Reaching Out to Like-Minded Educators – Exciting or Scary?

I just had one of the coolest things happen. I received an email from someone who has a similar position in their school district, and she asked a few questions (I redacted her name and school, just for privacy’s sake):

Hi Amy,

My name is “Ms. Technology” and I’m a Tech Integration Specialist with XYZ School District. I’ve worked in the IT dept for 16 years. My role in the district is a combination of help desk, gradebook/SIS support and Tech PD. I’ve been trying to add more value to my role in regards to tech integration. I’m writing to you because I came across your Twitter account and am curious how you structure tech integration in your district.

Currently, I email the district staff once a month with tech tips and info on the PD session that I am offering that month. I’m running a grad workshop that meets monthly on various tech tools. I also use Twitter to tweet at least one helpful tech site/tip daily. Would you mind sharing how you reach teachers? This email sounds like a sales pitch, but truly, I am simply looking to network and get ideas on how to reach my staff! I’m struggling to broaden my reach. There’s a core group of teachers who attend many of my PD sessions, but I’d love to hear how you are able to reach those who don’t seek you out.

If you have time, I’d love to hear back from you.

Thank you,

“Ms. Technology”

What an awesome way to reach out to like-minded professionals! I love that she looked for Tech Integration people, and asked me to share what I do! On Twitter, it seems, conversations happen so fast, and they are so short. We can read a lot of articles, see a lot of websites about what we theoretically “should do,” but until you reach out (often at a conference, but a “cold call” like this one worked equally well) you will never know.technology-networking

So I give “Ms. Technology” total props for her email, and I’ll share my response:

 

Hi “Ms. Technology!”

 

Your question about structuring our technology integration is a great one! You and I have a similar role, but have come to it in different ways. My background is in STEM education and Curriculum. In fact, my PhD is in Curriculum and Instruction. I approach technology as a support to the curriculum, instruction, and assessment in our district.

 

Are you a GAFE district?

 

I am SUPER Googley, and have been a Google Certified Educator since 2009. I’m working on my trainer license now. I do a ton of PD in the district on using the Google Apps, Collaboration, 21st Century Skills, Google Classroom (this seems to be where I spend a lot of time this year), GradeCam, and formative assessment. Since we know that the jobs students will likely do in the future will have computer usage, collaboration, videos, and communication, we’re trying to up students’ usage of those tools. Not only are they learning content in their classes, but they are learning the skills of the future. I am also (in this district) trying to build their curriculum resources.

 

Because I have a background in curriculum (I’ve written seven textbooks 🙂 that’s kind of my thing. I am considered a top level district admin (which has its perks, but also people expect me to know and do a lot more than I know how to do!!!!!). Being that you are an IT guru, how does your position fit into the district hierarchy?

 

I also do the same thing you do with running workshops – but only the core group of teachers who jump at ANY PD come. I make a lot of appointments with teachers when they are free, and hop in to help them with projects. Last year I did my “Tiger Tech Tips,” but teachers were so overwhelmed with emails, that many didn’t even open them. You can see a list of them I put on my blog – Tiger Tech Tips at The Seven Minute Scientist.

 

Finally, I try to talk at all times about how we can replace the old school versions of what we do with interactive and fun new online or digital components. This is a GREAT article on those processes of integration (I even did some research on TPCK in my doctoral studies) 2 teacher-created models for savvy tech integration at Ditch That Textbook.

 

If you’d ever like to Skype or talk, I’d be happy to chat! Also, have you joined any organizations to promote tech? Like ISTE, TILO (free!), ASCD? I have a few podcasts I like. I also regularly read Alice Keeler, Kasey Bell, Eric Curts, and Vicki Davis.

 

That was a lot! Are you asking any other Tech Integration peeps? I’d love to hear their answers. Maybe we could collaborate on a blog post for my website on the findings of your emails? 🙂

 

Talk to you soon!

 

Amy

 

So, I’ll ask my readers a question – would you feel excited or scared to reach out to a professional (or a few) and ask what they do, and how they do it? Does this seem terrifying, or do you love networking through social media or other digital tools? How would you feel reaching out to someone you’ve never met before, and asking them to share their wisdom?

 

As you can tell, I was stoked to receive this email. I hope that if she sent it to many people, they all answered! What an awesome learning opportunity!
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