My school is currently in the market for a new "head of school" for next year and beyond. Today, the second of three candidate finalists came to visit and tour the school. Teachers were given the opportunity to sign up for a 10 minute meeting with him on Tuesday, which I did.
Then I got a few minutes to meet with him today. I shared with him some thoughts about my job, the school in general and my hopes and challenges for the future. He gave me a "homework assignment" for our meeting tomorrow, which was to imagine my "dream job" at the school. If I could shape my role to be whatever I wanted it to be, what would that look like?
Ok, first of all, how much do I already like the guy for giving me this homework assignment?
You might think I have an easy answer to this question of a dream job, but I do not. So, I thought I would use my blog to explore my ideas. And then, if I haven't alienated all my readers by neglecting the blog for so long, maybe I could get some helpful feedback, too.
Currently, in my "technology coordinator" role I do the following:
•teach weekly resource or "specials" technology lab classes K-5
•teach a STEM pull-out, enrichment class for first graders, twice a week (and about to start a similar, once a week group for 5th graders)
•provide support for teachers in the area of tech integration
•with a LOT of help from a wonderful assistant, I oversee the network, troubleshoot problems, install software, order supplies, fix anything tech related, help teachers with technical problems, act as administrator for edline (our school's web portal)
•with Silvia Tolisano, our 21st century learning specialist, host monthly "parent coffee talks" to educate parents on relevant issues
•meet weekly with Silvia to collaboratively plan and strategize. Work on various projects or parts of projects with her.
•teach 8th grade weekly Jewish Lens class and technology resource classes in the middle school
•maintain my own Personal Learning Network and devote regular time to my own professional development through reading articles, blogs, exploring multimedia, commenting and otherwise engaging in the network, writing, reflecting, planning and exploring online resources, taking
classes and attending conferences. This takes time, but I believe it is a necessary and vitally important part of my work as an educator. The vast majority of this time is after school hours.
•maintain a classroom blog to share student work
In previous years I have run an after school tech club and keyboarding classes for students and an after school tech club for teachers. Before the addition of Silvia Tolisano to our faculty, I provided more professional development for teachers and tried to get into classrooms to work with teachers and students on unique, tech-infused projects. This year, Silvia has taken on more of the role of professional developer and tech integrationist.
So, that's the past and present. What about the future?
What does our school need and how can I use my time, energy and talents to best help?
There's a bit of a tug of war going on in my mind...
First of all, there are the weekly computer lab classes. A big part of me feels that it is time for those to change or to disappear altogether. As much as I enjoy my time with the students and my freedom to explore without many boundaries (no grades, no set curriculum, etc), I feel that the model of once-a-week computer resource classes conveys a message that computers are a "class" instead of a tool. We all know that kids don't really need to learn computers, right?
Well.....I think that's basically the case. But I still believe there are skills that the kids get from my class that they might not get without my class. File management, troubleshooting, that type of thing. Ok, I admit, they probably could get those skills without my class.
So then what about the things I do in my class that I know are valuable for students but that don't fit into a typical lesson plan? The creative, playful, open-ended explorations; the "educational free choice" time, the public sharing and presentations? Some of these can (and probably should) be brought into the classroom, but my fear is that some of the activities that don't have an easy to recognize curricular goal (but are still incredibly important) will get lost. Think Scratch, for example.
Then there is the issue of how teachers see me. Most teachers see me first and foremost as tech support (weird because I am an educator NOT a techie, I just learned the tech stuff because there was no one else in the building to keep the network running). And though they are often, but not always, too polite to admit it, the K-5 teachers view me as relief so that they can have a break from the students. While I think every teacher deserves prep time, bathroom time, make a phone call time, whatever....I am not a babysitter. And I really resent the implied notion that whatever happens in my class is not REAL learning.
So why do these things matter? It's because my dream job as a teacher is to be a true collaborator with my colleagues. I do have the tech skills, but I have much more than that. I envision a coaching type of job- going into classrooms and working together with teachers and students. Embedded professional development. But for it to work I think that teachers would have to view me differently than I think they do now. Because it's not about me demonstrating a SMARTboard lesson. I would want to be a team teacher and if I went into classrooms and the teacher just "tuned out" and started checking email, grading papers, etc. which happens all the time at this school then I would rather keep my lab classes the way they are.
So, potential new head of school, as you can see I need some help with this decision. I thank you for asking me about my dream job. But my dream job might not exist. I guess if I was the right person for the job I would figure out the way to make it work, but I think I would need your help.
image credit http://www.flickr.com/photos/starforlifeorg/3565572491/