Digital Doors was created as a place for me to blog and share resources that I think would be helpful for teachers integrating technology in meaningful ways in their classroom. My goal would be to write a blog post a week, but with my busy schedule, that doesn't happen. I write when I can and rely on nifty tools to help me share what I am finding when I don't have time to write.

Friday, December 19, 2008

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Changing my Title

I am thinking about changing my title from Technology Professional Development Specialist to Digital Literacy Coach. Technology Professional Development Specialist screams of all the things that overwhelm busy teachers.
  • Technology = That's nice, but I just don't have time for that.
  • Professional Development= If I have to plan for one more sub day I am going to explode.
  • Specialist = I don't need someone else telling me how to do my job.

Maybe Digital Literacy Coach is a little more palpable. Jason Ohler defines literacy as the ability to read and write the media you consume. This media has changed drastically over the past few years. In order for students to be truly literate, they must be able to "read and write" websites, videos, blogs, wikis, etc. The media being consumed today is far more than the printed word. In order for students to be successful, they must move beyond the written word to more of a collage of content. In order for students to be fluent, they must be able to be a participant in the creating and consuming of this collage of content. This year, as I have worked with teachers in my new capacity, I have often felt like what I had to share was very low priority to most teachers. Not because they are uncomfortable with technology or don't see it's value, but because in order to survive in todays schools, at least in a district that is struggling to meet AYP, it is all about reading and math. I feel that if my title had reading or math in it, I would be high priority. Teachers would make the time to participate in my projects and trainings and they would see the value based on real needs in our district. Changing my title from Technology to Digital Literacy would put the emphasis, not on the tool, but on the skill, literacy. Going from Professional Development Specialist to Coach makes a lot of sense as well. Professional Development Specialists are often the experts who come in and tell you what you should be doing to improve student achievement. This usually means more time and work for teachers as they implement blanket programs that are supposed to be best for all students and all teachers. Coach seems far less threatening. A coach is right there with you, coaching the game in which you are playing. Coaches work with you, building your skills, working with your strengths and goals. Our community has passed a Technology Levy and we will begin seeing the funds in the Spring. Lots of emphasis is on what to buy and how to train teachers to use those tools. I feel like what ever we buy, it will only be successful, if teachers see technology and 21st Century learning skills as a valuable literacy and not just as a neat enhancement to our program. Don't know if I have the authority to just change my title, but at the very least, I can make sure that my attitudes and actions are focused on helping students and teachers become digitally literate using a coaching model where I am right there with them working with their instructional goals to improve student learning.

I still have a lot to learn about my new position. I admit that I am coming out of the honeymoon phase. I love the challenges and the newness of each day. I love being a resource for others. But I get a little discouraged, when I plan classes, and projects and very few if any of the teachers feel they have time to participate. I am going to keep plugging along, learning as I go, and hopefully with the focus on literacy and the method of coaching, I will make a positive difference in not only teacher's lives, but in student's learning.

I would love to hear tips from more experienced Tech Integration Specialist, Digital Literacy Coaches or what ever your title might be.
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Robin_Talkowski said...

As a reading specialist, I love the way Jason Ohler has defined literacy. Thanks for including that. One suggestion about ways to coach teachers might be to find ways/tools/etc. that technology directly furthers the reading benchmarks teachers have. For instance, I use audacity as a tool to build students' reading fluency. Being able to "see" and hear their own reading enhances their experiences. I have adapted the American Film Institutes "Door Scene" curriculum into a technique to teach visualization, a key skill to enhance reading comprehension.

Martha said...

Robin, I so agree. I used Audacity with fluency last year. It was amazing to see the difference when students actually heard their selves read right after reading. They could hear what they needed to work on. Great conversations and goal setting. AFI stuff is great too. Really helps with adding important details. Great thoughts. Thanks for sharing.