Sunday, January 28, 2018

Embracing Myself as an Educator- like it or not.


The last two years I have struggled with how I am seen as an educator. Not because I don't think there is a need for instructional technologists, I believe they provide a vital role in today's world of educational technology integration. I believe wholeheartedly that the skills of the instructional technologist will be a link between the past, present, and future of of education.

I'm old enough to remember no tech. I fully lived in the world of being educated preK-12 in a no tech world. I'm also old enough to remember sitting in a lab in college learning about a thing called MS dos. Unlike many of my educator friends, I decided to become an educator in my 30's after life as an accountant and stay at home mom...at that time I learned what it meant to use technology in the classroom. For me it was awkward because I was so non-prepared. And oddly my first job was to teach about computers at the high school level. Ha! And yet here I am on what has been a rollercoaster ride with a masters in instructional technology and this crazy whirlwind of championing, embracing, evangelizing, responding, reacting, predicting, developing a program of what good tech integration looks like in a school I love.

But as I said, I have struggled. The label of a tech integrationist makes some people angry or maybe more fairly "uncomfortable" with the concept. Not just at my school but in the world at large I often feel what I represent..technology in the hands of children...puts me on a battlefield. Because of this push back I've waffled back and forth between "trumpeting loudly the edtech horn" and "quietly letting my voice stay inside me and picking my battles." The spectrum that I have traversed between has left me weary. I've tried very hard to find myself and in some ways there are times I felt I have actually lost myself in the process. And here I am on the other side of the struggle. I reflect that who I am seen as and who I feel like I am often felt like a conflict.

The interesting thing is as I've felt this conflict I truly have changed. And with this change comes a bit of sadness as well. I've lost my label. In 2015 I was seen as an edtech evangelist. Sharing tidbits and thought processes on this blog about tech integration. In the last few years my blog feels more a justifying of edtech. While I believe it is important to focus on the why to aid others to see the value, I find myself focusing so much on this aspect that I often am no longer an edtech herald. So I myself am wondering if one is better than the other. Have I adjusted out of fear or wisdom? What role best serves my students? Who am I and who should I be?

Last week I was sitting in a workshop at FETC in Orlando and one of the presenters said, "When I went into consulting I thought I was entering the world of edtech consulting but I find much of what I do and lead is in regards to leadership now. Helping others be who they need to be in this industry." That resonated with me. I could totally see that. One of the hardest parts of being in the role of innovation is the disruptive value it brings to education and the fear that others might see me as the disruptor by placing the potential of change onto a person. I've learned to be thick-skinned and I celebrate small victories of acceptance. My goal forward is that the transparency I choose to adopt as an educator will keep open doors to:

  • engage the school community in the exploration, discussion, and assessment of educational technology and my desire to work collaboratively across the school to leverage and expand existing efforts into an intentional program for faculty support.
  • continue to herald the value of integrating technology well and be a help to those both inside and outside my school building.
  • to be balanced. I realized when school started back this month and I was working with teachers regarding their project based learning units that the words "tech" had not left my mouth through half of the day. In fact, it was a teacher that asked inquisitively "but what about technology, you want us to use it right?" because she was wondering why I was doing the PBL talking, I'm sure. I had this actual weird moment where I was like "Of course, but you all look for opportunities to use it where it is needed anyway, I didn't feel the need to remind you." And it felt good. No, it felt right. There was no doubt that not only was I heralding pedagogy before technology but that I had felt that my fellow teachers were there as well. It stayed with me as a glow for the rest of the day and evening.
  • to not give up when faced with discouragement. To keep on keeping on.