December 30, 2017 by Dr. Robbie Barber
In the past several years, I’ve joined the #oneword movement to focus my New Year’s resolutions. For 2016, my word was TRY and I did keep that focus all year, attempting new and sometimes uncomfortable things. In 2017, my word was MOVE. I did in several senses of the word, from moving schools to constantly moving around the new school. But my focus this year is on realizing how poorly I communicate and how to fix that problem.
I have run Tickling Tech Tuesdays on every single Tuesday I’m in the building. The design is simple. I provide a handout and explanation on some small thing a teacher can use right away in the classroom. This past semester we had sessions on Chromebook keyboard shortcuts, introduction to Excel, and various ways to improve your email usage. Many of the sessions are suggested by teachers who come on a regular basis. I provide an incentive in the form of baked goods on Tuesdays, but the handouts are available in my office, any day of the week. I just make time on Tuesdays to be there and be ready to talk to anyone about this week’s information. I send an email announcement through the school secretary. Sometimes I send a second email announcement.
On the last day of school for 2017, a teacher was sitting and talking in the Media Center and casually said she wished she knew how to do a particular thing. As it happened, I had covered it earlier in the semester in Tickling Tech Tuesday session. I bounced up, grabbed the correct handout and brought it out to show her how it worked. She was astounded. She went through the handout display grabbing several and had no idea I was doing this. After a year of Tuesdays, how could she not know??
Easy. I relied on two things: email and word of mouth. Sending emails to people to help them manage their email is a hilarious failure. Counting on people in the school to spread the word is not taking into account how busy everyone is. What I need to do is COMMUNICATE better.
Plan for 2018 includes:
- Make a paper brochure and put it in everyone’s mailbox
- Make a stack of brochures to hand out in the Media Center (yes some people get the same thing 2 or 3 times, that’s okay)
- Update the school website with the handouts
- Put a few handouts in the teachers’ work rooms
- Ask to announce Tickling Tech Tuesdays at the monthly Faculty Meetings
To be honest, I don’t like leaving handouts out because I feel like the one or two page instruction sheets are lacking and need my additional lessons. BUT if my goal is to help teachers learn technology and not stroke my own ego, I need to let go. They can ask if they get confused or look it up themselves or just have the handout trigger another method for them. I am available to help and my teachers will know it when I do a better job of communicating just that.
I think a lot of us just get so overwhelmed that too much time has passed before we realize we haven’t communicated! I used to take it personally, but now I know that everyone is just as buried as I am.
I definitely do this, too. I send our emails with info but realize many people skim right through them or sometimes just click right over them trying to get to what they were searching for. Being smaller in size, I can touch base with a lot of the people individually but definitely need to make sure to communicate more, especially with the people I don’t hear from very often!