Wednesday, May 6, 2015

A change in perspective...

For the past two and two thirds year I have been a Technology Coach. A title that I have thoroughly enjoyed having. Before that I was a fourth grade teacher, and I loved that title as well. I'm actually pretty easy going when it comes to titles, I like just about everything.

But in the past month and a half I've had the opportunity to apply for a Blended Learning Initiative through the district. The process of filling out the application for the Blended Initiative has been a learning experinece. In the span of a month I have learned so much about my personal views of technology use in the classroom, and so much about the views of others around me.
I don't know much about the history of my position, but I do know that when I took it, I had many discussions with my predecessor about trying to shift focus from fixing technology problems to collaborating about technology integration. We both wanted to be seen in an instructional role, not just as a resource for troubleshooting or just for technology based projects.

Add to that my philosophy that technology isn't a separate goal to be tacked onto the end of an objective. Technology should be wholly and seamlessly integrated into the classroom. There should not be a time when we say, "It's technology time. Stop your regular learning and let's do this technology thing." In fact, my philosophy is that it isn't about the technology at all, it is about meeting learners where they are in order to get them where we want them to be.

So I've started to refocus. While having a technology coach on campus is cool, it is only as useful as the amount of technology usage allows. I'm crazy busy at the beginning of the year when people are getting students acclimated to using new tools, and at the end of the year when PBL ratchets up. There is still a strong view of this position as helping with technology, but not really other curricular areas, so not as a technology integration coach. 

So I started to really think about this position and how it could be transformed into something meaningful to a broad majority of people--whether they feel they are "techie" or not. and I landed on the idea of a STEAM coach (science, technology, engineering, art and math--sometimes STEM, without the art). STEAM is a big deal in educational circles, the heart of many discussions about where education is headed and why. Innovation is the key to future careers and STEAM is at the heart of innovation.

Whether you ever have your students pick up a computer or not is not totally relevant to STEAM, although technology is a piece of the puzzle. STEAM is about giving students a strong foundation in science and math, and giving them a strong foundation in thinking and problem solving. Those who love technology and those who don't are all united in the goal of teaching our students to be creative problem solvers and self-motivated thinkers and learners.

I don't know exactly what this shift in role definition will mean in day to day operations, although I will be focused a lot more on science and math curriculum, and will spend more time working with those areas. I am hopeful that the main shift will be that I am not seen as an end of unit project idea generator, but as an instructional partner in bringing more STEAM into our student's education. I'm excited about the shift, it fits my philosophy of learning and education much more closely than isolating technology does, and I think that the possibilities for innovation and creativity for our students are endless. 

I’m looking forward to moving full STEAM ahead with this new title and initiative!

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