I’m not the Tech Guy

(There’s little to nothing you could trust me to do with what is pictured above.)

Let me explain.

Back in August, I started working for my district in a job with the official title “Instructional Technology Coordinator.”

If you look at each of those words independently or together, you’ll note that they can mean all sorts of nothing and even a few somethings if you squint.

What it means in practice is that I enter a school, a meeting, an email thread and I am “the tech guy.”

Now, there’s nothing wrong with being the tech guy. I know and work with many of them, and the things they do astound me on a regular basis. This is, perhaps, the biggest reason I should not be considered the tech guy. When I see actual tech guys at work, I am astounded. This isn’t the kind of thing you’d hope for from a peer, “Wow, you’re doing our job? That’s astounding.”

The trouble is, I know how to do some things with computers. Nothing very interesting. I cannot make a prezi. I cannot code outside of some basic HTML. I cannot do many of the things I’m asked to do upon entering a school.

This starts to wear on a person – really gnaws at the self confidence. I walk in to a situation with a picture in my head about what it is I do, and you ask me to fix your projector. Sure, I’ll play around with the buttons until something changes. And, then, if nothing changes, I’ll show you how to fill out a work order. A tech guy this does not make me.

I’m a teacher.

A few weeks ago, I was working with the faculty of one of our elementary schools. I was helping them to think about how they could have students create and thing using the camera on the iPads they’d be getting in their classrooms. At some point, it was revealed that I am referred to in this particular school as “the bow tie guy.”

This, I am fine with. I wear a bow tie daily. It is a distinguishing characteristic for someone who is still new to the district, and I’m happy to have something that helps folks remember who I am. “Please, please, plesae,” I begged, “call me the tech guy.”

I don’t want to be the tech guy because I am a teacher. I happen, also, to be a teacher who knows how to use more than the average amount of technology in the connecting with, challenging and forging of relationships with students. Still, I’m a teacher.

Call me that.

When I send out an email letting your building know I’m going to be around in the library for a few hours, know that I mean to help you think about whatever technology is available to you and how you can leverage it to move closer to the learning of the day. I’m a wiz at lesson plans, I can craft a unit like nobody’s business, and there are few things I love more than helping folks reflect about their learning in real ways.

This is because I am a teacher. I am a teacher who uses technology.

I make this distinction for one other reason. It is that I am not so separate as “instructional technology coordinator” implies. The more jargon that makes up my title, the less it sounds like I know what I’m doing inside a classroom. More destructively, that jargon implies that a classroom teacher cannot unlock and possess the hidden secrets of technology.

That’s pretty much the antithesis of my job and why I applied for it. If anything, my goal is to remove whatever mental block keeps a teacher for fiddling around with a program she’s trying to use in her class without fear that she’ll break something.

Too often, those blocks lead to sending an email or giving up when a few minutes on a search engine or tinkering just a bit more would have revealed the answer. “Instructional technology coordinator,” sounds like someone who can fix a problem, whereas “teacher” sadly has come to mean exactly the opposite where technology is concerned.

So, I’m changing my email signature and introducing myself differently from here on in. I’m a Teacher Technologist the next time someone asks. And, if I’m feeling a little impish, I might introduce myself as a Teacher Futurist. It’s a little step, but I think it is important, and it will help remind me of who I want to be in my work.

One thought on “I’m not the Tech Guy

  1. That was a great article! I sometimes feel the exact same way. I’m our K-12 Technology Integrationist – so my duties sound very similar to yours in your article. Creative wizard. Project Based Learning with Technology. Lesson Planning with technology tweaking. Hear Hear! I could go on… Good luck to you!

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