Staff Focus: Amita Patel, Technology Director

Written by: Roseline Yang, Community Liaison Officer

Amita Patel first joined YCIS in 2007 as a parent of her two boys who started at YCIS.  Amita went on to join the teaching staff in 2012, as a Technlogy Teacher in the Primary section of YCIS Pudong.  In the earlier years of her working life, Amita set-up a computer institute for kids in Pune, considered the Silicon Valley of the Eastin India back in the late 90’s.

Amita also sits of the ACAMIS Technology Committee, and the team’s responsibility is to plan an annual Technology Conference for international schools in China, Mongolia and Hong Kong. Amita is always full of amazing ideas and solutions to help people be better at what they do. We caught up with Amita recently and talked to her about her important work in the school.

Amita, it’s such a pleasure to interview you for our YCIS Pudong School Newsletter, especially now that you are the Technology Director; a totally new position at the school. How do you feel about this new role?

Thank you, Roseline. I’m really honored to be interviewed. I am really excited because this role really helps to build the technological proficiency of our students as they move from each section of the school from ECE all the way up to Secondary. I am happy to be part of a bigger team now because our individual strengths help to further develop the whole technology programme at the school.  We are varied – New Zealand, British, Ukrainian – very talented pool as we come from different parts of the world with different experiences.

I remember you made a presentation about Technology at the final Parent Coffee Morning last academic year where you presented a vision for the department from ECE to Secondary. I see that you have already implemented in Secondary the equivalent of the family contract we did last year with Primary students after Screenagers.

Yes, during Orientation Day, when the Secondary students were given their iPads, they had the opportunity to discuss the responsible and balanced use of technology with their parents and sign a YCIS iPad Programme Pledge, which helps parents to be aware of their children’s digital life. Technology opens to a world of wonderful opportunities for being creative and using 21stcentury skills, but it is necessary to know how to set rules and boundaries just like in the real world. Children of the 21stcentury are digital natives, and for them, technology is embedded in their life. It’s also part of our lives as parents, but we are able to differentiate between the physical and the digital world, while our children need to constantly be reminded about these differences.

How is it that you always positive, easy-going, so kind and helpful to anyone at any time of the day…while you have so many tasks and responsibilities to take care of?  No matter how busy you are, you always find time to make people’s ideas or wishes happen even if it is out of your scope of responsibilities? What is your secret?

The constant for technology is change, so having a positive attitude is very important. I have observed from many educators around the world a common trend for their success is their positive attitude. They always consider that others are coming from a good place. So, I always try to tell myself before I talk to someone: “Am I coming from a good place?”.

Your other question about my availability: Well, this is my main role: to support teachers so that they can use technology in their teaching. So, whenever they need help, this is then my priority. Actually, most importantly, when I understand about the needs or problems teachers or the school leaders are facing, I am able to provide them with some creative help thanks to technology. For example, the creation of blogs helped to keep all information available and accessible to everyone in one place. Before, teachers kept the information on the server and folders while parents received information through paper or by email. I love technology and it’s my mission to teach and spread the use of it to make life easier for everyone .

Thank you! Ok, last question: What advice would you give to our parents & children as an educator and as a parent?

Technology is a great tool and we use it sometimes to an extreme without realizing how it is affecting people around us. It is essential to balance time for yourself and your family. For example, I have a rule at home that once I enter our house, I keep my computer and phone in a fixed place. At night, we have a centralized place where all our devices are charged. This is a rule for everyone at my home and we try to stick to it.

Being a role model is important as children observe and emulate everything that their parents do.

Finally, set time aside for you and for your children to have regular conversations about life in general and things that interest them and help them to make healthy choices.