A day in the life of a Library Technology Educator — and the purpose behind it all.
GUEST COLUMN | by Tracy Mayberry
Asked where I work and what I do, my usual reply is, “I’m an L.T.E. for Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary School with Colorado Springs School District 11 (CSSD 11).” This normally produces a quizzical stare. “LTE stands for Library Technology Educator,” I explain. The look is still there. My next response: “I’m responsible for anything that has to do with the library or technology at King.” At that point, there’s finally some sort of acknowledgment of understanding. I often don’t mention the educator component, but that, too, is woven into the library and technology duties.
I’ve been the LTE at King going on four years now, and each year has been different — just as each day has been different. All the while, I’ve watched the certified school librarian jobs in districts around the state diminish.
I am thankful that my job has a technology component, as that is where I’ve grown the most. Some of the technology items I’m responsible for are:
-printer installation and maintenance
-equipment set-up and care
-wireless network support and
-administering on-line assessments.
But my favorite responsibility? Educating and assisting staff and students with technology integration. In other words, figuring out what technology tool will work best to help achieve the objective of the lesson, and to help students achieve academically. This, of course, leads to another technology duty: helping staff and students when the technology doesn’t work as anticipated.
At King, every teacher has a desktop computer that connects to a mounted overhead projector, a document camera, and most have a colored printer in their classroom. There are also three or four student desktop computers in each classroom, as well as a computer lab with 30 student computers. Additionally, we have about 90 laptops and/or netbooks available for use. We’ve also ventured into the iPad world with 24 varying types of Apple devices — and I’m responsible for scheduling usage of all this equipment.
Of course, technology without content wouldn’t be very useful. Some of the educational materials available to our students include: Accelerated Reader, Discovery Education, Destiny, ST Math, WorldBook, EBSCO, TumbleBooks, Pebble Go, Kidspiration, StrataLogica, Timeliner, Type to Learn and web-based materials that supplement classroom textbooks. Plus, a few teachers are using other web-based products like Edmodo and Google Earth. Most of these materials are provided by CSSD 11; some, King has purchased — and, luckily, some are free.
This is a lot to keep track of! Thank goodness I don’t have to do this by myself. As King has over 300 students, this qualifies our library for two full-time library technology staff members. Mrs. Atencio is our Library Technology Technician (yes, that job title gets a look of confusion, too!).
I also must say that schools in D-11 are privileged to have such strong support at the district level; I often call staff from the Learning Resource Service and Information Technology departments for guidance and support (and I’m fortunate that they almost always answer!).
As for my approach, I work differently with each person because everyone has different needs. For example, one day I may ensure a class has six laptops at a certain time as students in that class will be researching states in small groups. Then I demonstrate how to use StrataLogica to a class whose objective is to label where Colorado Native American tribes lived at a certain period in history. While the students make maps, I show the teacher how they can send this information to her electronically. Later that day, a student comes to get me because his computer login won’t work. I may then hear from a teacher that the classroom printer isn’t working. Finally, a student comes to find a book on snakes. The one she wants is out, but I show her an electronic title she can check out, that is, if she has something to view it with at home. This is all very rewarding.
A challenge for me is when technology doesn’t work as anticipated or practiced. It’s certainly frustrating — and can even be used as a reason for someone to not implement much technology in a classroom. However, in the long run I believe even these experiences are beneficial because they teach us problem-solving and critical-thinking skills. They also help us to be creative. It is often through the “mistakes” that we learn best. These are definitely skills everyone needs to survive and thrive.
Ironically, I can relate to the many individuals who find technology challenging. I certainly did not become an LTE because I’m one of those people that are the first to try a new technology tool — I’m not the first. However, I do appreciate what technology can do for us. Certainly, it can help education professionals to entice their learners — and many times it can assist in presenting academic material in its most interesting, attractive or effective form.
At the end of the day, I believe it is our job to take advantage of whatever tools are available to support student achievement and engagement. Technology is definitely one of those tools. I became an LTE because I wanted to help people to help themselves. I was initially more interested in the library research component of my position — but as time goes on, I have realized that it is the technology component that has positively affected me the most.
Tracy Mayberry is the Library Technology Educator at King Elementary School, a national Blue Ribbon School in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Write to: [email protected]