Behind the Curtain of a NEW Edtech Specialist

cartoonI’ve been a bit absent from the world of blogging as I fully immersed myself into my new role as an instructional technology specialist. Not that I lacked any respect at all for my ITS (instructional technology specialist) peers, I really had no idea about what happens behind the scenes and now that I am here, I have gained even more respect for this profession.

Coming fresh from the classroom side, I feel like Dorothy removing the curtain from the great and powerful oz. I will admit that I had no idea about how the world behind the scenes really helps to make classrooms flourish. While my main role as an ITS is to support teachers in technology integration,  our roles encompass so much more than that.

I’m not even referring to the administrative tasks, such as grade books, google apps accounts, logins and ipad management. I’m talking about our roles in building webs of innovative learning amongst staff.

As a classroom teacher, it used to frustrate me to no end when other teachers could not or would not do simple tasks like “googling how” in lieu of waiting on the training to arrive. As I’ve trained over the years, acknowledging my peers as my students, I’ve come to understand that the reluctance has more to do with embedded beliefs versus desire. One of my roles as an ITS is to help support a change in thinking.

I will be helping teachers to start believing that they can just as much as helping them to see that they should.

Being on this side, I get how important this is to the growth of schools.

Yesterday, I took a walk in my own shoes as a student in my 7th grade science class. I remembered how we sat in rows and were not allowed to speak unless we were spoken to. We did not interact with science. We read passages and it was by far the worst educational experience of my life. Needless to say, I hated science for years after. Any time that I had to go into a science class, I would cringe. As “simple” as some of the tasks were over the years, I had no desire to engage. The older that I got and further into science classes, the more that I would leave in tears because I could NOT grasp it. This is what I imagine that technology is like for some teachers.

One of my roles is to recognize that most teachers are NOT being reluctant but want someone to help them to ease their fears and support them in the process. My fears in science are no different than their fears in utilizing digital tools that seem to change as often as “school initiatives” do.

We, as the tech-minded folks, are a different breed of animal. Not everyone is wired this way and I recognize that so much more now. My role is not to pass judgement on what teachers are NOT doing or are afraid to do…but to help them to get there.

Change does not happen overnight, but happens gradually and understanding that is key.

I’ve also come to understand the power of ONE. If I can help one teacher to ease their fears and try something new that can make a major change in his/her students, then that is all that it takes…ONE.

Perhaps the best lesson that I’ve learned is that I must understand when technology does NOT fit just as much as when it does. The best tool that students have access to is their classroom teacher and that teacher has amazing ideas. Sometimes those ideas that involve hands on learning are so much better than any tech tool that students can use. It is so important for us to recognize those lessons and NOT try to add in technology for the sake of doing it.

My job is not just to learn and teach all things tech. Beyond students, I have to have an understanding of teachers. They need to know that we are not there to force technology down their throats but to help them with brainstorming ideas to support what they do. We have to go beyond teaching or modeling a tool but making sure that they leave us with a full understanding of how to get started and do it on their own.

Like Oz, I imagine that a great deal of my job is helping teachers to realize that they could’ve implemented new ideas all along…because they all have it in them to do whether they think it or not.

My role is helping teachers to believe it and own it.

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