My Journey

Teach on the Edge: Tiffany Wycoff
Story: The earliest chapter begins in Florida where I was raised by two generous and loving parents, and was nurtured by the culturally rich environment of Miami. My father, a high school teacher, frequently brought me to his school, Coral Park High School, where I discovered and practiced the art of covering the blackboard with chalk and then “drawing” with the eraser to create negative space images (though I did not know this terminology at my young age). I loved these days because I was able to transform my father’s classroom into a creative play space and share time with him as he worked...he with his pen and stack of papers, I with my eraser “paint brush”.

Vision: This simple memory is symbolic of my role as an educational leader today, and it is one of the guiding visions of my career. Teaching moments are moments of connectivity, as shared space and a shared journey, but experienced through different sets of eyes, each seeing the shared space with unique purpose. Teaching tools are not presentation mechanisms but instruments to channel creativity in the hands of a skilled teacher, and more so, to inspire ingenuity in the hands of a student. And teaching is a constant reweaving of the timeless and the innovative...reminding me of my father with his pen and stack of papers, I with my eraser “paint brush”.

Career: I began my teaching career in a sixth grade English class in 1997 and have since taught all grades of English 6-12 at the regular, honors, and AP levels. Early in my career, I began work at Grandview Prep in Boca Raton, one of the first schools to put internet in all classrooms and computers in the hands of all middle and high school students in a one-to-one setting. In this blended learning version 1.0 classroom, I witnessed higher engagement, increased skill development, and deeper personalization potential through the purposeful use of technology.  

Specialization: The 11 years I spent at Grandview were pivotal to my growth as a leader who specializes in innovation-driven change and blended learning implementation. In various school leadership roles at Grandview and in my current position as Head of School K-8 at The Mandell School in New York City, I helped to integrate Google Apps for Education, to transition the school to a collaborative cloud environment, and to create blended learning opportunities to bring student-centered learning to an anytime-anywhere space. As an Ed Tech consultant, I have helped lead other schools through similar transitions. In my role as a blended learning thought leader, I have coauthored the book Blended Learning in Action, presented at several conferences, been a contributor to ASCD's Master Teacher series, and have served as a blended learning panelist.

On the Edge: In 2010, while reading Milton Chen's Education Nation, an opening quote from John Hagel and John Seely Brown struck me: "We must regrind our lens to monitor the periphery … At these edges, lie our richest opportunities for value creation … The edges will reshape and eventually transform the core." On a professional level, I already felt the tension from pushing out on the edges of convention, the ambiguity and vastness of digital landscapes I was entering to form my PLN. I felt compelled to push myself beyond the edges to reach a new vantage point, to capture and attempt to return this perspective to those more daunted by the space. On a personal level, I had recently climbed Mt. Rainier, an experience which provided me a very physical layer of this metaphor. The goal of perpetually learning, thinking, teaching, and leading "on the edge", though not original, became another defining component of my vision.

My Rope Team: When I began climbing "mini" mountains, learning how to navigate the precarious terrain as a member of a rope team was the most critical lesson. Aside from monitoring the space between each individual so as to simultaneously allow for some tension and some slack (a notion which informs my leadership approach), we had to rely on the highest level of trust possible as we were literally placing our lives in each other's hands. When I add up my life's blessings, those who comprise my rope team everyday are at the top: my two children who inspire me to new heights in each moment; and my parents, who not only provided me with the essential gear with which to succeed in life but who also taught me how to lead through compassion, perspective, courage, and action.