Friday, July 18, 2008

Where's The Beef?

My brain is buzzing from so much learning. The combination of Edubloggercon East and BLC is almost too much for me to handle. I met amazing people, reconnected with old friends, presented twice with Lisa Thumann (my mom came to watch), attended incredible sessions (Dave Truss was a highlight), added lots of new people to my network, and danced with Joyce Valenza (among MANY others).

I'm only ready to articulate a tidbit of my learning. My thoughts are incubating right now, but as @sandman27 told me this week "You know what happens after incubating? Hatching!" Hopefully it won't be too painful (I've had two children without the help of any drugs so I know what that can be like, but I digress...).

At the end of the conference today Alan November talked about doing a better job of marketing ourselves. He reminded us that what we know as "beef" could also be described as "dead cow." Alan suggested that "Director of Technology" be renamed "Director of Information and Global Communication."

I love this idea! And I think I may be able to convince my new school district (especially if they read my blog :) to change my title. The problem is coming up with a good alternative. I think a lot of these titles sound pretentious. I would like to find one that accurately describes what I do, without causing the faculty to roll their eyes.

Here are some of the ideas that I have. I would love to hear yours - or do you disagree? Is there a better word than "director?" Is there a synonym for "21st Century?" (I'm getting a little tired of that one.)
  • "Director of Innovation and Global Communication"
  • "Director of 21st Century Pedagogy"
  • "Director of Teaching & Learning Collaborative"
  • "Director of 21st Century Learning"
  • "Director of 21st Century Literacy"
Stay tuned for more to come about this past week!

Dilbert Cartoon from joelogon's photostream.


kellywchris said...

You're right, there are too many title and, from my perspective, too many acronyms for all the things that we are adding to our education lexicon. I can't keep up so how are parents and the general public suppose to? As for titles:

Superintendent of _________________ (technology, curriculum, distance education, ....)

Right now, we keep adding people to do things - like Lead Teachers, Coordinators of ______________,
and so on. Let's put the effort into making some significant transformations and put less effort into creating spaces and titles for people.

As you might guess, all this talk about 21st century skills or whathaveyou doesn't really matter in the end, from my seat anyway. What matters is that we actually DO something - we've always needed different skills but with the advent of technology and these social tools, now all of a sudden there is this explosion of talking about the tools and skills. So students need different skills? The ability to change is there, but is the will truly there? Alan November might have missed on this one - it isn't just dead meat unless you don't have the technology to do anything with it or you don't have the will to prepare it, hoping someone will do it for you. The beef is there but are we going to use the technology to make all sorts of great meals or not? Sorry Alan, but I'd rather be in the kitchen slicing and dicing instead of discussing if it's dead animal or more beef!

Liz B Davis said...

Kelly - Yes what we do is what matters. What I try to do isn't really about the technology it is about the learning. I'm trying to change perceptions and assumptions, a title change is a small way to make a start of that in a new school. Of course it isn't really about the title, but marketing matters. And I do a lot of marketing.

Melanie Holtsman said...

Congrats on your new postion. Since I live in Florida near Disney, here's my suggestion for a title:
21st Century Learning Imagineer?

Anonymous said...

Liz -

Hmmm, I think something that starts with Facilitator would be good - Facilitator of Digital Learning and Communication? I too am getting a bit tired of 21st Century included in everything. Just my thoughts, can't wait to hear what the final name will be!

Cathy Jo Nelson said...

About ten years ago (maybe more) the name of a school librarian change to "media specialist" with a few variations to that. SC calls our certification media specialist. But with the name change came the impression that we were not educators, but rather support people. It didn't change much for the elementary people, who despite the name change and its implication that the library media specialist could pull magic media tricks out of a hat, many continued to be a gate-keeper of books and a place to send a class so a teacher could have precious planning time. I would wage 65% of all elementary schools use their "media specialist" as a babysitter who keeps kids while teachers plan.

Names can have varying meanings and interpretations. Joyce Valenza began marketing herself as a "teacher-librarian." At first I was reluctant to call myself this. But when I realized the title media specialist did not denote that we were teachers BEFORE we were librarians, and it eliminated the mindset of school leaders that the position was potentially an educational leader in the building, I decided to adopt it to. Few realize that teacher librarians (especially in my state) are certified only through a graduate level degree. Most are teachers well before they are teacher librarians.

Our state gives "teachers" a small stipend ($250) at the onset of school to purchase consumable supplies. After the first year of it, there was talk of NOT giving it to media specialists, guidance counselor, or speech therapists--as we were not considered "teachers" and shouldn't have the same needs. There was a failure by some to recognize the contributions these people make to the school program. So I fully embraced the title teacher librarian then to make sure everyone perceived me first as an educator, then as a stakeholder in the school as a whole. Of course I feel these people have to earn their merit in their positions, but embracing a title that helps everyone see you as an equal in the building goes a long way.

It's funny to reflect here on this now, as I really want to be seen as a 21st Century Learner now. I've said this before, so sorry if I sound like a broken record, but the term "teacher" in today's world has come to imply that the learning is done, and it is now someone else's (students) turn to learn. I wholeheartedly believe it is (in the words of Bud the teacher) pedagogical malpractice to stop learning if you work with students. So now I have to rethink my title too. Hmmm, what shall we call ourselves?

Liz B Davis said...

That is an interesting story. It shows that there really is a lot in a name. I think that is why I want to keep the word "director" in the title. I still don't know if my administration will go for this idea. So this conversation might be moot.

Might you be called an "Information Literacy Coach" or "Information Literacy Specialist?"

Karen Janowski said...

Hi, Liz,

Someone at BLC said (can't remember who) said we need to change "Technology" Support to "Innovation" Support.

So how about Director of Innovative Instruction?

Liz B Davis said...

Karen I like that, but I'm afraid that it implies that other people/directors are not innovative. I worry that it sounds a little too pretentious. Although I do think it more accurately describes what I am trying to do.

Anonymous said...

Ewan McIntosh said in his session on Day 2 of BLC08 that we should all find ourselves a good name. We have our Twitter IDs, our blog domains and various wikis set up. You, Joyce, Laura, and I and many others brainstormed names for a catchy wiki for an upcoming project we’re considering collaborating on. But ultimately – as Clarence Fisher said in his session with Darren Kuropatwa on the last morning of BLC – it’s not about the stuff – it’s about us.

You can change your title next year. You can print new business cards or edit your digital signature. What matters is your impact on your students and your colleagues.

Anonymous said...

Our superintendent/assistant superintendent just changed their titles to CEO (Chief Executive Officer) and COO (Chief Operating Officer) . At some districts the Director of Technology is CTO - Chief Technology Officer. It sounds a little corporate for me. I think you should keep Director in your title. It holds significance at my job. I did hear at NECC someone with the new title of Director of 21st Century Learning. I actually liked the ring.

David Truss said...

I agree with Tina, keep 'Director' for now. Cutting edge titles are nice but they do not appeal to those you most need to influence. Anyone who works with you will understand that you collaborate in meaningful ways... however the doors of communication need to be open and the title of director can open some of those doors!

@Karen I quoted Alec Couros in my last presentation,
Let us forget the term “technical support” and focus on “innovation support”.

If I could freely pick a title it would be 'agent of change'... it leaves a lot to the imagination!

Nancy J. said...

I have often heard the tiel of coach, which infers collaboration. That is the title I would prefer as it suggests a partnership and guiding. That works for me, at least.
Thanks so much for sharing your incubating cartoon. as a newbie to the conference, I can relate!!