I’m known at Innovations for Learning as a tech guy, but I’ve done a little of everything over the years — from restaurant ownership to law enforcement to mortgage brokering, as well as computer repair and maintenance.
I came to IFL in the summer of 2009 to fill a temporary position doing TeacherMate field installations in Chicago Public School classrooms.
My position has morphed. Now it’s mainly online tech support for our TutorMate program. My main task is to provide real-time support for our volunteer tutors and students coast to coast. I work from a bank of computer screens in suburban Chicago, communicating to dozens of classrooms every school day.
Keeping that all going has its challenges. When you combine kids and personal computers, you’re going to have lots of little things go wrong: adjusting the volume, resizing windows, closing programs that students open by accident. Children often change settings on the PCs in the classroom, sometimes disrupting tutoring sessions in mid-session, or prevent them from starting.
I have created my own systems to keep us afloat. My mornings are filled with preparation, preparation, and more preparation — making sure I am properly connected remotely to all the classrooms, for starters.
As you might imagine, new technology is not always 100 percent, so we are almost always finding ourselves thinking outside the box when trying out solutions. And I’m always communicating with teachers to correct problems or fix the settings themselves.
Although I provide support to so many, I myself receive support from many team members. This goes a long way to getting to our collective goals.
My perfect scenario is seeing all the processes of tutoring flow together to create that great tutoring experience.
Every year there are certain classrooms, teachers and tutors who just get it. They come together time after time to get their sessions up and running, like a mini orchestra. From these observations, I can always predict which classrooms are excelling, it’s a pleasure to watch it unfold. That makes my day.
My goal is to see more of those classroom-tutor-teacher combos excel as they get it.Frank Spranze email@example.com