I had an interesting conversation with my wife the other day about "THE FUTURE."
Now, it wasn't the kind of conversation you might be thinking, where she confronts me, a la Twisted-Sister-video-adult-"what-do-you-want-to-do-with-your-life?" This was more of a, "So, what's next?"-type of thing, and it raised some questions within myself.
First, a little background: I was a classroom teacher for 9 years, and while my colleagues and administrators might have described me as excellent or outstanding, I never really felt like I was that great. Sure, I knew my subject matter, I like kids, and didn't have huge classroom management problems, but I always felt like I could do better. I don't know if that's a result of insecurity with my abilities, low self-esteem, or an awareness that one can always improve, but I never fully felt comfortable with the praise of others.
During my teaching career, I earned a master of arts degree in educational technology (from a school where I really felt like I worked for the degree and deserved it, not a pay-for-advancement-on the pay-scale kind of place), and started providing tech support and some staff development at my school site. I received a stipend for this service, as well as spots on school- and district-level leadership committees. I felt comfortable doing this, and thought this might be the direction in which my future lay, a "tech guy" at a district, or even county, office.
A few years passed, and my classroom teaching experience began to decline. I was getting burned out, and didn't have the mental energy to devote to innovation in my teaching. Fortunately, I recognized this condition before it was too late, and knew I had to make a change, to get out before I became toxic to the kids and to the school as a whole. I went back to school again, and earned a masters in educational leadership and administrative credential. I felt that I could still make a positive impact on the lives of kids without grinding myself down in the classroom, a place I was no longer happy. I hadn't given up on the idea of a "tech guy" position, and in fact felt I was becoming more qualified be getting site administrative experience.
The doubts began to creep in, though, as I followed edubloggers, people like Bud Hunt, Kathy Schrock, Eric Langhorst, and others, who were really doing ed tech, who were innovating in the classroom and teaching others how to do it. "Do I belong with these people?" I asked myself. "Is this something I am really capable of doing?"
"Is it where I belong?"
What do I really have to offer as a leader in educational technology? Well:
- I have a familiarity with what's "out there" because I keep up with trends and developments.
- I understand how schools work and what teachers need, because I've been there.
- I have a "big picture" point of view from my experience as an adminstrator (not to mention my experience as the husband of one!)
- I have, according to my wife, anyway, an ability to explain technology to non-tech-y people.
So, where does that leave me? As I see it, I have a couple of options:
- Stick with site administration, and support my teachers as they use these tools in their classrooms. Encourage them to innovate where I did/could not. Hold them up as examples to others, and effect change that way.
- Personal professional development. Attend workshops, NECCs, CUE conferences, whatever I can in order to fill in the gaps I perceive in my knowledge base, then go after that "tech guy" job. Instead of "This worked for me," say, "I've seen this work in other classrooms."
- Become the leading Luddite in Southern California, fight against all technology in classrooms, and make sure my schools return to blackboards and paper-only assignments.
The question remains, though, "What next?" Right now, the answer is, "I'm not sure."
What do YOU think? I welcome your input.