Saturday, September 19, 2015

We're Really Not That Techy

*** This post is co-written with Adam Welcome, Elementary Principal at Montair Elementary!

It’s inevitable, between both of us, we probably hear it on a weekly basis.

Someone is passing out a big binder to everyone in the group. - “Sorry about the binder and all the paper, we know you’re techy.” (Who can't carry a binder around all day, we need something that’s accessible from our phone during the day) 

Document camera won’t project during back to school professional development. - “Adam/Amy can probably help, they’re techy.” (Check the power cord and VGI cable, start problem solving) 

Other Principals or Directors - “What’s that Twitter thing you do, I should do that, but you’re techy. I’m just not there yet. Can you help me set it up?” - Two weeks later you see that person at a meeting, you’re looking at your phone and they chuckle as they ask. - “Are you Tweeting?” (We’re connecting our school with the world to develop awesome learning experiences for them!) 

Most of the time, we brush it off. Smile. Laugh. Turn our head the other way. But every now and then, when the stars are aligned just right, those words, “Oh that’s right, you’re techy”..... they almost rub us the wrong way. In fact, lately, we can’t help but wonder if people are really picking up what we’re putting down.

Do you know which group of people never call us techy? The kids! Why? Because this is the world they know, and it’s not about the tech, it’s about mindset and being relevant.

Here's a glimpse into their world, it's OUR world as well!


Kids are techy. Kids are relevant. Kids speak the language. Kids see the possibilities. 

They want us to be! They need us to be! They deserve us to be! It’s the world they live in and whether we like it or not, it’s the world WE live in too! 

Instead of calling us “techy”, we really wish people would just call us RELEVANT! We didn’t know how to do all these things either when we got started. But we saw a need, a way to connect, a reason to learn, and we took action. 

- Embedding a Google Calendar on your school website - just copy/paste the code from Google, no big deal. 
- A Twitter account for your school to tell your story, all you need to do is create an account and start Tweeting! See all the magic that can happen. 
- Creating podcasts with students, choose from a plethora of app options in iTunes and just start recording. 
- Troubleshooting a projector or TV with an issue - pick up the remote and start problem solving! 
- Just last week in a Foundation meeting we were talking about our fundraising goal for the year. How about a thermometer on our website to show our status and what we need to achieve? All you do is Google ‘fundraising thermometer widget’ and with two easy clicks and typing our financial goals, it’s ready to embed! This doesn’t mean I’m techy, it means I know how to search, that’s a relevant skill all people should have! 

- Working on collaborative docs with other administrators and teachers to streamline communication, just create one! 
- Responding to student blogs so they see there is an engaged and connected audience, just search #comments4kids and get to responding! 
- Handing your smartphone or device over to students so they can teach you new things, be vulnerable! 
- Need to create a space to share documents with a parent group, a Google Drive folder that’s open to everyone. Our 3rd-5th graders know how to do that, so should you! If you don’t, go to Google Drive Help, there’s a short video to teach you how. 

- Watching a YouTube video on how to make a form to use during walkthroughs in order to provide meaningful and timely feedback...ready, set, go! 
- Add some ideas here please! 

We owe it to our students to be relevant with the means by which they learn and can connect. When we were kids in school, it was a different game. It’s time that leaders and teachers start making a shift in order to make sure they’re ready to play. 

Learn the skills and get in the game. You can’t coach your team from the locker room, get on the ground floor. Get engaged. Get your hands dirty. Speak a new language. Take some risks. Feel uncomfortable and push yourself. 

Our kids deserve us to be on top of relevant ideas. The parents in our communities should expect us to be! Our colleagues we work with should be a sponge for what we’re trying to do, rather than a source of pushback or negative comments. 

The next time you hear someone say, “You’re techy.” Be observant. Is that person really being techy? Or perhaps just relevant? 

Don’t speak the chalkboard language of eras past and be this guy, it won’t end up well for your students and you won't have as much fun!


Adam and me at the NAESP conference in Long Beach, CA this summer!

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