An Instructional Technology Specialist has many roles in a school today. An ITS is a teacher, instructional leader, technology infuser, professional developer, encourager, and problem solver. All of these roles help to improve the educational environment of a school. However, I have always believed that the most important role of all is one of supporter.
As educators, we talk constantly about new methods and integration models. We all know that many of these ideas about best practices come and go. We find a few that stick and work over time but most of these topics are remixed from earlier practices and educational models or even the business world. The human capacity that we build in our schools remains the most important and critical ingredient to edtech success.
I think we need to keep our edtech models simple – the most powerful integration tool for an ITS is connecting with teachers in your school – helping them realize that they are supported and have someone to go to for help. This sense of comfort can be more powerful than any technology device or application – people are more willing to try new things and ultimately are more productive with technology in the classroom when they believe that someone is there to support them.
Technology integrators must remember that being in the supporting role doesn’t mean that they are not leaders in a school culture. In fact, by being supportive of all the learners in a school, a technology integrator can help lead the instruction for all areas of education. Technology integrators can greatly improve the instructional practice of a school by helping to find the most creative and engaging ways to teach the curriculum.
The five keys to the supporting role:
1. The days of a computer lab being the main office space of an ITS are over – especially in a 1:1 environment. Technology integrators must be a part of every learning space.
2. Be highly visible – walk through your school daily and visit classrooms.
3. Check in with teachers all the time – especially if they don’t seek you out first.
4. Encourage staff constantly and help to make them feel comfortable trying new things.
5. Help create a fun learning environment – for all learners including students and staff.