Saturday, October 25, 2014

A Look In The Mirror

This coming week presents me with an opportunity to share my journey as a technology coach at the South Carolina Ed Tech Conference (http://edtech.scaet.org). I have prepared and prepared and am ready to present on the tools I use as a technology coach. The theme of the conference is "IT Superheroes" so I am presenting on Superheroes in Training-Lessons Learned From The Field. I will be sharing how we as technology coaches have to be like superheroes with lightning speed, a strong cohort of partners, and a stocked utility belt of tools. I had planned since late August when I found out I was chosen to present. I had it all planned. I had the perfect slides in my Keynote. I was all set. I was 100% confident in my presentation until...

Until I read Scott McLeod's Dangerously Irrelevent! piece a couple weeks ago entitled "Wasting opportunities at ed tech conferences." While Scott must have taken a lot of heat for his opinion (based on a post three days later) that a lot of sessions at ed tech conferences are mostly about tools, the latest app, and extensions while offering few opportunities to change a child's life; he made me think. He made me think about my upcoming presentation and I realized that while I was going to have fun with my presentation sharing apps and tools that make my job easier as a coach, I was not offering other technology coaches, teachers, or school leaders much that would have a direct impact on student learning. I reviewed my presentation and it was about organization and communication and very little instruction. Being a person who prides himself on tying presentations to student engagement and instruction (based on feedback from participants in small and large venues), I realized I was about to miss the mark with this one.

Technology coaches deal a lot with teachers and we spend a lot of time telling people how to make instruction better with the use of technology. We also get to spend time with students but not as much direct contact as we have with teachers. However, we can never forget that it is always students first; students second; and students in the end.

So I went back and made sure that I have now included more instructional components and dialogue in my presentation. It is not at the level I will strive for in the future but at this point, it is the type of presentation I had submitted, was approved for, and is published in the conference guide. Future presentation submissions will focus more on instruction and improved learning for students.

Whether or not you agree with the premise of missed opportunities, I think the broader picture does need to be looked at and addressed. Thanks for helping me to remember what matters most Scott.

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