Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Role as an Instructional Technology Specialist

Instructional Technology Specialist

As an Instructional Technology Specialist, my role is to remain positive, wear a big smile, add humor and laugh a lot in an effort to ensure learning is connected and engaging. My goal is to always be approachable and never be intimidating. I listen to teachers and I observe as these informal sessions can be used to gauge where I can be of assistance. Essentially, I am in the service industry. I provide a service to my teachers in hopes that it trickles down to students. I never want to overwhelm a teacher. I want to meet the needs of the classroom, teacher, school, and district and do my best to contribute to the education of the future leaders that we are teaching.  

Over the years, I have built relationships with several educators. I have learned that while we are all different, each us can be an attribute to education as long as we strive to do what's best for all students. I work with individual teachers/administrators and I enter classrooms for special projects (my favorite!). Yet, I have some teachers that aren't sure how I can assist them or they fear I will "make" them use technology and still others that think I'm a technician. I realize that expectations vary school by school because I wear many hats. I love the excited teachers that welcome me when I pop in to visit and embrace suggestions on technology integration tools. I love the nervous teachers that are still trying to determine where technology will fit within their teaching methods. I even like the challenge of the tech naysayers who still think technology may go away. I've learned that this group doesn't really hate technology, but they are simply not comfortable with it. What I don't like are misconceptions and uncertainty. I feel it's my job to bridge the technology gap and help educators feel confident to embrace technology.

With all this in mind, I consider myself optional...yes, I said optional. I can work with a teacher for days but I can't make them infuse technology. I have learned that technology is unique to the user and it has to apply to a teacher's goals plus be simple to infuse. I accept that some teachers feel technology is insurmountable. I understand that they really aren't negative. More times than not, this group needs personalized training and patience...just like our students. I remind myself that we're all different but we all can make a difference. 

Yet, I do wonder, how much of a difference can one person make?? There is one of me for 18 schools and my district is about 500 square miles. I stay busy and I work with tons of teachers on infusing technology into the curriculum. I stay swamped but I love it! I jokingly say that I am more popular now than I ever was in my youth. I have tons of teachers that contact me regularly and I am often stopped when I am in the building at any of my 18 schools. Principals infuse my role by asking me to conduct faculty training and this connection leads me to being contacted by faculty members. I plan, organize, and lead county wide professional development opportunities; again this provides exposure for technology integration. In addition, I present at local/state/national conferences and consult with other districts on technology tools and avenues for technology integration. While I feel in high demand from my "regular" educators, I often wonder exactly what do the educators that have never came in contact with me think I do and how do new teachers perceive me.  

When my services are requested or when I brainstorm after being inspired by fabulous educators, I run with it but like any educator. Yet, I wonder how I can effectively meet the needs of everyone...especially those that I've never met in person. With all of educators in mind, I strive to be a life long learner. I am a self-motivator and I have high expectations of myself. I think outside the box and sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. I am inspired by my teachers (especially the guinea pigs that are open to new ideas). I get discouraged too but I never let the pity party get me down long because I need to be the best me I can be in order to stay positive and assist educators. I do love technology and I believe it should be a seamless component of every classroom BUT I do not believe we're all the same. This means each of us must learn to infuse technology in a way that supports our specific curriculum goals.

As a former high school marketing teacher and college instructor, I had experience before I accepted this position but it didn't make me good at what I do. I'm good at what I do because I am inspired by educators who are open to new ideas and this encourages me to never give up. I'm good at what I do because my goal is to be a lifelong learner and I learn each time I work with an educator and each time I connect with my PLN. I'm good at what I do because I don't believe in failure but I do believe I learn every time I work with an educator or group of students. When something doesn't work out, I strive to find another solution and I grow with the experience. I am an educator first and a technology integrationist second because the technology has to support the student learning goals. In essence, my fellow educators, you make me strive to be the best me I can be.

I'm not Wonder Woman but I am empowered by growing educators!