Saturday, September 5, 2015

Let Me Introduce Myself, Fellow Staff Members

Let me introduce myself, fellow staff members. Since I am the District Technology Director who works with all of you on occasion, the vast majority of you think you know me, but you probably don't. Not really. I serve over 350 staff members and over 2400 students, and my duties are so diverse that I spend very little extended time with any of you. I hop from:
  • Providing advice through email to a building administrator to
  • Providing an outside consultant access to our hourly employee database to
  • Climbing a ladder to install a wireless access point in a newly refurbished classroom to
  • Visiting on the phone with a vendor you referred to me to
  • Inventing and organizing district professional development for teachers to
  • Updating our student information system to 
  • Checking up on the network health and the state of our backups.
If I spend five minutes with any one of you during my workday, it's considered an extended time. I work when everyone else does to be available for any technology needs that come up during work hours, and when I need to, I work when no one else does, so services aren't interrupted. Furthermore, in case you misunderstand, I do this work willing and happily, because I love my job. It requires many different hats - sometimes changing hats at the drop of a hat.

Let me introduce myself:

I grew up in Sturgis, South Dakota, graduated from high school there, and no, I have never owned a Harley. I attended college at the University of Wyoming, the University of South Dakota, Northwestern College in Orange City, Iowa, and Boise State University. I have three younger sisters, an active mom and dad, an amazing teacher husband, and seven grown children. I felt like I won the lottery when I most unexpectedly found out I was pregnant with my triplets. I'm proud to live in the school district I work in. I pull my strength from the out of doors, and I walk for exercise - sometimes a lot! I have three dogs who will scare you if you come to my door and a cat who lives on the second floor. I knit. I write. I read voraciously. I lost my first husband one morning when he got up and dropped dead at 22 years old, and I lost my 10 year old nephew from a freak injury on a football field. I love to go out to eat. My spirit place is the Black Hills of South Dakota. And, in many ways, I think of myself as the luckiest person alive. All lives have ups and downs, but my life has been truly blessed, and I wake up every day anxious to get to work to "do what's best for kids." It's my mission, and I am thankful for the oppotunity to do what I love.

Here are a few other things you might not know:
  • When I don't get a job done as quickly as you would like, it's because I was getting someone else's project completed, and trust me, your job is on my list and waking me up at night.
  • When your four year old device is showing its age, and it won't be replaced until it reaches the five year mark, it's not because I want you to struggle, it's because that's how the budget works.
  • When I recommend a device for student use, I do extensive research; I test the devices; I share the devices with people in the district and ask for input; and I consult with my colleagues who share their district exeriences with the various student devices.
  • When I organize professional development for district teachers, whether in small groups or districtwide, I plan carefully to promote what teachers should be doing in classrooms. Every detail has been scrutinized. Why did I use that program? Why did I allow for independent work? Why did I make teachers read research and reflect? Why did I make teachers interact with each other online? Why did I require teachers to have something to share at our next EdTech PD? Sit down and visit with me, and I will explain the answers to all those questions.
  • When I tell you that you should be active on Twitter, it's because I can't imagine my life without my regular contact with all the experts who offer me resources, advice, and support. I could not do my job without those contacts, and I know how much better you would be at your job if I could just sell you on social media's benefits for both you and your students.
  • When I research a project and provide you with the information, I've deeply researched the project and provided you with the best information that was available to me at the time. When you ask me to do the same project again later, I drop what I'm doing and do the research again, truly hoping that things have changed and that I can provide you this time with the information and solution you want to hear.
See, it's easier to belittle the work of someone you don't know:
  • She didn't recommend your favorite device? She didn't do her homework.
  • She won't let you put your personal devices on the network? She's a control freak.
  • She took charge of EdTech PD and provided participation expectations and guidelines? She's overstepping her authority.
  • She won't replace the old computer you talked her into keeping two years ago? She's selfish and mean.
  • She writes a blog post that's too close to home? She hates us.
The bottom line is that you and I both want what's best for kids. The expertise I bring to the table is technology, and if we work together, schools and student learning will be better. I guarantee it. I have no hidden motives, no bones to pick with you, and no need for recognition or fame. My only need is the opportunity to provide my EdTech expertise to help drive instructional strategies in classrooms.

Maybe, just maybe, we should get to know each other, so we can trust each other. Disagreements we have do not need to be relationship breakers - if we have a relationship. Come to my office for a visit. Let's have lunch sometime. When you participate in EdTech PD, engage me in conversation. Get to know me, and let me get to know you. I am an open book, and . . . I'm going out on a limb here . . . I think we're going to like each other.

Let's get to know each other. I know our school will be better for the relationship we build.