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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation
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An Open Letter to Techy Teachers

As the new school year gets underway, there will be plenty of times when the "techy" teachers are going to be asked to help others get their classrooms set up. As I spent the first few days helping my friends put their digital lives together, I made sure to follow some important tips I learned over the years. Follow these tips and helping teachers get ready will be a breeze.

1) Listen

It seems simple enough, but I've seen too many tech support people just come in and plug computers in and re-start programs without really listening to what the problem is. Take a moment and listen to their specific problem, and ask the questions you need to ask. This makes the person feel better about the whole situation.

2) Avoid Saying "It's Easy"

Just because it is easy for you, doesn't mean it is easy. The phrase has a way of making people feel stupid if it was not easy for them. Just tell them you will be happy to help.

3) Show, Tell, and Let Them Try

It is important that you show them the process of fixing their problem. The saying about teaching someone to fish applies here. It is easier to just do it, but if you can show them how to resolve the problem on their own, they might not need to call you for help next time. Even better, they might be able to assist others who might have called for your help.

4) Follow up

I feel it is always important to follow up in the next day or two. Sometimes the problem doesn't stay fixed or another issue comes up and they are afraid to bug you for more help. A follow-up lets people know that you are still available to assist if needed. Helping teachers with tech is as much about relationships as it is fixing things. If people feel comfortable, they will be more willing to ask for support and take advice.

These four steps have helped me help many teachers over the years. Consider them the next time you get a distress call for serious tech support. Happy teching!

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