Posted by: ketheredge | February 4, 2011

This little light of mine

When I read Shelly Terrell’s post about being a beam for our students and colleagues, I immediately smiled.  My smile is because my responsibilities at my school allow me to be a beam every day of the year. 

Three years ago, I was given a wonderful opportunity.  Our school implemented a mandatory 1:1 program in the Upper School, and I was asked to be the person who provided lesson design and resource support to the upper school teachers.  How I received this opportunity is another post, but when given the chance, I jumped at the opportunity to support the teachers at my school in creating innovative lessons that incorporated the technology that we were so lucky to have.  Three years ago, I started working with the ninth grade teachers; today I work with all teachers – PK through 12 – at my school.  While our mandatory 1:1 program only begins at ninth grade, our school has dedicated itself to provide our students with an education that incorporates age-appropriate technology in meaningful ways.  Our dedication has increased over the last three years and, therefore, my role has expanded.

In my opinion, I have the best job on earth!  I get to help teachers find meaningful ways to enhance their lessons with technology, and I get to work at a school that supports its teachers with the resources they need to succeed.  As an added bonus, I get to stay in the classroom and teach two World Literature classes!  Life is good!

So how am I a beam in my role?  Well, to be honest, it isn’t simple.  Every day is different; some days are exhausting; some days are fabulous; some days I wonder if I can continue shining in the face of the dark clouds of some teacher’s tech-phobia; and some days I see so much light shining from everyone that I forget that anyone is tech-phobic.  However, my goal every day is to focus on the positive, to listen to the needs of the teachers I serve, and to keep my light shining for all to see.

To achieve my goal, I have implemented many concepts over the last three years.  We began a peer coaching program two years ago.  Fifteen teachers were trained in peer coaching and last year they worked with colleagues in their grade level or their department to design innovative lessons that integrate technology effectively.  Our teaching and learning coaches (that’s what we call them) have continued their work this year.  Additionally, I began teaching and learning workshops last summer.  The workshops are 3 day workshops where teachers can bring a lesson and redesign with the concepts of effective lesson design and effective technology integration in mind.  So far, I have trained half of our staff in one of these workshops, and six lower school teachers told me yesterday they would like for me to do another one this month!  My hope is that by the beginning of the 2011 academic year, 100% of our faculty will have been through the training.  From one of those sessions, two colleagues gave me another idea for shining “the light of tech integration” – Tech Tastings. 

What I have found in all of the training I have done is that many teachers who are less tech-savvy are nervous about designing lessons that integrate technology for fear that they will pick the wrong type of technology for their lesson.  I have heard many times, “But I don’t know what technology there is to know what I can use.”  Finally, Tech Tasting was born to answer this question.  Three times this year, at our professional development meetings, I have offered a Tech Tasting.  I have chosen ten to twelve tools that teachers could use and have given them a little taste of what they do and how they could use them in their classroom.  I share the resources on our wikispace, and then at their own pace they can explore the tools and decide what they would like to use.  When they have chosen a tool, they can work with me or another teaching and learning coach to implement the tool in their upcoming lesson.  The last Tech Tasting was just two days ago.  While getting reading for a tasting is exhausting and stressful, and while I am incredibly nervous before the tasting that no one is going to like anything I am showing them, I always feel SO great after it.  It seems to energize everyone who attends again.  They start talking to me and others about not only the technologies they just saw but other technologies they are using.  I get emails, or I am stopped in the hall, the cafeteria, and the parking lot to talk about an upcoming lesson.  It is THE COOLEST!  Everyone is brighter, and I love it!!

I feel incredibly honored that I have been entrusted with the professional development offerings at my school.  I am thrilled with the progress we have made as a school in the last three years.  Yet, you may ask, “Are you satisfied?”  Never!  I know I can do more; I know my beam could extend further.  My continued challenge is finding ways for teachers to collaborate on a regular basis.  So, the journey continues… with me shining my little light as bright as I possibly can!


  1. What a great post! Love your vitality and enthusiasm – long may your beam be strong 🙂

    • Thanks so much, Clive!

  2. Hi!

    I think your teachers are on the right road. They obviously have a great tech support in you but also I think that the fact they are fearful of what technology and not using technology says a lot. Your teachers want the best for their students and all educators should try to make aims to use the technology that supports the learning and not just integrate to use technology. Thank you for your deep reflection!

    • Thanks, Shelly. I appreciate your comments. I especially appreciate your comment about the teachers’ mindset. I know that we have great teachers, but I had not thought of their fear as a fear of using the wrong technology, and, therefore, your perspective helps me focus on the positive all the more. I emphasize often with them that we want to use technology to enhance learning, not simply as an add-on to learning; our Tech Tastings has helped!

  3. Girl, you really rocked this post! I smiled so wide at so many of your examples of how you are “beaming”. I love your Tech Tasting PD and most definitely am going to steal it! (Giving you full credit for the idea of course. 😉 So glad you are in my PLN and doing The 30 Goals Challenge. May we shine brighter together!

    • Thank you, Lisa! I am glad you like the Tech Tasting PD idea, and I am thrilled you are going to “steal it.” I love to share with others and if it can help you and your colleagues, all the better. I am so glad you are in my PLN also. Although I can’t find the right balance to stay connected with everyone on Twitter, I do learn so much from you all. Maybe the 30 Goals Challenge can help me find that balance between my PLN on Twitter and the one I am trying to develop with my colleagues at school. We most certainly do shine brighter together!

  4. […] love to share resources!!  For those of you who have read my response to Goal #1 part of my job is sharing resources, and I have a blast doing it.  Up until now, the majority […]

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