Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Building an EdTech Department part 3: Everybody's Cheerleader

Original
You don't have to be an extroverted, overly optimistic person to do this job, but it certainly helps. I have met and observed introverts who are amazing EdTech support people, but it seems to lend itself more easily to extroverts. It is a people-person job. You are continually involved in communication and interaction with other students, teachers, and administrators. Being outgoing helps to create relationships and build bonds easily. I believe my introverted friends would argue that those relationships are often surface level. They feel that the relationships they build over time are more profound and transformational. This could be true; I've seen my introverted colleagues accomplish some amazing work with teachers that I felt couldn't get to the next level. Conversely, I have helped teachers get to the next level as well. In the end, it probably comes down to passion for the job more than personality types -- but I still think that being an extrovert gives me a leg up with breaking the ice quickly with people. Breaking the ice quickly is vitally important when working in a new position or department. 

As far as being optimistic goes, you need to be everybody's cheerleader; especially at the beginning of the position or department. Make sure to point out good examples of technology integration from your faculty at meetings. Everybody loves to be recognized for their efforts and it builds a community based on celebrating achievements of faculty members. You would be surprised how empowering that is for teachers; to be recognized for their skills and learning. Remember -- we are learners, too! But who is acknowledging our efforts; our triumphs over adversity; our acquired skills. Many teachers are isolated in their classrooms because when they go to meetings, all they hear about are new initiatives, new mandates, new headaches -- they need to hear something positive! They need something that isn't, "You need to do this blah, blah, blah; you need to do that blah, blah, blah; we need to improve blah, blah, blah; the recent test results show blah, blah, blah." Don't get me wrong, those things are important as well, but you need to nurture the souls of teachers as well as get work done. Unfortunately too many administrators don't make the effort to appreciate faculty members in front of an audience of their peers.  If you don't regularly attend division or department meetings, make appointments with the division principals/department heads to join their meetings and highlight good work. It only requires a few minutes, but it makes a lasting impact. Optimism is contagious! Spread it like the plague...
Part 2: Getting Runs on the Board