Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Letter to Me as a First Year Tech Coach

You know that whole saying "I wish I knew then what I know now"? Wouldn't redo's be awesome? So here is my letter to the Julie that embarked into the world of tech coaching 4 years ago....

Dear Julie,
I love that you have stars in your eyes and passion in your heart to help teachers integrate technology in your elementary school, that's going to serve you well and get you through some hard times. Always remember that desire. 

You're going to have to become a little thicker skinned. Many people don't value what you are trying to accomplish. This is going to surprise you but your naïveté in this area will help you for a few years. Don't become bitter or write people off, focus on the small successes. Those people that push back the hardest just need to be heard and understood. They think you are trying to force them to do something, and a lot of them will always feel that way. 

Remember your job is built on relationships. Build those, affirm successes and help in the trenches in the midst of problems. Resolving issues will open doors for you. Keep pulling those doors open and offering ideas. 

You're going to miss being with students on a regular basis, you're going to miss the interactions and relationships of teaching and seeing growth year after year but you'll adjust. You'll look for opportunities to have relational moments with the students. The upside is that the kids love when you walk in a room because technology tends to be so engaging. That helps.

You should try Twitter earlier- not only is it going to help you in problem solving and idea making, you're going to develop friendships with people that are going to encourage you through the tough days. You're also going to realize you're good at what you do because of that passion and relationship model you've been working on. Others are going to recognize you're good at what you do to, that's going to give you a sense of purpose on the days you're stuck in the muck- and there will be a lot of them. You don't know now how many people really feel like you are forcing something on them, but you will. It's going to shock you. You could be a little less passionate to the entire world about edtech at times, that might help.

People have a hard time seeing your "balance" and quite honestly you aren't very balanced right now. You are pushing tech so much that from the outside looking at you, it's like you think a lesson isn't good without it. While it is your job to help others integrate technology, you need to remember teachers need to know you see the need to not have technology at times too. You'll get better at'll teach lessons to your students about balance and screen time but right now you're perceived as a vigilante. Bring it down a notch or two. 

That being said, don't take pushback personally- that's going to be really hard for you (you are going to cry way too much). And give up some of those control instincts you have- a noisy classroom isn't necessarily a bad thing! Students collaborating is going to blow your mind in the future. It's an amazing thing to watch.

You are going to have to learn to be flexible through this and that's not your strongsuit. Technology is always changing...don't bank on one device, app, website or lesson plan. You are always going to be in a fluid environment. Rolling with the punches and adapting is what's going to make you good at what you do. You're going to learn to meet teachers/administrators where they are and move them forward. 
You're going to write a blog, be asked to speak at conferences, and build relationships outside the 4 walls of your school but don't forget you love your school and that's your first priority. Treat those you work with with respect and honor and listen. Try to complain less  when things don't go as you were hoping. Again... Remember find your balance.

Lastly, give up on the SAMR model sooner. It just doesn't work for you AND THAT'S OK. Focus on transforming classrooms, stations, blended learning, and your four C's- CREATION, CONSUMPTION, CONNECTION, CURATION. Those are the things that are going to resonate with your teachers. 

You've got this. Keep growing and learning to help yourself and those you serve. You're going to get to year 4 and think "oh my word, what was I thinking?" Just keep failing forward and learn from your mistakes. And pray... That's going to help you more than this letter.

You are loved,


  1. Thanks for your thoughts! I'm applying for a coaching positions, and I've noodled about many of these things that you posted here.

  2. Just finished year one. Lots of great reminders.