At first glance, the classroom seemed to be in disarray. Stacks of paper lay haphazardly on Charmaine Cordero’s work desk. Vintage posters hung precariously on the walls. The tiled floor was heavily marked by shifting room arrangements, furniture and the shuffling of students.

Coming from a family of teachers, Cordero, both an adjunct assistant professor at Pasadena City College (PCC) and a humanities teacher at Arcadia High School (AHS), followed suit and began her career as a high school teacher.

“Both of my parents were teachers, so they sort of inspired me to become one too,” Cordero said.

Cordero’s long time dream, however, was to teach at a college level. At first, becoming a professor simply was not financially viable. Balancing her job at AHS, her family responsibilities, and a second job at PCC would have been impossible.

“When my kids got old enough to not depend on me all the time, that really opened up my schedule,” Cordero said.

Even now, as an adjunct assistant professor at PCC, teaching primarily at night, that job alone isn’t nearly enough to make a living. Cordero still makes the majority of her income from her tenured position at AHS. She teaches at PCC for her own personal satisfaction and to accomplish her goal.

Her night classes at PCC are mostly online, with few face-to-face sessions. For Cordero, that is a marked departure from her teaching at AHS, where she mostly teaches English in a classroom setting and is very involved with her students in Avid, a self help class. Cordero, who meets face to face with her students at Arcadia, but interacts through an LCD screen at Pasadena, spoke passionately about the influence of technology on education.

Increasingly, educators have tried to integrate technology into the classroom, often at the expense of personal, face-to-face teaching. With lay-offs becoming more common in public schools, many high school teachers are worried about their employment; public schools continue to replace classroom settings and teachers with online classes.

Uniquely, Cordero uses technology not to replace her teachings, but to enhance them. As technology advances, so should the methods of teaching.

“Technology will never replace face-to-face teaching,” Cordero said. “It can be used to enhance it, but certainly not replace it.”

With the rise of online lecturing, face-to-face lecturing must make changes to motivate students to come to lectures in person. One way is to have face-to-face lectures personally engage students by implementing gimmicks or games.

Online lectures are often criticized for lacking a personal connection with the student, as well as not being able to ask questions in real-time. The shared learning experience as well is lost in a simple video playback.

For a final word, Cordero wanted to say something to any student out there who’s struggling with motivation.

“Don’t give up,” Cordero said. “I’ve yet to meet a student who has failed before they have given up.”

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