So a new school year is upon us, as today was the first day for students at ISB. I spent the first hour helping new middle school students find their way around the school….what fun. ISB set a new record for the amount of new students this year. A HUGE turn around year with 100s of families leaving and 100s more filling their place. It always makes me wonder what’s going on in the bigger picture that you have this kind of turn around in a year…..interesting….and I have no answer.

As the new year begins though I’m thinking about my job and once again supporting teachers. This is a touchy subject and the reason why I’m putting it out there is to see where everyone else is on this idea.

My job is to support teachers in using technology in their classroom. I don’t have any classes of my own I support full time. But I’m supporting an initiative that we all believe in but isn’t required. It’s not required that my teachers use technology. It’s not required that they rethink how they teach in the era of open access to content. They’re not required to rethink education as they know it. Their job is to teach….and they do a good job at it. We had 100% pass rate of IB diploma students last year….again. Our students continue to get into top colleges and universities around the world and parent feedback continues to come back that we’re doing a hell of a job educating their children. 

So, why do we need to change?

Why do we need to rethink education?

Why do we have to even worry about technology?


Why do they have to use me?


The answer is they don’t. Some choose to at different times, some are really thinking about the future and where this is all leading and other classrooms I never see the inside of.

I’m here because teachers, at some level, are forced to use technology. E-mail, Moodle, PowerSchool are the three programs that everyone has to use. So yes….I’m need to support the use of these with teachers, but not in learning, not with students, basically so teachers can do their job. 

And I have no problem doing that…..they’re just paying me a lot of money to be an application support person.

So it comes down to working with the willing. Working with those teachers who are thinking about doing things different, thinking about their students, their lives, what they’ve grown up with, and how that might affect them in and out of the classroom. It’s working with teachers who are willing to take risks, to try something new, to be uncomfortable. 

A colleague of mine often refers to us a “used car sales people” and that’s what I feel like we are sometimes. We’re selling a product, and idea, a method that doesn’t need to be used….is not mandated. Sure it’s supported IF teachers decide they want to try it. But at the end of the day they don’t need to.

So we end up with some kids getting 21st Century Skills. Those kids who happen to have teachers who are thinking about searching, finding content, communicating, and using global connections. Other kids, who just so happen to never get the right teacher leave our system not getting those skills. Is that OK? Or is that just the way it is. 

So I work with the willing. Those that ask me for help, those that I team teach with, that we explore new options with. I work with the willing because that’s who wants to work with me…..on a voluntary basis…and that’s really where my job stands. 

I’m here to help

If you want help

If not…that’s OK…I’m here if you need me

Is it OK to only work with the willing? Or is this a school thing?

Photo Credit: Superkimbo

by alphadesigner

I always get excited when national international organizations (members in 45 countries) come out with statements that encourage the use of technology for learning purposes. Partly because my beliefs in the future of education and the tools students need to succeed, but also because it’s one more organization we can lean on as leaders.

The National Association of Secondary School Principals just released a statement advocating the use of Mobile and Social Technologies in Schools. Yes…that’s right….principals are saying we need to use these tools for learning. W00T!

A couple of quotes from the article that I like: 

Yet as mobile and social technologies become ubiquitous, attempts to block them are increasingly ineffective. For example, in schools that prohibit cell phones, 54% of students still report sending texts during the school day (Lenhart, 2010).

In recent years, there has been explosive growth in students creating, manipulating, and sharing content online (National School Boards Association, 2007).

(Love how this quotes 4 year old research)

Nowhere is the vision for the use of mobile and social technologies more clearly articulated than in the National Educational Technology Plan (U.S. Department of Education, 2010). The plan describes new models of teaching and learning in which students and teachers are virtually connected to one another, to colleagues, to fellow students, and to a variety of resources that maximize opportunities for anytime-anywhere learning.

I suggest you sent the article on to your principal no matter where they stand on this issue. Mine will be receiving it tomorrow in their inbox. 

Everyone has their signs for when summer is over and a new school year is upon us. For me that sign is a 17+ hour trip from Seattle back to Bangkok. Plenty of time to change your state of mind and a clear sign that the new school year is just around the corner.

This summer while in the States I had the opportunity to meet many new comers into ed tech. It seems more and more schools are starting to understand that they need to have the support in place for teachers to be successful in integrating technology. Until our teacher preparation programs change, and I hope they do, this position it critical in helping staff and students a like in integrating technology into their teaching and learning.

Once again I am new to my position. Making this the 6 time in 7 years of being new to Ed Tech either at a school or at a division. So as I start thinking about this coming year 38,000 feet over Vietnam I thought I’d jot down some notes on what I have found successful in starting a new school year off right.

“Would you like cream and sugar with that?”
At the start of the school year it’s all about serving your teachers and starting to build those all so important relationships. In these first 3 days of PD before students show up I’ll be running around the school checking in with all the teachers making sure their computers are working, that they can access all the resources they need to get the year started and end with “Is there anything else I can help you with?” In my position I’m here to support teachers, meet them where they are at and hopefully encourage them to think about using technology in ways to enhance their lessons and student learning.

My Office is my e-mail
Yes I have an office, a place to hang my hat so to speak, but with about 70 teachers to support when I’ll actually be there doing work and not in a meeting or a classroom is unpredictable. One of the things I start any new school or division off with when I introduce myself is to understand my e-mail is my office. With so many way to stay connected now days my office is always with me. Find a way to be mobily productive (more on my set up in another blog post), use the tools that you are helping to “sell” to teachers for your own productivity. Not only does it make you more productive, but you also understand the tools better yourself. Find a set up that works for you and then keep trying to make it better.

Ed Tech is Messy
I’ve worked in technology at three different schools and have held every Ed Tech title you can think of and have operated under more sets of job descriptions than I care to count. When you are in an Ed Tech role you need to know it’s messy. There are no clear lines between the IT and the ED side of technology. Yes I’m not suppose to fix printers, but if fixing a printer gets me in that teacher’s room I’ll do it. We are here to support and supporting meaning being the professionals our colleagues need us to be. Sometimes I’m IT sometimes I’m ED….heck sometimes I’m even a restroom sub. 😉 What I love most about this job is there really are no boundaries to it. I have administrators that trust I know what I’m doing and let me go do what I do best…..not sure what that is….but I do it.

What advise would you give to someone new in Ed Tech? What’s the most important thing to do to get the new school year started off right?