That question was asked by the principal at one of my Elementary schools.
Initially, he was hesitant to ask for my help. As the new EdTech Coach for the district (hired this year), he and I were both unsure of my role at his school (or my role at any of my 13 schools).
In September, the discussion went like this:
“How open is your staff to new ideas?” I asked cautiously, seated across from the principal of one of my 8 elementary schools. As a life-long avoider of trouble, my palms sweat a bit every time I enter the Principal’s office.
“Oh, very,” declared McKee proudly. “I show them something, they’re using it in class the next day.”
“Great! Would you say you’re the leader for those types of innovations on campus?” The keys on my iPad keyboard clack as I jot down digital notes.
McKee smiles wryly, “Not exactly. We have several on campus who are trying new and interesting things, but I can relate to those who are hesitant. It’s scary to try something new. They’re scared, but open; does that make sense?”
“Definitely,” I grin, pleased that he’s so honest about himself and his staff.
Three months later, I’m back in his office as we attempt to design a Google Form where PTA volunteers can log volunteer hours (which are then counted in a pivot table). There are dozens of similar designs in my Google Drive, but I remind myself, this is the first one that McKee has done. Be patient.
He’s a fantastic student. Within 20 minutes, the form is done and he’s changed the header to his school logo.
“Sweet!” I exclaim. “I didn’t know you could do that.”
McKee’s eyebrows raise and he smiles wide. “You mean I taught something to Matt Vaudrey?” He pumps both fists in the air.
I laugh with him, glad that he can see the value in enlightening a peer. Beneath the desk, my feet tighten in my shoes. That’s the third time this week somebody’s said that. Should I be worried that I’m becoming a know-it-all?
I file that thought away for later, and McKee and I press forward, building a master roster for lock-down drills.
“Drag that gray line down to freeze the top row. That way, you’ll still see the header when you scroll down.” I point to column 1 on his massive, principal-sized screen.
McKee shakes his head, “How do you know all this stuff?” He asks with a smile.
McKee asked the question in the most respectful way I’ve heard. Typically, the comments are more like,
“I don’t know how you do all this stuff.”
“It must be nice to be so techy.”
“Of course it’s easy for you. You’re young.”
I bite my tongue every time I hear that last one.
It’s often the more veteran teachers who pull out that line. Unfortunately for them, I taught math before I was an EdTech Coach, so I’m well prepared for that “fixed mindset” garbage.
It’s no secret that I have little tolerance for students content to be ignorant–whether a veteran teacher afraid of iPads or a 13-year-old at-risk student–but it’s tough to call out that attitude in an adult without sounding… well…
This week, as I was in the Apple Store repairing my mother-in-law’s iPad, I finally figured out my response when people express awe at my tech-muscles.
“I just started learning it earlier than you did.”
…(Also, I mooch like crazy, ask questions on Twitter, and work really hard at figuring out things that are confusing.)
~Matt “Huge iPad Muscles, Regular-Sized Actual Muscles” Vaudrey