#ICE16: How I Learned that It’s Not About the Technology

New Beginnings

Let me start by saying that I am an Instructional Technology Coach and I love technology. It is my first year in this position and last week I was finally able to attend the #ICE16 Conference. Being my first big educational tech conference I was fully expecting to come away from it with a long list of new apps, programs, and tech to try out which I did (my Amazon WishList has doubled over this past week). But something interesting happened as I sat in on keynotes, workshops, breakout sessions, and discussions. Rubbing shoulders with my tech peers and superiors I began to understand the deeper power and responsibility of being a tech coach. It was here at #ICE16 where I began my metamorphosis into being more than just the guy who makes amazing newsletters, it was here that I felt as though I’d been handed the Keys to the Kingdom.


The Culture

My mind shift all began with an amazing keynote by Adam Bellow (which can be viewed here) on a multitude of topics in education. Aside from a pleasant trip down memory lane in #EduTech, Adam really hit a some key problems and points in education. Something that really stuck out to me was the lack of time that teachers are given to learn new technology. Being flooded with new iPads and a new program for reading and “We Have Chromebooks Now!” teachers are drowning in the best new thing! Instead of hopscotching from one new thing to another we should focus on the quality of the tech integration. Districts educational Technologyare leaving teachers behind if they are constantly changing their tech and instruction. What ends up happening is you have a handful of teachers who can keep up and the rest are scattered at different levels trying to catch up. Adam talked about walking into many classrooms finding students working on worksheets on iPads. This is not successful integration of technology. It is merely doing what we’ve always done but in a digital way. Innovation is only successful when it is integrated properly which can only happen if the teachers, support staff, and administrators fully understand the innovation. That’s where my role of being an Instructional Technology Coach comes in.


This is my first year as an Instructional Technology Coach and in the history of education many teachers associate the term “coach” in a negative way. A successful coach is the bridge between the administration and the teachers. In many districts this can leave a coach feeling alone, especially if they cannot connect with teachers. My first year has been going well. Before my coaching position I was an LMC Para in a different school but in the same district and so it was a fairly smooth transition into where I am now. Still it can be hard when your teammates are in different buildings. It often feels like I am running solo in my position.

At ICE I began using my dormant Twitter account and began following speakers and attendees. I rediscovered the power of social networking and micro PD. Over this past week my online connections has exploded, my PLN consists of educators that I respect and enjoy listening to. Having a great PLN really helped me find some daily motivation to keep doing a great job and striving to do a better one.

At #ICE16 I ran into many doppelgangers of myself. I felt like I was with my people. Educators who were deft in technology and knew how to use it effectively. Huddled shoulder to shoulder in overcrowded conference rooms I felt the camaraderie with my fellow nerds and realized that this was missing in my school and district.  Although the notion of team and togetherness is often shouted out at the beginning of the year at the district breakfast it takes more than just spoken words to truly attain this. Ironically it was at a Tech Conference where I learned that it was not about the technology, but the people.

The Now

The conference encouraged me to start this blog. I am no expert but I am highly motivated and want to share my experience with my peers and friends. I am still an instructional technology coach but I have learned to move deeper into my role and right now my focus is strengthening the relationships in my community of educators. It was so great to meet so many of you last week and would love to keep in touch.

I would love to hear how #ICE16 has impacted you and your teaching!

Join my PLN and follow me on Twitter: @fiveironobrien



Adam Bellow picture taken from http://connectlearningtoday.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/adam.jpg




  1. Aaron, this is a great post I learned about over at Ed Tech group on G+. I resonated with this as I am almost the same boat as you. Relatively new tech coach with the freedom to create, explore, etc., I created a website to help my teachers with easing into technology integration in a way that makes sense to them. Working on how to videos, processes, etc. Looking forward to hearing of you own experiences as well. Maybe a Technology Coach group would be in order?


  2. Hey David,
    So glad I joined that group! And thanks for leaving a comment! What is your website? I would love to check it out. I feel like our position is still a relatively new one and it has been hard for me to find many good groups specifically designed for Tech Coaches. I am, however, part of a great Google+ group for Instructional Technology Integrators & Coaches. You should join us! Here’s the link.


    It’s one of the best groups that I am in on Google+. Find me on twitter, that is where I am most active! Hope we can connect!


  3. Great post Aaron! I’m a first year coach as well and it was first time at ICE too! Next year you should present! So true that it’s about the people and not the tech! Now we just need to get all teachers to see that!

    Liked by 1 person

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