As an EdTech Coach, I have a unique role within the school. Especially at the beginning of the year as we roll out devices and ensure that all students are set and ready to go. One colleague this week summed my role up as the “catch all of all things tech.” While my job is specifically focused on aiding teachers in the classroom, often times I offer the assistance of what I am comfortable fixing or have the rights to change. Not to mention the magic aura of walking in a room to have everything that wasn’t working moments before starting to work. While I enjoy helping teachers with the catch-all, my real role is to assist in education and pedagogy. I love that part. I fear that I am viewed as a technology guy and not a pedagogical guy.
A little background. I am the first EdTech coach in my building. The concept of an EdTech Coach was new to the district when I was hired. Previously, the only coaches in the district tended to be the ones in the athletic realm. I started in July of 2016 in this role, coming into a new district and a new state. Many of my colleagues do not know my past history in education or my success in the classroom. This is both a blessing and a curse. I came in as an outsider and an unknown. No one knew my past failures or successes. This makes me feel like a coach, or fish, out of water.
I feel like I have demonstrated my pedagogical and technological chops repeatedly in the last 16 months. I shared with the staff some of my stories, strategies, and activities that have worked. I have shared philosophies, explanations, and reasoning behind many classroom decisions, but I worry about the inadequacy of my words in the minds of my colleagues. While I was in the classroom, I taught social studies and math. Both classes depended on a fantastic relationship between myself and my students. In fact, we had a very collegial relationship where behavior issues did not really occur, other than the mandated dress code from the school. That is an entirely different story. In social studies, we tended to stay within project-based learning for the majority of the content, setting the projects up so that the students would need to learn the information to be successful. In math, I tried to individualize the instruction as much as I could to ensure that I was working to fill in the gaps as much as possible. I flipped a ton of my math class to offer strategies for solving the different problems that we had to complete as I worked to erase years of missing math skills in preparation for the upcoming state test. I even taught a highly structured, design-thinking engineering class for a while. While I know my success stories, many of my colleagues do not.
This is likely an internal struggle only. I may be misrepresenting what my colleagues see, but I do know that I feel inadequate and like a fish out of water at times. What validity do my words have when working with students? I came from a more urban school setting and am currently in a more rural setting. Are the students vastly different? I feel like the suggestions and ideas that I have are not too radical from what is already happening, but do take a change in approach. I understand the difficulty in change as it is not easy for many, but if it makes our jobs more fun, teaching more meaningful, and students more engaged, I feel like it is worth it. The problem comes in making sure that I am feeling validated and believed. This is my struggle that I must overcome.