspects of your students’ lives and school day.

Integrative STEM Education is operationally defined as "the application of technological/engineering design-based pedagogical approaches to intentionally teach content and practices of science and mathematics education through the content and practices of technology/engineering education. Integrative STEM Education is equally applicable at the natural intersections of learning within the continuum of content areas, educational environments, and academic levels" (Wells & Ernst, 2012/2015) (as adapted from Wells/Sanders program documents 2006-10). Visit the Integrative STEM Education page on the ITEEA website to learn more, including Past-President Jim Boe’s video, which provides an outstanding way to make I-STEM understandable to all. 

RESPECT Our Profession’s Past, Present, and Future

Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow. – Melody Beattie

Our profession has one constant: change. The first Industrial Arts teachers could never have envisioned where we would be  today. One way to reflect on our past, and to offer respect, is to take a few moments to review ITEEA’s Legacy Project. I often wonder what legacy we will leave behind for ITEEA members 75 years from now. I challenge you, through what you do in your classroom—and for this association—to leave a legacy that will be long remembered.

TETMar16Bitting2One aspect of our profession that never changes is the hands-on experiential environments we make available for our students. While I wholeheartedly believe that we should not return to the days of an Industrial Arts philosophy, it is important to remember that the skills students learned through Industrial Arts are still important today—and can still be developed and utilized in the Technology and Engineering Education environment. Mythbusters’ Adam Savage recently stated, “If you want the kids' test scores up, bring back band and bring back shop and get kids actually learning stuff instead of teaching them how to take a test.” While I agree with the sentiment, I do not believe that the word “shop” creates the best possible vision of what we can do for the students of today. They need design-oriented spaces, including traditional materials labs and design labs where they can put innovation into action using hands-on and minds-on processes.

ADVOCATE for Your Future

I am a teacher born and bred, and I believe in the advocacy of teachers. It's a calling. We want our students to feel impassioned and empowered. – Erin Grewell

Over the last few years, I have repeatedly heard Pennsylvanians ask what our state affiliate has done to save their school district programs as budget cuts reduce Technology and Engineering opportunities. I have heard people ask what ITEEA is doing or can do to advocate in their states for our place in education. ITEEA can provide advice and resources and even address your legislators if invited to do so and provided you take the initiative to set that invitation in motion. That being said, the most powerful advocate you have is YOU. Remember, you know your school district. You know your past, present, and former students and can utilize their support to send a powerful message to your school district. Harness those local advocates by being an active and tenacious advocate yourself. Your district’s board of directors and administrators will certainly give credence to you and their own community over outsiders. Your state affiliate can advocate for you at the state level as well, with more members equating to more power. It’s important to be a member, an ACTIVE member, of your state affiliate.

ITEEA is also working for you as an advocate. If you haven’t already, take a moment to read ITEEA's Headliner to learn more about what ITEEA is doing to advocate for Technology and Engineering Education. ITEEA is working for you in Washington, DC, the site of this year’s conference, as well as in states where invited to speak on behalf of the profession. In late October, ITEEA Executive Director, Steve Barbato, made a presentation to the Virginia State Board of Education on behalf of ITEEA and its Virginia affiliate (VTEEA) on the topic of teacher licensure in Virginia. Visit the ITEEA website to read The Headliner, published three times each year, to learn more about other ways ITEEA is working for you!

TRANSFORM Your Classroom

Some painters transform the sun into a yellow spot, others transform a yellow spot into the sun. – Pablo Picasso

Take risks. Try something new. Plunge into a new idea or a new technique without fear. As we try to develop new ways and techniques, students’ mistakes can and will happen. Develop lessons that not only challenge students to solve problems, but allow them to make mistakes as long as they can demonstrate they have learned from those mistakes. If your lesson does not work out as planned, admit it to your students and turn it into a lesson about how no one is perfect and ask for ideas to make it work next time. It is amazing what students are capable of when they can develop solutions to problems without fear of failure.

Seek out the resources to bring about this kind of change in your classroom. The materials developed by ITEEA’s STEM±Center for Teaching and Learning are great resources. If your school or state is an Engineering byDesign™ network member, you have free access to powerful materials to transform what you do in the classroom. The beauty of EbD materials is the ability to modify the materials to suit your needs. Materials can be used to develop courses, allowing you to pick and choose which pieces work for you. The 6E Learning byDesign Instructional Model also allows for your students to not only design and develop solutions to real-world problems, but to also understand just how their solution did or did not work.

ENGAGE Decision Makers

Try to rally up as many people as you can with as much information as you can to try to get it to appear in front of the right people. – Jon Oringer

Finally, probably the most important thing we can do as Technology and Engineering Educators today is to engage those individuals who make decisions about education. In your school district, engage your administrators, school directors, and local community about how important technology and engineering education is to your students. In your local region and state, engage politicians by contacting and inviting them into your school to see what you are doing or, more importantly, what your students are doing. Reach out to those who represent you on a national level and invite them as well. Start the conversation and make sure they know what we do and how we can do more, with their support, to influence the future of our world through our students.

SETTING SAIL into the Future

The future starts today, not tomorrow. – Pope John Paul II

I believe ITEEA has some great resources to help you in all of these areas, and I believe each and every ITEEA member has something to offer for the good of the crew. I thank you again for letting me be your captain for the upcoming year. Everyone has a little captain in them. In Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean movie series, we hear Captain Jack Sparrow say “Take what ye can and give nothin’ back.” In the context of the movie, it seems like an inappropriate phrase to end this message. My wife is a history teacher, so I was inspired to look up its origin. The phrase originated from the crew of the Lady Washington, an 18th century merchant and the first American vessel to round Cape Horn sailing out of Boston, MA. A current replica portrayed the HMS Interceptor in the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie and also Captain Hook’s ship in the television series, Once Upon a Time. The phrase is a nautical reference used when pulling a ship into dock. It meant to pull in as much slack as you can and don’t let go. My challenge to you in the year ahead is just that. Help us pull in as much as you can and let’s get our professional ship to shore as the premier provider of the TE and STEM! Don’t let go of the opportunity we have right now to advance our profession through Passion, Innovation, Respect, Advocacy, Transformation, and Engagement.