The Power of Support

When I tell people I’m an ITRT, it’s almost always followed by “What’s that?” Rather than hand them the 43 page handbook provided by the Virginia Department of Education documenting my roles and responsibilities, I simply respond with this:

“I’m a technology integrator. I support teachers as they learn how to use technology with their students in the classroom.”

My role is support.

My official title is Instructional Technology Resource Teacher (ITRT), but it’s a little misleading at times. I don’t have a class filled with students to call my own. I’m not a resource teacher that works with every student in the school each week. I don’t teach a keyboarding class.

I am a teacher of teachers.

My purpose is instruction.

My tool is technology.

My role is a resource.

All ITRTs are licensed teachers. We taught at least three years in the classroom prior to this role and many of us hold advanced degrees and certifications. (I have my masters degree in Educational Leadership and am licensed as a K-5 teacher and PK-12 administrator.) Every five years we provide documentation for relicensure which includes almost two hundred hours or more of professional development in our field.

Our resumes extend past the page as we take on leadership positions in our schools and district, manage projects and initiatives, present at conferences and more. But at the end of the day, our role as teachers is support.

We are here for you.

My first week of school was vastly different than my fellow classroom teachers. Each day was filled with meetings. Team-building activities. Projectplanning. Collaboration. Learning. Troubleshooting. The trays of information set before us constantly shifted as we prioritized, projected and planned.

See, most of the time we are not on the front lines of instruction. While there are times we collaborate in the classroom co-leading lessons with teachers, the bulk of our job is placed in the foundation that creates the support structure for learning to occur.

We provide professional development for our teachers to learn new things as technology constantly evolves.

We coach others in how to make lessons more effective, more engaging, more relevant. We model quality instruction that integrates technology when invited to co-teach in the classroom.

We manage software programs like Seesaw and customize hardware like iPads so students can use tools that provide opportunities for creativity, communication and collaboration.

We connect with others digitally and take initiative for our own learning so we can help teachers and administrators make decisions about best tools and resources for their specific purpose at hand.

We design handbooks to make learning more efficient. We create checkout schedules for websites and customize spreadsheets from digital forms.

We explore programs to work out the kinks. We troubleshoot issues as they arise. We streamline information into manageable, bite-sized pieces and constantly communicate with our team and stakeholders.

We learn something new each day.

Our role is multi-faceted, ever-changing, and at times completely bewildering. Even we get lost in the muddle sometimes.

We may find ourselves on the sidelines of instruction, but we are always on the forefront of change.

We discover.

We create.

We do.

The power of support is in those things unseen.

We are here for you.

Authorship Information:

Tamara Letter has been an  educator since 1997 and is currently an Instructional Technology Resource Teacher for Hanover County Public Schools. Tamara loves being a mom to her three children, supporting student choice and voice in education, and writing.  She started out as a blogger telling stories about  random acts of kindness (RAKs) and has expanded her publications with organizations such as ISTE, Tech4Learning, and more. You can find her on Twitter @tamaraletter.

Originally Published September 14, 2017

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