F Marisa Dahl: What I Wish I Knew Before Becoming an Instuctional Technology Consultant

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

What I Wish I Knew Before Becoming an Instuctional Technology Consultant

A year ago I switched from being an Instructional Literacy Coach to an Instructional Technology Consultant. In my new role, I am able to follow my passion for technology integration while working with educators in all content areas. Here are ten things I wish I’d known a year ago.

1. PLAN, PLAN, PLAN! Over the last nine months I have spent more time planning than working face-to-face with educators. We have to get to know each other to build a relationship (see #2), discuss goals/objectives, and determine our action steps before we can be effective in our learning together. This isn't much different than working with five-year-olds. If you do the upfront planning well, the work with the students goes smoothly and ensures that the participants will be doing the “heavy lifting” of learning.

2. BUILD RELATIONSHIPS - We must build relationships before we can help educators learn. I am not one to partake in small talk, however, I have seen the importance of taking the time to get to know someone. We have to show them you care.
Example of Small Talk - “Wow, it is warm out.”
Example of building relationships - “It was so nice outside yesterday, did you get a chance to enjoy this nice weather?”

3. Have SHARED GOALS - While working with other educators you must be working toward a shared goal. Without a shared goal, it turns into forced collaboration with no vision or direction. This won't have much of effect on student learning or systems improvement. Along with the goals, each participant must share consensus.

4. Understand INTEGRATION - We must see the integration between all of the standards. Educators need to see be able to see the big picture, it helps to see how all the standards work together. If you don't know the big picture you can get lost in all the standards. For me, reading through the College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards and the Note on range and content of <<enter subject>> which can be found on the same page, on the right has really help to put the grade level standards together. Also, reading one grade below (there are preschool standards for those Kindergarten Teachers) and one grade above helps to see where the student is headed once each skill is mastered.

Learn, analyze, and understand the BIG PICTURE!

5.  Be CREATIVE - I use to think there was one right way of doing our job. I strived for months to do it the "Right Way". However, it left me in a box and most of the time, frustrated. Once I realized there is more than one way of doing our job, I have been so much more creative in my position and it has brought much more satisfaction in my job. I look forward to each day, each conversation, and meet-up with colleagues because they push me to be better. I can bring ideas to the table and they help me run with it. I truly believe innovation happens in isolation but collaboration around those ideas is what takes an idea from bring just that to an extraordinary reality! We offer each other support, encouragement, confidence, and also criticism when needed.

6. FAIL OFTEN, FAIL A LOT. I have learned SO much more from my failures this year than I have from my successes. I look back at my experiences this year and I have grown so much as a learner from the experiences that didn't go so well, or as planned. This has made the future learning experiences that much better. Failing shows you are trying. How many cooks/bakers do you know who have a perfect recipe the first time? I am glad I have the support from friends and colleagues who are there for me when I fail and can pick me up and remind me that failing is ok. Do we encourage teachers or students to take risks? Or do we discourage failure to the point that we discourage risk taking? I am glad that I feel safe to take risks, and I feel I have to in order to be creative (See #5) and improve in certain areas (See #7).

7.  Be a TRUE LIFELONG LEARNER - I am ADDICTED to learning more. I can't get enough both in my personal life and my professional life. MindShift has been an addition of mine lately. I can’t get enough of their articles, how they push my thinking. I also enjoy learning from my other college and connecting with others who are in the same field. A year ago my mind was spinning on how to do this job, and do it well. I searched and searched the Internet for blog posts, articles, ect.... but no one could really spell it out. As I attended more Instructional Coaching learning opportunities I feel I have gained more knowledge around how to be a better Instructional Technology Consultant. That being said, I can’t wait to sit down and reflect on the 2015-2016 school year to see how much more I have learned.

8. Understand DIFFERENTIATION - This is a strategy I continue to work on each time I work with educators. While I feel it is necessary to differentiate it is VERY difficult. Just like being in the classroom but instead it is with adults.  I enjoy working with educators who have a Growth Mindset (link to book). They can manage their own learning during our work time. However, there are educators who feel more comfortable with the sit-and-get so differentiation doesn't work as well because they aren't as comfortable doing the heavy lifting. A few things that have helped me do this is ask for help, whether it comes from others on your team, in your building, across the table from you, ect. Usually I can find someone to assist me so I can help move the majority of the group along, while the others can receive the support they need. The same holds true in the classroom, even in Kindergarten we had a Computer Expert, someone who showed expertise with the computer who could help another student before asking me (the teacher).

9. Have TIME MANAGEMENT - While preparing for the week, sometimes the month, I have to prioritize each step. This is a new for me. I am usually a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of girl, but that doesn't work in this position. Some days or not-so-many-weeks are slow, and some MOST days/weeks are FAST. You have to be able to manage both.  I am also a HUGE multitasker, believe it or not if I am not doing two things at once it is difficult for me to listening or pay attention. For example, if I am listening to speaker I have to be typing notes, searching for more information, ect.... Otherwise, I find myself daydreaming. My mind is use to going 150 miles per hour as a Kindergarten teacher, when it goes 10 miles per hour it doesn't know what else to do so my mind daydreams.  

10. Have FUN! Why not! (keeping this one short and sweet!)

This is a follow-up post from last year What I Wish I Knew Before Becoming an Instructional Literacy Coach.

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