Using a Problem Solving Lens- 2/22/2020

In Lead Beyond Your Title by Nili Bartley, she states

The role of a technology integration specialist is often misunderstood- it is never really about the technology; it is about leveraging impact. (p.58)

As I arrived home today, I ran to my study to find this quote to capture my feelings at that exact moment. I had just had a conversation during a tech/admin meeting about my role. "We need you to be a troubleshooter, not just an instructor." I was told during that meeting as my admin described how she needed me to be more receptive to help staff and students with technical issues.

I know and care way more about pedagogy than I do about technical support. (p.58)

Nili continues as she describes her first year as a technology integration specialist. This captured my feelings perfectly as I ran over this afternoon's conversation with my admin team. For some reason, the word, troubleshooter, echoed in my mind.

Why did it strike me like that? After thinking about it, I looked up the word in the Merriam-Webster dictionary. The first definition was definitely the one that had been giving me pause

1st Definition of troubleshooter: A skilled worker employed to locate trouble and make repairs in machinery and technical equipment

Like Nili described in her quote, I care and know about how technology impacts instruction way more than I know about tech support. Technology Support Specialists (TSSpec) solve those types of problems, while School Based Technology Specialists (SBTS) like me provide some basic Level 1 support but our major focus is instructional technology integration.

I continued to look at the other definitions that followed. The third one struck me differently.

3rd Definition of troubleshooter: a person skilled at solving or anticipating problems or difficulties

This type of person was a problem solver. It was then that I smiled, since I was about to start a new adventure with a group of student leaders who could become my crew to not only solve problems, but anticipate them and be proactive. This was a lens that I could look through more easily.

In late January, I had begun to search for my crew. After going into all of my grade 5 and 6 classes in my school to share about my desire to start a student tech squad, students began the application process. A huge thanks to @lleisey and @swooden at @PoplarTreeES for sharing their process with me. Students completed a digital resume as part of the process, got parent permission and 2 teacher recommendation. All of this was due this past Tuesday.

So now, after this process, I have 15 students who are ready to go as digital leaders in our school. The idea of having this group act as digital leaders is so important to me. Much of the reasoning behind this comes from another book I read Social LEADia by Jennifer Casa Todd.

In Social LEADia, Jennifer Casa Todd shares how we need to move students from digital citizenship (what they can't do) to digital leadership (what they can do.) She builds upon George Couros' definition of digital leadership as "using the vast reach of technology to improve the lives, well-being and circumstances of others."

I love this empowering vision of using digital leadership to highlight what students can do. So much of what we do focuses on what we can do and feels punitive and restrictive. We put students in boxes and then wonder why they try to break free. Rather than limit our students, we need to give them the tools to not only make wise decisions, but also use the powers of technology for good to improve their lives and the lives of those around them.

Already, I know this group is united in the passion to improve their knowledge of technology and help others in doing so. Now, it is my charge to help them share their voices in doing so.

As any tech coach would acknowledge, being a tech coach is full of many different hats. In her book, Nili shared Colleen Worrell's 5Cs of a tech integration coach : coteacher, collaborator, consultant, colleague and coach. Nili added two more Cs: connector and catalyst in her book. (p.133)

As I think about this in the lens of problem solving that Nili also shares, it is easy to see the connections between using problem solving and these 7Cs. If I truly want to collaborate and connect with my colleagues, I need to empower them to be a catalyst for using technology in impactful and educational ways.

  • How can I best support them in using the technology our school currently has?

  • How can I coach them and their students to use best practices for care and maintenance of technology?

  • How can I include them and develop their skills as digital leaders in their own classrooms, while acknowledging the strengths each of them bring to the start?

In the words to the left from a book on my TBR list, Jay Billy shares that we want people to walk away from interactions with us wanting more, being inspired, and most of all, being empowered.