Gathered in a room on an early Saturday morning sit 30 champions, ready to learn, lead, and be champions for technology in education. What struck me that morning was how enjoyable the experience was and how energized and exhausted I felt. In David Williams’ The 7 Secret Traits Of Enduring Champions he outlines some qualities that make a champion. I’ve highlighted some of the traits that made me think about the types of people I particularly enjoy working with. Traits that I’m sure every person in the room on Saturday morning have or are capable of having.
It is important to mention that I don’t actually teach any students (although I have in the past). I work as the Technology Integrator at my school full time, which means my main interactions are with teachers and administrators. What I do in my role might be another post altogether as I think my position differs from school to school. The advantage I have over many Technology Integrators is that I can focus all of my time to research and support. For instance, this year I will be attending several conferences in addition to being a member of Cohort21. These conferences and the connections I make from them inform my practice which in turn informs the practice of the teachers at my school. However, not all of them are willing and ready. Hence, why champions like you are so important.
Champions play a very important role in my line of work. Without teachers (champions), like the members of Cohort21, I would not be able to do my job very well. Without teachers who “leave their comfort zone” to try something new, many of my ideas, or the ideas I discover, would never be explored. At my school, I have a number of champions that I know I can count on when I have an idea I want to explore. I know that I can approach them and pitch them the idea and that there is a good chance they will become as enthusiastic as me and implement it. Some of those ideas crash and burn and some make a real difference to the teacher’s and/or the student’s learning. However, I find that if I continue to go to the same people over and over they become fatigued, they get a reputation from their peers of being over achievers, or people who have more “time” than others, or people with some sort of innate (unattainable) skill for technology. This affects the champions in a negative way and some shy away from being held up as exemplars to their peers, their “champion-ness” is subdued by a fear of being ostracized by their peers.
I’m an optimist, I love that Williams preempts his list with “Greatness exists within us all” because it does. We wouldn’t be teachers if we didn’t think there was greatness in each and every one of our students. I see greatness in every one of the teachers I work with, and that includes you. My favorite bit from this article is “When you’re surrounded by people who are eager and willing to step out of their main roles and help others, everything goes more smoothly. These people are willing to constantly learn and grow, and that helps the entire company.” I would substitute “company” to community for the purposes of our profession.
So as you embark on this journey with Cohort21 I suggest that you keep an open mind and try as many things as you can. Don’t simply use the technology, think of the “big picture” how can the technology improve efficiencies in your community? how can it create opportunities for learning? how can it be used beyond its intended purpose? How can it be leveraged, augmented, personalized, expanded to suit the needs of your students, teachers, or greater community?
We don’t have time to be passive users of technology. We need to be purposeful and innovative leveragers of technology. We need to model this to our students and our peers. I challenge everyone, including myself to be champions at our respective schools and not to lose our champion-ness when faced with adversity.