Teaching Teachers

“The art of teaching is the art of assisting discovery.” –Mark Van Doren

During Christmas vacation, I had the opportunity to have breakfast with two former students.  I was touched when I received a text message that Thursday evening asking me if I had time to meet for breakfast the next morning.  In the six months or so since I haven’t been teaching, I have felt forgotten about as a teacher.  That makes no sense since I chose to not be a teacher anymore.  I suppose I feel like I am not a teacher, and I don’t make a difference anymore. Crazy, I know. Anyway, I met Cody and Paige for breakfast.  We ate, talked, laughed, and talked some more.  They are both freshmen in college.  We talked about their classes, their friends, their hopes, and their dreams. It was nice to sit down and enjoy them as grownups even though they are still kids to me. While at the restaurant, I had the opportunity to see another former student.  He goes to college at Oral Roberts University and was home for Christmas.  We didn’t chat much because he was working.  I asked him to stop by my office before he left town to return for his last year of college.

252204_10150633625000570_4042087_nMonday afternoon came, Zay came by.  He is the student body president at Oral Roberts University. He was the sophomore, junior, and student body president at our school.  He was captain of our debate team, and a leader in several other student organizations.  The fact that he has been a success in college is not really a surprise. He is about one of the most determined students I have ever met. If he says he is going to do something, he does it.  Our visit was a good one.  Since he graduated, we really had not had time to talk. Because he is so far from home, he is only home two times a  year. He comes home for Christmas, and he comes home for summer.  While he is home, he is working to earn money for school. He is a busy young man. We had a really good talk. Just like I enjoyed speaking with Cody and Paige, I enjoyed speaking with Zay. That night, I realized that my time impacting students is really over. The ones I had are finishing high school this year and will be in college next year. I spent a lot of time wondering if I was okay with knowing moments like those were over for me.

I am getting okay with it because I still have students. Some of my students are older than I am, but they are my students nevertheless.  I am teaching teachers how to use technology. The relationship is different from the one I had with my students, but there is still a student/teacher relationship. I am giving them knowledge that they can use to impact their students, increase their professional learning, and connect with educators across the globe.  To me, those are all good things.  I also know that I can have moments like that with the teachers.  Since I have started this job, I have done several training sessions on Google, Mimio, Digital Citizenship, and Safari Montage.  Robin and I also send out a newsletter every Tuesday, Tuesday Tech Tips.  Without fail, I will get an email from a teacher saying that they found a useful tip in the newsletter, and they can’t wait to try it out. I remember the day I was in Wal-Mart, and I ran into one of the math coaches for one of our high schools.  She was so excited about Hour of Code.  I was just as excited because I had never been enthusiastic about anything remotely related to math so to find a modicum of success at coding was a big deal to me.  The math coach felt the same.  She liked that we had events in most of the schools in the district and had shared resources with teachers.  She was doing it on her own.  We had a good conversation right there in frozen foods section of Wal-Mart.  The feeling was back.  I had a connection with someone. Something I had shared sparked an interest.  I felt like a teacher again. Nevermind that the woman and I had been colleagues for seven years.  I shared something with her that she was  unfamiliar with, and it sparked a desire for further study.

Because I am the kind of person I am, I have thought a lot about not teaching students anymore. Yes, my students are finishing high school this year.  They will go on to college, technical school, the military, or the workforce.  Unless they fall off the face of the Earth, I will no doubt have some contact with them.  There is Facebook, Twitter, and even Wal-Mart.  In a town like Griffin, you see everyone in Wal-Mart. Usually when you look less than your best, but that’s okay because it’s Wal-Mart.  I will see a former student or their parent or get connected with them via social media.  We will talk, and I will realize that the connection is still there.  It will be different, but it will still be there.  The same will be said of the teachers I work with.  Our relationship will change over time, but we will still learn from each other, and I will know that I continue to make a difference.  I also know that the learning will never stop. The cycle will continue.

Show Me the Way

“Every kid needs a mentor.  Everybody needs a mentor.”  –Donovan Bailey

In the semi-short time I have been alive (that’s a euphemism for being middle-aged and not wanting to admit it), I have done a lot of things and volunteered for a lot of worthy causes.  I think the organization I have spent the longest amount of time with has been the Boy Scouts of America.  My oldest nephew joined when he was in 2nd grade, and he continued until he became an Eagle Scout.  Because I am the type of person I am, I went all in as a volunteer.  I started out as the Pack Advancement Chair and held various positions including Den Leader, Cubmaster, Troop Advancement Chair, Unit Commissioner, and Scoutmaster.  All the while I was involved, I participated in and conducted many training sessions.  The one that made the most impact on me was Wood Badge.  

Wood Badge is the highest level of adult training for Boy Scout volunteers.  It consists of two phases of training – the practical phase and the application phase.  The practical phase meant I spent six days working and living in a camp site in a patrol with strangers while at the same time receiving leadership training.  The application phase meant I had to do five projects that were my ‘tickets’.  I had 18 months to complete my tickets, and then I received my Wood Badge Beads.  I later served on four Wood Badge Courses as part of the staff.

I said all that to say this. During my training, we were taught the EDGE leadership model.  Explain, Demonstrate, Guide, Enable. I like the model.  I think that’s what a good mentor does.  Explains, Demonstrates. Guides. Enables. Nothing more, nothing less.  

It’s almost midnight, so this is going to be a short post. It’s been a super long day, and I need to go to bed. Early morning Google Apps training tomorrow after a long day of training today and an hour long ride to sit in a two-hour long bus driver safety meeting and then an hour long ride home. I love going to bed tired and happy.  I also love that I am still writing my blog.

What I See Today and What Will Be Tomorrow!

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be?”

 –Marianne Williamson


In the short time I have been an instructional technology coach, I have come across teachers who say that technology isn’t for them.  They say they don’t get it, and they don’t think they ever will.  I heard that a lot when I was a classroom teacher, and I said it a lot in every single math, science, and physical education class I ever took.  Well, except for the Basic Camp Management class I took in college.  I excelled in that class.  I learned so much that quarter in college, and I have used every bit of that knowledge in every job since then.  I understand that some people are intimidated by technology.  I am lucky because I have always been fascinated by computers, gadgets, and the Internet.  Even though I understand that some people don’t want to use technology, I feel that if I show them just a little, they will become sort of intrigued and want more.  That’s my hope at least. I’m going to try my best to make sure that happens.

photo 1I am supposed to go into the schools to deliver training.  The topics range from Google Apps to Mimio to Digital Citizenship.  I would like to offer advanced sessions for those who want more than what I can do during their planning period.  I would like to get a group together and teach them about digital storytelling and student blogging.  In my mind, I think that teachers would be willing to do some after school training sessions here at our office.  We have a lab, and I like to think of the lab as my classroom.  I picture teachers working together for a common goal.  I picture myself as the facilitator – providing the place and basic instruction – and they run with it.  I could also do other training sessions as well.  I just want the teachers to feel comfortable with technology and not feel that they can’t use it and use it well.  I don’t want them to feel so intimidated that they never use it.  If that happens, they lose and their students lose.  

 In this now empty lab, I see so many possibilities. I see teachers from this district working as a group.  In time, they will reach out to teachers across the country and globe.  They will bring that knowledge into their classrooms and create a powerful learning environment for their students.  Imagine that – global learning experiences right here in Griffin, Georgia.  That’s what I see when I see the empty lab.  I see the world.

A Star is Born…Maybe

“Good, bad, or indifferent, if you are not investing in new technology, you are going to get left behind.” –Phillip Green


I am on a roll.  Two days in a row. Watch out, world.  I may just beat this Thirty-day Blog Challenge after all.  Today I am reflecting on the one piece of technology that I would like to try this year and why.  I also have to discuss what I am hoping to see from this edtech integration.

As a tech person, it’s hard for me to pick just one piece of technology.  I love gadgets of all kinds.  I would love to have Google Glasses, and I would love to have a MacBook.  I know that a laptop is not new, but having a MacBook would be new to me.  I’ve been a PC person since forever, and I want to venture to the other side. I want to be a Mac person.  Anyway, I digress.  My new piece of technology for this year is a Swivl Camera.  I have one.  I just haven’t used it to its full advantage yet.  ASwivl Camera is a pretty cool device.  It allows me to record my training presentations using an iPad.  The device is designed to give a 360 degree view.  Once I record the presentation, I can upload the video for others to watch or for me to critique myself.  I have an instructional tech coach website.  It’s my intention to upload videos of my presentations so that teachers can review what they learned during the training or see it for the very first time if they missed the initial presentation.  I just haven’t gotten that far yet. I’m still getting my feet wet with the training part.  I think I am almost ready to venture a little farther away from the shore.

This is a Swivl unit. It works with an iPad to record the presentation.

This move away from the shore is going to stretch my comfort level.  I like getting out and interacting with the teachers. I love sharing the new stuff with them.  I also like showing them how to use the not-so-new stuff.  What will be my challenge is when I sit down and watch myself.  I need to watch myself so that I can get better.  I need to know if I am giving adequate attention to each participant in my sessions.  Am I being clear?  Are their questions being answered?  Do I have a good balance of instructional material and interactive material?  Are the participants knowledgeable enough to take what they have learned and implement it in their classes?  Bottom line, am I getting my job done?

I want to be better.  Not so very long ago, I was a classroom teacher.  I remember those ‘light-bulb moments’. I loved seeing my students get it for the very first time. I want those same moments with my teachers.  For those who are die-hard MicroSoft fans, I want to see their faces when they realize they can so so much more with the Google Apps suite.  They can have their students collaborate in real-time.  They can make comments on their students work as their students are working so that the students get immediate feedback.  They can also rest easy when they realize that they will no longer have to hear, “I lost my flash drive so I can’t turn in my work”.  I look forward to the moment when they host their first Google Hangout and meet teachers and students from across the globe.  I also can’t wait to see the anti-Twitter teachers turn to Twitter for professional learning and development.  I don’t think I am asking for a lot.  I want my teachers to be the best they can be and if that means I have to watch myself on video, I will do it.  Teachers do what they have to for their students.  Instructional tech coaches do the same for their teachers.  There is still a teacher inside of me.  I can’t turn her off.  I don’t want to turn her off.  The instructional tech coach will be using Swivl so that the teacher inside of her can do better for the teachers in the district.  Perhaps the videos will be the start of something big.  Perhaps a video series down the road.  Who knows where this will lead…