10 Tips for ITRTs/TRTs to Remember

Liz Davis of The Power of Educational Technology writes a post that is a goldmine for my colleagues across the city and state as we remember how to reach the classroom teachers with integrating technology:

1. It isn’t really about the tool it is about how you use it
2. Differentiate
3. Don’t be the only teacher
4. Ask lots of questions
5. Enlist your PLN
6. Remember there is great teaching without technology
7. Acknowledge your teachers’ anxiety and expertise
8. Start with the early adopters
9. Observe your colleagues
10. Don’t touch the mouse

Read the full post here

Ramblings: Who Needs an ITRT* Anyway?

Chalk this up as one of those days where you want to run and do anything that causes total mind rot as your lower jaw hangs open and you sit there, staring blankly ahead, and making weird noises with your mouth, “Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh…” To whit:

a) This morning, while at work, I was asked to do all the work/teaching by a teacher, and I responded with, “I’ll be happy to assist you and show you how it’s done.” She stomped out.
b) Another one said, “I want to be a TRT and have it easy.”
c) This semester is 1000% harder than any class I’ve taken so far (Instructional Technology Masters) and my brain is flat lining.
d) A year ago I was in London seeing Big Ben ringing at midnight. This year, I’m mumbling through Instructional Design wishing for a breakthrough with cognitive enthusiasm.

How does one convince your staff the importance of technology integration? How do you encourage, coach, inspire, without being a glorified computer lab teacher? Thanks to Langwitches, a great post was written on Edutwist.com. (“Where education meets technology and they become good friends”), Technology graveyards: Why schools need instructional technology integrators. Take, for example, this passage: But on their own, the best teachers can’t possibly do a thorough or excellent job teaching and keep up with technological advances. This is not meant as an insult to the abilities of teachers to handle the complexities or additional demands; rather, it is an affirmation of their professional commitment to their career. Teaching — for those of you who are blissfully unaware — is an overwhelmingly demanding lifestyle that requires at least 50-60 hours a week when schools are in session to do well. To expect teachers also to keep up with emerging technologies is asking for superhuman accomplishment and sacrifices to other aspects of the teaching arena.

Ah, the bliss of NECC 09: we’re not alone!

*Instructional Technology Resource Teacher

My Perfect ITRT/TRT World

I looked over the shoulder of my colleague and heard her whimper, “No one ever responds to my blog/library Ning!” and she then looked at us (TRTs) with those sad puppy dog eyes. Even Tammy Worcester has talked about this same phenomenon. That got me to thinking, “What is a ITRT’s/TRT’s Perfect World? Here’s my Top Ten List:

(10) I hear laughing in the midst of stress (laughter makes the worst of stress go lower!). Thanks Dr. Stuckwisch for the guest speaker today!

(9) “I explored [name program] and found the coolest thing!” Thanks Mrs. Collins!

(8) “Put me in your calendar for [specific time] so we can plan a tech. integration unit for [SOL #].” It’s so neat when I hear this; so much better than, “Come on out anytime you want to.” Grrrr! Thanks, Ms. Brewster, S. Webb, Hawkins, Ruben, Diddle, Moulton, Bradshaw, JT Third grade team, and Mr. Haugen!

(7) I have an ongoing conversation going (translation: comments) on this blog. Read Tammy’s post here. Thanks Mrs. Barth, Froehlich, Meents, and Mr. Fisher!!!

(6) I have more requests to assist in classrooms/planning sessions than I have time. This really is something that puts a TRT on a “high!”

(5) The Gradebook Missing Grades Report is empty.

(4) Being psyched and “pumped” from teaching that day.

(3) I have a teacher that faces their fear of technology head-on and doesn’t give up. Thanks, Mrs. Rhodes and Mrs. Collins (and the 2nd grade team for tackling Gradebook!)

(2) I meet someone who meets overwhelming stress with a smile and upbeat spirit. Thanks, Mrs. Westbrook, for always being an encourager!

(1) …When I hear a teacher say, “Wow! Look how much I’ve learned!” Thanks, Mrs. Hawkins, Patgorski, and Miss Webb!

Do you want to make my day? The first teacher from JT and OB who has not responded to my blog before, or for a very long time, and responds to a post gets a free lunch from me.

And Your Job is What? Instructional Technology

I need to be writing a paper. I need to focus. I want to be in my chair in the living room, fast asleep, enjoying the cool breeze through the window and the sounds of the crickets outside. I’m doing none of these. I need MOTIVATION! Both my daughters are working on their Bachelor’s, so dad needs to set an example. I am pumped, though, for one of our readings for The Paper To Write actually caused a rush of oxygen to the brain and a cognitive awakening. Ah, Paula, you’ve made my evening!

Paula Christopher, in her “What is Instructional Technology? — a personal reflection” paper, writes a quote that made me high-five the air:

What is an instructional technologist? It is someone who enjoys learning; understands learning theory; communicates well; is flexible; can see the “big picture;” has an inquiring mind; has developed good problem-solving and analytical skills; can manage people, time and money; is well-versed in learning delivery techniques; has a technical knowledge of the inner workings of acomputer; and above all is creative — in short — Superman and Wonderwoman. Besides leaping tall buildings with a single bound, what does an instructional technologist do? Anything and everything.”

For my fellow ITRTs out there, three cheers!

For further reading, Paula’s paper is here: christopherwhatisit

What Are You Here For, Mr. TRT?

As a masters student in the ITMA program at V.Tech., I am spending a lot of my time working on this, and the opportunity for professional growth and training is quite rewarding and enriching. If you are wondering where I’m headed with this, I thought of two recent comments directed my way that ties in with an assignment due next week.

“I don’t know what to ask you,” and “I don’t know how your presence in the room can affect SOL scores.”

Feedback is always good and cause for regrouping. When I was writing today and reviewed TRT (Technology Resource Teacher) requirements, I thought, “A ha! A good way to answer these questions!” From the VDOE:

–“Effective support that focuses on curriculum and technology integration is the primary goal of technology support staffing. The challenge is to provide adequate training and support to bring teachers at every point…from technophobia to technomania…”
–“The [TRT] is a valuable asset in creating, implementing, and directing a global vision for integrating technology into the schools.”
–“The TRT is specified as a teacher…”
–“…are available throughout the school day for planning and implementation of integration activities…”
–“…are intended to serve as resources to classroom teachers…”
–“Their primary purpose is to train teachers to use technology in an effective manner…”
–“…actively engaged in curriculum development and lesson planning. They use their credibility as a classroom teacher and their knowledge of teaching strategies to help design lessons and plan projects with the teachers.”

Voila! For more reading, the pdf form of the paper is here: itrthandbook

“It’s Not an SOL; Can’t Teach It!” Is the Fun of Teaching Gone?

Education WorldI wonder if my fellow Technology Resource Teachers (TRT) experience this: it seems more difficult getting into classrooms. I’ve gotten the following comments lately:

“I don’t understand how you can help my teaching.”
“Aren’t you the computer repair guy?”
“I can’t take time for technology–I can’t get off the pacing guide!”
and my favorite: “We’ll save you for after SOL testing so the kids can have fun.”


Even when I remind folks that I was a classroom teacher for 20 years, their eyes gloss over. It’s as if The Test is looming behind me baring its fangs, sending terror into the classrooms.

And just recently, one of my teachers cancelled his grant project because teachers are unwilling to share their students for a book writing project because instructors don’t want students to miss test reviews. I stood there dumbfounded when I heard this. As a result, I had to cancel a local popular columnist’s visit from the Virginian Pilot from coming back to receive her book from the students’ collaboration project.

Requests for resources lately have focused on test review practice and drill-and-kill sites.

What is one to do?

In a recent article in EducationWorld titled “Has Accountability Taken All the Fun Out of Teaching and Learning?” the author investigates this in an interesting and informative article that you will find interesting. Highlights:

Those of you who have read my past posts know that I enjoy Social Studies and especially hands-on activities, such as a Colonial Fair to reinforce History SOLs. For example, Oklahoma principal Mary Ellen Imbo says, “The tests didn’t stop her fifth-grade teachers from having fun, Imbo says. Those teachers teamed up and brainstormed ways to achieve the goals that testing imposed. Content teachers worked with art, music, and physical education teachers. They created integrated units, such as a colonial fair to meet their colonial period objectives and a re-enactment of the Battle of Gettysburg to meet their Civil War objective.”

Accountability is a good thing, no doubt, but how we do it does matter. I’m reminded of a straight A student in high school who took a trigonometry class (non SOL tested) and failed their first test. Instead of A, B, C, or D, the test was like old fashioned tests: you had to work the answer out. Panicked, they told the teacher, “I didn’t know how to take a test that didn’t have F, G, H, or J on it so that I could do the 50-50 thing.”

Is this how students know how to learn today? Are we preparing them for the 21st Century effectively?

ITRTs (Virginia) Help Improve SOL Scores

http://www.setda.org/web/guest/nationaltrendsreportEver wonder what benefit a TRT/ITRT has with instruction? Teachers are stressed trying to meet SOL passing score benchmarks, and a recent study by SEDTA (State Educational Technology Directors Association) reports “In 2006 the VDOE…examined the relationship between the instructional technology resource teacher program and levels of technology practiced in schools, impact of the instructional technology resource teacher program on classrooms and teachers, …and on students. The results indicate major improvements occured in 32% of the subject areas tested by the Standards of Learning tests, most dramatically in English reading.” Interested in reading more? Click here: Virginia ITRT program report from SEDTA

How Does a TRT/Tech Resource Specialist Best Meet the Needs of Teachers?

VSTE is looming on the horizon. The Movie Maker workshop for the art teachers is getting close. Am I ready to work on a Masters through Va. Tech? How’s Internet Safety coming along? Time to schedule meetings with the primary teachers about the Gradebook report card roll out. Orchard training on Tuesday–need to review that one more time. When’s your next morning Starbucks session? I need to prepare for Kerry D’s visit to sixth grade and prepare for the luncheon. The Promethean Board punch list needs to be completed. The QX3 microscope is being ugly–could you come upstairs and take a look at it? I better update my weekly log. Get the COW cart to first grade early so in case there’s a problem, it can get fixed before class starts. Spring workshops need to be prepared.

The life of a TRT! And, my colleagues and I still will get that nagging feeling in the back of our minds, “How can I better serve my staff?” It’s a constant struggle of wondering how to better meet the needs of teachers of encouraging, serving, and assisting.

One way is by empowering through training.

This can be done in small groups, before school (i.e. Starbucks Sessions), after school, and city-wide workshops. We (I.T.) are preparing for workshops in the spring that will address needs listed in the assessment survey that teachers filled out in the fall. The most requested workshops were Movie Maker (and it will be improved even more for those who have taken it before), PhotoStory, and PowerPoint strategies.

Even though I want to be all things to all teachers, I realize that the best way for me to meet the needs of my 71 teachers and 1,000 students is to remember what I went through in my 20 years in the classroom and roll up my sleeves.

Huzzah to my wonderful staff members! Thanks for being the kind of wonderful teachers that make it fun to come to work and come into your classrooms! If you ever need help in the classroom, don’t hesitate to shadow my office threshold!

A TRT’S Top Ten List of To Dos


For the past twenty years, my wife and I have taken our Christmas break to recharge our batteries and induce a self-imposed sabattical from daily stressors. Now that I’ve had time to recover, what do I want to plan to accomplish this year?

1. I WILL learn Sony’s Vegas.
2. I will encourage Nancy to enjoy learning it with me.
3. I will major the majors and minor the minors.
4. I will not worry about those things that cannot be solved by worrying.
5. I will not fret about my younger daughter graduating this year from high school.
6. I will coteach in a second grade classroom. All other grades have invited me.
7. I will listen to Bill and Nate and start working out.
8. I will stay calm as I think of presenting at VSTE in February.
9. I will probably break #4 as I panic thinking that I will have TWO daughters in college at THE SAME TIME.
10. I will think of something good for number ten!

What new thing will you do with technology this year?