Sunday, July 5, 2015

Passion First

This week I'm officially moving into the role of Technology Integration Specialist. Although my former role was middle and high school history teacher, it feels like I've been a tech coach for a while organically, anyway. Since I post about my students' technology enhanced learning experiences and paperless method quite a bit, word got out at my school and on social media.  Most school days I get a question or two from colleagues passing in the hall or via direct message online.

Although I know I have a lot to learn about my new school and the individuals who make up the dedicated faculty there, one thing I'm sure of is that the people will always come before the technology. Getting to know the people and the passion that motivates them to be educators is the first step to for any successful instructional coach, whether focusing on technology integration or not.

Fortunately, I was able to attend ISTE last week with a few of my new colleagues. While grabbing a bite to eat in the airport with a couple of them, they generously filled me in on some of the school's traditions. They raved about how well they were treated by administration and how they felt the students were honored and cared for by all adults on campus.  It warmed my heart to hear and see the affinity they have for their school.  Without this culture of trust, no instructional initiative would be successful -- even one that includes the fun bells and whistles of technology.

Image source.
As the conversation turned to how I might fit into this school culture, they asked about some of my experience integrating technology. I had sample of student work that I showed them quickly, but this is when I started asking them questions about themselves. One of the educators seated at the table is a veteran chemistry teacher. Beyond my own chemistry classes in high school, I have little expertise on the topic. I asked him why he teaches chemistry, what he loves about it, and why he feels it's what he's meant to do. He talked about how it touches on parts of many other content areas -- math, theory, hands-on work, scientific history, and more. He believes that a student who does well in the study of chemistry demonstrates a more well rounded view of academics in general. As I heard him talk my heart literally started beating faster. It is a thrill to hear an educator talk about his love for his work.

I told him how good it felt to hear him talk about his passion and he smiled back at me. This is where all solid professional relationships start: they start with a question. That question is WHY. The passion should be revealed from there. Technology is not the answer.  Tech integration should only enhance the teacher and student experience, deepen the passion. Passion comes first.