It's always dangerous adding another blog to the aggregator, another conversation to follow but when I find one that speaks to me on topics that I relate to, in it goes. My latest addition comes from the Bump On The Blog where Brian Grenier is saying a lot of things that describe my role pretty closely.
What’s been concerning me more though is how I can get teachers to understand exactly what my job is and get them to act upon some of my suggestions. Let me try to clarify the predicament I am speaking of. If I had to sum up my job in one sentence (which I do quite often), it would be this; I assist/train teachers with integrating technology into their curriculum with the ultimate goal of improving student achievement. That said, what I have come to notice is that teachers are calling upon me NOT to help them integrate technology, but rather to fix some technical problem (printers, network access, setting up computers, etc…) I’m not quite sure how to address this situation, being that I really don't feel I am in a position to tell teachers what they should be doing in their classroom. I really don’t mind troubleshooting and solving problems for teachers, but I fear that by doing this too often I am neglecting to do what I really should, and want, to be doing. I’ve tried taking the opportunity in the past to talk to teachers about technology integration as I was in the process of fixing some technical problem, but it doesn’t seem to sink in. I usually get comments like “That’s a great idea” or “Hmmm, I never thought about doing it that way. I leave thinking that maybe this teacher will actually try implementing some of my ideas, ask me to work with them one on one to get a better grasp on strategies, or share the idea with some of their colleagues who would show some interest. I’m disappointed when the next time they approach me is not to talk about these ideas, but to fix some new technical problem. I’d really like to hear some comments about ways you would suggest, or have approached, such situations.
Brian's dilemma is one I share and it's not an easy thing to resolve. In my role, I help to set stuff up so that the technology is focussed on the learning and that requires some technical thought and basic expertise. But my role statement is about improving teaching and learning, and it is easy for that role to play second fiddle to trouble shooting. The bottom line is also that if the technology doesn't work, then the risk is that teachers won't bother. My difficulty is finding the time to find that balance between working on improving teachers' ICT use and resolving technical problems that help them get back on track quickly. For example, at the moment I have a teacher who has calibration issues with the ACTIVboard in the classroom, a laptop out of action for another teacher who needs it for her ACTIVboard and another request for a classroom computer to have the local printer installed.
Sometimes the two parts meld together. Another teacher wants to use the new scanner in the MYLU block. In this case, the technical aspect is to install the software for the teacher, show her how to hook it up to her laptop - but the teaching and learning payoff comes because my actions then enable her to implement her own teaching and learning agenda. But in the scheme of things, using an ICT coordinator hired to influence teaching and learning is an expensive way to solve technical issues.
So, my way around this is try and lead by example, pushing new ideas out to the staff members who seem most receptive and keeping the conversation ticking over in the staffroom. Look for opportunities to offer leads and tips to others - with our new IWB users, a new website for resources or cool new application can be what helps them to maintain enthusiasm and keep working towards the seamless integration of ICT in their classroom. I also don't want to be seen as the "expert" (although in some ways, that's unavoidable) because that can backfire as methods or ideas I propose can be seen as requiring too much technology based expertise for a busy, regular classroom teacher. So, my role is always a state of constant re-invention, a work in progress - in the end, I don't think I have much insight to offer Brian.
Just a deep sense of empathy.