If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

First Official Week

Well, I have spent my first official week as an Instructional Technology Coach. 

That is really not quite true.  Last week I spent lots of time preparing to be an Instructional Technology Coach.  I spent one day in new teacher orientation learning about insurance, retirement, and filling out all of those forms - W-2, direct deposit checking, etc.  This day was kicked off by a dapperly dressed fellow who has worked for this district for forty-eight years!  He started off as a teacher at an all-black high school, moved to the downtown high school, and has spent the past fourteen years in Human Resources.  Wow!  Forty-eight years seems like a long time.  He said that folks would tell him that one day he would wake up and know it is time to retire and each morning he wakes up and asks himself if today is the day but so far, he still looks forward to going to work.  More amazing than his forty-eight years of service is that he has never missed a day of work as sick!  I was awestruck!  

Mostly, all I have done since taking this job is lots of smiling.  Sometimes the preparations put me on the hot seat and I had to do a little more than smile.  A good example of this was when I went to new teacher professional development.  It started off very well.  I zipped into the building at one of the newer high schools in our district and was directed to the auditorium after I checked in and got my assigned itenerary.  I walked right down to the front and this fellow greeted me enthusiastically and invited me to sit on the same row.  So, I slid in toward the middle of the row of seats and sat down, dug out my composition book, and prepared to learn about this new district.

The first person introduced to speak was the fellow sitting a couple of seats down from me (the one who had greeted me) - the Director of Schools!  Wow!  I worked at the last district for four years and never was in the same room with the director that I know of - wouldn't even know what the man looks like today.  We learned loads of things in that morning assembly.  Then, we dispersed to a workshop to learn a bit more general information about the district and get to know the other new hires.  Next, we had a box lunch.  I finished up my lunch quickly and listened to the announcements and dismissal to the first break-out work session.  Being a system-wide employee, I was not assigned to a workshop session and had my choice.  So, I quickly scooted down to the technology workshop.

On my way down the hallway I realized that there was still twenty minutes before the session was slated to begin.  So, I decided to go in and introduce myself.  Upon entering the room I realized that the two folks in there were frantically trying to get laptops booted up and logged on to be used for the session.  So, I offered to assist.  The girl breathlessly told me that they would get it and I decided to stroll to the bathroom and leave them alone a bit.  I returned about ten minutes later and the girl introduced herself and noticed my nametag.  She galloped across the room, welcomed me aboard the team, and enveloped me in a bear hug and put me to logging into the computers!  She expected twenty-five participants and thirty-two showed up.  So, I continued to assist the preparations and she began her introduction to the workshop.

About half-way through the ninety-minute session, I was introduced as the newest member of the Instructional Technology team and I told folks, "I am just as green as most of you because I was only hired on Monday."  However, within, five minutes folks were asking me questions and seeking my help.  Everytime I saw a hand go up and motion toward me I thought, "Don't you realize I don't know any more than you?"  Yet, I would go look over their shoulders and we figured out their stumbling blocks together.  One guy asked me to help him with his class webpage.  I smiled and told him that I had never seen this webpage builder before but we could try to tackle it together.  I made a couple of suggestions and we tried them and he was well on his way again.  Sometimes it is better to be lucky than good!

In my next session, a girl who had been both of my children's fifth grade science teacher was the workshop facilitator.  About two minutes into her introductory presentation the power went out briefly.  The blackout lasted long enough to shut down her computer and the projector, though.  She looked at me with alarm in her eyes and asked me if there was something I could do!  Well, I went to the auditorium's control room and began booting up the computer.  While that was in progress, I sought out the coordinator of professional development.  Together, we got things running in a fixed-up sort of way.  So, I'm thinking this job is one of trial by fire!

This week I have been shadowing my mentor.  We have criss-crossed the county installing software, attended several meetings, trouble-shooted assessment scanners, and compiled a spreadsheet for district-wide use.  We also wrote a lesson plan for district-wide use and created materials to be used in the lesson.  I've met three of the other Instructional Tech Coach team and we have begun to assemble our new digs in our collaborative space in an elementary classroom not too far from my home. 

I'm still doing lots of smiling and jotting notes as quickly as my hand can write.  Yes, I'm having to write my notes because the processing of my paperwork has not been completed due to the overwhelming number of new hires in this school district.  (Last week more than three hundred folks were hired to start out the new year and move have been added this week.)  I'm hoping that my equipment and supplies will be issued early this next week so that the technology I'm beginning to use is a bit more up the scale than an ink pen!

If you see me with a confused look on my face, know that I am taking in loads of new information and learning all about my new job.  If I look like a deer in the headlights, know that I am sent to do a task that I'm not really certain and confident about, yet.  If I'm smiling, that could mean that things are going well and I'm enjoying the new frontier.  It also could mean I'm clueless!