Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Getting Comfortable with Discomfort

In my new role as a learning team facilitator, my job is to not tell teachers what they need to learn about technology, or tell them how they need to teach in class.  I don't know how all the technology in the world works; how could I?  Instead, I have to help teachers focus on an inquiry.  We must ask ourselves "How does this use of technology impact student learning?" 

When I have listened to teachers in our Learning Team meetings, I hear them say "We are really concerned that we won't learn enough of the 'how-to's' when using technology (be it interactive whiteboards or SharePoint classroom websites)."

  I have to send the message "You don't have to know everything - just enough to jump in with both feet, and start swimming". 

To create some of the resources I am providing for teachers, this month I have had to learn to use two new pieces of software, Camtasia (makes screencasts and edits video) and SnagIt (grabs pictures of your screen and edits them).  I have recieved no formal training in either program, but my co-worker and mentor Martine showed me how to get started.  Then I had to figure out not only what I was going to say or teach in a tutorial about different pieces of software (Outlook for email or MS Word), but I had to learn how to use the software as I went.  This made me feel uncomfortable, as I wondered "Am I doing this right?  What if I have to redo this?  How long will this take?!?"

Techsmith sent me some emails with links to screencasts showing me how to use different features in SnagIt, such as how to search efficiently through your screenshot library.  When I got the email I thought "Oh no....I don't have time for this!  I am way to busy! How long will this take?!?" But then I clicked it, and it only lasted about 5 minutes.  I got the idea, and began applying the skills right away - not perfectly, but good enough to get the idea across.

This feeling of discomfort was the feeling of me learning something.  I have to get comfortable with this feeling of discomfort because this is what my colleagues feel each time they begin to learn something new with technology, and in this way I can relate to them.  I must have faith that each time I learn something new about technology, it will benefit me somehow, and I must be patient even if I can't see the "when" right away. 

I'll just start using it, and see what happens.

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