As I walked home from the Austin Convention Center to our hotel, I kept seeing people with these cool Techy Tribe Vibe shirts and matching backpacks. I asked one of them about their matching attire and they told me about Ector County’s #TechyTribe Ambassadors in Odessa, TX. The story sounded so cool that I just HAD to find out more information.

I interviewed Lauren Tavarez, the Digital Learning Director for Ector County ISD and the leader of the #TechyTribe, and she explained how the program works.

Ector County Independent School District

Ector County ISD is a west Texas school district headquartered in Odessa. The district employees over 2,000 teachers to provide instruction to over 31,000 students.

#TechyTribe Beginnings

The #TechyTribe was created five years ago by the Digital Learning Specialists at Ector County School District. These are technology people who understand how to apply technology to assist teachers in the classroom. To expand their reach, Ector County ISD Digital Learning searched for teachers in the district that have a natural interest in teaching with technology and invited them to join the Techy Tribe Ambassador program. The first year they brought 11 #TechyTribe Ambassadors to the TCEA convention.

#TechyTribe Ambassadors

Once teachers join the #TechyTribe Ambassador program, they spend a year learning the #TechyTribe ethos of how to enhance the learning experience using technology, and how to work together as a team to bring excitement and fun to the process. After one year they are on board and understand what effective use of technology in teaching looks like.

Ector County ISD is a district that partcipates in the Teacher Incentive Allotment; at the end of the year many of the #TechyTribe Ambassadors will receive this incentive pay for their students’ accelerated performance and growth, in part due to their effective use of digital tools in their classrooms.

In addition, #TechyTribe Ambassdor teachers become known as leaders in the district and are often chosen for Teacher of the Year.

#TechyTribe Culture

Lauren Tavarez told me “Culture is important. We call it our #TechyTribe Family.” I could attest to this in my time spent with the #TechyTribe at TCEA in Austin. They were alway laughing, having fun, and proud to be a part of bringing technology learning to the classroom.

Building close relationships between the Digital Learning Specialist (DLS) and the Ambassador is accomplished over time. The DLS visits a school campus once every week.

#TechyTribe started with 11 people and it has grown over time. The Ector County School District and school board has fully the effort, allowing the program to send 40 people the TCEA in 2024 in a chartered bus.

Tech Tasting

When a #TechyTribe Ambassadors comes to TCEA, they are expected to pick one thing they love, and then go home a Digital Learning Specialist will help the Ambassador prepare a special learning session for what they call “Tech Tasting” – a quick presentation of the technology for other teachers. This helps spread the knowledge and show other teachers how technology can be used to enhance the educational experience of students.

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