Adding Technology Capacity to Buildings Through Coaching

coaching terms wordle

Our district is considering adopting an Instructional Coaching Model in our elementary buildings next year to support our ELA adoption. I love the idea of having more support for teachers in the buildings in any capacity. These new coaches won’t specifically be in buildings to support technology but if we can mesh some training around ways technology can support reading, writing and language we can develop capacity in teachers and coaches to use those tools in other ways or for other purposes.

We can already leverage the technology capacity we’ve nurtured the last few years with our Future Ready Teacher cohort. There have been three groups of teachers who have spent a year of ongoing, hands on technology integration training and who have stepped up to become tech leaders in their buildings. Some of the new coaches may come from this pool of teachers and bring with them the expertise and skills they’ve acquired. In other buildings, we’ve developed the capacity for technology leadership that can help support new coaches if we consciously provide opportunities for them to work together.

The ISTE Standards for Coaches help lay out some of the essential areas of focus for Tech coaches. Coaches can be both just in time support and training resources for teachers but can also serve as a communication channel between teachers and administration and can help promote a bigger picture view of technology usage in the classroom. Many districts have successfully provided access and devices to staff and students but still struggle with getting the usage to move beyond substitution level. Coaches can bring perspective, experience and skills that busy teachers haven’t had time to acquire. They can be leaders in their buildings and help communicate a vision of a new way of thinking about instruction that is supported by technology.

It’s not easy to find amazing teachers who are strong in both their content areas and technology. I suspect we’ll find the strong content providers in our district and we’ll have to train them up to be strong tech leaders as well. The article,  How Districts Can Adopt a Tech Coaching Model (Kipp 2017) suggests that having a clear job description that spells out the expectations around technology and a systematic, ongoing training cycle can best support new coaches.

Most coaching models center around training and support for coaches as well as clear expectations for the coaching role. In Peer Coaching, Foltos (2013) suggests a written coaching plan that can help both teacher and coach stay focused on the learning targets and have clear norms and purposes for the coaching relationship. The Edutopia article, Instructional Coaching: Driving Meaningful Tech Integration (2015) highlights a high school that created a successful model using a BDA (Before, During, After) cycle. It’s easy to remember and clearly defines the working relationship around a lesson. The article does point out that successful coaching models depend on a flexible schedule for coaches so that they can move were they are needed and also have time for the informal conversations that help build solid relationships with teachers.

I like the idea of combining mentors and coaches in this model Mary Beth Hertz shares in Mentoring and Coaching for Effective Tech Integration (Hertz 2011) to leverage expertise in the building and add to the tech coaches ability to meet people’s needs. If every teacher who received a cart of mobile devices also received a mentor who had used a cart in their classroom for a few years, I wonder how much faster we could be moving toward more creative uses of technology in our classrooms?

For myself, I want to see more technology coaches in action. Local conferences and users groups provide some opportunity for learning and sharing with other coaches. However, it would be interesting to set up chances to visit other districts or do a coach exchange for a day and swap places with someone to learn more about their system and they can learn about ours. More opportunities to work on coordinated projects, like EdCamps, with other districts would also benefit our teachers and new coaches by providing access to new ideas and new resources.

References

Bentley, K. (2017). How School Districts Can Adopt the Technology Coach ModelCenterdigitaled.com. Retrieved 11 December 2017, from http://www.centerdigitaled.com/blog/technology-coaches.html

Foltos, L. (2013). Peer coaching: Unlocking the Power of Collaboration. Thousand Oaks: Corwin.

Hertz, M. (2011). Mentoring and Coaching for Effective Tech IntegrationEdutopia. Retrieved 11 December 2017, from https://www.edutopia.org/blog/mentoring-coaching-tech-integration-mary-beth-hertz

Instructional Coaching: Driving Meaningful Tech Integration. (2015). Edutopia. Retrieved 11 December 2017, from https://www.edutopia.org/practice/instructional-coaching-driving-meaningful-tech-integration

ISTE Standards For Coaches. (2011). Iste.org. Retrieved 11 December 2017, from https://www.iste.org/standards/for-coaches

 

The Coach – Administrator Connection: Module 5

Connecting and Collaborating with Administrators as an Instructional Technology Coach

This week in my final blog post of the quarter for my class on Educational Technology Leadership my question has led me to investigate how an instructional technology coach can partner with administrators to support and extend the learning that is happening through coaching. I have an interest in asking this question because I think that in my coaching role increased engagement and collaboration with administrators would benefit my coaching practice and the teachers and students at my schools. As I’ve written about before however, based on the literature I’ve read I am also in a unique position being in multiple schools. In addition to being in multiple schools, the fact that I’m in the middle of my first year as a coach also probably helps to explain why I may feel a slight disconnect to administrators in my building. So my questions, what does an engaged administrator do to support a coach in their building? And how can I help to engage administrators to make the most of my coaching role in their schools? Those questions will likely make sense to my peers who have been reading my previous posts this quarter because they are in a similar vein to my other posts. I was excited to investigate what an engaged administrator might look like from a coaching role, and brainstorm what I might be able to do to help further engage the administrators I work with. I also want to add that my past experience as a teacher in a school with an administrator who collaborated and met with her coaches regularly, did in fact give me an idea about some of the things an engaged administrator might do with coaches.

As I was looking for resources to guide my investigation I found a blog post written by Elena Aguilar titled “10 Ways for Administrators to Support Coaches,” which made my search fairly easy.

Some of the takeaways for me from this post are:

  • Align on a coaching model

That is one of the things I have been wondering about during this year. What do principals expect of me as a coach? What is their idea of the coaching model I am following? Aguilar suggests that coaches and administrators discuss these questions and more, then she adds, “Discussing these with a coach can lead to more cohesion and clarity as well as surface any large discrepancies” Aguilar (2014). In my monthly meetings with administrators I would like to get a better sense of what type of coaching model would best benefit their school.

  • Learn Together

Our team has often talked about what learning is happening at elementary leadership meetings but as of now we are not included. I think knowing that learning would help us support each other. The point of Elena Aguilar, (2014) though is, principals can ask questions of coaches to learn about instructional best practices and I think if principals were doing that collegiality between administrators and coaches would grow as well. Maybe another approach is inviting administrators to our professional development. Maybe asking them to come to NCCE is an opportunity to build trust, and mutual support for one another.   

  • Support Your Coaches Learning

This point encourages administrators to invest in a coaches learning and growth through PD. The author suggests that learning to instruct adults is often the most difficult thing for coaches to learn, so investing in that growth will in turn help coaches and teachers. As I provide PD for schools this year I’m going to ask for explicit feedback about how to improve my work. I was able to give my first whole staff PD last Friday, and now I think my next step is to solicit feedback form the principal and assistant principal.

  • Offer Leadership Guidance

Aguilar says, “coaches are leaders who need leadership development” (2014),  and that is definitely how I feel. Certain staff members, but not all, do seem to look to me as a leader. Often, I’m asked about the plans of the district. A lot of that depends on my coaching relationship with that staff member. Guidance from a leader is definitely something I am looking for in my position and in each of my schools. Again, I think this often comes up in whole staff PD settings so asking administrators who sit in for those trainings about how I handle staff questions is a good next step for me.

  • Appreciate your Coaches

This point is about recognizing the contribution that a coach makes to your school. I understand that I’m still working on my contributions, but I admit it would be nice if an administrator knew what I was doing. In my monthly meetings with administrators we do get to talk about what I‘m doing in the school, but usually I’m leading that part of the conversation. I am hopeful though that sometime later in the year, they hear about my work from a teacher and mention it to me in one of our meetings. That’s recognition for me!

It also seems that as I am given the opportunity to speak in front of a staff more often and if I continue to ask for feedback from administrators they will certainly see some of the work I am doing. As an instructional coach in a handful of schools my role might be unique or at least of less focus in the literature I have read but many of the same concepts still apply. One overarching theme this quarter has been building relationships and I recognize that just as I am doing that with teachers, I am still definitely doing that with administrators. I’m hoping that the reading I’ve done for this post will keep me moving in the direction of strengthening relationships with administrators and in turn will allow me to experience greater buy-in and participation in coaching in each of my schools. 

Resources

Aguilar, E. (2014, October 9). 10 Ways for Administrators to Support Coaches. Retrieved December 10, 2017, from http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/coaching_teachers/2014/10/10_ways_for_administrators_to_.html?cmp=SOC-SHR-FB

Foltos, L. (2013). Peer Coaching : Unlocking the Power of Collaboration. Thousand Oaks, California: Corwin.

Walpert-Gawron, H. (2016, June). How to Be a Change Agent:The Many Roles of an Instructional Coach. Educational Leadership, 73. Retrieved December 11, 2017, from http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/jun16/vol73/num09/The-Many-Roles-of-an-Instructional-Coach.aspx

“How’m I Doing?”: How to Tell if Peer Coaching is Working and if You’re Doing it Right

A Seemingly Simple Question I’m the kind of person who likes feedback. I like to know if I’m headed in the right direction and if I’m doing the right things to get there. The late Ed Koch, former Mayor of New York, used to ask people, “How’m I doing?” and it quickly became a sort-of … Continue reading "“How’m I Doing?”: How to Tell if Peer Coaching is Working and if You’re Doing it Right"

Digital Readiness Project

Background

For my culminating project for my Values, Ethics, and Foundations in Digital Education class, I was asked to assess the digital readiness of a school district by conducting an interview and then completing a report. In considering the questions to ask to gauge the district’s digital readiness, I was not sure if I was asking the right questions or asking enough questions. The topic of digital education is a very broad one. Ultimately, I devised my questions based on the following sources: ISTE Coaching Standards, Ribble’s Nine Elements of Digital Citizenship, and the Digital Leap Success Matrix published by the Consortium for School Networking. My professor helped me to further refine and clarify my questions.

This district I analyzed serves students in a largely impoverished rural community. It is a small district comprised of three elementary schools and one junior high school. The district serves 3,530 students and employs 155 teachers Nearly half (46.5%) of students are classified as English Language Learners whose first language is Spanish. Additionally, 8.6% of students receive Special Education Services. The district has a graduation rate of 92%. 83.6% of students qualify for free or reduced lunch. The interview was conducted in November of 2017 via a collaborative Google Doc with the district’s technology integration coach, who wished to remain anonymous.

Philosophy

Before getting into the practical questions, I wanted to get a feel for my interviewee’s philosophy on technology in education. In my experience, a person’s individual beliefs greatly influence their attitude and actions. Individual philosophy plays a large part in successfully implementing technology in a district, from the superintendent, principals, coaches, and teachers–all must be onboard in order to truly achieve success.

My guiding questions were: What role should technology play in education? and What responsibilities do educators have in teaching students to safely use technology? My interviewee sees the role of technology as an accelerator in the classroom. The district is focused on implementing the 4 C’s of 21st Century Learning (Creativity, Collaboration, Communication, and Critical Thinking) and technology offers an opportunity to redefine the skills and tasks necessary to meet that goal. He also cited a quote by Alice Keeler, an author and Twitter-guru: “Good teachers can’t be replaced by technology. What tech does is allow teachers to spend more time focusing on their learners and buildings those relationships” (2014). As far as individual teacher responsibility, it must be a priority for teachers to explicitly teach and model digital literacy and citizenship. Students need this guidance from teachers because “[w]e are ushering in a new era of digital users who need relevant and moral examples and experiences to share and shape their digital impact.” 

Successes

Community Support

A benefit of being part of a small community is that you can bring multiple stakeholders together. The district is fortunate to have the support of the local government including an educational partnership initiative with a full-time director. Through this partnership, students are served via a library/learning center within walking distance to 3 of the district’s 4 schools. Services provided at this center include a library, a computer lab, and low-cost supplemental classes for students and parents. This access is a blessing to many students in the community and helps bridge the digital divide with its free computer and internet use.

Devices & Access

In terms of access to technology on campus, the district has made great strides in a short period of time. Prior to the investment in Chromebooks, the district had little IT support and investment in technology was low. Each school site had a computer lab, some classrooms had a handful (2-4) of older PCs for student access, and each teacher had a PC. A roving class-set of 10-year-old mini-laptops was available at each site. The internet was very slow and did not allow for multiple classes to access simultaneously. In just five years, the use of technology has completely shifted. Each student K-8 has access to a Chromebook in the classroom. The internet has been updated. Additional IT support staff have been hired, including my interviewee who works full-time supporting teachers as they integrate technology into the curriculum.

One way that the district is planning for the future of technology in learning is by investing in a robust infrastructure. Funds are set aside in the district budget for longterm repairs and replacement of their chosen device, Chromebooks. In addition, for each order of Chromebooks, the district purchased an additional 25% to serve as backups in case of damage. Teachers experiencing a broken Chromebook can request a replacement.

Digital Citizenship

With the addition of Chromebooks into the classroom came the need to implement digital citizenship. In searching for an existing curriculum that met the ISTE Standards to “[m]odel and facilitate safe, healthy, legal, and ethical uses of digital information and technologies,” the district discovered the Common Sense Media framework which consists of differentiated lessons for students K-12 (ISTE Standards: Coaches, 2011). The lessons are based on the research of Dr. Howard Gardner and the Good Play Project at Harvard. The purpose of the program is to “address[] real challenges for teachers and students to help schools navigate cyberbullying, internet safety, and other digital dilemmas” (Common Sense Education, 2017). The lessons on Common Sense Media cover Ribble’s nine elements of digital citizenship: Etiquette, Access, Law, Communication, Literacy, Commerce, Rights and Responsibility, Safety, and Health and Welfare (2013). Elementary teachers are required to implement the program which includes a scope and sequence for each grade.

Online Safety

To further ensure the safe use of technology while at school, the district takes standard precautions. At the beginning of the school year, all students, staff, and parents are required to sign the district’s Acceptable Use Policy before being allowed to access to school technology. Many teachers also use individual Chromebook contracts that outline the rules and consequences in student-friendly language. Administrators and teachers alike are responsible for monitoring students’ use of technology. They are assisted in this task with monitoring software that records every action a student takes while using a Chromebook. Other settings within Google are employed for student safety such as moderate restrictions on YouTube, disallowing of out-of-network sharing, and disabling Gmail. Furthermore, standard web search filters are in place.

Teacher Support

The district would not have been able to make as many digital strides without the teacher support organized in large part by my interviewee. This element of support and encouragement has been fundamental in getting reluctant teachers on board with technology. My interviewee’s professional development and coaching reflects the ISTE standard 5a: “Model and promote strategies for achieving equitable access to digital tools and resources and technology-related best practices for all students and teachers” (2011). His two goals are to help give struggling teachers the basic knowledge and skills they need to access the district’s 16 current systems and adoptions as well inspire and coach 21st Century educators to become innovators.

The opportunities for support within the district are incredible. After-school workshops called “Appy Hours” are held regularly. At these workshops, teachers can be paid their hourly rate to learn a variety of applicable technology skills. Different levels are offered on numerous topics so that all teachers can benefit no matter their existing technical ability. Content of the sessions is informed by teachers themselves through a survey sent at the beginning of the school year. If teachers are interested in taking their knowledge to the next level, day-long Boot Camp sessions are offered throughout the year to prepare them for Google Certification. Perhaps most unique is the ability of teachers within the district to book the technology integration coach to come into their classroom to either teach a model lesson to the class, or to work with the teacher in developing tech lessons, troubleshooting issues related to tech integration, or any other needs as they arise. Because his time is split between three schools, each site also has at least one appointed ‘Tech Ninja’ who is a volunteer tech mentor. He/she can provide help (usually same-day) if another teacher is struggling with technology use or implementation.   

Google Apps for Education

Google Apps for Education (GAfE) has been a game-changer for many teachers and students. Unlike paperwork which can easily become lost or damaged, all work completed in the Google Suite is saved automatically to the Cloud and can be accessed from any device at any time. This ability has enabled students to complete projects across disciplines and to make better use of their time (for example, if they finish early in one class, they can complete work via Google Classroom for another teacher). Students appreciate that they can collaborate with peers and receive comments, suggestions, and revisions in real-time from their teacher. They also appreciate how easy Google Classroom makes it to view the status and grade of any assignment.

Challenges

Access at Home

The most straightforward challenge within the district’s technology implementation is the lack of access within student homes. Since the district serves students from a low socio-economic background, many students lack access to computers. Many students do have access to the internet (87% according to a 2015 survey), however, that access includes parents’ Smartphones which do not offer the same learning potential as PCs or laptops. To truly bridge the digital divide will require the effort and collaboration of the school district, parents, and the city. My interviewee has a bold vision for the future. He said, “I dream of students taking devices home, checking out wifi pucks from the school library to take home, free wifi at all local businesses, [and] the city offering a reduced rate for home internet to low income families.”

Equitable Experience Across Classrooms

Another key element in moving the district forward and ensuring that all students have a quality experience with technology in the classroom is finding ways to ensure all teachers are properly trained. The district and the technology integration coach have gone above and beyond to provide opportunities for teachers to take professional development or receive individual advice through on-site Tech Ninjas and opportunities to work individually with coaches. However, many teachers still do not take advantage of the opportunities because time after school is often spent coaching sports, tutoring, grading, and performing other such tasks. New strategies that could be explored include lunchtime mini-PD sessions, hosting PD asynchronously in Google Classroom, and using district-mandated PD time.

Reflection

I came away from the interview excited for this district and where they are headed in the future. So many of the key components of successful digital implementation are in place: access, infrastructure, funding, teacher training, community support, and a solid support system to teach students digital citizenship and literacy. While the district has not yet adopted a formal digital mission statement, their actions are in line with Ribble’s stance on technology in schools: “As technology continues to become a more integral part of students’ lives, making sure that all members within school environments are well versed in appropriate use and digital citizenship will be an imperative” (2013).

Sources

Common Sense Education. (2017). Digital Citizenship. [online] Available at: https://www.commonsense.org/education/digital-citizenship [Accessed 7 Dec. 2017].

ISTE Standards: Coaches. (2011). [PDF file] International Society for Technology in Education. Available at: http://www.iste.org/docs/pdfs/20-14_ISTE_Standards-C_PDF.pdf [Accessed 6 Dec. 2017].

Keeler, A. [alicekeeler]. (2014, August 29). Good Ts can’t be replaced by tech. What tech does is allow Ts to spend more time focusing on their learners & building those relationships. [Tweet]. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/alicekeeler/status/505547536996638720

Ribble, M. and Miller, T. (2013). Educational Leadership in an Online World: Connecting Students to Technology Responsibly, Safely, and Ethically. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Network, [online] 17(1), pp.137-45. Available at: http://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ1011379 [Accessed 7 Dec. 2017].

Digital Education: Mission Statement

My Mission is To:

  • Model and promote the responsible, legal, and ethical use of technology through my personal actions.  
  • Equip all students with the tools necessary to survive and thrive in our increasingly digital world.
  • Share technological wisdom and best practices with fellow teachers via formal or informal mentorship.
  • Use technology to bridge gaps in access, knowledge, communication, and cultural understanding.

Because I believe so strongly in the potential for learning and community-building through technology, I am compelled to model and promote methods that ensure students and teachers alike can safely, ethically, and effectively use technology as we work toward a brighter future.

 

Why is technology in education no longer optional?

Students’ shifting needs

If educators truly wish to prepare students for “a future not yet written, then we need to consider the critical need for all students to receive a viable education that not only includes core content but also purposeful integration of the 4 C’s” (Johnson, 2017, p. xvii). The National Education Association’s Four C’s of 21st Century Learning include creativity, collaboration, communication, and critical thinking. This simplified framework was developed to address the changing needs of modern students: “In the 21st century, citizenship requires levels of information and technological literacy that go far beyond the basic knowledge that was sufficient in the past” (NEA.org, n.d.).

Meeting the needs of all learners

One of the most exciting promises of technology in education is the potential to bridge the gap between students of different socioeconomic statuses. This difference is known as the digital divide and it further disadvantages already at-risk students. However, students’ access to technology in school can compensate for lack of access to technology within the home: “…the power of access in the hands of motivated learners may make up for a lot of disadvantages” (Jones & Bridges, 2016).

Why is there a need for leaders in digital education?

The power of mentors

Whether sharing resources, modeling effective use of technology or providing feedback, mentors are a fundamental part of technology implementation in schools. According to Palmer, the power of mentors is that they awaken a truth within ourselves (2007). Just as students need guidance when navigating new content, teachers need support when implementing technology for the first time.

Training gaps

Policy has not caught up to practicality. 95% of all educational buildings in the United States are equipped with computers according to a report by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (2016). While an encouraging statistic, purchasing computers and equipping teachers to use them effectively are not the same. The majority of teachers in America (78%) feel that they have not received adequate technology training (Ascione, 2017).

What does it mean to be a digital education leader?

Digital wisdom

Digital wisdom is the interaction of the human mind with digital technology and the realization of the possibilities and responsibilities that that interaction affords. To put it another way, “…wisdom is needed to engage with and live within the technology and media that have become our environment” (Campbell & Garner, 2016). Digital wisdom encompasses using technology intentionally and with care and consideration given to individuals and group affected by our online actions.

Proactive, not reactive

Digital education leaders recognize that technology is a powerful tool that can be harnessed for both positive and negative outcomes. They make a distinction between the undesired behavior and the device, which is merely a tool. With this foresight, they proactively teach and model the appropriate use of technology while equipping students with the tools needed to avoid the pitfalls of technology. Leaders also approach both the consumption and production of technology within a moral framework by considering the broad implications of their actions online.

My Guiding Principles:

Ethical framework

A strong moral framework should support the decisions we make as educators, and that includes the use of technology. The ‘Golden Rule’ is a simple moral test that can be applied to every situation. Though mostly connected with the Judeo-Christian Bible, the concept of the Golden Rule can be found throughout history in various iterations within many proverbs and religious texts. At its core, the Golden Rule asks a person to consider the potential harm or benefit of one’s actions upon another. The 18th Century philosopher Immanuel Kant borrowed from the Golden Rule when shaping his Categorical Imperative. In an attempt to remove the subjectiveness of the individual in favor of a more universal interpretation, Kant called for individuals to act as they would want all others to act toward each other.

The consideration of others put forth in the Golden Rule and Categorical Imperative is reminiscent of the concept of mindfulness cited by Howard Rhinegold as a way to reclaim digital agency and attention (2012). It can also be related to Carrie James concept of conscientious connectivity which aims to cultivate agency, reconnect disconnects, and correct blind spots in technology use (2014). The underlying message is that through careful consideration of ourselves and others, we can make better choices online and also guide students in making wise and ethical choices in their online actions.

It’s not the technology; it’s what you do with the technology.

Technology is no substitute for quality teaching. It is therefore important not to become too excited about access in and of itself. What is done with the access matters most. The quality of instruction is much more important than the delivery method. Likewise, the method of use has much more value than the device itself (Jones & Bridges, 2016). This is why it is so important for districts to set aside funding for ongoing technology training and coaching where knowledgeable digital education leaders can model the effective use of technology while incorporating it with existing core standards and content.

Technology is an opportunity to “promote diversity, cultural understanding, and global awareness by using digital-age communication and collaboration tools” (ISTE Standards: Coaches, 2011). With the advent of the internet, learning is no longer tied to a physical classroom. Not only can the internet be a tool to discover new cultures and perspectives, it can facilitate communication between students from across the globe. Technology can also bridge differences in learning styles and experiences. For example, students might be offered multiple modes of information to study.

Technology creates opportunities for engagement. Student engagement is a key component of learning. When students use technology to facilitate learning, they are engaged with the content in new ways. For example, instead of reading a textbook to learn about World War II, students could view interviews with veterans online. These types of learning opportunities make content real for students.

Technology also provides opportunities for ownership. Educators are doing a great job of creating rules (don’t share your location with strangers, don’t cyberbully, don’t give out your password), but are failing to help students build a positive digital identity with technology and are therefore missing out on the bigger picture. One example of building a positive digital identity would be a digital learning portfolio. Identity-building has not only social and academic benefits, but also supports the teaching of digital citizenship. Teens who have a personal investment in technology via ownership are more likely to consider the ethical issues of online life (James, 2014).

Don’t be a tool of your tool.

The concept of agency in technology translates to using technology for a particular purpose with intent and foresight. An individual practicing agency would not spend hours mindlessly viewing strangers’ photos on social media. This is not as simple as it seems. The on-demand stimulation and dopamine boost provided by technology can make it difficult to put down the device. Worse still, many students feel participation in online communities is compulsory to a healthy social life. Students even feel that sacrificing their privacy is a compulsory aspect of internet use. It is apparent educators are not teaching students to use the tool, rather than be used by the tool.

Attention, when explicitly taught, can increase students’ agency. Often attention is thought of as a fixed quantity when in reality the human brain is highly plastic and can adapt with proper training. According to Rhinegold, the keys to building attention are setting a specific task using premeditation and then practicing willful inattention to unwanted distractions–such as turning off the cell phone (2012).

Attention is a skill that can and should to be taught to students beginning in the early grades. The key, according to Jennifer A. Livingston, is to combine awareness of how attention works with strategies to hone that attention (as cited in Rhinegold, 2012). Once these tools are given to students, they must be allowed to practice them and self-evaluate their own progress.

In addition to agency and attention, digital citizenship is a necessary set of skills in order to use technology ethically. Educators are obligated to “[m]odel and faciliate safe, healthy, legal, and ethical uses of digital information and technologies” (ISTE Standards: Coaches, 2011). One framework mentioned in the Ribble & Miller article for implementing digital citizenship is the R-E-P model. The ‘R’ stands for Respect and focuses on the importance of having empathy in online interactions (including recognizing the digital divide) and the legal obligations of Fair Use, copyright, and piracy. The ‘E” is for Educate and considers how to protect personal and financial information and how to navigate technology to meet various needs. The ‘P’ is for Protect and encourages students to inform adults if an online situation is making them uncomfortable and also to have a healthy online-life and real-life balance.

Digital literacy: a building block of modern society.

According to the Jisc webpage entitled “Developing Students’ Digital Literacy,” the definition of digital literacy is having the skills necessary to live, learn, and work in a digital society (2015). Beyond digital citizenship and the ethics of online life, students must be given the tools to navigate the endless amount of information available online. It is imperative that educators “promote strategies for achieving equitable access to digital tools and resources and technology-related best practices for all students” (ISTE Standards: Coaches, 2011).

Using search engines effectively is a key skill that is often overlooked in the classroom. To connect students with the most credible and relevant data, it is important to teach advanced search terms and the need to read multiple sources before making a conclusion.

Once information is found, it must be properly used and cited. The issues of Copyright and Fair Use can get complex, which is perhaps why many teachers teach MLA or APA citation but never go deeper. In a time when many students’ dream job is being a YouTuber, educators do students a disservice by not explicitly teaching Copyright and Fair Use.

Just as important as accessing information is detecting misinformation. Whether intentional (fake news) or accidental (uncited information or rumors), misinformation is an increasing problem. Students must be taught to be critical consumers, a skill they woefully lack according to a 2016 Stanford study. The consequences of misinformation are serious: “At present, we worry that democracy is threatened by the ease at which disinformation about civic issues is allowed to spread and flourish” (Stanford History Education Group, 2016).  If educators are not willing to teach students to identify misinformation, we risk allowing politicians and corporations to rob students of agency.

Howard Rhinegold cites Dan Gillmor’s Five Principles of Media Consumption as one framework that can be used to teach students to detect misinformation online. The principles are: be skeptical, exercise judgment, open your mind to other sources, keep asking questions, and learn the techniques used by the media (2012). Another suggestion Rhinegold makes is to use the triangulation test before sharing information online. Under the triangulation test, information should not be shared unless it has been validated by three credible (and independent) sources.

Conclusion

Digital literacy, citizenship, and agency must be interwoven in the core curriculum and explicitly taught and modeled on a regular and ongoing basis for students. Likewise, teachers need support and guidance in implementing technology. Because I believe so strongly in the potential for learning and community-building through technology, I am compelled to model and promote methods that ensure students and teachers alike can safely, ethically, and effectively use technology to further the goals of public education.

We have a duty to equip all students with the tools necessary to navigate online life safely, legally, healthily, and ethically. I am driven to this principle because of my belief in the Golden Rule. I want my students to make choices online that keep themselves safe both mentally and physically, promote kindness and compassion toward others, and enable them to access and manipulate information online for their own edification.

I likewise feel driven to provide access to tools and resources for all students, especially those disadvantaged economically. Technology has the power to transform education and information, thereby helping students to rise above difficult circumstances. Our students are the future. It is in everyone’s best interest to have an educated, responsible, moral, and technically-literate society.

Sources

Ascione, L. (2017). Still? Most teachers feel unprepared to use technology in the classroom. [online] eSchool News. Available at: https://www.eschoolnews.com/2017/11/27/teachers-technology-classroom/ [Accessed 3 Dec. 2017].

Campbell, H. and Garner, S. (2016). Networked Theology: Negotiating Faith in a Digital Culture. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, pp.19-37.

Hibberson, S., Barrett, E. and Davies, S. (2015). Developing Students’ Digital Literacy. [online] Jisc. Available at: https://www.jisc.ac.uk/guides/developing-students-digital-literacy [Accessed 2 Dec. 2017].

ISTE Standards: Coaches. (2011). [PDF file] International Society for Technology in Education. Available at: http://www.iste.org/docs/pdfs/20-14_ISTE_Standards-C_PDF.pdf [Accessed 6 Dec. 2017].

James, C. (2014). Disconnected: Youth, New Media, and the Ethics Gap. Cambridge: MIT Press.

Johnson, L. A. (2017). Cultivating Communication in the Classroom: Future Ready Skills for Secondary Students. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Pr.

Jones, M. and Bridges, R. (2016). Equity, Access, and the Digital Divide in Learning Technologies: Historical Antecedents, Current Issues, and Future Trends. The Wiley Handbook of Learning Technology, [online] pp.327-47. Available at: http://alliance-primo.hosted.exlibrisgroup.com/SPU:spu_alma_summit:CP51247078040001451 [Accessed 2 Dec. 2017].

Mayclin, D. (2016). Computer and technology use in education buildings continues to increase. [online] Eia.gov. Available at: https://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.php?id=24812 [Accessed 3 Dec. 2017].

Nea.org. (n.d.). Preparing 21st century students for a global society: A guide to the 4 C’s. [online] Available at: http://www.nea.org/assets/docs/A-Guide-to-Four-Cs.pdf [Accessed 3 Dec. 2017].

Palmer, P. (1998). The Courage to Teach. San Francisco, Calif.: Jossey-Bass, pp.1-34.

Rhinegold, H. (2012). Net Smart. The MIT Press, pp.77-145.

Ribble, M. and Miller, T. (2013). Educational Leadership in an Online World: Connecting Students to Technology Responsibly, Safely, and Ethically. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Network, [online] 17(1), pp.137-45. Available at: http://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ1011379 [Accessed 2 Dec. 2017].

Wineburg, S. and McGrew, S. and Breakstone, J. and Ortega, T. (2016). Evaluating Information: The Cornerstone of Civic Online Reasoning. [online] Stanford Digital Repository. Available at: http://purl.stanford.edu/fv751yt5934 [Accessed 3 Dec. 2017]

EDTC 6105 : Maintaining Balance While Teaching and Supporting Others

Anyone who’s ever worked in a school, knows that the school day for teachers does not end when the bell rings.  The question many then ask is, what are teachers still doing at school 2 hours after the bell, or why was there car parked there all day Saturday?  Looking at this week’s coaching standards for my Masters program (see below), led me to question how teacher’s find balance in their lives to avoid wearing too many hats or living the life of the spinster teacher of a hundred years ago who dedicated her entire life to the children and the community?

This school year has taken my career in a new direction, owed to pursuing my Masters in Digital Education Leadership. Teaching full-time and trying to find time to support others with tech integration has proven to be a challenge.  Staying at school late is not an option for me or my family. Working on weekends in the classroom would only be possible if my 5 year old came with me.  

So then, how can I effectively model tech integration for others with the responsibilities of a classroom teacher?

Through reflection, I kept getting drawn back to three main factors: common traits of teachers, resources, and understanding personal boundaries.  Our mentor text this quarter, Peer Coaching, frequently refers to relationships and resources. In hindsight, I wish I had thought about all of this in August, but as I prepare for Winter Break, it gives me time to rejuvenate and set new goals for the second half of the school year. I also need to remind myself, this time I am the student, learning how to better support colleagues.

Common Traits of Teachers

Having established that relationships are vital to a coaching partnership, has led me to think about teachers in general. What common traits can be found amongst teachers?  According to Teach.com, there are five common personality traits found amongst great teachers:

  • Empathy
  • Enthusiasm
  • Creativity
  • Dedication
  • Discipline

Focusing on understanding the common traits lends itself to generating enthusiasm for collaboration and recognising colleagues strengths.  Part of coaching is helping others recognise their strengths and how to use them to intentionally support student growth goals. In addition to recognising teacher strengths, it’s important to survey teachers to know how they might be interested in supporting colleagues.  For example, those teachers that are extremely creative, let them share some lessons that they’ve had great success with.  For the teacher’s who struggle with getting specific students engaged, seek out those who’ve had a positive connection with that student. Coaching is not just about supporting all staff, but also about how to manage a supportive collaborative environment.

Understanding Limitations with Resources

Resources is a broad term, yet extremely impactful with tech integration.  Resources can bring the best intentions to a halt.  As a classroom teacher, I am not fully aware of resources available or the politics about how they are distributed in the district. What I do know however, is that without support from administration, access to technology, and time to collaborate, my mentoring/coaching efforts are doomed to fail.  

Integrating any new curriculum or tool requires thoughtful planning in order to be sustainable.  As a classroom teacher, and not a coach, I struggle with time to ask and find answers to questions before trying to jump in and support my colleagues. This means that planning in isolation, even with the best intentions, is likely to end in frustration. In regards to technology, coaches and mentors must first consult administrators, tech specialists from the district, and possibly content coaches before simply supporting a teacher’s vision with digital tools. This again, requires time, which may turn some teachers away from implementation.

Juggling Multiple Roles

As mentioned before, teachers work well beyond the bell.  Emails abound offering or requesting teachers to be part of a PLC, lead after school tutoring, coach an after school activity for students, or participate in Professional Development. How can teacher mentors and coaches then find time to collaborate with others?

Teacher mentors and coaches can easily fall into a trap of taking on too much. Despite their enthusiasm and dedication, teachers can take on more than they can handle.  Pedro Diaz, the CEO of Workplace Mental Health Institute, offers some great advice in his post How to Avoid Taking on Too Much Work. First, he identifies the common traps when asked to take on another task at work. Three common problems, which I know I’m guilty of: we want to please others, our lack of self-awareness, and we don’t think we have a choice.

Moreover, Diaz offers strategies on how to approach multiple responsibilities.  He emphasizes learning how to wait.  It’s okay to think about something without committing right away. While contemplating, ask yourself what specific role you’re being asked to support, will you need further training to complete the task, and does it fit into your schedule?

Next Steps

As I prepare for Winter Break, I want to be realistic, proactive, and fully engaged in what I’m doing.  In order to to achieve these personal goals, I’m looking at the school calendar for next term.  Along with teaching, I am responsible for state testing for 4 grade levels.  I want to continue mentoring colleagues with tech integration and encourage others who are showing interest.

Knowing that I will be asked to participate in other areas as well, or fill in, I’ve realised I need to give myself time to reflect before committing. Wanting to adhere to Diaz’s advice, I’ve created The Juggling Act criteria (see above). Before taking on anything else this year, it’s important to ask: what is the specific task, time commitment, skills required, and if anyone else is similarly qualified to complete the task.  Then before saying, yes, consider workload so that I don’t jeopardize my current commitments.

Resources

Diaz, P. (2017, June 8). How to Avoid Taking on Too Much Work. Retrieved December 08, 2017, from https://www.wmhi.com.au/mental-health/how-to-avoid-taking-on-too-much-work/

Foltos, L. (2013). Peer Coaching: Unlocking the power of collaboration. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.

Hertz, M. B. (2011, November 14). Mentoring and Coaching for Effective Tech Integration. Retrieved December 08, 2017, from https://www.edutopia.org/blog/mentoring-coaching-tech-integration-mary-beth-hertz

Mormando, S. (2017, May 04). 5 Tips for Preparing Teachers for New Classroom Tech Tools. Retrieved December 08, 2017, from https://edtechmagazine.com/k12/article/2017/05/5-tips-preparing-teachers-new-classroom-tech-tools

A More Effective Online Peer Coach

As part of my studies with the Digital Education Leadership program at SPU, I recently engaged in and completed an exercise in peer coaching with a teacher.  I took into consideration that I now work at a startup, and the professional learning I would be working with her on would be all online and for a particular product. I gradually transitioned from the point of power and requests to a more to a collaborative partner, capable of leading and guiding inquiry. I practiced communication skills, including active listening and questioning strategies as my collaborating partner and I worked to rebuild our ECT program at Edmodo. Much of my work in this course centered around the study of Peer Coaching: Unlocking the Power of Communication by Les Foltos

Beyond what we already learned and addressed how can I create a broader and more personal relationship when conducting online peer coaching?

As part of my reflection, I am considering how I can engage in peer coaching practices without ever having a traditional classroom to step into.  All the coaching is done online through Edmodo classroom and groups. On top of that, how do I evaluate and create metrics of success on the online coaching model? As I work in a business where I must demonstrate all efforts as value to the company.  So I must put forth a plan to revitalize the ECT program.

What is essential to the program to create trainers who we can trust? What support does my facilitator need from me to be more successful in the next cohort? 

Research by Shauna and Baker (2005) explains that One of the challenges resulting from the growing popularity of online education is how to efficiently evaluate online instruction.  Within their paper “Peer Coaching for Online Instruction: An Emerging Model for Faculty Development” where the central question isn’t whether this new approach to education is effective — the plethora of “no significant difference” studies mainly render that question moot — but what steps can be taken to not only ensure that individual courses are useful but provide the necessary guidance to promote faculty growth and development as they teach online.

Ensuring Quality of Online Instruction – Peer Coaching Cycle – “A team of experienced online instructors is currently adapting this peer coaching model for the online environment and has performed preliminary online peer coaching during this past academic year.”

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Within the protocol, the coach logs into Blackboard course site multiple times during a week. “We encourage the online peer coach to take particular notice of the virtual classroom environment and interpersonal communication dynamics.  Such facets include the design and layout of the blackboard web pages, the tone of the announcements and course materials, the level of learner-instructor engagement and learner-learner engagement in class discussions, the types of media used for presenting materials, the ease of navigation, the clarity of course instructions, and the instructor’s mastery of the course content and effectiveness at presenting it to the class.” As I look towards the future of our program, at Edmodo I see how important it is to figure out a way to evaluate the course as it is happening.  The program facilitator is an experienced teacher but teaching online with a cohort from 19 different countries is a whole different beast.  The kids that come to school every day are pushed from so many different sides to attend her class while these grown adults must see value and excitement every single time they log into the system.  It was tough to witness the attrition (the loss of customers or clients over time) because the end results are ECTs and these advocates are so valuable to the company.  As it sits thought it is just too long to keep hard-working teachers engaged, six weeks is a long time to stay concentrated on anything in this day and age especially when there isn’t any promise of compensation at the end.

How do I want to proceed with rebuilding the program?

Recently, I attended Advocamp an Advocate Marketing Strategy conference in San Francisco because that is a significant aspect of my job.  It was put on by a company called Influitive which is in the business of creating online hubs for other businesses to host advocate marketing campaigns and challenges.  It really allows you to gamify the system and reward your advocates with rewards and points.  The most valuable session I attended was by Deena Zenyk, from Influitive her session was titledUncover the hidden value of your advocacy program by learning to use the power of campaign-based planning.” She recently wrote a book about the Six Habits of Highly Effective Advocate Marketers and “Consider your last big purchase: What influenced your decision? A paid advertisement? A polished press release? A celebrity Twitter endorsement? A marketing email? A product webpage? Probably not. More than likely, you listened to someone you know and trust. An authentic voice with relevant experience is the most convincing proponent when we’re considering a new product or company. That is the power of an advocate.”  I think that this message although hard for some teachers to believe but sometimes we are a hard audience to sell to and we really only like to listen to people who have gone through what we have.  Sometimes I talk about my first couple years of teaching at an alternative high school like some people talk about serving in the military.  Now I know it is not comparable to what our military does for our country, but I genuinely do not feel like people at my work know what it is like for a teacher unless they have themselves have taught a couple of years.  That is just one reason why our ECT program brings so much value to our company because teachers only like to hear from other teachers when talking about a product.  But how do we create a course that is the right balance between getting enough experience with the product and short enough to keep everyone’s excitement and engagement?    So Deena Zenyk mentioned a system that CISCO put together years ago called VSEM, Vision, Strategy, Execution and Metric.  Moreover, I am going to put my program through this organization and see what comes out.  Here is what it looks like when diagramed.

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Is collaboration worth the investment? As you plot the next steps in your collaboration journey, it helps to understand the returns that are possible

The improved collaboration represents the best opportunity for business leaders to tap the full range of talents of their people, move with higher speed and flexibility, and compete to win over the next decade. But building a collaborative organization requires a transformative approach to culture, processes, and technology – along with an unwavering commitment from top to bottom. Leaders who encourage change on all three fronts will be rewarded with an energized organization that can adapt quickly to changing markets and deliver results.

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Resources:

Cisco Inc (Ed.). (2012). The Collaboration Imperative: Executive Strategies for Unlocking Your Organization’s True Potential – CISCO. Retrieved December 09, 2017, from https://www.cisco.com/en/US/services/ps2961/ps2664/collaborative_imperative.pdf

Foltos, L. (2013). Peer Coaching: Unlocking the Power of Collaboration. Thousand Oaks: Corwin.

Foltos, L. (2015). Principals boost coaching’s impact: school leaders’ support is critical to collaboration. Journal Of Staff Development36(1), 48-51,.

Shauna, T., Ph.D., & Baker, J. D., Ph.D. (2005). Peer Coaching for Online Instruction: An Emerging Model for Faculty Development. Retrieved December 1, 2017, from Http://warehouse.olc.edu/~cdelong/dl401/peercoaching.pdf,

Institute for Higher Education Policy. (2000). Quality on the line: Benchmarks for success in Internet-based distance education. Retrieved from http://www.ihep.org/sites/default/files/uploads/docs/pubs/qualityontheline.pd

 


The ISTE Coaching Identity (Module 5, ISTE-CS)

I feel pretty satisfied right now with the idea that peer coaching is an activity that someone might choose to engage in, and is a subset of the broader term “coaching” (for more information about different coaching approaches, see Borman and Feger, 2006; and Kurz, Reddy, and Glover, 2017). This fits into the ISTE Coach Standards as one way to engage in the coaching-related indicators. However, only a third of the ISTE-CS relate to the activity of coaching; the rest relate to modeling behavior or advocating for technology integration (I use these remaining two categories loosely). So:

If only a third of the indicators relate to actual coaching, what is this “thing” that we call the ISTE Coaching Standards? It’s not just about coaching, so what is it about?

What I see in the ISTE-CS are guidelines for an identity. Being an ISTE Coach, in its entirety, is more like a way of being than it is just choosing to engage in various activities. 

The ISTE Coaching Identity

The primary indicator that supports this idea is CS 6c:

Regularly evaluate and reflect on their professional practice and dispositions to improve and strengthen their ability to effectively model and facilitate technology enhanced learning experiences.”

This indicator defines an ISTE Coach’s purpose, which is to promote technology enhanced learning experiences, and directs the ISTE Coach to reflect on his or her practices and dispositions. It is the element of reflection that solidifies for me the idea that the ISTE-CS are working to achieve identity formation. Sfard and Prusak’s (2005) theory of identity states that identities are stories told about persons (yes, they are equating identities with stories), and additionally, the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves are particularly important. But in order to have an opportunity to create and tell stories about ourselves, we must reflect. So to me, CS 6c says, “Develop your identity and compare it against the prime directive ISTE Coaching.” In light of the rest of the indicators, CS 6c says something more elaborate: “Look at all the activities you’ve engaged in. Notice how by engaging in these activities you have created stories about yourself. Compare these stories to the ISTE Coaching Identity and evaluate how you want your stories to change or remain the same – i.e., continue shaping your identity against the ISTE Coaching Identity.”

Peer Coaching as an Activity, Not an Identity

While I’ve chosen to call peer coaching an activity and not an identity, you could certainly argue that one could develop a peer coaching identity. In fact, by Sfard and Prusak’s (2005) definition of identity, if you engage in peer coaching at all, there will likely be stories about you as a peer coach, and therefore you will then have a peer coaching identity. But because of the scope of activities which I think count as peer coaching (see my past blogs Peer vs. Peer Coach vs. Coach, Compatibility between peer coaching and the ISTE-CS, and Can one person both lead by example and work as a peer coach?), I think that the ISTE Coaching Standards describe an identity which can encompass the peer coaching activities, whereas the reverse is not true – a peer coaching identity can’t encompass all of the ISTE Coaching activities. Therefore, for the purposes of my blog, I choose to continue calling peer coaching an activity and the ISTE Coaching Standards guidelines for an identity.

But, Good Teaching First

Beyond the role of coaching, the ISTE-CS also ask you to be a role model of, and an advocate for, technology integration. However, one of the key ideas from Peer Coaching: Unlocking the Power of Collaboration by Les Foltos (2013), which I think should overlay the ISTE-CS, is that good teaching comes first and then technology integration comes into play to support good teaching: “Technology integration is all about the interrelationship of pedagogy, content, and technology. And technology is the least important of the three elements in this equation” (p. 151). This idea isn’t abundantly clear to me in the ISTE-CS, but it is of the utmost importance.

My Mental Model

I can think of more than one way to diagram this, but the most straight forward way (maybe) is to just diagram the main activities that you engage in as an ISTE Coach, with the overlaid lens of “good teaching.”

One large circle labeled "ISTE Coach" with three smaller circles completely inside the larger circle. The three circles are titled "model," "advocate," and "coach." Completely within the circle labeled coach is another circle labeled "peer coach." The whole diagram is covered by a half-transparent blue square with faded edges. The square is labeled "good teaching lens."

Either this diagram is over simplified, or the words I’ve chosen aren’t quite right – I’m using the verbs “model” and “advocate” loosely – but it highlights the main thing I’ve been thinking about all quarter, which is how peer coaching fits in in the scheme of the ISTE-CS. I’ve said that it’s one way to engage in coaching, out of many possible ways. Another way to look at it, which is consistent with my diagram being a diagram of activities, is that it is a collection of a particular set of activities that a coach can do, among a wider set of possible coaching activities (for more information on coaching activities, see Borman and Feger, 2006; and Kurz, Reddy, and Glover, 2017).

I’m curious where I’d be right now if someone had just drawn this diagram for me at the start of the quarter. Would I have been able to quickly adopt the model? I think so. But is this even close to what other people would draw? I have no idea! I would love to know how you would diagram, or otherwise draw, your thinking regarding the ISTE-CS and the related peer coaching.

 


References

Borman, J., & Feger, S. (2006). Instructional coaching:
Key themes from the literature. Retrieved from https://www.brown.edu/academics/education-alliance/sites/brown.edu.academics.education-alliance/files/publications/TL_Coaching_Lit_Review.pdf

Foltos, L. (2013). Peer coaching: Unlocking the power of collaboration. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

ISTE: International Society for Technology in Education. (2017). ISTE standards for coaches (2011). Retrieved from http://www.iste.org/standards/standards/standards-for-coaches

Kurz, A. Reddy, L. A., & Glover, T. A. (2017). A
multidisciplinary framework of instructional coaching. Theory Into Practice, 56(1), 66-77. http://doi.org/10.1080/00405841.2016.1260404

Is SAMR Enough? Module 4: Teacher Practice and Technology Integration

Introduction to Module 4

For my post this week in Module 4 of my fall class, in Educational Technology Leadership I decided to focus on the SAMR model for technology integration. My district uses SAMR as a way to gauge technology integration but I wanted to know if there was a way to use that model as I work with teachers so that it doesn’t feel like an extra layer to them. It seemed to fit in this module since my professor asked us to think about what skills, resources and processes will you use to help peers co-plan learning activities they want to improve? Again since our district is already committed to using SAMR I thought I could use my question to aid teachers in the district plan for technology integration. Basically I wanted to know how can the SAMR scale be used to help improve learning activities in a way that is manageable and beneficial for a classroom teacher? My goal in this investigation is to try to not add anything else to a teacher’s plate.

In my investigation I came across some other technology integration protocols that might be useful to a teacher or a technology coach, especially if a district didn’t have a protocol they were committed to using or if it wasn’t clearly implemented or understood. With the help of my professors I found the Triple E as well as TPACK. In my own searching I also came across a protocol called the Trudacot. In addition to SAMR I will spend some time reflecting on the Trudacot and using it to answer my question for the module. I didn’t feel that I had time in this post to get into Triple E or TPACK during this post.

Connection to ISTE Coaching Standards

This module seems to have an extremely clear connection to two of the ISTE Coaching standards we are focusing on throughout the quarter. First ISTE-C 1d. Implement strategies for initiating and sustaining technology innovations and manage the change process in schools and classrooms. The second standard supported by this module is ISTE-C 2f. Coach teachers in and model incorporation of research-based best practices in instructional design when planning technology-enhanced learning experiences. The reason why I think the connection is so clear in this module is that in using the technology integration protocols I have seen seems to guide teachers back to focusing on what is really good teaching. As coaches if we continue to remind teachers that the focus is on good teaching, I think that some of the concerns and discomfort with technology might actually be erased. Furthermore, as we continue to advocate for good teaching through using a reflective process like Trudacot or SAMR I think that collaborative higher-level thinking among teachers and coaches will continue to shape innovation and fuel the change process. I’m excited that my district has decided to use the SAMR model as a way to gauge technology integration and I hope that through this post I can figure out some ways to guide teachers as we think through the process together.

Three Resources to Consider: The SAMR Model, Trudacot and Peer Coaching

SAMR

There is a lot of information on the SAMR model available on the web. There are some very well known blogs that have taken up the SAMR model as a topic for their posts including Kathy Schrock’s Guide to Everything. She has even linked other SAMR resources from all across the spectrum of use to her page. So, there is abundant information available. Still I’m not sure that teachers fully understand the model (or that I do) and from what I’ve read during this module this is a common problem. One great thing about SAMR is its simplicity in comparison to some of the other protocols, it’s only four sections. However, maybe for that reason there seem to be some misunderstandings.

The SAMR Model by Dr. Ruben Puentedura
Image created by Dr. Ruben Puentedura, Ph.D.
http://www.hippasus.com/rrpweblog/

As I look at SAMR as a part of my job, talking through it with other coaches and using the protocol my district has developed to measure technology integration I realized that don’t know if teachers are taking advantage of the SAMR protocol to leverage technology and improve student learning. As a coach I wonder how I can aid that change and what support I can offer to teachers in that process?

Even though it is short, I think SAMR can seem a bit complicated and foreign to teachers especially those who might be unfamiliar with the model in the first place. I think as a coach it is important to emphasize that often it is appropriate for teachers to stay in one area of the continuum, to ebb and flow depending on many factors, or to move up slowly during the course of a unit. Many of the resources I’ve read this module emphasize again that there are many great lessons that don’t have to incorporate technology (Swanson, 2014). In other words, focus on good instruction, not technology.

One great addition to the SAMR that I think would be very helpful to teachers is Kathy Schrock’s graphic and blog post that connects Bloom’s to SAMR. Teachers across the spectrum are more familiar with Bloom’s than SAMR so to me it makes sense to connect the two to help teachers see how as you move up the SAMR ladder the cognitive load increases, (Schrock, 2013). The language of Bloom’s is familiar to teachers. They feel confident working to improve a lesson to move students from knowledge toward evaluation, however going from substitution toward redefinition might feel foreign. As a coach I think I can help to bridge that gap by using the work Schrock has done by using Bloom’s to explain SAMR. Finally, in discussing higher level thinking it is possible that the discussion may lead to the integration of technology into a lesson or unit thereby moving the lesson or unit up the SAMR scale.  

 Digital Bloom’s Video

Trudacot

The next model I wanted to discuss is called Trudacot. Trudacot is a discussion protocol designed to facilitate deeper learning. Trudacot is short for Technology-Rich Unit Design And Classroom Observation Template. In his post introducing Trudacot Scott McLeod argues “while SAMR is useful as a concept, its use of four levels often puts teachers on the defensive because they feel labeled and judged when placed into a lower level” (McLeod, 2017). I think he is right because I got the feeling that teachers might have felt judged during our latest technology walk through. Some even asked about the effectiveness of the snapshot view that we got of classroom practice. Their feelings are valid, even though we have said it is not evaluative, it’s hard to feel that way when 2 adults enter your classroom and take notes as you teach or as your students work. One thing they may not know is that in our walkthroughs we are categorizing technology use on the SAMR scale we are collecting a longitudinal study of integration since it has been done in the district over a two year period.

Regardless, this reaction by teachers is what got me thinking about how we could support integration without overwhelming teachers. I think the key lies in a coach thoroughly understanding the protocols and questioning techniques needed to help teachers move to purposeful integration of technology because of high quality teaching and reflection throughout that process.

The Trudacot discussion protocol seems to aim to get teachers to consider instruction instead of focusing on the technology through a series of questions that are answered by the teacher. I would think that these questions could be easily used by a coach to help stimulate the lesson design process, but there are a lot of questions. In order to not overwhelm a teacher it would be necessary to either unpack the process together slowly or a coach could internalize the process and call upon it in a discussion with a teacher drawing from the questions and categories in Trudacot.

Peer Coaching

Les Foltos, in his book Peer Coaching (2013) is continually saying it doesn’t make sense to overwhelm teachers by giving them a number of different areas of focus to consider. That is making more sense to me as I learn more about these protocols. Part of the coaches job seems to be eliminating those choices through careful consideration and asking questions of the teacher to draw out what they would like to focus on. “Too often, teachers plan their lessons around technology instead of putting learning first, (Foltos, p. 136, 2013). As a coach, at times I feel I’m dealing with two extremes of the spectrum. There are teachers who are fully focused on technology, while others seem that they couldn’t care less about integrating it into their classroom instruction. Whether that comes from learned helplessness or just the overwhelming amount of work teachers are expected to do I’m not sure. As an instructional technology coach I think looking through the lens of instruction and higher level thinking is helpful. I wish I could help teachers to understand that the work we can do together should lead to higher quality instruction and deeper learning even if my title is instructional technology coach, it’s still all about the learning.

“The coach’s job is to bring the conversation back to pedagogy and learning objectives before talking about technology. It is at this point in the process when meaningful conversations about integrating technology occur, (Foltos, p. 151,  2013). Clearly coaches, teachers and students benefit when there is a clear understanding of a technology integration model or protocol but that isn’t the ultimate goal. As a coach if I can clearly understand the tool used by my district and even other protocols, I believe I can use that knowledge to help teachers improve instruction while at the same time integrating technology in more meaningful ways. It’s not about the tools, it’s about the teaching!

Resources

Common Sense Education. (2016, July 12). What is Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy? Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fqgTBwElPzU&feature=youtu.be

Foltos, L. (2013). Peer Coaching : Unlocking the Power of Collaboration. Thousand Oaks, California: Corwin. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.4135/9781483300252

Going Deeper with Learning Technology Integration — A 9-Question Protocol. (2017, October 5). Retrieved November 27, 2017, from http://frontandcentral.com/moving-to-digital/going-deeper-learning-technology-integration-using-9-question-protocol/

SAMR. (n.d.). Retrieved November 27, 2017, from http://www.schrockguide.net/samr.html

Swanson, P. (2014, December, 16). Rethinking SAMR – Teacher Paul. Retrieved November 30, 2017, from http://www.teacherpaul.org/2889

Trudacot. (n.d.). Retrieved November 27, 2017, from http://dangerouslyirrelevant.org/resources/trudacot

Turning SAMR into TECH: What models are good for. (n.d.). Retrieved November 27, 2017, from http://www.litandtech.com/2013/11/turning-samr-into-tech-what-models-are.html

What is a peer coach facilitating? (Module 4, ISTE-CS: “coach teachers in…”)

I started this module by wondering about the art of asking good questions. Asking questions is a foundational element of peer coaching, and while I’m familiar with the idea of asking questions instead of telling, I was hoping to find a model for asking questions. The word model can be used to mean so many things. What I mean by “a model for asking questions” is a way to organize and understand questions and the activity of asking questions. Maybe I imagined ending with a set of categories for the kinds of questions I could ask, or a quality I could ascribe to “good” questions. But what I found, instead, was that I first needed to better articulate the goals of a peer coach – to have a better sense of what’s guiding me. My investigation question then became:

What is a peer coach trying to facilitate?

Asking questions. Changing questions.

I suppose I changed my focus because of the resource I was initially reading. In my search for a model, I found this document: Powerful Coaching Questions by Alain Cardon (2008) at Metasysteme Coaching: Coaching and Consulting Network. Cardon elaborates on many different types of questions (so this resource may be good for deciding on ways to categorize questions), and paints a pretty clear picture of what coaching looks like, to Metasysteme Coaching. I want to point out that Cardon is talking about coaching, and I don’t believe it is the same kind of coaching that we are investigating with peer coaching. Consequently, I don’t think you can just simply take what is written in Powerful Coaching Questions and apply it to peer coaching.

The parts of Cardon’s vision of coaching that don’t align with my understanding of peer coaching are what influenced the change in my investigation. Here’s some of what didn’t align.

First, in Cardon’s vision of coaching, a coachee comes to a coach when they are stuck:

“When clients bring important issues to a coach, they have already made a complete inventory of their personal or professional issue and of all possible options, to no avail. Clients have already tried working out their issues alone, and have not succeeded. Coaching clients generally consult coaches after having tried to solve their problems, meet their ambitions or deal with their issues. In spite of this, these clients feel stuck in a rut or up a dead end” (p. 2).

In response to this, the coach’s goal is to make the coachee to shift their perspective.

“A coaching approach is to question the client’s frame of reference. Coaching questions that are considered to be powerful are precisely those that jolt clients into reconsidering the way they define a problem, perceive an issue or envision an ambition” (p. 2). … “Strategic or powerful or coaching questions aim to surprise clients or put them ‘off balance’ in order to provoke the emergence of new perspectives on their problems, objectives, issues and ambitions” (p. 8).

This framing and approach to coaching is not in line with my ideas of peer coaching. But these things did make me ask:

  1. I don’t think teachers only seek out a peer coach when they are stuck. So when else do they seek out a peer coach?
  2. I don’t think a peer coach should approach an inviting teacher with the assumption that the teacher has a flawed perspective and needs to be “jolted” into a new perspective. So if the goal of a peer coach isn’t to throw the inviting teacher off balance, what is the goal of a peer coach? What is the coach trying to facilitate, exactly?
When to seek out a peer coach

The majority of my investigation focuses on 2, but for 1 I want to note that: While an inviting teacher may be stuck, you don’t only meet with a peer coaching partner when you’re stuck. But I was having trouble characterizing why else a teacher would seek out a peer coach. I brought this up to my classmates in my Learning Circle, and they helped remind me that the goal is continual growth and improvement. You don’t wait until you have a problem to try and improve. In fact, one of the reasons schools implement peer coaching is to bring teachers out of isolation and to increase teacher-collaboration. Peer coaching isn’t a last resort, it’s a source of inspiration. Therefore, one of the reasons you seek out a peer coach is to push you to improve things you haven’t even thought to improve yet.

What is the coach trying to facilitate?

Before talking about the coach’s goal during peer coaching, I feel like I should state that the overarching goal (for our context), as broadly as I can put it, is to improve education in the ways that we can – we want students to have great learning experiences.

But within that goal, what is a peer coach trying to get the inviting teacher to do? What is the coach trying to facilitate during the meeting itself? In my last blog or two, I talked about how a peer coach should approach the interaction in a goal-free way, with no hidden agenda. But when you get underneath that, past the idea that coaches should not be pushing an agenda, there is some sort of thing that the coach must be working towards. Cardon says that the coach is trying to facilitate a change in the inviting teacher’s perspective, but the way he developed that idea didn’t feel quite right. So what is it that the coach is trying to facilitate?

I think the first thing a coach might have to facilitate is narrowing in on the inviting teacher’s focus – what is it that the inviting teacher would like to work on? But after that, what is the coach trying to facilitate? I was stuck on this and needed some input from my classmates. We decided that once the inviting teacher finds a focus, the next thing to facilitate is simply reflection. (“Simply.”) As teachers, what do we do and why? What are our goals, assumptions, and beliefs? What do we want for our students? How can we make that happen?

That last question is not really reflection, and instead, forward thinking. So maybe I would add a third facilitation item: action – how can we make an action plan?

Conclusion

My current conclusion is that, through questioning, coaches are working to facilitate the teacher in finding a focus, reflecting, and creating an action plan. This does not really tell me a whole lot about what the questions actually are, but it’s an aim that I feel I can hang onto as I figure out what questions to ask.

If you have any ideas about what a peer coach is trying to facilitate, I would love to hear them.

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