T&L advisor Kim Cofino, 21st Century Literacy Specialist at the Yokohama International School Bangkok in Japan, shares her priorities for starting the year off right. For the full list go to her blog post at http://www.techlearning.com/ blogs/32732 or http://kimcofino.com/blog.
Build Relationships: I learned that the absolute key to helping teachers try new things in their classroom is for them to trust you. When you have a positive relationship with another teacher you are much more willing to work with them and to take risks. These first few weeks and months are critical to begin making connections on a personal level. Even if I sometimes push people out of their comfort zone, I want them to know that I am always there to help.
Be Approachable: Make the technology office a welcoming place by greeting people when they come in, treating their questions with respect, and answering with simple step-by-step instructions. There is no limit to what a little patience, a friendly tone of voice, and simple responses can do to build a welcoming and approachable vibe in a technology team. Once people see that you can actually help them, they will come back for more!
Be Available: I’m not a fan of talking tech at lunch, but I know how important it is that people feel supported. Getting questions answered in the hallway, on the sidewalk, over dinner or in the grocery store is a clear signal to teachers that you are ready and willing to help.
Be Proactive: Each week I make sure to spend some time walking around to all classrooms in my division, just popping in to see how things are going and to make sure previous requests have been completed. I certainly haven’t been able to solve everything, but demonstrating that I care and want to make sure everything is functioning makes people feel supported and listened to. Every now and again all it takes is a sympathetic ear and an understanding of the issue for a problem to resolve itself.
Build Community: Every school has a group of keen teachers who are ready and willing to learn, but they don’t always know each other. Finding ways to bring those teachers together, as well as support those teachers who are not ready yet, is so important. For the last five years I’ve run after school walk-in tech support. There is something about an open-door tech support session in a classroom that helps put people at ease. It also engages the more advanced users in a technology leadership role. In addition to those general walk-in sessions, I’m also going to run a weekly “Pimp My Mac” session for tips and tricks to help teachers be more productive with tech.`