Sunday, May 21, 2006

 

Technology Coaching

I am about to pursue a new opportunity that is a little scary to me. Our system is going to hire two technology coaches for next school year. The positions have not been posted yet, but I am seriously considering applying. This is my dream job. Several years ago I spent some time thinking about my career goals, and technology coach is what I decided I wanted to do. Since then I have been exploring options for becoming qualified to do this. I do not have my master's degree, and I am afraid that will keep me from getting the job. I have continued to let other things get in the way of going to graduate school, but at the same time I have been getting a lot of practical experience. I think I would be very good as a technology coach, and I could have my master's degree completed within a couple of years if I set my mind to it.

On the other hand, I am not sure that I am ready to leave the classroom. I have had a wonderful year this year, and I am looking forward to experiencing this again. I sometimes feel like I am on the brink of becoming the teacher I always intended to be. I have a pretty light summer ahead of me (at least compared to the last few years), and I was planning to spend quite a bit of time reorganizing my classroom and preparing learning centers, warmups, and sponge activities for next year. I am also in the process of receiving the equipment I purchased with my National Board money. The items I bought may have to stay at the school, and I would hate to not get the opportunity to make use of the great technology I purchased.

I do feel confident that God knows what is best and that he will guide the people making the decision about whom to hire. I just have to talk through my feelings from time to time and remind myself that He is in control. I had no idea that the school system would hire a technology coach (much less two) any time soon. This position was terminated a few years ago, and I thought the money was not there to open it back up. I thought I had a little more time to get my degree.

The system desperately needs someone to assist teachers with technology. We are so innundated with paperwork and meetings that there is little time to plan exciting new lessons. If someone could plan lessons and then model the lessons for teachers, exciting things would begin to happen. Someone needs to convince many teachers that integrating technology is worth the extra effort; that in the long run it will make their jobs easier and more enjoyable. Lots of teachers still need help with navigating our new email and gradebook programs. The technology people we have working for the system are not educators...their job is to fix the machines, not teach the teachers.

I am very passionate about this position. I woke up this morning thinking about what I would say in an interview, and I ending up writing a page and a half of notes. I need to update my resume, and I would like to create a curriculum vitae. I need dig through the attic to get my notebook that has all my workshop presentations written down from the year I worked as AMSTI Math Specialist. I think this job would include almost all the things I loved about being a math specialist, and it would not involve as much travel during the day and overnight. There would be fewer schools to work with, but many more teachers. I think there would be more of a chance to build relationships with the students because I would be at each school a little more often than with AMSTI.

The things I have learned through being a Fellow with the 21st Century Schools Project will be invaluable. The contacts I have made through 21st Century and through AMSTI are extensive. The training I have had might be the equivalent of what could be learned through a graduate program.

Do you have any suggestions for me as I approach this bend in the road? Teachers and principals, what would you like for a technology coach to do for you? Tech people, what advice do you have to offer and what graduate program prepares you for this type of job? Those who have left the classroom for good, how do you know when it is time to go?

Please leave a comment for me!

Comments:
If this is your dream job you really should apply. Think about how you would feel if someone who you feel is less qualified gets the position and you didn't even apply.

Even if you apply and they offer you the job, if you decide at the last minute that it's not really something you want to do you can still say no.

It may be cliché, but that's becasue it's true: nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Best wishes,
Darren
 
Dear Mrs. Simpson,
We've never met, but I know you and you would know me if we met F2F... we have lived similar lives.
I was our district's first technology coordinator. I was pushing technology when it wasn't cool to do so. I spent hours, days, weeks, months, and years helping teachers implement technology.
My greatest frustration was that merely using technology didn't mean it was effective. Surely the introduction of such "smart" technology could help us teach at a higher level of thinking - not this page-turning madness which bores kids to tears.
After 16 years, I moved, exhausted, to another position. In retrospect, my expectations were too high and I had set no limits on how much I was willing to sacrifice on a personal level. I had become a single mother and the keyboard called me away from my first loves. Too much sacrifice...
Fast forward... I am now working at the college level and wouldn't you know, I am teaching technology education courses and working on a doctorate in technology. I have had to immerse myself to play catch-up, but I find others now asking the questions which had previously plagued me. I have company.
I came to my current position through the grace of God after many prayers. You see, the college I work in is a small Christian college and I have found a wonderful home for my soul, my gifts and my children.
I would encourage you to apply for the position, regardless of the requirements set forth in the posting - they may not have candidates who meet the qualifications for their first posting.
Interview for the job and consider it when they offer it to you. (I think you surely must be a winner.)
BUT... you do have other choices. NBC is no small accomplishment and may even mean more to your family financially than a technology degree. NBC speaks to a level of quality recognized around the country and makes you a desirable presenter in any school system. You can always get a graduate degree.
IF you choose to stay in your classroom, you have the opportunity to set an example to teachers on a national level about how math can be transformed into a beautiful, exciting experience for children at any ability level. (Ok, so I'm a math teacher, too.)
When I look at your options, I think you are a winner with each of them - wife, mother, classroom teacher, district leader, NBC, graduate work...
You go, girl!
 
Wow! What wonderful words of encouragement! Thank you for your kindness and inspiration. I have decided to apply for the job when it is posted. It has not been posted yet, but I am hoping it will happen soon. Please keep in touch with me. I believe you will be a wonderful source of advice if I actually get this position!

Jeanne
 
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