Yesterday I met up with some wonderful friends from a school where I used to work. There were lots of hugs and tears and without fail everyone told me that they missed me and how since I left there has been a decline in the authentic use of technology to support student learning. Roles have changed and it seems there is not so much "hands on" support for teachers now, which means they are less confident and less willing to try new things with technology. This prompted me to consider the multitude of things that I did that were not "officially" part of my job description, but which were vital elements in helping teachers to integrate technology into their teaching and into student learning. Here are a few of them:
- I was a collaborator: collaborative planning is at the heart of the PYP and I worked with teachers to plan, teach and evaluate student learning. My job had to start with being a collaborator - without this I couldn't do any of the rest of it.
- I found resources: often as a result of the discussions we had during collaborative planning sessions, teachers came to me with questions about how to do things and I tried to find resources to help them. As well as this I helped them find resources to support student learning. These could be YouTube videos, websites, Web 2.0 tools or apps. Then, as now, I published all these links on a website, providing students with a "one stop shop" for resources that supported their inquiries.
- I was an innovator: as a way of carrying out the previous role, I often tried out new things. If teachers wanted to do something, I would ferret out a few different tools or apps, try them out and report back to the teachers on which ones I thought would be best suited to their needs. I was constantly looking for better ways of doing things. I liked finding creative solutions to problems that the teachers had.
- I was a learner: I love to learn. Technology is constantly changing, and as I'm always saying "even if you are on the right road, if you sit down in the middle of it you will get run over". I like to learn about new ideas, new ways of doing things and new ways of thinking. I believe teachers should model lifelong learning for their students, and I think that technology teachers/integration specialists/coaches should in turn model it for the teachers they are supporting.
- I was a provider of professional development: almost every lesson that I taught or modeled provided professional development to the teachers. If the technology or the tool or the app was something they were already familiar with then they probably didn't need me in their lessons, except to support their pedagogy. Actually when I reflect on this I think that the most important thing I did was to inspire teachers to find different ways to use the technology to support higher order thinking. I was there to push the learning forward. I tried many different models of professional development, but the one that made the most difference to classroom practice was one-on-one coaching.
- I was a teacher of digital citizenship and information fluency: Together with the librarian I worked with students in their classrooms, in the lab and in the library to help them become digitally literate and responsible digital citizens.
- I was a communicator: I talked with, emailed, blogged about and used social media to share with teachers, students, and administrators about how the technology programme enhanced student learning. I was an ambassador for the integration of technology - hundreds of thousands of educators around the world read my blog, which led to the growth of my own learning community as well as invitations to present at conferences, run workshops and online courses, mentor teachers virtually through skype and more. Communication was a way of amplifying what I was doing so that I could learn from others and they could learn from me.