After a quick exchange with a colleague on Twitter, I thought I would share my advice for anyone taking on a role as a Technology Integration Specialist (TIS).
The Three Types of Teachers
Prepare for, what I call, the three types of teachers in regards to technology. I wrote about this previously in a reflection post that was part of my TIS training cohort.
Type 1 – “Try anything to help the kids!”
These teachers will do anything and everything. They want to be innovative. They are willing to put themselves out there and see what happens. They are willing to fail. (I once received this as a fortune at a Chinese restaurant:
These are the teachers that every TIS wants to work with. They make your job fun and exciting. They help you to realize why you got into education to begin with.
Type 2 – “TTWWADI” teachers
“TTWWADI” stands for “That’s The Way We’ve Always Done It.” These teachers have done things their way for a long time. They never deviate from their norm. They like things just the way they are. these are the teachers that every TIS wants to avoid, but can’t because it isn’t in the best interest of the students. They make you work harder to find ways to help the students succeed and be prepare for life outside of the classroom.
Type 3 – “I’ll do it but I don’t need your help”
These teachers are willing to try new things and be innovative, but only with the autonomy of their own classroom without your help. They see the value in changing things up, but never share the results or truly prepare for their undertaking. They want to see success in their students, but sometimes do not follow through with their ideas to finality. These teachers make the job of a TIS extremely hard, but can still be valuable assets to have. A TIS should never view them as a lost cause because they could, with the right amount of work, be swung over to become a Type 1 teacher.
NEVER Close a Door
It is extremely hard, in life, to maintain a relationship with someone where failure always occurs. This can be the same for a TIS working in the schools. If you are working with a teacher and something doesn’t go as planned or expected, that is okay. Remember, “Failure is feedback. And feedback is the breakfast of champions.” Never let those failures from past attempts close you off to working with that educator again. Likewise, never let the lack of willingness to work with you (think Type 2 teachers) prevent you from sharing ideas and plans with teachers. Always go back and keep trying. Always listen to the input from the educators who are inviting you into their classrooms. They hold the key to allowing you to be there. They are the direct instructor of those students. Let them be the guide on their own technology integration journey, not you. Be persistent and never let the door close on your and the relationship you may, and sometimes may not, have with the educators you are there to assist.
You are going to be working with a large number of educators. Sometimes at several different work locations. This can create chaos if you are unprepared for it. There are a few key things that can help you to stay organized in your role as a TIS.
Keep a calendar
Be sure you keep everything you are doing (meetings, classroom visits, lesson modeling, etc.) in your calendar. Make that calendar public by either sharing it (Office 365, iCloud, Google all allow you to do this) or publishing it somewhere. During my time as a TIS, my calendar appeared on my website so that the staff that I worked with could quickly go look at it and see when I was available to help them. This made it extremely easy for them to schedule appointments with me for assistance to do planning or classroom instruction.
BLOG, BLOG, BLOG…
Writing about your activities (without specific names of course) can help you share what you are doing with teachers so that they can see the successes, and even failures, that you are having working with others. This will help them to be more willing to reach out and work with you because they see your openness to sharing. This will also allow you the time to reflect on what you’re doing and make plans for how to do better in the future. Never become complacent and avoid this part of the job. No one is ever perfect or you wouldn’t be needed in the role you were hired to do.