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.
Bentley, K. (2017). How School Districts Can Adopt the Technology Coach Model. Centerdigitaled.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 Integration. Edutopia. 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
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
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.
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
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.
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!
Module 3 of EDTC 6105 and my definition of the problem
For this week my program is focusing on 21st century learning. The topic alone brings a lot of questions forward, what is 21st century learning? Does it matter to teachers and students? How do you measure 21st century learning? My search for resources didn’t really narrow down my options much. Since we are focusing on peer coaching and thinking about how we define 21st century learning and how to use that definition in our coaching, I started to wonder, do teachers and coaches define 21st century learning in the same way? I think that often we do, but for a large portion of teachers maybe it isn’t even considered because of all the other worries and concerns that come with teaching in a classroom with nearly 30 unique individuals from different backgrounds and environments in the same room. Teachers are busy, they have a lot on their plates as I’ve said before on this blog, so I think 21st century learning might not be on the forefront for many teachers. I wonder how coaching can help teachers to move toward sharing the same definition technology coaches have of 21st century learning, and integrating that learning into their practice.
In framing my question it is important to note that teachers and coaches are in vastly different circumstances at least based on my limited experience as a coach. The pressure I feel as a coach is different than the constant pressure I felt as a teacher to bring my students to standard in a subject that they didn’t necessarily like or in an area of need that supported my growth goal. I want to share that struggle with teachers and offer support that will help them achieve those goals. However, coming from the realm of the classroom teacher and having been a teacher in a dual language classroom for the last 8 years gives me insight into what teachers experience. Based on my reading I have tried to think critically about some ways that teachers and coaches can work together to see growth in students while at the same time improving teaching practices in classrooms.
The Coaches Role
As a coach I feel like part of my job is knowing the latest research and knowing and being able to visualize ways that teachers can subtly change their practice in order to improve student learning. Many teachers do this same research and learning while teaching full time, but I have to acknowledge that in moving into a coaching role part of my responsibilities include knowing the current best practices in teaching pedagogy and specifically technology integration. It doesn’t necessarily mean I know any more than teachers, but it is still worth stating that part of my role includes researching how to help teachers move toward incorporating 21st century learning into their classrooms. As a coach, I have additional resources and time available that teachers do not always have. I can use that time to research how to support growth in teaching practices and instruction.
One other benefit from a coaches role is the exposure I have to different classrooms. As a classroom teacher I maybe got to see 2 or 3 different classrooms a year max, instead I had to learn what teachers were doing from reading, or listening to them describe their practice. Recently in my coaching role I was able to tour every classroom in 8 different elementary schools. That exposed me (although briefly) to a couple hundred teachers and their approach to teaching literacy, math or another subject and showed how they were integrating technology. That is many times the exposure I would have gotten to different classroom as a teacher and I’m not even considering the classrooms I have visited at other times this year as a co-teacher.
Not surprisingly because I’m an instructional technology coach, I think that technology might play a prominent role in allowing for better differentiation in the classroom and might lead us to improving our teaching in a way that lifts students to a higher level of achievement, including mastering 21st century skills. Foltos, (2013) makes the role of a coach clear when he writes that a “coaches job is to encourage innovation.” He goes on to add that, “without this kind of outside stimulus, drawing on prior learning may only succeed in supporting the status quo,” (Foltos, 2013). As a coach, I’m available to be the outside stimulus that can aid in integrating 21st century learning into the classroom.
Challenges for Teachers
It might sound easy so far, just organize a meeting with a coach and voilà, 21st century skills will arrive. I must acknowledge that integrating 21st century skills into your teaching will not be a quick and effortless process, change is usually difficult and often slow. As I reflected, I drafted a quick list of things that might qualify as constraints to a classroom teacher:
Lack of time
No formal collaboration time – or fragmented focus during that time
District or school policies
Lack of training
This is just a quick list I came up with while outlining this post, it isn’t intended to be exhaustive, but I’d love to hear of you have other constraints that might keep you from integrating 21st century skills into your teaching. Or, on the other hand, if any of the things listed actually drive you to integrate 21st century skills into your teaching.
What to Try
I think a great place to start is to “define the skills and competencies your students will need,” as Foltos, 2013, shares in Peer Coaching. Then match those competencies with school goals, and pick one skill to work on. Slowly add to those skills to change your practice. This is the work that coaches and teachers can do together to lead to more 21st century skills being taught in all classrooms. Another good resource is the 6 Essential Modern Teacher Skills and Why You Need Them from the Global Digital Citizenship Foundation. The author defines these skills as:
A desire to learn
A knack for teamwork
An empowering nature
A global mindset
If you consult other sources you might see different skills. From what I have read there doesn’t seem to be consensus about what skills are definitely 21st century skills. P21.org seemed to focus much attention on critical thinking and how to teach it. Notably, incorporating PBL into undergraduate education courses led to more effective critical thinking skills as noted by Ventura, Lai & DiCerbo (2017). It also seems to be different if you are talking about teachers skills or students skills. I think both are important because to teach skills to our students, we need to possess those skills. Many of the skills listed above are facilitated through technology. Similarly, there is the graphic of 9 Fundamental Digital Skills for 21st Century Teachers from educatorstechnology.com
I believe that in partnership with instructional technology coaches if they are available, or with the right mindset when using technology student learning will increase.
I would encourage teachers who are able to pick a skill they want to learn and email or call a coach to begin working on learning that new skill. Have a learning goal in mind, a project or a lesson where you integrate that skill or tool into your teaching. Try to think beyond that even to see how students could use the same tool to produce something that demonstrates their learning. Then continue to use those skills in a number of lessons or a unit. Another idea for how to work with a coach would be to offer personalized learning to students. Develop fluency in tools that lend themselves to this personalization. Finally, ask questions. Ask your coaches, ask your students maybe even ask of yourself. How can the work be improved, extended, modified to reach more students? That is how we empower students to be 21st century learners and it’s one of the ways we demonstrate that learning to our students. Here is a quote from The Global Digital Citizen Foundation that just might sum up how difficult and necessary it is to work to define 21st century learning and to incorporate it into our teaching. A final quote comes from 4 Common Misconceptions about Teachers We Must Rethink.
When writing lesson plans, you need to connect to curriculum, design essential questions, and create challenging projects. Students need something to strive for that will develop skills for living successful and happy lives. This isn’t a lesson that comes from any textbook, either; it has to come from the mind and heart of a passionate teacher.
Doing those difficult things will certainly lead to increased development of 21st century skills in teachers and students.
Continuing in my Digital Education Leadership program, I’ve been asked to consider the role of three ISTE Coaching Standards and how they can be utilized to support others.
These standards led me to question what traits define a 21st-century classroom. How could I share these traits with others? If I walk into a classroom to observe a lesson, what evidence would I look for? Two images of classrooms came to mind, the past and the present.
Thinking of a traditional classroom, the desks were in rows, the students worked independently at their seats, and the teacher typically remained in the front of the room. Mary Wade’s infographic (click to enlarge) shares what many classrooms resemble today. Immediately, her infographic reminded me of several classrooms in my building. Students sit in table groups, have a common meeting place on the carpet/rug, comfortable seating options for independent reading, a semi-circle table for small groups, and utilizes wall space.
What stood out to me though was the fact many of the teachers would not describe themselves as tech savvy, innovative, or 21st-century teachers. If we want to support more tech integration in our schools that foster 21st-century learning, then we must first give teachers credit for the amazing things they already do. For example, a peer coach could photograph a teacher’s classroom then ask the teacher to use the above graphic to identify their own 21st-century practices.
Student Learning Opportunities
Once teachers understand conducive classroom configurations, the next step is to set goals for student learning. Defining 21st-century learning varies depending on the source. In 2010, Elizabeth Rich asked eleven educational experts from around the country, “How Do You Define 21st-Century Learning?” and she received eleven different answers. Reading various perspectives, a few important facts kept reappearing. In particular, the need to teach history and literature from the past that can help shape students views on the current world they live in. A big shift from previous generations entails preparing students for multiple careers in their lifetime, not just becoming an expert in one field. Therefore, both content and skills come into play and that is where technology can be a tool to help meet the needs of diverse learners. Perhaps one of the biggest shifts in learning has been to make student learning more personalized, global, and collaborative.
A 21st-Century Teacher
What traits then define a 21st-century teacher? How do we guide teachers to see themselves as providing 21st-century learning? Tsisana Palmer’s post 15 Characteristics of a 21st Century Teacher suggests a list of characteristics that can both elevate the teacher’s expertise as well as student learning.
Palmer gives great evidence to support these characteristics. However, if there is one thing I’ve learned this quarter so far, it is to start small with goal setting. As a “coach-in-training”, my advice to teachers wanting to create a 21st-century classroom, is to first recognize what is already happening, then set SMART goals to gradually strive for the environment you desire. For example, this year my district adopted a new literacy curriculum. Looking at the list above, collaboration is built-in to the curriculum. Therefore, teachers can check that off their list and choose something else they’d like to focus on. Perhaps they are studying erosion in Science and visit a local watershed. What if they are able to then connect with another classroom in another region. Teachers can collaborate online to provide students opportunities to share and compare their findings.
So how can peer coaches support teachers in this process? First, identify what is already happening in the classroom and what the teacher feels is working well. Then question what shifts the teacher is hoping to make. Providing options that may exist in other classrooms in the building or nearby schools can provide observational opportunities and collaboration with someone not traditionally connected to the teacher. Coaches can provide suggestions based on the teachers questions, but should not simply hand over resources. In addition, remember to start small. The goal is not for teachers to demonstrate everything on the list, but to begin looking at how to implement 21st-century learning opportunities to enhance student learning. Once teachers determine the characteristics they’d like to implement and feel supported, it’s time to collaborate on how to make it a reality.
Foltos, L. (2013). Peer Coaching: Unlocking the power of collaboration. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.
This week I was thinking about developing professional relationships when in a new role. I wanted to reflect on that process and find out what was normal. At the same time I wanted to consider ISTE 1 d for coaches, how coaches advocate for change, that is the standard behind our module. So in my research for my M.Ed. in Digital Education Leadership Program at SPU, I decided to look for some sources outside of the world of education where coaching has been around and has been popular for some time. I will try to share best practices for building collegial relationships and some things that stood out to me in particular as useful from what I found in the business world and a connection between instructional technology coaching and literacy coaching.
Building Collegial Relationships
How do we build collegial relationships? I find myself wondering about that, probably in part because I am building collegial relationships across schools, in a new district all at the same time. It’s common practice for coaches to only go into classes after they have been invited, probably to avoid any feeling of evaluative practice being associated with them. So here I am waiting for an invitation. How do instructional technology coaches develop relationships across multiple school buildings? It is something that takes time as I’ve read multiple times in the book Peer Coaching: Unlocking the Power of Collaboration (Foltos, 2013), and in other resources I’ve used for my past two blog posts. I came across an article at Mindtools about building great relationships at work. I don’t want to summarize the entire article here, but you can go and read it if you would like, but I do think much of it applies to new coaches and anyone who has many interpersonal interactions at work. Instead I want to talk about parts of the article that stood out to me as an instructional technology coach. The article does link Mindfulness to building great relationships at work. That seems to be a hot term lately in education, and for good reason. I wrote about mindfulness in my mission and vision as a digital education leader earlier in my program. Being mindful seems to draw us out of ourselves, that reflection leads us to think more about others and their needs and concerns, not just focusing on our own. It makes sense that practicing mindfulness in regard to your words and actions would lead to better work relationships. A couple other ideas stood out to me from this article, one was identifying your relationship needs along with focusing on your EI and listening actively and being positive (Mindtools, n.d.).
It seems important to know what you need from others and what they need from you, especially in the position of a coach (Mindtools, n.d.). Part of a coaches role is helping teachers to figure out what they can do to grow their practice, through reflection. To me that seems like another way to say, understand what others need from you. As an instructional technology coach I also need to know what I need from others, or what I can learn from them. There is so much to learn, it’s important to keep that in mind in order to take advantage of the many opportunities I have to learn from others. In addition, I want to be sure to voice what I have learned or am learning from them, to emphasize the peer to peer relationship we have. Continue reading Collegial Relationships and Instructional Coaching: Module 2→
The Tricky Nature of Questioning in Coaching We’ve already established this quarter that coaching is not about being an expert. It’s not “I Know” as much as it is “I Trust” (Goldberg). The module for this week’s post dealt with how to build that trust. One key element was to ask questions rather than provide … Continue reading "Let me ask you a question…"
For the final project in EDTC 6104 – Digital Learning Environments I’m reflecting on my Community Engagement Project. Using screencasting in the classroom for instruction with students or PD with staff members. I attempted to identify a learning need for a community of educators and design a workshop and presentation to distribute the content through a presentation at a local conference. I initially had a difficult time thinking of an area where I was comfortable and capable of providing PD or exposure to a specific topic for a group of K-12 educators. Eventually I settled on the topic of screencasting. I decided to apply to present this project at a local technology conference, NCCE. When I was thinking about the length I knew it would be between 30 and 60 minutes based on the topic and what I had to say luckily the conference application helped, since there was a choice for a 50 minute spot or a 2 hour spot. I went for 50 minutes.
Engaged and Active Learning
A focus of our class was active and engaged learning in a digital environment. It was a challenge to incorporate into PD especially since I am used to sit-and-get style of PD. I have done a lot of thinking and reflecting on how to adapt and update PD to a more engaging style, but putting it into practice has proved to be difficult. One way I’ve attempted to engage learners is to provide freedom, and that is a great draw of video, you make videos that fit the purpose according what is needed in your class or by your staff. I hope participants will be engaged because they are able to apply this learning to their individual classrooms and plan videos for their students or staff. Another idea was to incorporate flipped learning content into the session. I decided that trying to get participants to record their own screencast before coming to the PD would hopefully help spark an interest and facilitate buy-in from participants. I also decided to try to gather the recorded videos together along with a description to create a library of screencast and video resources that would hopefully benefit teachers for use in their classrooms or job. To get participants involved in the session I attempted to have them script and record a screencast toward the end of our time. In planning for this, I have some concerns because I’ve heard conference wifi can be unreliable at times and video of course requires more bandwidth.
I really hope that the idea of a library of screencast videos would serve as a springboard for teachers recording more videos, or using videos linked through this Google site in their own classrooms. I will be interested to get feedback and track the use over time through some sort of analytics. As I was thinking about adding one more website to teachers taxed brains, I became concerned that mine would not stand out. I don’t have any answers, and I realized I have no way to remind anyone that it exists. I’m hoping that if my training is valuable and the videos recorded by others are shared this will become a valuable site for the teachers that visit. Who knows, maybe it can be used by my school district in some way. Right now, as you can see below it is just beginning as a basic Google site with four different pages focused on gathering and sharing screencast videos and my presentation.
Content Knowledge Needs
During this quarter we focused on the ISTE Coaching Standards, and specifically standard 3. We covered the standard extensively and because of the time we put in reflecting and applying standard 3, I felt that my project meets many of the indicators for standard 3. I had difficulty explaining other content knowledge standards that are me by using screencasting for student learning and staff PD because the application is so broad. However, I can reflect on how I have used screencasts and instructional videos in my classroom in the past and share the content knowledge I have incorporated and what standards those videos could address for students or staff. I was looking back at some of my instructional videos tied to 4th grade math standards and I found that instructional videos for two chapters on fractions covered nearly all of the common core state standards for fractions for 4th grade. Instructional videso do differ from screencasts in my experience in recording however, and I have not yet made such a clear connection to standards in my own screencasts. I find that I often use screencasts to allow for more time to focus on standards within a lesson or in class because they help explain how to use a tool or how to navigate within a tool that will be used often in class.
One benefit of choosing to focus on screencasting and video is that it can be used for a variety of purposes. The skill of recording screencasts can be focused on student needs or the needs of teachers. I was able to record videos that I used for both purposes which I felt could be beneficial to share with other teachers. Teacher needs are vast, and we are stretched in many different directions. Recording a video can be one way to alleviate some of the pressures felt by teachers because it allows some basic needs and directions to be explained outside of the instructional block, or frees the teacher to focus attention on complex standards or deeper thinking.
In past classes and in our class on on Digital Learning Environments we’ve been studying about engagement and professional development and best practices around engagement. So, naturally I want to make the professional development I’m providing as engaging as possible to those in attendance. From past investigations I should know how to do that but I found that knowledge very difficult to put into practice! I found that there were outside factors that limited my ability to provide the type of collaborative participation I wanted. Our class often discussed the constraints of the wireless network at large conferences, so when leading a PD session that is focused on videos posted online, naturally audience participation in the form of making their own videos is limited. Honestly, because of those limits I find myself more understanding of the typical forms of PD we experience as teachers. That being said, I don’t want my desire for transformation of PD to end here. I hope that in my upcoming classes and in my new job this year I will be able to continue working to transform the type of PD teachers experience. It is great to hear about things that are working across the country from our readings, as well as reading and hearing from classmates about their experiences in providing meaningful and differentiated PD opportunities. I still have a lot left to learn, in fact I’ll never be finished learning as all teachers know, but I feel that I’m on a great path that will hopefully benefit others along the way.
I’ve been an Instructional Technology TOSA for 3 years. I love teaching teachers and sharing my passion for technology in the classroom with others. What I haven’t been fond of, is trying to find the right way to offer PD. We’ve tried the district wide invites to trainings after school and gotten 3 people to show up, we’ve done building level training by teacher request and gotten 3-5 people, we’ve modeled in classrooms, we’ve sent out newsletters, made videos, trained select teachers in the buildings, created building leaders, worked with year long cohorts to develop human capacity, etc. Don’t get me wrong, we’ve made huge strides and seem to narrowing in on the things that work best for us and we continue to try to adapt and make changes to meet our teachers needs but I’m not sure we’ve hit on the answers to a few critical questions. In light of the new ESSA definition of professional development, it’s time to take a new look at answering these questions:
How do we scaffold learning for teachers? – I like the idea of professional development being broken down into three phases: Knowing, Doing and Experiencing. The Knowing is understanding the why of using a tool, a instructional strategy or process. It gets to purpose and gets teachers excited about how something can help their students or change their teaching. The Doing is the skill building, what skills does a teacher need to do that project with their students or use that strategy? If they are excited enough about the why, the hope is that there will be some motivation to learn the skills needed to successfully implement and that they’ll seek out some of that learning if you make it available to them. The Experiencing is the elusive transferability of those skills to other projects and building the confidence and automaticity with a tool or skill that will make it easier to take a risk with other tech learning.
How to we make it relevant for teachers? – Large group tech trainings are almost destined for frustration on the part of some participants. Either you are moving too fast or too slow for someone and half of them know what you are covering already and are waiting for something new. How do we keep it relevant and personalized for all learners in a training without having to do everything one-on-one.
How do we make it hands on? – I think part of this is making sure that our teachers are experiencing rich, tech infused PD… as a student. They need that perspective and they need to see trainers model what it can look like to use technology to teach with all the strategies they know are best practice as well as model dealing with the occasional troubleshooting issue. We can’t have more “sit and get” sessions to teach blended learning. It just doesn’t make sense.
How do we make the learning sustainable over time? I run into teachers at grade levels between 3rd and 9th grade who feel that they have to teach Powerpoint because the students “don’t know how to do it”. I’d argue that the older students probably do and just need a reminder or their friends will help them figure it out. The bigger issue is how do we help students revisit skills regularly enough that things like Powerpoint are just tools that a student pulls out of their pocket when the teacher gives them a choice of how they want to present their learning. And how do we do the same thing for teachers with our PD so that they aren’t “relearning” a tool every time they need to use it.
There is a model called H.A.C.K. Model of Innovative Instruction out of the Doceo Center of Northwest Nazarene University. They’ve created a system for teaching using something similar to the SAMR model that stretches the Professional Development for teachers out over time and pushes them to use the same tools to provide more and more choice and sophistication for students. The short version is that they would teach teachers how to use one tool in their classroom until they were comfortable with it and then move onto another. Once they had two or three under their belt, they’d start learning to teach students to make choices between the right tools for the job and apply them to new projects. Eventually, they’d lead them to teaching the students to use the same tools to mix, remix or create their own projects. The tools don’t necessarily change a whole lot through the year but the way they are used might become more sophisticated. If we could start doing something like that with teachers and teaching them some core technology skills and tools appropriate for their grade level, maybe we could continue to encourage them to use those same tools in new ways. It’s something to think about.
Community Engagement Project – Differentiating Instruction for Teachers
The conclusion I came to after the thinking I’ve done this quarter in my Digital Education Leadership Program is that we have to find a way to start looking at how we can differentiate professional learning opportunities for teachers. I’ll acknowledge that there are differences between K-12 students and Adult Learners, although, as I posted in a previous blog post (Developing Human Capacity in Teacher Leaders) the differences aren’t as wide as you’d think. They still need choice, they would rather do than listen, they don’t want to waste their time learning something they already know or that doesn’t apply to them and they want to talk to each other, collaborate, and engage with the learning in different ways.
I choose to submit my workshop proposal (Differentiating Professional Development for Teachers) to NCCE 2018 because it’s local and I’ve presented before. Talking to my colleagues at that conference has become part of my professional development for the year and I’d like to get more involved. I chose a 2 hour workshop model because I want to model what I’m suggesting about differentiated Professional Development. I’d like the chance for my participants to experience that kind of PD as a “student”.
I’m using Canvas because my district is using it and the “how to” videos I’m hoping to host in KyteLearning.com, which is a new video learning platform our district is beginning to use to provide on demand training for a variety of common software tools as well as custom content we’ll create for our own uses.
The topic I chose to model with is a PD around the topic of Video/Web Conferencing. I chose it because it’s applicable across grade levels and content areas. I’ll start with a discussion around the new ESSA definition of professional development. There will be lots of opportunities built in for interaction by the participants because I’m curious if their understandings of the legislation are different than my interpretation.
When we are ready to model differentiated PD the participants will have the chance to take a quick quiz which will guide them one of three pages in the Canvas course I created. The beginning group will watch some videos about the basics of video/web conferencing and how to set them up. The second group will have had some previous experience or knowledge and will spend their time with me talking more about their experiences, how to prepare students for a successful conference and they will work together to come up with some video conference ideas. The third group will hopefully have done a video/web conference before and will participate an independent group to discuss how to use video/web conferencing to redefine projects and lessons, how to get students more involved in planning and hosting them and will also work on planning some lesson ideas to share.
All the groups will be actively contributing to a shared doc where they can leave their contact information if they want to work together after the workshop to collaborate with teachers in other districts to actually put some of their ideas into practice. The ideas will also be there to look at later.
As an added bonus, we’ve been talking a lot this quarter about accessibility. I’m putting a module at the end of the course that will contain some resources for creating accessible content. It’s under construction but I did create this first video that is closed captioned.
I’m excited about the possibilities although I suspect it will a lot of work at first as I’m figuring out how to make this a reality for PD in my own district. I’m hoping that as the conference rolls around in February I’ll have a much better feel for how this actually will work and can share some of the things I learned with the workshop participants.
This week for my M.Ed. Digital Education Leadership program blog post at Seattle Pacific University. I’m reflecting on a different part of the ISTE coaching standard #3. For this module we are considering indicators E and G of Standard 3. Initially those two indicators and topics seemed unrelated but I think they really do overlap more than I first thought. Initially in considering the role students and teachers play in troubleshooting technology versus collaborating locally and globally with students, parents, peers and the larger community I decided to focus on troubleshooting. However, I think the two may be more connected than I originally considered. The question that chose to investigate was related to my school district. I wanted to know what tools or resources they had in place for teachers and students who need to troubleshoot technology so that they feel empowered to troubleshoot on their own. I also want to consider what technology coaches can do in order to encourage teachers to troubleshoot on their own.
The first step that I see in helping teachers to become empowered users of technology who troubleshoot their own problems is encouraging them to begin to do that work. Perhaps even before providing that encouragement technology leaders will need to provide some modeling or sharing how we troubleshoot our own technology problems. I will plan to write a bit more about this later in my post. In order for teachers to be successful troubleshooters of their technology, however, they will likely need scaffolded help. In many of my previous readings and posts related to PD the idea that good teaching for students and adults is the same has come up repeatedly. That is why I believe that some explicit teaching around troubleshooting is necessary for teachers. In my past experience working with teachers and collaborating in general the collective intelligence is far superior to the ideas of one person. Therefore, my hope in continually exposing the district staff to the idea of troubleshooting a device on their own and modeling with the resources I use is that it will lead to a culture where it is natural for teachers to troubleshoot their own problems more often. My second hope is that by devoting a small amount of time to troubleshooting consistently will aid in creating of a community of resources related to troubleshooting to build a repository of solutions and resources for finding those solutions across an entire school district.
Troubleshooting Help – Some Resources
The next part of my research into troubleshooting tools involved actually looking for tools that were used in my district as well as other tools I could find around the web. I was able to find some pretty good resources but many, as happens with technology, seem outdated.
The first thing I noticed when looking for tools to help with troubleshooting technology within my school district is that there is a troubleshooting and PD website that does exist! It is just like what I was hoping to find, a place where collective intelligence is leveraged for the benefit of all. I was happy to see that they have a fairly advanced page with many working links that includes resources in a variety of formats. I saw documents, slideshows and videos depending on the topic you choose to learn more about. Some offered explanations or PD but others were basic directions on how to use a tool that would likely work for troubleshooting. Another positive aspect of this website is that it utilizes tools and resources that are already available from the web as well as incorporates tools and resources created by the technology leaders from within the district. I think this provides a good mix of showing teachers what is available and encouraging them to create and share their own knowledge. In addition to this webpage there is another page offered by the district that is an instructional technology blog. On the blog there is also a combination of different types of information. Some link to PD or other district websites and some are setup type tips that would be helpful to a teacher or student who was troubleshooting their technology. One point of interest for me is whether or not these resources are widely shared across the district or in trainings and how often they are updated. I hope to find out when I attend the new employee training later this month.
The next resource I wanted to share that I discovered in my search this week is from Pace University in the state of New York. Pace has an interesting idea in their website that is for troubleshooting all about computers for teachers or students. They have attempted to put the most important technology issues on their site and then further divided that into five subsites. The layout is great, and I like the subsites as well as the visuals on the homepage of the site. It would likely still be useful if it was current, but much of the information appears to now be out of date. I actually had a pretty difficult time finding a technology troubleshooting website, especially one made for teachers because I think much of this work has been taken on by districts, and probably also because so many specific problems can be solved by searching the web. Searching the web is one basic way to troubleshoot many technology problems but I wanted to provide two resources that might be more focused and powerful than a general web search. I want to talk about product forums and support pages. I’m choosing to discuss Google Forums and Google Product support because I use a Google account at work and students in my district use Chromebooks and have G Suite accounts.
Google Forums and Support
Google product forums is an extensive website that revolves around all of the products Google offers and allows users to ask questions and get answers from community members, volunteers or Google employees. I’ve found that each time I use the forums I learn something new, often in addition to the solution I was looking to find. As you can see the forum has an extensive list of products.
I was look there today and was reminded that I can use the shortcut ctrl + ? to bring up the help menu on a Chromebook. One great reason to use these forums if that you often get specific step by step support tailored to your problem, or you can find past posts by searching that explain the exact topic you are trying to solve. Another similarly useful resource is the Google Support website.
From what I can see the support website is more general whereas forums are for more technical or specific problems. I’m not sure, so if you happen to know please provide a clarifying comment! The great thing about support and forum type of websites is that all major technology companies seems to have them. Whether you prefer to use Microsoft, Apple or Google products and services each of those three major companies has these dedicated websites. Now you don’t even have to go to the Apple Store! I think that because we do so much of our work on specific devices from one of these large companies, and because so much is now done online the best troubleshooting for most people will probably come from a major forum or product support website.
Since the resources I’ve listed above are all free to use without any password protection or other restrictions I see no reason why those same sites should not be shared with students. If we are looking to empower students to be creative thinkers and problem solvers then troubleshooting should be a skill they acquire. It has been my experience that my former students are some of the most eager people to troubleshoot technology problems. When I reflect on my classroom practice from past years, I think if I had strategically provided them with these resources they would have been even more independent in their use of technology and in finding solutions for problems. I also wonder if more students would have demonstrated competency in troubleshooting. Explicit teaching and modeling can be used here with students and teachers alike. As I said above, there is a connection between encouraging local and global collaboration and confidence in troubleshooting. If you use technology sometime you will encounter a problem. Our students will continue to use technology just as students across the world will use technology. Students will collaborate with others who are far removed from their learning environments, when problems come up they should have some strategies for solving those problems. As Lindsay (2016) states, students should develop global competencies in order to be prepared for the global jobs they will be competing for tomorrow. Let’s work to help our students be prepared to compete globally by helping them become proficient users of technology.
My Thoughts for Teachers Leaders
The way forward could help to shape classroom cultures, mindset and the entire environment of a school or district. If we are willing to be patient, resist the urge to provide answers, model our own troubleshooting with both staff members and students, and encourage flexible solutions to problems then an important shift can continue to happen. Our goal as technology leaders should be to help spur this change. Change can happen, especially if we provide staff and students with some resources that they can use to move past the initial stage of just giving up. If we want students to persevere in their lives, shouldn’t we be willing to do the same in front of them and in front of our own colleagues? Certainly we need to test, prepare and do our best to ensure that our instructional time is spent instructing, but next time you have a technology hiccup maybe we should stop and think about what our reaction and solution teaches those around us. I would also encourage you to model if possible or share some resources that you use to troubleshoot technology to other teachers in a PD or in an informal setting. Finally, if you have resources from your school district or from another website that you would like to share with others below, please comment.
Teaching Technology Troubleshooting is a Lot Like Teaching Math
I was sidetracked on my way to researching how to provide teachers “preventative strategies” to make the use of video, audio and social media tools more trouble free. I came across this blog post by John Spencer. In his 11 Reasons Teachers Aren’t Using Technology he makes the point that what holds teachers back isn’t always lack of skill or motivation but “What they lacked was a belief in their own ability to create tech-integrated lessons.” It struck me that no teacher, even a great one, who doesn’t have some confidence in their ability to create the lessons themselves will ever get past the troubleshooting phase. They may try it once or twice but but may give up once things go sideways, as they often do with technology, even if they were given a list of troubleshooting tips or some training on how to prepare for technology. I think those things are valuable but by themselves are not going to truely make someone comfortable troubleshooting technology issues.
I’ve also observed that troubleshooting is not just about following a list of steps. There is an understanding of how technology works that comes partly through practice and increasing confidence. You can tell someone to check the internet connection if their web pages aren’t opening but they won’t necessarily know why they are doing it or when looking for the wifi symbol in similar situations would be a good thing to try. It’s similar to teaching students the algorithm or the P.E.M.D.A.S mnemonic for division without them ever really grasping the conceptual knowledge behind division. It will be more of a challenge for them to transfer their division “troubleshooting” skills to dividing fractions or finding ratio and proportion without that conceptual understanding. At least not with the long term retention we’d like them to have. The same is true for troubleshooting technology. Understanding that mobile devices need wifi and what kinds of problems can be traced back to that connection can speed up the troubleshooting process.
I tried to think back to how I learned about technology in the hopes that it might give me some insight into how I learned my troubleshooting skills but that didn’t help. I’ve always been an early adopter of technology. As Rogers’ work on the Diffusion of Innovation (Rogers 1971) states, the early adopters are risk takers and are willing to fail and they often have the social capital to influence others. I know who those teachers are in my district that I can hand almost any technology too and they’ll figure it out and help others get excited. We couldn’t do it without them. They troubleshoot fairly instinctively. None of the early adopters I talked to could really pinpoint how they learned it. They just get it. I don’t know that we can always teach that.
I think we may need to take a two pronged approach to help the rest of the right side of the adoption curve:
Troubleshooting as a Hardware/Network/Software problems
Let’s face it…sometimes stuff just doesn’t work. Devices need updates, websites disappear, plug ins are out of date, someone forgot to plug in the cart last night, or there is just something weird going on. Some of those are purely in the realm of the technology department and someone needs to be called in, and others can be handled in class. I didn’t have time to create one but I can envision creating a If this…then that type of sheet or poster that could go into classrooms or be attached to our computer carts to give teachers some quick troubleshooting steps to try. I’d model it after the Problem Solving Board idea on AskATechTeacher.com. Jacqui Murray has created some great resources for teachers and regularly posts about new technology and how to teach any number of cool projects and basic skills.
Where we can, we need to help teachers learn to diagnose problems. Perhaps an interactive checklist of steps that we could ask teachers and students to use to identify where in the process the problem is occurring. Each question could be clicked on for troubleshooting possibilities.
For example, these 5 might be the main steps:
Turn on the computer
Check for wifi connection
Log in with district credentials
Click on the icon or tile
Open the browser
If you couldn’t do one of the steps (you might have to use the list on someone else’s computer), you could click on it to get a list of options. For example:
Turn on the computer
Try plugging the device into the extra power supply and give it a minute or two and try turning on again.
Make sure the power button on the cart was turned on.
Check for wifi connection
Make sure the ethernet cable is plugged into the marked port in the classroom
Ensure that the cart is turned on
Look for the wifi icon in the lower right of the screen
If it’s not on, click on it and choose the Mobile Lab network and click Connect
I suspect, if you could get people to use it, that it wouldn’t take long for the troubleshooting steps to start making sense. Simplicity and repetition would be the key.
Troubleshooting the Human Element
I once heard about an acronym that sums up this type of problem P.B.K.C (Problem Between Keyboard and Chair). Sometimes names get misspelled or students have trouble typing an entire web address or they just don’t click on the right button. A blog post by Scott Meech, “Scaffolding Your Lesson Plans – Lesson Learned from Traditional Teaching” brought up a very good point related to teaching with technology:
As I began to utilize technology in my classroom, the more it was apparent that I had to have a similar outlook with my non-tech experiences. Too often I would ask students to use technology by creating a project and then not revisit those skills in some fashion. I didn’t scaffold the learning throughout the school year and develop their skills by building upon previous activities. Students created some amazing documents, videos and podcasts, but I noticed that this didn’t always translate into long term learning with technology.
That thought gave me a little epiphany. We don’t do that with teachers either. We offer one and done courses on technology skills that sometimes neglect to connect to relevant content in their classrooms and we don’t revisit or scaffold that learning for them. He goes on to say that teachers need to learn to use the technology well themselves if we expect them to teach students to use it.
So, what if we started by picking one program we really wanted students to learn to use and concentrated for a whole year just on that tool. We could offer various levels of PD around the tool but we’d keep coming back to it. We’d use the database of who has attended training to follow up and offer more advanced classes (both in person and online) to encourage teachers to continue learning about the tool and how it could help their students. If we modeled troubleshooting as part of that learning and revisited problems they had in class so they could share their solutions and learn from one another. Hosting troubleshooting forums in internal social media forums such as Yammer, would allow teachers to contribute when they’ve encountered a similar problem or just search on issues to see if someone has already posted a solution. This would be a great place for the early adopters to step up and monitor those forums.