Friday, June 1, 2007

Cutting Edge or Bleeding Edge?

You might call me an Educational Technologist (although I prefer the title technology integration coach). I enjoy trying out new innovative techniques and teaching them to myself.

However, yesterday I became acutely aware that many of my classroom teachers feel just the opposite. Change is scary. This cohort of teachers craves order and autonomy. They carefully plan and prepare to increase the probability that their lessons will work. This is admirable and it makes them great teachers.

Yesterday, one of these teachers was about to try the Interwrite software with a projector and laptop. I was overcommitted and couldn't provide the coaching time I had hoped. When I needed to leave to fulfill another obligation, she was terribly distraught. I felt miserable as well; because I felt like I was abandoning her in a time of great need.

In the future, I need to be sensitive to the emotional side of attempting something new and risky. I need to do a better job of managing teacher expectations. Most of all, I need to become more comfortable about saying no, when the demands of my job won't let me fulfill a teacher's request. If I had said, "I can't help you until next Tuesday.", then her hopes wouldn't have been dashed. She would have planned today's lesson without the new technology. Then on Tuesday, she could have employed it more successfully.

In a similar vein, if a technology is still new to me or not working reliably - then I need to be assertive and say it is not yet available. My classroom teachers expect me to have mastered the techniques which they want to try. When they ask for more than I can deliver, they don't know any better. I need to remove my pride from the situation and admit my limitations. It is better to be slightly embarrassed ahead of time rather fall on my face at the last minute. Whew! What a tough lesson to learn!

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