April 19, 2012

Difference Maker: Richard Byrne

Because ROLE Reversal is about the transformation of education, it's important to recognize the true change agents around the world, so this series is dedicated to the Difference Makers.

Richard Byrne
You may know him as the creator of the amazing web site, Free Technology for Teachers. Although this is what Richard Byrne is most popular for in education circles, he is also a well-known presenter, consultant, writer and a true difference maker.

Image credit: Sarah Sutter

Byrne has taught social studies and language arts in a high school in Maine for eight years. In this brief tenure, Byrne has done what it takes many teachers full careers to accomplish.

While teaching, Byrne started Free Technology for Teachers a few years ago, as an online library of resources he might use for teaching. This became his personal and professional obsession. "I spend many hours every day reading tech blogs and trying out new tools," Byrne says.

The payoff is a site that now has over 44,000 e-mail subscribers and has led to numerous other education consulting opportunities for Byrne, who is also a Google certified teacher and a columnist for the School Library Journal.

Inspirations

Like most successful teachers, Byrne has had numerous inspirations that helped him succeed as a teacher. Steven Ray and Stephen Butcher were teachers who taught Byrne in his words "to focus more on developing relationships with students, rather than worrying about covering all of the minute details of US History."

Byrne's personal inspirations are Olympic archer, Butch Johnson, and Mount Everest climber, Ed Webster. "Neither has had wild financial success from their efforts, but they have great stories to tell from having pursued their passions throughout their lives," Byrne says.

Advice

In a profession that is becoming more and more driven by technology, Richard Byrne is a true difference maker. His advice for teachers, using technology: "Don't be afraid to push buttons," and maybe more important, "don't be afraid  to let the students help you."

Learn more

To learn more about Richard Byrne, visit Free Technology for Teachers and follow him on Twitter. Byrne's Twitter handle is @rmbyrne.

Keep an eye out for future installments of this series by clicking the "Difference Makers Series" category to the right.