My blog title comes from an aviation instructor whom I love working with at my institution. Two years ago, he sat in the back of the class while I did a presentation on “Tech Tools.” This presentation became the major turning point in my career. It was the moment that I stopped talking about how to write essays as a comp teacher and stood in front of my peers to talk about educational technology. Unlike many other folks in the audience who challenged or applauded my ideas, this aviation teacher sat quietly taking notes on his iPad. If somebody had asked me if there was one person in the class that didn’t like what I was doing, I would have pointed him out. As I walked to my car killing myself with the things I should have said, I pegged him as the audience who thought my presentation was a total waste of his time.
Weeks later, I heard from several people that he had taught them something from my presentation. Others told me that he gave them so much information that he learned from me and he questioned why we didn’t have more of these types of opportunities. As a professional technical teacher, he has limited time to learn new teaching methods and he praised my work effusively to others. Really?! What?!
Many prof. tech. classes are based on “seat time” so teachers have very little time to themselves. They are surrounded by their students constantly which is both a blessing and a curse. Months later, I learned that he was one of my biggest champions for the new field that I was exploring. Personally this helped solidify that the risk I was taking in changing my career. Perhaps what I was studying would be welcomed by the very same people I wanted to help: teachers. Professionally, he has no idea how much he helped me.
Since then, I have put more effort into working with professional technical educators. When I had a itty-bitty budget to take faculty to a conference, I invited this aviation instructor and a cosmetology instructor to attend the Assessment, Teaching, & Learning Conference. The invitation came with a caveat; they had to propose a presentation the following year.
A few weeks ago, we met online to brainstorm what we are going to do, and I got such a kick out of working with them. I kept trying to compliment them that they have to innovate in their fields because of industry standards. They can’t keep doing the same old song and dance in the classroom because standards change. Students change. Hairstyles change. Airplanes change.
As we discussed pedagogical “buzzwords” and educator theory speak, I was stunned silent when the instructor said, “We already do this; I just didn’t know there’s a word for it.” I listened to these wonderfully kind and caring teachers talk about how they can help other prof. tech. teachers. The are wizards of the workaround to help students learn and succeed. When I’ve had enough of the ed. tech haters and the news of current events, I need to remember these teachers.
A whole month has gone by with little accomplished in the way of the FLC. I’ve mailed books, and I’ve started reading. I’m devoting this month to organizing what’s next for us. I’ve daydreamed about possibilities.
One FLC success: the five colleges have begun sharing more faculty-to-faculty workshops. We are in contact more. We’re trying to make this happen. We have one member in flux with a new position, one just lost her eLearning Director, and two faculty overwhelmed with being faculty. And then there’s me.
Note to Facilitators and future grant writers: Nail down dates to meet during the summer. Don’t try to build-it-as-you-go. It may never get off the ground the way that you envisioned.