Sunday, February 2, 2014

Grad School Assignment: Interview a Technology Coordinator!

When Technology Works, we don't question the Wizard behind The Curtain

This week's assignment entailed interviewing a Technology Coordinator and uncovering what they do and their daily work. Of course, I knew I would interview Ann Wiley, at Johnston School District. It would be easy, as I thought I knew what she did.  I  have worked with her on tech committees, served on a couple of district committees with her, and have attended countless tech PD sessions lead by Ann. But after I met with her, I realized I didn't know 1/2 of what she did!  I have been immersed in Instructional Tech classes for two years, and yet I didn't realize all the was going on in my own district.  Johnston has a wizard behind the scenes-  Ann Wiley!

Pre Interview- What I thought!

Before I met with Ann, I made a mind map of what I thought she did. I encourage you to take a look and then compare it to the map I made after  I interviewed her.

During the Interview- What I learned!

I sat down with Ann and we had a really down to earth conversation about her job. She answered my laundry list of questions and I took some notes. She didn't really talk about all the things she did; she gave me a brief outline of her duties.  I can't tell you all that Ann and I talked about, but it wasn't her accomplishments, or all the initiatives she has started. It was about the philosophy of her daily work. I had to do some  real "digging" on the internet to find all of what she has done! 

 Johnston is unique because we are fortunate enough to have both an Educational Technology Coordinator and a Technology Director. Because of the two positions, Ann is allowed to focus on the pedagogical and instructional side of technology. However, sometimes there is technology grunt work involved with her job too.  For example, the hours it takes to do the yearly rollover for our School Fusion site, or the data entry into the enormous Infinite Campus program. She handles so much of this on top of her instructional duties. Even though she is pulled to do these "technical things" Ann doesn't forget why she is doing this job-- to  inspire and encourage learning in others. She wants both students and teacher to step up and share their fresh ideas and grow together. Being a technology coordinator is a life long learning job.

Ann mostly talked about her passion for instructional technology and all the things she enjoys doing for the teachers and kids. Ann is aware of what it feels like to be at a frustrational level of learning. She understands that many teachers are overloaded and dealing with time constraints. She also knows that people are at the heart of her job. Ann believes that teachers want to include more technology, but we are all at different levels of skills and commitment.

I also learned Tech Coordinators are behind the scenes doing amazing things that just seamlessly become part of what we do in education. It is like the software developer that is behind your favorite website or app. We don't stop and think about the programer's hard work, we just take it for granted that it works each time we sit down to use it.  I learned from this interviewing activity that Tech Coordinators are behind the scenes helping to make our work as teachers easier, effective, and innovative. When the technology side of education is working we don't marvel and appreciate it! When a technology coordinator is successful, you don't think much about them or what they do, you only hear when something doesn't work!

Johnston is a technology rich district, with one of the largest 1:1 ipad programs in Iowa. Many things have gone so tremendously well over the last two years.  As an elementary teacher, we don't even talk about the technology, we just use it-- our whiteboards,  document cameras, iMac labs, traveling labs, ipads, GoogleDocs, Goggle Sites, surveys, email system, Infinite Campus, and School Fusion. The teachers don't rave about the technology, the parents aren't amazed and the kids take the blogs,  websites, and tools for granted. That isn't because these aren't a great things, it is because it is running smoothly. Sometimes the silence is what tells you the Technology Coordinator is amazing!

Even though Ann is behind the scenes, she has been recognized for all her hard work. Our district has awarded Ann the R.O.S.E award which stands for, Recognizing Outstanding Support of Education. Those awarded have gone “above and beyond” in supportin the educational process in the Johnston Community School District. Ann has also been recognized outside of our district. She is the 2013 winner of the Women of Innovation and also because of Ann Wiley, our JHS was named an Apple Distinguished School. These are not small achievements and she should be pulled out from behind the curtain to be celebrated!

Post Interview- Reflection

After reflecting on my interview with Ann, I put together another mind map to show what I know now about what our Technology Coordinator does. Take a minute to go out to the link and see all that she does!!

If you take a minute you can really see the difference between what I thought before and the reality I discovered afterwards! Our Technology Coordinator is really a wizard behind the curtain.

Words of Wisdom

Before Ann and I went back into the freezing January night to make our way home, I asked her if she had any words of wisdom for me. Ann told me that the job is about people and you need to be a people person. She believes that you can't forget what it is like to be vulnerable when learning something new. She also told me that technology is not about a lot of tools, but finding the right tools for the right job. And lastly, you need to be a lifelong learner, but sometimes in this job you have to sacrifice your own learning to help others on their learning path. See I told you, we have a wizard!

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