Category Archives: EDTC6105

EDTC 6105 Module 1-Coach as Leader: Foundations

ISTE Coaching Standard

ISTE-C Standard 1: Visionary Leadership

b. Contribute to the planning, development, communication, implementation, and evaluation of technology-infused strategic plans at the district and school levels

d. Implement strategies for initiating and sustaining technology innovations and manage the change process in schools and classrooms

Inquiry Question:
How can tech coach provide meaningful and effective coaching to engage and empower teachers to integrate technology into classrooms? Especially for those who are behind using technology in teaching.

Background

Step into the digital world, we are facing many changes in education from constantly developing technologies. To foster productive digital citizens, more and more schools invest educational equipment which is supposed to support teaching and learning, and some piloted 1:1 laptop program or initiated BYOD program cross the entire school. While we are having intelligent hardware, we need to use them intelligently to meet the original purpose and reach the big ideas. Technology can be a powerful tool for transforming learning. It can help affirm and advance relationships between educators and students, reinvent our approaches to learning and collaboration, shrink long-standing equity and accessibility gaps, and adapt learning experiences to meet the needs of all learners. However, to be transformative, educators need to have the knowledge and skills to take full advantage of technology-rich learning environments.

Definition of Effective Coaching and The Role of Tech Coach

In order to increase teachers’ willing and passion to utilize technology into classes, professional development on how to integrate technology is going to take an important role. Since most teachers realize that one-shot PD sessions are too simple not meaningful or impactful to satisfy them, the tech coach who can provide consistent, long-term, and content-specific coaching is expected.

Sometimes tech coach is a facilitator who helps support teachers, give them ideas and let them run with it themselves; Sometimes, tech coach is a co-teachers, who collaborates with teachers to co-plan goals, map out a lesson and engage in cycle of classroom; Sometimes, tech coach is a peer-observer, who provides positive feedback via constant conversation to discuss the future lessons without the feeling of evaluation. In a meaningful and effective coaching, the tech coach works with teachers in a partnership-type and collaborative relationship in which the tech coach engages into a sustained professional dialogue aimed to improve teaching by developing teacher’s knowledge and skills. The effective coaching process is content-related and practical which associates teachers and the tech coach with rapport, respect, and trust in a long-term collaboration.

Successful Cases Catalyze Momentum On Technology Integration

Many teachers either do not have time or might even be resistant to bringing technology into their classroom; others may think it’s just about doing the same thing with new tools. These ingrained opinions bring difficulties in implementing technology coaching from the beginning, and it won’t be effective and impactful without an affirmative attitude. A good way is to start tech coaching with those teachers who are excited to work with technology and willing to experimenting with new opportunities and collaborating. As teachers learned about the tech coach’s role, witnessed what improvements the coaching brought and hear the praise others were getting for collaboration, school-wide momentum begins building up. The meaningful and effective coaching which has been accomplished will act as a conduit of best practices to catalyze passions to others on technology integration.

Identify Teacher’s Needs and Have Teachers See the Improvement

In order to provide effective tech coaching, the coach needs to have deep conversations with the teacher to understand his/her needs, situation and instructional goals. Discussing the following key questions will give the tech coach and the teacher the best direction to effective technology integration and also empower teachers.

•    Why do you want to use this technology here?

•    Why hasn’t the approach that you’ve been doing in the past worked?

•    How do you hope the technology will change it?

•    Can the technology make this idea more relevant to students?

•    Can it push the lesson up a notch, or can it enhance things for students by allowing them to do something that they couldn’t do without the technology? For example, does the technology allow students to collaborate beyond the classroom walls?

•    Is the technology making possible a certain level of transparency for the teacher to assess where students are individually?

•    Does the technology provide a platform for students to be creative without overbearing them with gadgets and apps?

The tech coach needs to collect and analyze the implementation and impact data to present the values and influences of coaching to have the teacher see the improvement from technology integration to grow confidence to take more risks on a new teaching approach.

The Coaching Cycle

According to Andrew’s experiences on providing effective coaching, he suggests using BDA coaching cycle with teachers. BDA coach cycle works better especially for those who are behind using technology.

Before meeting with a teacher, the coach needs to touch base with them informally to get a sense of how he/she might be able to help. The tech coach needs to start generating ideas around the teacher’s particular classroom needs and prepare resources for specific lessons or units before formally meeting with the teacher. In the formal meeting, the tech coach will share ideas or useful things that other teachers have done with technology in their classrooms and a plan of redesigning the specific lessons with meaningful technology integration.

During the course of working together, the tech coach will be there as classroom support while the teacher implements a new lesson utilizing technology. The coach needs to lead the class and model for the teacher how to work with a specific technology.

After implementation, follow-up with the coached teacher is important to find out how things went. The coach and the teacher should meet together to evaluate the implementation and discuss the plan for each individual lesson. Following are the assessment questions need to be considered:

•    Do they need to troubleshoot something, so that it’s easier next time around?

•    Did the implementation bring up new questions or needs for the teacher?

•    What was successful and what still could be tweaked for a more refined delivery?

•    What does the teacher still need help with?

A Flexible Schedule to Best Meet Teacher Diverse Needs  

The flexible schedule will allow the tech coach and teachers to have more opportunities for conversations which will help to grow understanding and build trust and rapport relationships between each other to lead meaningful co-planning for the future. The coach will know any barrier the teacher encounters and provide support in time to inspire the coached teacher moving forward. 

Professional Development to Create A Vision For Teachers–Better for The Future Effective Coaching

The tech coaches have the responsibility to provide follow-up PD after coaching. The PDs as the showcase of successful technology integration are aimed to take the burden of technology off the teachers and create a vision that what and how technology can support them to meet different types of needs for diverse learners. 

The effective and meaningful coaching needs the coach and the teacher collaborate closely with trust and understanding in which the coach and the teacher will use their specific expertise to have a purposeful technology integration to meet the goals they set together and ultimately server the students who have grown up with technology.

References:

Ehsanipour, T., Zaccarelli, F . G., & Center to Support Excellence in Teaching – Stanford University. (2017). Exploring Coaching for Powerful Technology Use in Education. Retrieved from
http://digitalpromise.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/Dynamic-Learning-Project-Paper-Final.pdf

Davis, E. L., Currie, B. (2019). Tech Integration Comes Alive Through Coaching. Retrieved from
http://www.ascd.org/ascd-express/vol14/num17/tech-integration-comes-alive-through-coaching.aspx

Instructional Coaching: Driving Meaningful Tech Integration. (2015). Retrieved from
https://www.edutopia.org/video/instructional-coaching-driving-meaningful-tech-integration

Making Technology Work. (2015). Retrieved from
https://www.edutopia.org/practice/instructional-coaching-driving-meaningful-tech-integration

Building Trust in Professional Coaching Relationships

In my current coursework for my Digital Education Leadership program we are looking at what is needed to be a successful Educational Technology coach. Using the ISTE Standards for Coaches as a framework, for this module we are looking at these standards (ISTE, 2017):

ISTE-C Standard 1: Visionary Leadership

b. Contribute to the planning, development, communication, implementation, and evaluation of technology-infused strategic plans at the district and school levels

d. Implement strategies for initiating and sustaining technology innovations and manage the change process in schools and classrooms

Although there are many factors and qualities of a successful coach, one that I wanted to explore this week is trust. Establishing a culture of trust is key in all relationships, and professional coaching relationships are no different. But how do you build trust professionally? Especially if the relationship is short-term or in group environment (versus 1-1 coaching). I think one of the biggest hurdles to successful coaching relationships in school is that the term “coach” is so broad. Both coaches and those being coached aren’t clear about what specific coaching role is needed in their situation. So expectations aren’t defined and often one (or both) parties feel misunderstood and that their goals aren’t being met. This is a tremendous missed opportunity and loss of valuable resources. I want to focus on exploring trust and building positive and effective coaching relationships and I believe the first step to making this happen is for coaching roles and expectations of all parties (administration, coach, teacher) to be clearly defined.

Developing a relationship based on respect and trust between coach and learning partner is nonnegotiable for successful coaching.(Foltos, 2013)

When doing my research on this I came across I read Les Foltos’ book, Peer Coaching: Unlocking the Power of Collaboration. In this book “The Building Blocks of Trust” were discussed. I found this graphic and idea to be very easy to understand and it has helped me grasp both the importance of trust in coaching relationships as well as how to build this trust.

The Building Blocks of Trust are composed of 3 levels. Compassion, communication, and commitment make up the base of the pyramid. Without one of these trust cannot exist and the coaching relationship will not be as successful as it has the potential to be. Collaboration and Ability make up the middle level and integrity is at the top of the pyramid.

“Trust must be present in order to have meaningful conversations about practice. Trusting relationships among professional colleagues are often the missing ingredient needed to sustain Peer Coaching success” (Robbins, 2015). Robbins, in her book, Peer Coaching to Enrich Professional Practice,

School Culture, and Student Learning, goes on to say that many literacy and math coaches haven’t been successful in recent years because, although coaches might have a content area knowledge, without focusing on building relationships and trust coaching efforts fail.

From the reading I have done on this topic and using my own experiences of coaching and being coached I have come up with 4 “must- haves” for building trust in a professional coaching relationship.

Must-Haves for Building Trust:

1. Clarify that you are not an evaluator.

2. From the first meeting be transparent and honest about setting up expectations and norms for your meetings and work together.

3. As the coach, it is important that you have instruction and practice with communication skills and strategies. Use these.

4. Be reliable and follow through on your coaching responsibilities.

Resources:

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

ISTE.org. (2017) ISTE Standards for Coaches. (Retrieved on 2018, November 30) from: https://www.iste.org/standards/for-coaches

Robbins, P. (2015). Peer Coaching to Enrich Professional Practice, School Culture, and Student Learning. Chapter 1: Establishing the Need for Peer Coaching. Found online at: http://www.ascd.org/publications/books/115014/chapters/Establishing-the-Need-for-Peer-Coaching.aspx

PD for EdTech Coaches

In my current coursework for my Digital Education Leadership program we are exploring what additional professional learning we might need to become an effective Educational Technology coach. Using the ISTE Standards for Coaches as a framework, for this module we are looking at these standards (ISTE, 2017):

 

ISTE-C Standard 2: Teaching, Learning, and Assessment

f.Coach teachers in and model incorporation of research-based best practices in instructional design when planning technology-enhanced learning experiences

 

ISTE-C Standard 6: Content Knowledge and Professional Growth

b. Engage in continuous learning to deepen professional knowledge, skills, and dispositions in organizational change and leadership, project management, and adult learning to improve professional practice

c. 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

 

During this two year program we have looked at student standards for technology, best practices for teachers of technology, and are now looking at the role of a peer coach in the area of technology.  Through this work, specifically the work this quarter, I am learning the differences between teaching and coaching and the differences between working with students and peers. I have spent 11 of my 14 years as an elementary teacher in the general education classroom.  One of the greatest benefits of being a general education teacher is having a “team”. There are others (both in your school and in your district) that have the same position as you, the same expectations for their job, and the same opportunities to professional development. For three of my years teaching, I held a teaching position that only I had at my school and there were few others (if any) in the district that had the identical position and job description.  For me, the most difficult part of these positions was not having a “team” in my building and not having clear standards, job expectations, and opportunities for professional development. These (standards, expectations, and PD opportunities) were present, but it was most difficult to navigate my position when I didn’t have a clearly-defined and easily accessible team. Being a technology coach puts someone in a similar position I believe. Depending on the size of the district there often are only a couple/few coaches (if that many). When I reflect on the opportunities and potential challenges that come with being a coach, the one thing that I feel that is critical to the position is opportunity for professional development.  A educational technology coach is leading a field that is ever-changing and emerging and it is critical that they are up-to-date on resources and best practices if they are to be an effective coach for their peers. The challenge is that a district might not be able to provide professional development opportunities that would be serve technology coaches. So coaches would need to seek out these resources in a larger community. When researching what options are out there for PD for EdTech coaches, I came across an article, Resources for EdTech Coaches, in Medium.

 

This article listed several different resources that might provide professional learning opportunities and the ability to connect with other EdTech coaches. I liked how the resources provided were varied in both format and accessibility. Below I have listed some of these resources and a brief summary:

 

ISTE Connect EdTech Coaches Network-a place to connect with other Edtech coaches (Medium, 2018)

 

Future Ready Schools (Groups and Events)– “a planning and resources hub for personalized, digital learning” (Medium, 2018)

 

EdTech Podcasts Bam Radio Network, TedTalks Education,  and House of #EdTech– three different places to search for podcast by educators for educators (Medium, 2018)

 

The article also mentioned that a focus on personalized learning for both students and teachers when in a coaching role is important and how seeking how professional development on this style of teaching and learning might be helpful.  It is also mentioned the importance of a technology coach being aware of the process for district digital transformations (Medium, 2018).

 

Professional Development opportunities and the ability to connect with other coaches might not be as accessible and structured as they are for teachers in other roles.  However, being a coach in a field that is constantly evolving and shaping our students’ learning environments, it is key that educational technology coaches seek out resources that will allow them to stay current on digital learning and use online collaboration to connect with other coaches.  There seems to be some great resources out there and I’m sure this list is ever growing and expanding.

 

Resources:

 

Bam Radio Network. (Retrieved on 2018, December 2) from:  https://futureready.org/http://www.bamradionetwork.com/every-classroom-matters/

 

Future Reading Schools. (Retrieved on 2018, December 2) from:  https://futureready.org/

 

ISTE.org. (2017) ISTE Standards for Coaches. (Retrieved on 2018, November 30) from: https://www.iste.org/standards/for-coaches

 

Iste.org. ISTE Connect. (Retrieved on 2018, December 2) from: https://connect.iste.org/communities/community-home?communitykey=3144c376-a435-4bad-9080-f25d9d8cb17f&tab=groupdetails

 

Medium.com. Resources for EdTech Coaches.  (Retrieved on 2018, December 2) from: https://medium.com/inspired-ideas-prek-12/resources-for-edtech-coaches-e543ef7b1e20

 

Medium.com. The 6 Hallmarks of Personalized Learning.  (Retrieved on 2018, December 2) from:

https://medium.com/inspired-ideas-prek-12/the-6-hallmarks-of-personalized-learning-1ce4949c7660

 

Bam Radio Network. (Retrieved on 2018, December 2) from:  https://futureready.org/http://www.bamradionetwork.com/every-classroom-matters/

 

Ted Talks Education. (Retrieved on 2018, December 2) from:  https://futureready.org/https://www.ted.com/about/programs-initiatives/ted-talks-education

 

The House of #EdTech Podcast. (Retrieved on 2018, December 2) from:  https://futureready.org/https://chrisnesi.com/

 

“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"

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

Building a Better Education with Scaffolding!

Scaffolding for Coaches, Teachers, and Students For this module’s blog post, I decided to look at scaffolding and how it applies to peer coaches in education.  Les Foltos mentions scaffolding with regard to helping teachers aid students in solving particular tasks in Chapter 7 of  Peer coaching : Unlocking the Power of Collaboration (Foltos 127), and … Continue reading "Building a Better Education with Scaffolding!"

21st Century Skills to Connect Teachers and Coaches: Module 3

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
  • Curriculum
  • Evaluation
  • Standards
  • 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:

  1. Adaptability
  2. A desire to learn
  3. Confidence
  4. A knack for teamwork
  5. An empowering nature
  6. 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 

9-fundamental-d_19217909_509343d7c3bf1adffcfc2e825791322c41d30799

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.

Resources

4 Common Misconceptions About Teachers We Must Rethink. (2017, September 10). Retrieved November 12, 2017, from https://globaldigitalcitizen.org/4-misconceptions-about-teachers?utm_content=60114297&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter

9 Fundamental Digital Skills for 21st Century Teachers. (2016, December 30). Retrieved November 12, 2017, from http://www.educatorstechnology.com/2016/12/9-fundamental-digital-skills-for-21st.html

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

Ventura, M., Lai, E., & DiCerbo, K. (2017). Skills for Today: What We Know about Teaching and Assessing Critical Thinking. Pearson. Retrieved from http://www.p21.org/storage/documents/Skills_For_Today_Series-Pearson/White_Paper_-_P21_-_Skills_for_Today-What_We_Know_about_Teaching_and_Assessing_Critical_Thinking_v4_1.pdf

Watanabe-Crockett, L. (2017, February 24). 6 Essential Modern Teacher Skills and Why You Need Them. Retrieved November 12, 2017, from https://globaldigitalcitizen.org/six-essential-modern-teacher-skills-need

“A Tale of Two Attics” or “What Sherlock Doesn’t Know Won’t Hurt Him”

A Literary Indulgence Permit me, if you will, to begin with a rather lengthy quote from the Sherlock Holmes story, A Study in Scarlet. Here we see Watson describing his new roommate, Sherlock Holmes: His ignorance was as remarkable as his knowledge. Of contemporary literature, philosophy and politics he appeared to know next to nothing. … Continue reading "“A Tale of Two Attics” or “What Sherlock Doesn’t Know Won’t Hurt Him”"

Collegial Relationships and Instructional Coaching: Module 2

Introduction to Module 2 and My Question

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

Let me ask you a question…

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…"