Tuesday, January 14, 2014

What I Want You to Know About Me as an EdTech Coach

When people see the word "technology" in your job title, they can make a lot of assumptions.  They might think you have a computer science degree, or that you will automatically know how to fix their computer.  In some cases those assumptions might be true, but as technology continues to grow and change, those assumptions simply aren't true for many of us who work with technology.  So, I thought I'd share a few things that I'd like you to know about me as an instructional technology coach...
  1. I don't have a fancy computer science degree.  I'm a teacher. I know a lot about using technology to transform instruction.  I know very little about computer science or the inner-workings of a computer.  Honestly, I'm not even sure what computer science majors learn in school!  I do know some tricks to get things working again, but that's largely from playing around and consulting with my friend Google.  Everything I've learned about instructional technology, I've learned from reading books and blogs, collaborating with other EdTech enthusiasts, trying things out in my classroom and in my personal life, and generally just playing around.  If I can learn it, so can you!
  2. I don't know how to use your phone.  Unless it's an iPhone, and then I only know how to use it because I'm an iPhone user.  And I still don't know all the tricks.  So I can't help you access your voicemail on your Samsung Galaxy, and I don't know why your Kindle Fire froze up like that.  But, I can help you find out!  I don't know everything about every piece of technology, but I do know ways we can figure out the answer together.
  3. I have very personal reasons for my passion for technology.  I'm actually not a techy person because I'm "young" or because I like gadgets.  I'm a techy person because technology has enhanced my life in so many ways.  I started a personal blog right out of college that continues to this day.  It's waxed and waned over the years, but it's been my way of telling my story.  Through my blog, and through other social media sites like twitter, I have been able to connect with so many people from around the country and the world.  And not just any people, my people.  When I was struggling with infertility, my people were there for me.  When I was awake at 2 a.m. with 2 month old twins, there was always a friend on twitter.  When my dad passed away, I got flowers from people I've never even met.  For me, technology and social media are about relationships, and I will be forever grateful for the amazing friendships that these tools have brought me.  I want to share these tools with our students  I want them to find ways to share their story with the world.  I want them to find their people.
  4. I don't believe technology is always the right tool.  It might be hard to believe when you see me sitting in front of you with my iPhone, iPad, laptop, and Kindle, but I don't think that technology is always the solution.  Sometimes a tool just isn't the right fit.  Sometimes an activity doesn't require technology.  I don't believe in adding tech into a lesson just for the sake of having tech in a lesson.  It has to mean something.  I want to talk with you about when, how, and why to use a technology tool in a particular lesson.
  5. I won't judge you for your paper lists or old flip phone.  Listen, I love my iPhone.  I do.  I can't imagine how I would do the things I need to do without it.  However, that doesn't mean that I think you have to have one too.  My phone works for me.  I don't think it works for everyone though.  The tools we use have to work for us.  I use so many apps it makes my head spin, but I just can't get behind a digital to-do list.  I have to write it down on paper.  That's what works for me.  I want to help you find technology that works for you.  It's my job to share new tools with you, but that doesn't mean I expect you to embrace each and every one.  Let's find what works for you!
  6. It's not about the gadget.  I inherited my love of gadgets from my dad, though I don't think that gene activated until I was an adult.  I have a bag full of gadgets sitting next to me, and I think they are so cool.  When I started using them with my teaching, I was blown away.  Do you know how many amazing things you can do with an iPad in your classroom? It's unbelievable.  You'll probably hear me say that a lot, but I want you to know that as cool as I think a particular gadget is, it's not about the gadget.  It's about teaching and learning.  It's about changing the way we teach and creating learning environments that help our students succeed in this ever-changing world.  iPads are amazing, but they don't transform instruction.  Teachers transform instruction.
Teachers, what is something you want your coaches to know about you?  Fellow coaches, what do you want your teachers to know about you as a coach?

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