One-third of my job is public relations and community networking. Not just helping with the district website but actually being active in the community to promote learning.
I don't believe my job is just for students in the preK-12th grades. As an educator, everyone has the opportunity to learn something new. And in a community, there are places where I can learn that don't require a trip to Austin, Houston, Philadelphia or other places. I can learn (and I prefer to learn) from a variety of places.
When I first arrived here as the CTO, I had no idea what to expect. I didn't have any connections in town. I had no experience in district leadership. So I reached out to others in my position just in town. I contacted the local hospital, the local city government, the local utility company, and the local college to find CTOs.
I hosted a lunch with all these people to pick their brains but also to share how I could help them in whatever way I could. We even were able to talk about common issues: recycling old computers, system management, SANs, and even email retention. We now have a site where we share resources. And our meetings aren't as often but we do call or email when we have immediate concerns.
Another aspect of the job is meeting with the local Hill Country Computer Club which is made up mostly of our retired community members. I remember the first time I was invited, I shocked the group by going into explanations of cloud computing and mobile devices in 2009. They told me afterward that they were expecting me to show pictures of students using computers in the school and I didn't do that. They were absolutely thrilled to learn so much and I make an annual appearance with the group to share each year.
Recently, the local university invited my input into their spending of a grant to build a lab for pre-service teachers. I have offered to provide them with some real professional development in using the tools they will be installing in the lab and will commit to helping them learn to use real resources found in many schools today.
Add to all this the meetings with our other local technology directors in surrounding ISDs whether it is the San Antonio group or the Hill Country group or even the Region 20 group; there is such community within our field to connect in person and to find common solutions.
I say all this because I think it is VITAL for people in our field to connect more than just at conferences or in online listservs and Twitter feeds. Being part of a thriving community within the place you live and work helps you find support that is a phone call or email away. We can get lost in negativity when things just aren't working the way we want so having a support system is really something I can't stress enough for people in educational technology.