Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Dancing With Myself

This post is part of the 30-Day Blog Challenge from TeachThought. To learn more about the challenge go to www.teachthought.com/teaching/reflective-teaching-30-day-blogging-challenge-teachers/.

DAY 9: Write about one of your biggest accomplishments in your teaching that no one knows about (or may not care).

As I've alluded to in earlier posts, I took on a new challenge this year and accepted a position in my district as the part-time K-12 District Technology Integrationist. So, I'm continuing to teach Biology classes in the morning, and then in the afternoon I have time to address technology issues such as working with teachers on developing lessons and helping students with iPad questions (this is the first year of our 1:1 iPad initiative).

I was initially nervous about this change. I am a teacher to the core and would never completely leave teaching for a different role in education. So even this part-time change had me worried. Would it impact my teaching negatively? Would the staff be open to me working with them? Did I have enough technical knowledge to handle the questions I knew would come up?

We are currently in the midst of Week 4 of the school year, and I am happy to report that I'm loving the change in position. I've been able to have more one-to-one conversations with teachers this year than I have ever before. When I was teaching all day, I rarely had time to leave the classroom and observe or interact with my colleagues. Now that my schedule allows for this, I'm learning so much about our district and our teachers. In fact, interacting with other teachers and brainstorming about technology with them has improved my own classroom practice. And continuing to teach my own classes gives me a better insight into what teachers are experiencing. It's the ideal "mutualistic" situation, to use a Biology term.

One thing that has surprised me, however, is the amount of time it takes to solve problems in the technology world. And this is where the topic for today's post begins. There are a few things I didn't know about the world of tech integration before starting this job:
  • It turns out that tech companies don't always know why their products don't work.
  • A lot of time in the process of decision-making is taken up waiting for stakeholders to weigh in with their opinions or complete their commitments.
  • Even though a "fix" works once, it doesn't mean it will work every time.
So how does this relate to the "accomplishments no one knows or cares about?" I'm proud of the fact that despite all of these deterrents, I have been able to help a lot of teachers and students with various technology glitches. To give one specific example, we've been having a problem with students not able to download particular apps from the app catalogue provided by our management software. Over the past three weeks, I have been on the phone with at least four different representatives trying to get the problem solved. It wasn't until a couple of days ago that I had an idea of what may be causing the problem, tried it out, and it worked!

From the student's or teacher's perspective, these little glitches that pop up are minor annoyances that they want fixed ASAP. When they're fixed, they're happy to not have to deal with them anymore. For me, they represent hours of phone calls, emails, and trouble-shooting. When I finally figure out what the issue is, it's a major victory for me because I've usually invested so much time into the process. If you'd walk in on me at this point, you'd literally find me sitting at the computer alone, cheering out loud with my hands in the air, and maybe even doing a little dance! Although I don't have anyone to share the moment with, it feels great to have unraveled a puzzle and helped others in the process.

Photo by Rebecca Bohle from Flickr.

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