October 31, 2014

The Raven Tweets: Anonymous nevermore

Filed under: digital footprints,edtech coaching,Teaching and Learning — Candace Hackett Shively @ 9:02 am

Ah, social media.

This week I notice that someone has tweeted this (Twitter ID redacted out of respect for anonymity):

raven tweets

      Of course, I know that TeachersFirst’s Interactive Raven is one of our most popular resources and that schools all over the world use it, especially during October. This was the first time I have noticed The Interactive Raven being tweeted by a student  My reactions, in order of occurrence, are probably typical of most teachers, edtech coaches, and/or web site editors:

  1. Is this kid promoting “cheating” using TeachersFirst? Nah…not really. It’s out there on the web. Great that kids can find it. Surely the teacher knows that kids can find anything.  If he/she does not realize that, the assignment needs some work. (Call in an edtech coach for ideas to make the assignment build from comprehension level to creative synthesis level…)
  2. Cool. Kids sending us traffic. Traffic is always good. And this tweet has 3 favorites. What should we be hashtagging our tweets with so kids find us?
  3. Cool. Kids LEARNING! Smart kids to share resources! Social learning via social media. I wonder if the teachers know they do this? Sad if they don’t.
  4. I wonder who this kid is. Oooo, fun challenge! I will call him/her MK (for Mystery Kid)…
    • Check out MK’s Twitter profile. No location listed. Some references to ice skating in tweets in last few days. Picture of obviously high school aged couple in front of a lake. Is this the boy or the girl ? (Name not clearly one or other). Pics on profiles of people MK follows include many outdoorsy, winter sports. Ice skating seems more than a passing interest. One MK tweet mentions “my new skating program.” Hmmm.
    • Digging further: one tweetpic includes screenshot with location of  someone who retweeted. I’ll call it Coldtown, USA. That location fits: I know it is in a cold climate with lots of ice skating. It is near a one-time Olympic venue. Other pics and profiles show cross country skiing, hockey and high school kids.
    • Another tweet, retweeted by MK, includes a teacher name: Mr. X.
    • Google MK’s name (in quotes). Still not sure if girl or boy. Several by this name. Tried adding “skating.” Bingo on the first page of results! Newspaper article from the Olympic venue-town paper about local skaters competing to move on to sectional and national competitions. There is MK in the picture, and the image matches the girl on the Twitter profile. Definitely a girl. (Also found a Pinterest board — possibly hers — that includes skating jewelry.) Article mentions she is from skating club in Coldtown, USA.
    • Google the name of the teacher “Mr. X” plus the word Coldtown. Bingo– found the Coldtown High School web page. Found the favorite teacher Mr X’s web page. He teaches social studies, not English. Check out the web pages/assignments of the entire English department. (It’s not that big — only six teachers.) Cannot find the specific homework assignment about “The Raven,” but suspect it is one of two teachers based on the other topics they are teaching.

I stop. I know that MK is a girl who figure skates and attends Coldtown High school in Coldtown, USA.  She used TeachersFirst’s Interactive Raven to do her homework and shared it with her friends, many of whom are involved in cold weather sports. All of the above took less than five minutes. What do I learn, aside from MK’s true identity?

  1. I could be a digital stalker,  but this is creepy. Yuck.
  2. Kids share and learn via Twitter. Teachers should know that. Teachers should USE that! (I feel a pang of guilt for not following through and informing the teacher(s) at Coldtown High School).
  3. Kids share and learn via Twitter. TeachersFirst should USE that!
  4. A five minute, savvy “dig” tells a lot about a high school kid beginning from just one tweet. This could be a great lesson on digital footprints. If you are savvy/fearless enough, give your students this same tweet or another you find on Twitter about homework answers. I am sure there are plenty!

And I wonder: What would you do if you saw a student tweeting about answers to your homework assignment?

September 12, 2014

5 phases of technology loss

Filed under: edtech,edtech coaching,teaching — Candace Hackett Shively @ 9:04 am

Screen Shot 2014-09-11 at 3.43.14 PMOne of the most frustrating times for any teacher is when the technology breaks down just as you finally got your students prepped and ready to accomplish a task. You were finally able to sign out the laptop cart or ipad cluster. You finally had the kids ready to roll, and  –boom– the site went down, the Internet crashed, the batteries died, or your chosen tool changed to pay-for service in the last 48 hours!

Then we go through five phases of technology loss:

1. Chaos: The time between the first student calling out, “It doesn’t work!” or “File not found!” or “I’m getting a spinny wheel!” or “It’s asking me for my credit card!” and when we regain enough class attention to ask what happened — and hear only one answer at a time.

2. Realization: The moment when we realize that this is not a temporary glitch or human error. The task at hand is dead, gone, notgunnahappentoday.

3. Improv: What we do/say to maintain some sort of facade of meaningful activity, usually getting out a book or handout. We may have enough improv experience and lesson plan recall to come up with a think-pair-share on the fly, “Talk to your neighbor and generate a list of the most important ideas you were going to include in your (fill in the name of the project here).”

4. Venting: What we do in the teachers’ room over lunch as we retell the nightmare story and vow never to try that activity again— at least not until we can get the laptops for another day.

5. Shuffling: What we do in our lesson plans to try to jam the activity in again before it becomes meaningless.

In a dream world, we could simply flipflop tomorrow’s plan with today’s at phase 3 (with no loss of time to phases 1 and 2), sign up for the laptops/ipads for tomorrow, and do the activity then. We would find an alternative for the no-longer-free tool (check on TeachersFirst!), rewrite any directions accordingly, and miraculously accomplish both tomorrow’s and today’s objectives (HA!).

But wait. There are school pictures during this period tomorrow. Start over at phase 4.

The one phase we never reach is Payback Time. This is the phase of technology loss where we somehow regain the time that has disappeared.

As an edtech coach, Payback Time is the one goodie I wish I could give out. I do my darnedest to ease the pain, but I cannot add minutes back into your class time after the day goes awry. The best I can do is to show you ways to steal a few minutes here and there over the next week  by leveraging tools well and letting the kids solve some of the problems themselves.  But I know that time will never add up to what was lost. Maybe some chocolate will help?


August 22, 2014

Breaking the Edtech Ice: #2techtruths

Filed under: about me,creativity,edtech coaching,learning — Candace Hackett Shively @ 9:10 am

liarTwo Truths and a Lie. You may have played it as an icebreaker during a professional development session or even a party. It is a terrific “Getting to know you” activity for the first day of school with middle or high schoolers. In thinking about it, I decided to offer My Two TECH Truths and a Lie as a way for ed tech coaches and teachers to break the ice this back to school season. It’s simple. Offer up two TECH truths and a lie about yourself. Share them on a wiki, blog post, or Twitter post — with #2techtruths as a hashtag. Choose your sharing method depending on the learning tool(s) you are trying to introduce. Or allow teachers to choose their OWN tool and figure out how to share it with the rest of the group. For the simplest version, try using  chat tool like Todaysmeet for people to share. Imagine trying this on the first day in a BYOD classroom or workshop for soon-to-be-BYOD teachers!

Have everyone in the session to do the same. Then have everyone browse, read, comment, discuss, or tweet back their guesses as to which is each person’s LIE. You will not only teach social learning, you will build trust among a cohort of learners, including yourself. Isn’t that what learning with technology is supposed to be all about?

Here are my Two Tech Truths and Lie:

A. I once co-wrote a text-based, “adventure” style game called Ice Cream Mountain to play on Apple IIc.

B. I once shared a porn site on the projection screen in a teacher inservice session.

C. I once shared resources for teaching gifted with the US DOE.

Guesses? Tweet @cshively with hashtag #2techtruths or comment here.

July 29, 2014

BYOOD: Mission Possible for the start of school

Filed under: edtech,edtech coaching,iPads,Teaching and Learning — Candace Hackett Shively @ 8:40 am

IMG_0772BYOD (or 1:1) should really be BYOOD this time of year.

BYOOD=Beginning the Year ON Our Devices

I have thought a lot about how the first day of school can look in a BYOD (or 1:1) program. I firmly believe a BYOD (or 1:1) class should  Simplify: A handful and a bushel basket. But how do you get started? Avoid the temptation to say, “I can’t do it all at once. I’ll start with the devices on (insert date here) or tell the kids to leave them home until next week. Beginning the year on our devices establishes class rules, routines, and interactions just as you have always done on the first day.  If your school has not helped you envision your BYOD/1:1 with the kind of pragmatic, in-the-trenches ideas that teachers need, here is an idea to make the first day (or two) much more than the usual, boring, talking head teacher routine, punctuated by book-covering and PowerPoint.

We know that every BYOD/1:1 student and teacher needs to be able to (minimal list):

  • Understand and agree to the school Acceptable Use Policy for BYOD/1:1
  • Operate his/her own device (power up, open and navigate the Internet, open and close apps or programs, type, tap, drag, etc.)
  • Check battery levels and charge if needed
  • ACCESS and OPEN a link shared via class web page, Diigo, Symbaloo, or some other central link sharing. Tip: If you plan to use your web page or wiki as a hub to share assignments and work,  this should be the first link they access!
  • Create, create, create…
  • Collaborate with other students using tools from the class bushel basket.
  • Bookmark or save a link to an online project — and FIND it again quickly
  • Share a link with teacher and classmates
  • Save a file or project
  • Send a file (image, video, etc.) to a class sharing space and/or the teacher
  • (Middle school and up) Keep an organized set of project links and/or files as an ongoing “me portfolio.”

So how might we accomplish this list as part of the “getting to know you” and “class rules and expectations”?

Why not “gamify” the first day or two with a BYOOD Mission Possible list (online, of course). The kids can access and work through the Mission on their own or in collaboration. Give the Mission an incentive at the end. The “prize” can be a badge, a homework coupon, status as a tech helper, or a more teen-appropriate award such as 5 minutes of (school appropriate, creative) app time. DO NOT walk them through how-to step by step! Have kids figure out how to ACCESS  and accomplish the Mission list (ask 3 before me?). It will sound like chaos, but you and they will accomplish a very possible BYOOD mission.

Here is a simple list of the tasks you will want to include, so you can think about them.

Mission Possible: A BYOOD (Beginning the Year On Our Devices) List

  • Find, read, and sign the AUP.
  • Find the Who am I?  suggestions on the class web page.
  • Create a Who Am I? of stickies, images, or simple text notes.
  • Bookmark your own Who Am I? board.
  • Share the link to your Who Am I? board so classmates can see it– without knowing who made it!
  • Correctly match at least five Who Am I boards to the classmates who made them.
  • Save your matches in a note, word processing file, or other text FILE.
  • Send your match file to the class OR teacher.

In Part II next week I will share some possible tools to accomplish these with younger and older students. Feel free to make suggestions! Ed Tech coaches, you can start making your Mission Possible templates now to share with your teachers.



June 27, 2014

Beyond the sinkhole: Score the next web tools

Filed under: edtech,edtech coaching,teaching — Candace Hackett Shively @ 8:55 am

Web tools/apps that disappear unexpectedly can be a real challenge. Choosing their replacements can be a way to turn your frustration into something positive. Having done this scores of times, here is my advice for finding the best NEW, FREE, sink-proof replacements and grading them on a 100 point scale:scorecard

Look for FREE tools that are truly free, not free trials or free for exactly ONE project. Add 25 points for tools that allow at least 25 (or a class set) of truly FREE projects. For each additional class set, add 5 bonus points. If you are a secondary teacher with 150-200 students who are allowed to create their own accounts, award 25 points if students can create at least 10 projects per individual account.

Look for longevity. If the tool has been around without changing its terms for at least a year, it might last long enough for your kids to get several projects out of it. Allow up to 20 points for longevity.

Look for ways to keep offline copies. If the tool allows you to share via url and embed code, that’s great for allowing others to se it and for making kids care about the quality of their work because others will SEE it. If it also allows you to download an offline copy, add twenty five bonus points for the ability to KEEP the things your kids create even if the tools drops down a sinkhole.

Look for ways to direct students ONLY to the “create” area without stopping by public galleries filled with inappropriate to offensive projects made by bored 16 year olds at 3 am. SUBTRACT up to 10 points for readily accessible and potentially inappropriate galleries. If you teach elementary,  subtract up to 20 points.

Look for education-only features such as quick registration for students WITHOUT email, options to moderate student work, options to keep student work behind a password. These will allow you to stay within restrictive school policies without tricky workarounds or permissions. Add up to 10 points for teacher-friendly options.

Look for silent, how-to videos that are less than 2 minutes long. If they can demonstrate the tool in less than two minutes with only a silent screencast, even your least savvy student can handle it. More importantly, even the least savvy TEACH can handle it! Up to 10 points for a rock solid video demo and easy-to-understand interface.

Look for membership free , quick start tools. If you teach students younger than age 13 or in a school that prohibits students from creating accounts, add 10 points for membership-free use. If you have older students or freer school policies, add 1-5 points.

Look for tools that require kids to do more than a quick copy/paste and announce “I’m done!” For instance, look for tools that require them to write their own words (e.g. Fakebook) or tools where they must annotate and curate anything they collect (Diigo). Even better are tools that have them build something new from scratch, such as comic creators where they must add their own images, text, etc. to a blank set of frames. Add up to 10 points for higher level, original thinking required.

Look for tools that will allow you to adapt for different levels of students. These tools allow you to make a starter template for your students who need a little more scaffolding and also allow you to set a higher bar or greater freedom and expansiveness for your most able student. This expansiveness can include collaboration features for your kids to work with small groups or collaborate with others OUTSIDE your school. Add up to 10 points for adaptability.

Look for tools that are just plain cool. If you have never seen anything quite like it, add up to 5 points. (Sorry, virtual flash card and quiz makers, but you automatically lose out on these points!)

If you really want this process to be fun and to teach your students to be good digital consumers. have your class create their own point system to rate new tools. You could start with this one and let them add/subtract, multiply, or divide! You MIGHT want to seed the process with tools from the TeachersFirst Edge.

Happy hunting… and watch out for those sinkholes.

June 20, 2014

Down the sinkhole: Disappearing web tools/apps

Filed under: edtech,edtech coaching,teaching — Candace Hackett Shively @ 9:58 am

potholeFree web tools and apps are like sinkholes. They drop to oblivion without any warning. This week I lost one of the core tools I planned to share in my presentation at ISTE 2014 NEXT week! (At least they posted a warning that they were going to close down.) Another sinkhole, now on to the next available path.

More resistant or reluctant teachers sometimes hear stories like mine and use the precariousness of free, creative tools as an excuse to never learn any of them. I think we should use the sinkholes as opportunities to look deep and discover buried treasures.

For every web tool/app that dies, there are at least three new ones that may even have better features. And some tools, when they sense their foundations are slipping, are able to reinforce the ground around them so they will last. A select few, such as Wikispaces, Dropbox, and Evernote, seem to have selected better ground in the first place. Longevity makes them at least appear beyond the risk of sinking. But teachers are not likely to ever have a full complement of free, sink-proof tools. So we as teachers should take the moment when a tool sinks to peer into the depths of the hole — and to other ground — for new possibilities.

As we built the TeachersFirst Edge, beginning back in 2006, we included a way to categorize tools by what they can do. That’s pretty tough, since new tools always add new “types” of products they can create or combinations of features. Yes, Timemapper makes timelines, but it also creates associated maps. So we tag it into both timelines and geo/maps. We try to be there for teachers who don’t have a lot of time to replace the sunken favorite tool, ready with another option.

When the next tool dies on you, what will you do?

To take out your exasperation, feel free to collect the names of all the tools you have lost to sinkholes — kind of like carving a set of notches on your techie teacher toolbelt. It might make for some funny discussion or party games with your savvy peers: “Remember Springpad? It sprung a leak!” (That’s the one I lost this week!)

But the immediacy of teaching means you will need to shift your directions a bit and turn the kids loose to find an alternative. I don’t recommend telling students below about 10th grade to “go explore for a tool,” only because less mature kids will waste a lot of time playing and less being critical consumers of what they need. Better to give them a list of possible new tools you have had a few moments to peer into… long enough to know these tools don’t have a public gallery of examples filled with naked women, neo-Nazis, or profanities. Alternatively, you can grab a tool or two from the TeachersFirst Edge and have them “tech it out.” Ultimately, have your kids keep a running list of the tools they have found successful and even of possible substitutes if one goes the way of the sinkhole. A graffiti wall, either electronic or actual, would be great for this.

Next time: Some criteria to watch for as you peer beyond the sink hole.


June 6, 2014

Ed Tech? Choose your superpower

Filed under: edtech,edtech coaching,ISTE Ed Tech Coaches Network,iste14 — Candace Hackett Shively @ 9:05 am

superpowerOK, superheroes and superhero wannabes, now is the time to choose or renew your superpowers. It is summer, time for professional development and personal improvement among educators. The fortunate among us will be traveling to ISTE later this month, but most teachers and ed tech coaches must find their own PD to sharpen our powers. Ed tech coaches, in particular, have quite a challenge finding meaningful formal PD, and most of us turn to Twitter, edcamps, unconferences, and online collaboration/sharing to hone our superpowers. Now is the time to ask yourself:

If I could carry just ONE superpower into next school year to rescue LEARNING for my teachers and students, what would it be?

Here is a starter list from which to choose:

Filter Flummoxing: This fantastic flummoxing capability allows the superhero to perplex arbitrary or obtrusive web filters so they defer to the superhero’s wisdom, thereby allowing the powers of web-based learning into any classroom. The superhero can instantly fend off the filter without filling out forms, attending administrative meetings, or enduring tedious time delays. Note: If the superhero abuses this power, it will fade away, so use it wisely.

Parent Persuasion: This power permits the superhero to cast a spell over the most skeptical parent, instilling a glow of understanding that signs off on GOOD uses of technology and eschews frivolous or glitzy projects. As with all superpowers, the superhero should think carefully before using (or abusing) it.

Administrative Awe and Buy in: Imagine an administration that looks in awe upon student-directed learning, technology-infused projects, and collaborations that connect classrooms via Twitter and other “scary” tools. Imagine an administration in awe of the positive powers of technology and willing to learn it themselves as a model for their teachers, parents, and students, all within a framework of good digital citizenship that charges students (and teachers) to use resources ethically and demonstrate positive online behavior. If you choose this as your superpower, you will have administrative support at the wave of your cape.

Super Spider-webbed PD: As a superhero, you can swoop in only where professional development parameters allow you to go. By casting a spider-web onto all PD, you can incorporate technology as a logical pat of ALL teacher PD instead of separating it out. This superpower lets you tie technology into its logical place in support of any learning. Superpower spider webs never let go!

Time Control: Just as it sounds, this power allows the superhero to stop the sands of time long enough for a teacher to take a breather and make a few mistakes along the way to infusing technology  in support of learning. Think of Superman holding back the hands of the gigantic clock over Gotham City Hall (or the one on the school hall).  Wouldn’t that come in hand-y?

Envisioning Glasses: Give these high-powered glasses to any teacher, and he/she will see what you can see. Teachers will be able to focus on what technology does, not the work it takes. Think of these envisioning glasses as the heads-up display teachers can wear as they guide their craft wisely into the sky.

Gumby mental flexibility: Superheroes must be able to bend their plans, reshape their thinking (and that of others), and adapt to limitations at a moment’s notice, never straining a mental muscle. Stretch yourself as far as you need to go and around corners with this superpower. Amazingly, you will be able to shrink back to normal dimensions after the stress abates.

Access Prowess: The ability to provide access to functioning technology anywhere and anytime it is needed. Use this Prowess to enable any teacher or student to have a fully-functioning, web-connected device whenever learning demands it. This Prowess extends outside the school walls to home access for learning and inside school facilities, demolishing barriers from scheduling debacles, drill-and-kill test prep, or online testing monopolies.

Tech Invisibility Cloak: Most superheroes secretly enjoy flaunting their powers, but making technology invisible will ultimately win more battles over ignorance. If you had this power, you could make technology a seamless and appropriate part of learning, and no one would notice it as technology. They would see only the learning.

Glitch force field: Fend off the forces of Glitch with this amazing force field. Need the Internet? It will work on ALL machines. Need Google docs/drive/apps? No problem. Just deploy the force field, and things magically WORK! Of course, you have to recharge it periodically by actually maintaining equipment and network, but the time you save fixing weird glitches will provide plenty for prevention.

Can’t find your superpower of choice?  Please share it in a comment or at the Coaching Playground at ISTE later this month. We’ll be there, caped and ready!


May 30, 2014

Morphing a critic into a superhero sidekick at ISTE

Filed under: edtech coaching,ISTE Ed Tech Coaches Network,iste14 — Candace Hackett Shively @ 8:39 am

Any ed tech coach superhero loves suggestions, and Dawn Wilson’s tweet in response to my recent post offers a great idea for morphing the ed tech coach’s nemesis into a sidekick. Her tweet says it all: Screen Shot 2014-05-28 at 8.36.30 AM

Since every superhero needs a sidekick, I propose that we each adopt a reluctant teacher as our new sidekick. Here is a list of possible casting qualifications for the role of critic-turned-sidekick:

  • General attitude of skepticism
  • Profound dedication to education, though somewhat entrenched in doing it “the way I have always done it”
  • Communicatio skills: Vocal, strong communicator and dissenter
  • Leadership: Able to draw in other teachers, most often with biting remarks or loud questions in staff meetings
  •  Critical thinking skills: able to detect an unsupported or incomplete argument, such as vague explanations of new initiatives
  • Hidden flexibility: Can come around to a new point of view (well supported, of course) and make it sound like his/her own idea

We can each name teachers we work with who display these qualifications to be a great sidekick. I have true tales of nemeses turned sidekick, and I am sure most coaches do. Mine was a second grade teacher who griped so loudly in the faculty room about “having” to make a teacher web page that she sucked the entire primary hallway into the depths of disgruntlement. I asked her to be the teacher-trainer for the building. After a bit of convincing, she agreed. (Time passes. Workshops happen.) After six months, she was more proud of “her” teachers and their web pages than any other teacher-trainer in the district.  Such SUPERPOWERS!

The kryptonite lies in the transformation process from critic to sidekick. The solution: ISTE!Slide1

Imagine if we could submit a Sidekick Transformation application together with a nemesis teacher-leader to attend ISTE two-for-one. We might even get a corporate sponsor or two to pick up the tab on expenses (much more productive than giveaway doo-dads and exhibit hall junk that we give to our kids and grandkids). ISTE should be willing to waive the conference fees for Superhero Sidekicks who submit compelling applications. Imagine what that new sidekick might do to draw in others back at school after the ISTE experience. We could even have badge ribbons: “Sidekick in Training”? Or maybe “Superhero Sidekick”?

ISTE should really think about supporting the sidekicks. It would make a great superhero story for ISTE to tell.

May 23, 2014

ISTE and the cape: An edtech coach nemesis?

Filed under: edtech coaching,iste14 — Candace Hackett Shively @ 8:37 am

True superheroes know the evil forces they face, and they can name their most powerful nemesis. The mania of preparing for ISTE 2014 is nothing to an Ed Tech Coach or tech-evangelist educator. We replenish our powers via the rush of seeing learning happen, especially if the technology supporting that learning makes good sense.  ISTE is a megajolt on the superhero power grid. Our most powerful Nemesis League will not be there to sap any of that energy. Dangerously, ISTEphoria often makes us forget that we will return to face the Nemesis League of the Reluctant, the Skeptical,  the Exhausted, and the Fearful. They will be there, lurking in our schools when we get back. And if we are not cautiously aware of the dangers, we will leave ISTE unprepared to face them. Although they do not attend ISTE, the Nemesis League has power there. It is the force of Them-and-Us, the prideful temptation to join other ISTE-attending superheroes in maligning the Reluctant, the Skeptical,  the Exhausted, and the Fearful:

“My teachers would never try this.”

They would want us to do it for them.”

“My xx teacher won’t even…”

“Some of mine will try it, but I’ll never get xx to yy.”

Our superhero capes can be dangerous. At ISTE, everyone we talk to “gets it.” We are the points on the pencil, the early adopters, the willing, the connectors, the movers and shakers of  learning (with technology). We LOVE the stuff. No Reluctants, Skepticals, Exhausteds, or Fearfuls would spend time or money on ISTE. So it is very easy to fall into talking about them. ISTE is edtech segregation — and can be a true danger to the powers of superhero edtech evangelists. Beware the pride of our own capes as a superheroes. We must vow to remind each other:

Fear is real.

Skepticism is a parasite that thrives on a perception of personal threat.

Time saps ALL teachers.

We are on their side, not fighting against them.

capeWe must know our nemesis but vow not to malign him/her behind his back. If we do, we have lost to the Nemesis League’s insidious plot of pride. If we spend our time maligning our nemesis, we will never know them or win them over. Please help me in this vow, and I will help you. Let us don our capes wisely so they do not fall away to pride.

May 16, 2014

Who is your superhero?

Filed under: about me,edtech coaching,iste14,Teaching and Learning — Candace Hackett Shively @ 9:05 am

As the ISTE Ed Tech Coaches Network prepares for the conclave of superheroes at the Ed Tech Coaching Playground: Coaches save the day!  event at ISTE next month, I have been thinking about all the people who “save the day” for teachers and students.  May is a time to reflect back on the school year and say thanks to those who ward off evil on our behalf, supporting our students’ success. These are the unsung superheroes who selflessly strike out to fend off the evil forces of pernicious policies, traumatizing technophobia, ferocious web filters, glitch goonies, or logistical lunacy. Their capes are invisible and their superpowers oft unrecognized. Your superhero may be colleague, student, supervisor, principal, parent, best friend, custodian, tech guy, or even a complete stranger.


For most teachers — and for me– there are many superheroes who save the day:

The parent who takes care of the rest of the kids during a field trip emergency.

The colleague who volunteers to plan the team day events.

The kid who crawls under the table and finds the unplugged projector cable adapter amid the spaghetti.

Slide2The supervisor with a sense of humor about your crazy ideas.

The principal who allows you try a whole new way of teaching.

The kid who shows you how the tool works.



The stranger at ISTE who offers up a power strip for your dying device.

The other stranger at ISTE who pops out a hotspot when the wifi drops to tortoise pace.

The colleague who gives up her laptop cart days so your kids can finish their projects.

The MySciLife teacher-ambassadors who collaborate and problem solve their way through two years using a mismatched platform (another story…).

The very-much-veteran teacher who comes to a school board meeting to tell her superhero impact story, a tale of how her entire view of technology AND teaching changed because of an ed tech coach (thereby preserving the coaching program!).

Slide4The teacher who writes into the TeachersFirst webmaster account simply to wish the TeachersFirst team a Happy Mother’s Day!

The stranger in the Walmart checkout line who asks a question about the school stuff in your cart… and sparks a whole new idea in your head for Monday’s class!


We each have our superheroes. Don’t let them go unrecognized.

Photo Credit: JD Hancock via Compfight cc