Thinking about Educational Technology Appreciation Day brings a distinct memory to my mind. It was 30 years ago, and I was in my classroom staring at my Macintosh Classic computer screen.
To be honest, it was so long ago I don’t remember exactly what was wrong with the computer. I just remember the panic I felt when I saw the screen. Was I going to lose ALL of my work? I knew there was only one person who could help me: Henry. I ran down to the teachers’ lounge to call him. He was one of two computer repair technicians that worked for the school district at that time, and he was located at the district’s maintenance office. When he picked up the phone, I quickly told him what was wrong. He quickly said, “Whatever you do, don’t….” Again, it’s been a long time, so I can’t exactly remember what he told me not to do! But I remember that I let a student try to troubleshoot my computer before I called Henry (big mistake), and that student had done exactly what Henry told me NOT to do. Ugh!
He said he’d be right over. It wasn’t too long before Henry arrived, and sure enough, he knew exactly what to do. Henry took those types of calls daily. He quietly went from school to school, helping teachers, administrators, and office personnel with whatever kind of technology problems they were facing.
Ed Tech Staff Is Vital
There are thousands of “Henrys” across the state of Texas. Every school district has employees who help their students and staff with a myriad of technology issues. These activities range from training on a new software application or device to telephone assistance, network outages, device repair, or software glitches. Since I made that desperate call to Henry in the early 1990s, our dependence on technology has only increased. These employees are essential to the instructional success of our students and the business operation of a district. This is why TCEA is proud to sponsor Educational Technology Appreciation Day on December 8. We celebrate this day every year on the Wednesday of Computer Science Week, which is December 6-12 this year.
Ideas for Ed Tech Appreciation
To generate ideas for honoring these employees, I asked the TCEA staff and some technology directors for suggestions on expressing gratitude and appreciation to all the “Henrys” in your district. Below is a compilation of their recommendations.
Who doesn’t love treats? You could provide:
- Jars with snacks (healthy and/or candy)
- Popcorn (a mixture of cheese and caramel is my favorite!)
- Gift cards to their favorite beverage place: Sonic, Starbucks, etc.
- Homemade sweets (cookies, fudge, cake pops)
- Breakfast or lunch (bagels or doughnuts with coffee, pizza or burgers with soft drinks)
- Lunch, as your treat, off campus
Words of Affirmation
Everyone likes to hear how their work has positively impacted others. Here are a few ways to say thanks:
- Handwritten notes are always in style!
- Commandeer the high school scoreboard and make their names flash all day long for the whole community to see.
- Create a Kudoboard for each staff member and encourage the district staff to post notes on each board
- Record a short interview with each tech staff about what they love most about serving others. Post it on various social media platforms, tagging them and bragging on them.
- Ask your superintendent to recognize the tech staff at each campus during a morning or afternoon meeting.
- Create a social media post for each staff member with their photo and what they do to help the district. Make them go viral!
- Create a FlipGrid for the staff and encourage the district to post short videos thanking them for all they do.
Throw some type of event that lets them know how special they are!
- Organize some type of unusual outing. At TCEA, we went to a place where we learned how to throw axes. It was so much fun!
- Create some type of digital scavenger hunt using Apps like GooseChase or Geocache. My staff used to love to go on Geocaching adventures.
- Give them an afternoon off!
- Rent a local theater so you can enjoy a movie together.
- Find some place to take them where they can be together and have fun (zoo, a lake, a sporting event, etc.).
- Get the high school band or choir to come serenade them for all of their hard work.
These are just a few ways to demonstrate your appreciation for your tech staff. I’d love to hear from you about how you have acknowledged this critical group of employees. Every one of us has had a “Henry” in our lives. They’ve not only made our lives easier, but at times, they have gotten us out of a big jam. Let’s show them how much we appreciate them, not just on Educational Technology Appreciation Day, but every day.