Far beyond the tools

I continually make decisions thinking I know so much, only to learn within a few short years how little I actually knew. Today I realized just how little I understood about becoming an instructional tech coach when I first started down this path eight years ago.

When I decided to leave the classroom to pursue a technology integration position, I felt I had given myself ample time to grow, to reflect, and to mature in the craft of teaching, as well as in my use of technology. I was adamant that I was not going to leave the classroom until I felt ready to support others meaningfully. When I left the classroom, I "knew" I had invested the time needed to get there.

Even with that measured, mindful approach, I still feel as if my first few years were centered around evangelizing those who had not yet encountered the wonders of the technologies I had discovered. I wasn't aware of it at that time, but reflecting on my practice, the tools were undoubtedly the focus of my work.

Today I was fortunate to attend a powerful session on the instructional coaching offered by Tammy Gibbons. It was a marvelous experience for me, interweaving the perfect mix of thinking, learning, and doing.

As I reflect on the activities, the conversations, and the messages that Tammy so masterfully delivered throughout this workshop, I realize just how little of my work today is focused on the tools we employ.  Yes, I talk about technology every day with educators. I march out new tools and offer ideas for ways to utilize them. However, that is the least important of my interaction with teachers. 

Today, the central focus of my work with teachers is on them. I focus on their readiness to take on a new challenge, to take a risk, to shift their thinking, or to challenge long held beliefs and practices. My focus is on providing just enough support to enable them to make a lasting change, while walking delicately along the line that allows them to be doing the hard work of growing.

My practice today is so far beyond the focus of tech tools that I sometimes wonder if I am really doing the job I was initially hired to do. Perhaps I am not spending enough time exploring all of the newest services, tools, and sites that are constantly coming online. Maybe I am not exploring and scouting the booming educational technology industry sufficiently. These are ongoing considerations for me as I reflect on my performance in my role.

The message that was hammered home for me in today's workshop, though, was that coaching the human being in front of you, helping them to become the best educator that they can be, really is the workthat I should be focused on doing. And that is the work that will have an impact on students far beyond the tools that utilize.