Category Archives: leadership

Coaching Teachers and Technology: Mindset Matters

ISTE Coaching Standard 1

For module 1 of our EDTC 6105 course, we are focusing on ISTE Coaching Standard 1 indicator’s b and d. The standard focuses on visionary leadership when planning, developing, communicating, implementing, sustaining, and evaluating technology in classrooms, schools and/or at the district level. As I began reflecting on this standard, the first thing that came to my mind was: mindset. 

 

Throughout my 6 years in teaching, I have become aware of the ever-changing landscapes within the educational field. Although not all changes have been in the realm of technology many are. Technology has impacted almost every aspect of our lives today, and education is no exception. How differs from class, school, and district, but regardless comes with benefits and challenges. Some benefits include expanded access to education, global communication and collaboration, enhanced learning environments, and new instructional methodologies, and pedagogies. 

 

Technology is unique in that it is always evolving. In fact, as a teacher, I often hear that we are preparing students for jobs that don’t exist using technologies that haven’t been invented; in order to solve problems that we don’t even know are problems yet. This makes teaching with technology or directly teaching technology to students or teachers even more important but also even more challenging. Just when you think you have masted one technology another has come and replaced it. One take away I’ve had from this reality is that my mindset matters.

Mindset

What do I mean by “mindset”? I am referring to what psychologist Carol Dweck of Stanford University refers to as your beliefs. Dweck’s research on mindsets found that people hold beliefs about the world and the challenges in their lives, and suggests that most people fluctuate between a fixed or growth mindset based on messages in different contexts.  

  • Fixed Mindset: the belief that qualities are inborn, fixed, and unchangeable. 

  • Growth Mindset: the belief that abilities can be developed and strengthened by way of commitment and hard work.

You can see more about Growth Mindset from Carol Dweck’s TED Talk. 

I was just at a district-led training, where k-2 teachers were being taught how to use new iPad and Chromebook devices as well as, how to use an online learning platform that the district adopted. The climate in the room was mainly positive, and most teachers were eager to have devices and a learning platform that amplified student voice and agency. However, this does not mean things were in any way smooth or easy. No, throughout the training there were many times where teachers got lost or confused and encountered problems. One teacher eluded to the learning platform as a new language she had to learn. Even at the end of the 7 hour day, we had just scratched the surface of discovery with the new technologies. Nevertheless, teachers would soon face a new challenge. Going back and teaching or implementing it with students. This was going to require some hard work, planning, problem-solving, persistence, and some patience- all things involved in a growth mindset. 

Coaching a Growth Mindset

When embarking on a new journey it helps to have a coach, mentor or friend to motivate, encourage and help you. My role this quarter is to partner with a teacher and work as a peer coach to help them implement or enhance the learning in their classroom with technology. With the idea of mindset being the first step in tackling technology, I set out to answer the following question: 

 

“What are ways as a technology coach that I could foster and encourage a growth mindset in teachers who are learning new technology?”

 

To answer this question I went back to much of Dweck’s research. Additionally, I was fortunate to participate in a study conducted by Researchers Stephanie Fryberg at the University of Washington, Mary C. Murphy at Indiana University, and Megan Bang at Northwestern University who developed the Culturally Inclusive Growth Mindset curriculum to shape teachers’ beliefs about diverse students and teach them strategies for better engaging students from different racial and socioeconomic backgrounds. As part of the study I participated in 5-days of professional development training that focused on giving teachers the tools they need to promote a growth mindset for all learners. So some ideas were inspired by information learned at the training or through the experience.  

Different Contexts, Different Mindsets

During the week-long training we were introduced to three contexts in which fixed mindsets tend to come up:

o   Evaluative Situations– when given negative feedback people tend to shift to a fixed mindset.

o   High Effort Situations- when praised for the effortless, efficient, and easy ways we “got things done” leads people to quit or stop working when things get hard. 

o   Success of Others- tendencies to hide mistakes and deficiencies, so you avoid challenges. 

 

As a coach, I thought about times when this might be true for a teacher learning or applying new technology. For example, an administrator, teacher or parent questioning the validity or impact of the technology on learning (evaluative situations). When learning new technology and running into problems and questions that require perseverance and/ or asking for help (high effort situations). Or when coworkers or students are proficient with a technology you are novice or beginning with (success of others). 

 

There are many other examples of situations from my own experiences and observations where a fixed mindset has come into play with technology, and I’m sure other contexts. However, I find thinking about these three contexts to be a helpful lens as a coach. As I answer my question above I will use the three contexts to frame growth mindset strategies that may combat the tendency of fixed mindset in teachers when learning or implementing new technology. 

Fostering Growth Mindset as a Coach

Evaluative Situations:

  • Provide constructive feedback 

An important component of cultivating a growth mindset is providing specific feedback (Dweck, 2006). However, when coaching adults it’s important to frame feedback in constructive ways. One way to do this is to start by asking (or providing ideas for) teachers to select the type of feedback they receive. This helps establishes a basis for supportive feedback and helps them feel comfortable taking risks. Additionally, Dweck encourages that when giving feedback to offer strategies on how to overcome difficulties or challenges. 

 

  • Establish trust 

Research suggests that teachers feel more comfortable and are more successful when learning or trying new things when they feel supported by a trusting coach  (Harrison & Killion, 2007; Poglinco & Bach, 2004; Taylor, 2008). When beginning to establish trust work by Bean (2004) suggests that coaches can develop trust with teachers by “initially engaging with teachers in informal, low-intensity settings, like hallway conversations, and slowly working their way up to more intense, formal interactions.” (p 63, Gaely, 2016).  

 

Three ways to sustain trust:

Respect privacy

Refrain from judgment

Honor shared decision making

 

  • Create an environment where mistakes are viewed as learning opportunities

If mistakes are viewed as opportunities to learn, we can use them to reflect, set goals and grow (Dweck, 2006). Although, this can be scary for teachers it’s essential for a growth mindset. Framing new learning as a process can help foster a space where mistakes are valued and learned from (Edutopia, 2015). 

 

High Effort Situations:

  • Frame new learning challenges

During the growth mindset trainings, I was introduced to the power of framing. When introducing a new task or technology using frames such as:

“We’re going to step out of our comfort zone.”

“This will take time and practice.”

“It’s really important to support each other when we struggle.”

“This is an opportunity for new connections.”

 

  •  Normalize fixed mindset thoughts 

Acknowledging the fixed mindset as normal. We are a mixture of fixed and growth mindset and probably will always be. If we can acknowledge the fixed mindset thoughts and actions that arise we can use them as a reflective tool. In a follow up on Education Week Dweck acknowledged that misinterpretations of mindset lead people towards what she called, “false growth mindsets” and that in order to “help educators adopt a deeper, true growth mindset, one that will show in their classroom practices we should legitimize the fixed mindset.” (Dweck, 2015). Sharing your own learning struggles with teachers and letting them see that you have faced challenges and how you have overcome them can help foster a growth mindset. 

 

  • Give specific praise  

Dweck’s research on mindsets emphasizes that if we praise people on effective strategies or processes they’ve tried or used it conveys that they can develop their abilities and it suggests how this can be done. She refers to this as praising the process not product. Praising teacher’s hard work and commitment promotes a growth mindset if done so in intentional or specific ways.

 

 

Success of Others:

  • Allow time for personalized goal setting and reflection

Facilitating individualized goal setting that applies to teachers’ specific needs can help scaffold new learning and incentive the distance traveled not the end score. Also, providing a chance for teachers to reflect upon their work towards these goals and consider what they learned from the process is equally important (Dweck, 2006). 

References:

Banks, S. (2015, February 4). A Coach’s Toolkit: Three Ways to Build Trust. Retrieved October 13, 2019, from https://www.teachingchannel.org/blog/2015/02/04/coach-toolkit-building-trust.

 

Dweck, Carol S. Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. New York: Random House, 2006.

 

Dweck, C. (2015, September 22). Carol Dweck Revisits the ‘Growth Mindset’. Retrieved October 13, 2019, from https://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2015/09/23/carol-dweck-revisits-the-growth-mindset.html. 

 

Galey, S. (2016). The Evolving Role of Instructional Coaches in U.S. Policy Contexts. The William & Mary Educational Review, 4(2), 54–70. Retrieved from https://scholarworks.wm.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1044&context=wmer

 

Harrison, C., & Killion, J. (2007). Ten roles for teacher leaders. Educational Leadership, 65(1), 74-77. 

 

Heggart, K. (2015, February 4). Developing a Growth Mindset in Teachers and Staff. Retrieved October 13, 2019, from https://www.edutopia.org/discussion/developing-growth-mindset-teachers-and-staff

 

Mueller, C. M., & Dweck, C. S. (1998). Praise for intelligence can undermine children’s motivation and performance. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 75(1), 33-52.

http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.75.1.33

 

Poglinco, S. M., & Bach, A. J. (2004). The heart of the matter: Coaching as a vehicle for professional development. Phi Delta Kappan, 85(5), 398-400. https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/fe2a/82b009f322b20c6e0c7446f5910bf44bc233.pdf?_ga=2.213720412.931333409.1571031294-1598136747.1571031294 

 

Taylor, J. E. (2008). Instructional coaching: The state of the art. In M. M. Mangin & S. R. Stoelinga (Eds.), Effective teacher leadership: Using research to inform and reform (pp. 10-35). New York, NY: Teachers College Press.

 

ISTE Standard 2 for Coaches – Leadership, Trust and Paving the Way for All Involved

“Leadership is a choice, it is not a rank. I know many people at the senior levels of organizations who are absolutely not leaders. They are authorities and we do what they say because they have authority over us but we would not follow them and I know many people who are at the bottoms of organizations who have no authority and they are absolute leaders. This is because they have chosen to look after the person to the left of them and they have chosen to look after the person to the right of them. This is what a leader is.”

~ Simon Sinek
https://ed.ted.com/lessons/why-good-leaders-make-you-feel-safe-simon-sinek

As I move into learning more about the ISTE Coaching Standards, the question I posed for Standard 2 is:
How can Technology Coaches support teacher implementation of technology and help the school community accept this technology as a way to support student needs and prepare students with 21st Century skills?

Technology Coaches have a very unique role.  We are at a time in education where there is fast paced change, exciting new discoveries, a plethora of choices and a growing ability to implement new ideas, structures and strategies from digital education into our classrooms and school communities. Yet, it is also a time of great uncertainty for many – teachers, students, administration, families, school community members – in what the best practices are for involving digital education within the school day. In order to have positive movement around digital education practices and implementation, it is essential for technology coaches to not dismiss the fear and uncertainty around technology use and screen time for students.  This connects to Simon Sinek’s quote above ~ remembering to look to the left and look to the right and where the people around you are coming from. The ISTE Coaching Standard 2: Teaching, Learning, and Assessments – Technology coaches assist teachers in using technology effectively for assessing student learning, differentiating instruction, and providing rigorous, relevant and engaging learning experiences for all students – I would say if we start strong with teacher implementation, it will better extend positively to the school community, parents and other stakeholders for our students.

Technology coaches help bridge the gap from where we are to where we need to be. The ISTE Standards·C describe the skills and knowledge they need to support their peers in becoming digital age educators.

(https://www.iste.org/standards/for-coaches)

A go-to resource for me around many educational topics is Cult of Pedagogy.  Her article, How to Plan Outstanding Tech Training for Teachers, is packed with suggestions for leading teacher tech trainings and are spot on for demystifying digital education and bringing your educational community together – starting with teaching educators how to move these ideas forward within their classrooms. Here are the key ideas she breaks down for us:

Tip #1 – GET TO KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE:

Just like knowing our students helps us teach them more effectively, knowing the skill levels, interests, and needs of the teachers will help you better customize training for them. So do whatever you can to get to know who you’re training beforehand.

Tip #2 – TIP 2: FORCE MULTIPLY

A force multiplier is something that, when added to and used by a combat force, significantly increases the strength of that force and enhances the probability of a successful mission. In other words, something you add to something else that vastly increases the first thing’s capabilities. When planning a professional development session using technology, there are three ways you can add force multipliers so the impact of the training is increased exponentially.

TIP 3: MAKE IT HANDS-ON

When it comes to technology-based training, letting teachers get their hands on the tools just makes sense. Craig Badura explains it this way: “I guess my biggest piece of advice that I could offer after six years of being an integration specialist is that we need to saturate our teachers with multiple learning opportunities. I try to make anything I create for teachers—my trainings, my sessions—I try to make whatever I create relevant to them so that they can really walk away with that and use it tomorrow. Or that they might say, ‘That really wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be.’ So I think the sit-and-get form of PD is really useless now with teachers, so we need to start offering them different things that they can do.”

TIP #4 – TREAT IT JUST LIKE TEACHING:

For some reason, professional development rarely gets the same treatment we give to classroom instruction. Even though the students are adults, they will still benefit from good quality instruction. So when you’re planning a tech training, consider how you can implement these good teaching principles: Differentiate and do formative assessments.

TIP #5: STAY CONNECTED

Face-to-face time is limited in any kind of training, so it’s helpful to leave something with teachers that will allow them to keep learning after your session is over. This should include the trainer’s contact information, along with links to any other resources that were shared during the training. Turner does this with a shared document: “I have a document that they can all see, that they can share, and that they can add on to for later on. And when they do that, they’re able to come back to it and to be able to have that as a resource for themselves. And I say hey, here it is, and if you don’t remember, here’s my information.”

There is another blog post from Cult of Pedagogy, 10 Ways to Truly Lead in Your Classroom,  about how to lead within your own classroom that I think applies heavily to how to be a strong technology coach.

  • 1. Lead with imperfection. Try things you’re not good at, right in front of them. Demonstrate a spirit of experimentation. Speak of your mistakes without judgment.
  • 2. Lead with assertiveness. Show them how a self-assured person says no. Show what it looks like to set firm limits, without apology and without hostility.
  • 3. Lead with relationships. Let them hear you laugh with other teachers, prioritize loved ones, and speak respectfully of your significant other. Let them see what healthy relationships look like.
  • 4. Lead with language. Use the right words to describe concepts. Avoid dumbing things down. Savor a good word when it presents itself.
  • 5. Lead with self-control. When a student makes you angry, think of how you tell students to handle their own anger. Then do that.
  • 6. Lead with manners. Say please and thank you. Avoid cutting people off mid-sentence. Have sensitive conversations in private. Respect other people’s time.
  • 7. Lead with quality. Take a few extra minutes to get something right. Do what you say you’re going to do. Proofread.
  • 8. Lead with humor. Laugh. Be silly. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Avoid mocking or ridiculing your students. Mock yourself instead.
  • 9. Lead with enthusiasm. Share your obsessions. Geek out on the things students think are uncool. Show them that it’s possible to fall in love with a forest, a perfect pizza crust, the moment when a song changes key.
  • 10. Lead with humility. When you don’t know something, say so. Allow for the possibility that you might occasionally be wrong. Check your ego. Apologize.

Though this post is geared toward how to be a leader for students, I think it absolutely applies to leadership as a Technology Coach for teachers and for bringing the school community into the fold, as well.

The article, Overcoming the Obstacles to Leadership, hits on many key aspects of best practices for moving into leadership roles and how to build and continue leadership once you start. The one that hit home the most for me is working side by side with teachers.  Again, I would extend this to families and the school community as a whole. Relationships are at the heart of being trusted as a leader: moving into the unknown together, being revolutionary together, maintaining a growth mindset together, building trust together, navigating the ever changing educational landscape together. With this at the forefront, there is opportunity for everyone to build a foundation that feels safe, comfortable and innovative.  Once trust and a working relationship is established, purposeful and relevant PD and/or PLC groups can be established. A model that shows great promise is the Teacher Learning and Leadership Program discussed is the article, Teachers, Learners, Leaders.

“Part of the beauty of this professional learning structure is that it represents a successful joining of the education policy arm and teachers’ unions. The program meshes education research, education policy, and teaching practice and is a prime example of how researchers, policymakers, and practicing teachers can work together instead of pursuing conflicting agendas.”

~Ann Lieberman

This video goes into depth about TLLP and the huge potential is has for teachers becoming leaders.

It is an exciting time in digital education and with this comes great successes yet growing pains, as well.  As technology coaches become better equipped to handle the uncertainties and frustrations teachers may have around implementing technology and digital education in the classroom, then we will move forward.  Knowing the wide range of opinions out there is key, knowing the pace at which to support teachers is key, building trust with each other and the technology is key.

Resources:

Effective Peer Coaching

To use the word ‘coach’ to describe an educational coach almost seems like a misnomer. The term ‘coach’ implies one person has skills and insight that the other does not. Terms like ‘supporter’ or ‘collaborator’ seem much more fitting. Modern coaches and their peers “are learning with and from each other, as they co-plan learning activities, model, team-teach, observe, and reflect. This is a collaborative relationship that requires meaningful discussions about ways to improve teaching and learning [that] are likely to challenge current practices.” (Foltos, 2013) In other words, coaching is not a one-way street where one party is being spoon-fed tips and tricks!

The balance between coaching and collaborating is one that needs to be set early in the relationship. As part of collaborative norms for coaching, Foltos suggests using the concept of ‘joint accountability.’ Joint accountability can only occur after coaching pairs have both explicitly committed to norms for both their individual and collective responsibilities. The scope of this accountability may change depending on the task at hand. Is the coaching relationship a year-long one? Or is the focus narrow to a specific unit or new technology implementation? The scope and purpose of the collaboration should guide the norms being established.

Having norms in place can prevent the type of spoon-feeding or learned helplessness that can arise when teachers misunderstand the purpose of an educational coach. What this looks like on a practical level is the use of probing questions to guide the teacher through inquiry. The role of the coach in solving a problem is to help the teacher think critically and perhaps consider the issue through a new lens. Ultimately, “the collaborating teacher develops the answer that he or she brings back to the classroom to implement… [drawing] on what he or she learned with and from the coach.” (Foltos, 2013)

Another element critical to the success of a peer coaching relationship is the willingness and commitment of the participating teacher. A successful coaching relationship can only exist when the participating teacher is “open to collaboration and want[s] to improve teaching and learning. The willingness to collaborate and improve is essential.” (Foltos, 2013) Just as it is with young students, buy-in is critical. A teacher must be in a position of wanting to learn and willing to try new things. Likewise, the coach should not enter the relationship with preconceived notions and solutions. 

Giving teachers voice and choice in the coaching process is essential. While many districts assign coaches to teachers, this is not the best practice. Teachers should never feel they are “being punished and forced to change.” (Foltos, 2013). Instead, teachers can be given opportunities to partner with coaches who are interested in collaboration. This is where the term ‘coach’ can hinder the success of educational coaching. Shifting away from the model of having a handful of “expert coaches” working with a large population of teachers, peer coaching can be much more accessible and amenable to teachers. For example, an English teacher can coach a Social Studies teacher who is interested in implementing Close Reading in his/her classroom. Or a teacher who is passionate about assistive technology can work with the resource specialist in exploring new tools for students. 

Ultimately, a great deal of time and energy must be exhibited by both the coach and participating teacher in order to make the coaching relationship successful and beneficial for all parties. Though this can seem like a lot of work, the effort pays off when “…you can take risks and try out new ideas, instructional strategies, or different approaches to the curriculum and discuss the results with a trusted colleague.” (Robbins, 1991)

Sources:

Foltos, L. (2013). Peer coaching (1st ed.). Corwin.

Robbins, P. (1991). How to plan and implement a peer coaching program. Washington: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Future Ready Schools: A Framework for Collaborative Leadership

As I considered ISTE educator standard 2c which calls for multiple stakeholders to participate in shaping learning through technology, I kept thinking of the popular saying ‘it takes a village to raise a child.’ Like most educators, I have seen wonderful things happen when a community of learning forms around a student. A healthy community of learning includes parents, teachers, administrators, support staff, and outside individuals and groups such as community leaders or business owners. All of these parties have valuable insight and ideas that can help shape our students’ future–especially when we consider the role of technology in that future. However, collecting stakeholder input can seem daunting and for that reason, I wanted to explore the Future Ready Schools initiative in my research this week.

Defining Future Ready

When we discuss the idea that schools and students should be “future ready,” we mean much more than simply placing devices into students’ hands. A future-ready school has a shared vision for technology use, supports teachers and students in their use of technology, plans ahead for future costs, promotes ongoing communication and feedback with stakeholders, and cultivates an environment of innovation (Adams and Domenech, 2016).

The Benefit of Collaborative Leadership

When the Office of Educational Technology visited schools practicing collaborative leadership, they discovered that stakeholders are more likely to buy-in to a plan for educational technology when they have the opportunity to shape the plan as opposed to being told what they will do. As the Coachella Valley superintendent said of his district’s technology implementation, it should be “With you, not to you.” This idea applies to taxpayers being asked to fund technology, business owners considering donating to a school, and teachers adopting new technology in the classroom. (Adams and Domenech, 2016) When we have a voice in the process, we are more likely to see the plan through to the end.

The Future Ready Schools Initiative

Future Ready Schools (FRS) is a framework for implementing educational technology at the district level in order to prepare all students (especially those in under-served and socioeconomically disadvantaged schools) for the future. It is a nationwide initiative funded in part by taxpayers.

Most people agree that students need technology skills to prepare them for the future, but what exactly that looks like can vary greatly from school to school, or even classroom to classroom in the same school. FRS is a framework that can remedy that ambiguity. The framework is a five-step process which includes creating a leadership team, completing a self-analysis, collecting data from stakeholders, implementing an action plan, and measuring the progress made. The process can be repeated as necessary.

In determining a school’s degree of ‘future readiness,’ the program considers 7 key areas, called gears: 1) Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment, 2) Use of Space and Time, 3) Robust Infrastructure, 4) Data and Privacy, 5) Community Partnerships, 6) Personalized Professional Learning, and 7) Budget and Resources. Another way to approach these gears is to think of them as standards for future readiness within a school district.

FRS is a comprehensive program for identifying areas of need within each gear and making suggestions based on those results. The district’s needs are determined through multiple surveys given to various stakeholders–principals, upper administration, teachers, librarians, parents, and community members. Everyone has a say in assessing where the district is currently at, and where they’d like to end up.

FRS provides email templates to send to stakeholders as well as links to complete the survey digitally so that data across multiple stakeholders can be aggregated. Responses are anonymous. As you can see from the following survey screenshots, each gear is targeted toward a different stakeholder. The complete survey may be accessed here. Throughout the survey completion process, the leadership team meets to analyze the district’s needs and brainstorm solutions. Once data from all the stakeholders have been collected, the FRS algorithm returns a readiness score for each of the gears as well as an overall score. The following image is taken from a sample report. The entire sample report (60+ pages) may be viewed here.Along with the analysis, suggestions in the form of research-based strategies are included within the report, as pictured below. Additional resources are provided for free within the FRS website library. FRS also supports districts through seminars and trainings.

Based on the data and suggestions, the FRS leadership team then creates a plan to equip the district (and subsequently students) to be more future ready. Depending on the needs, this might involve investing in a more robust infrastructure, hiring technology coaches to facilitate teaching training, developing a uniform standard for student tech knowledge by grade-level, or a myriad of other changes.

By design, FRS is an ongoing framework. Districts should consider gathering new input after the changes have been made. New needs may be identified or policies may reveal gaps and the process repeats.

Final Thoughts

FRS provides a valuable diagnostic and toolkit for districts looking to expand their use of technology in order to ensure all students are ready for the future. This framework is the closest I’ve come to finding a comprehensive set of standards for technology implementation. By comprehensive, I mean that the framework considers all aspects of educational technology including the lesser discussed issues such as infrastructure and community involvement.

The downside of FRS is that it is designed to be implemented district-wide. An individual teacher or technology coach cannot utilize the program on their own. In fact, signing up for the FRS program (while free) must be completed by the district superintendent.

I believe there is still value for individual teachers or technology coaches by way of the gears when we consider them as standards. As a teacher who served on my prior district’s Future Ready Schools leadership team, the survey questions for the various gears pushed me to consider how I was implementing technology in the classroom. Once I identified my shortcomings, I was able to consider possible solutions. The two gears most relevant to individual classroom teachers are Use of Space and Time and Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment.

Sources

Adams, B. and Domenech, D. (2016). Sharing Stories of Collaborative Leadership. [online] Medium. Available at: https://medium.com/@OfficeofEdTech/sharing-stories-of-collaborative-leadership-5799075fa48 [Accessed 19 Apr. 2018].

Future Ready Schools. (2015). Future Ready Schools – Preparing Students for Success. [online] Available at: https://futureready.org/ [Accessed 17 Apr. 2018].

Changing the Mindset of School Leaders Through the Empowerment of Instructional Coaches

I have recently explored ISTE Coaching Standarto try to understand how professional learning impacts explicitly the use of education technology. This week specifically I looked at the influence of school leadership or administration and how they influence the professional learning and educational technology adoption process of the staff.

Taking advantage of technology in the classroom makes the support of a proScreen Shot 2018-02-28 at 10.34.37 PMactive school administrator who should help facilitate, and organize along with the district instructional technology task force. Within chapter three of the Project Evaluation Report Transforming Professional Learning in Washington State entitled Professional Learning Requires Attention to School and District Culture Attending it states that “the “culture” of a school or district organization requires careful attention to a variety of indicators. Desimone (2009) articulates that professional development is not one-size-fits-all that can universally be applied across contexts.  As school leadership is examining how they approach professional learning they need to keep in mind that adults learn need to have the opportunity to approach the content in a variety of contexts.  Moreover, as administrators must take on several roles in the building they can’t always be focused on these different approaches to learning.  Therefore, how can district instructional coaches (or whatever you call them in your district) be seen by administrators to hold more of a leadershiprole. Renewed+Vision+for+Leadership_+Leadership+for+Learning

When I was perusing my latest installment of English Leadership Quarterly that is a part of my NCTE membership I found an article entitled “Toward Online Participation as Teacher Leadership” by Luke Rodesiler, Indiana University–Purdue University Fort Wayne.  This piece had a few gems in it regarding the thought process of leadership.  I know it mainly pertains to English teachers, but I think it can be applied to all educators Pre K thru Higher Education. Here is a quote “ I recognize leadership not as the product of a formal appointment in a top-down, authority-driven model but, like Lambert and colleagues (2002), as a reciprocal process embraced by those who see the need or the opportunity. This vision of leadership is not about rigid and unchanging hierarchies; instead, it promotes the boundaries of leadership as porous and flexible, allowing teachers to carry out acts of leadership as they see fit and as they are able. Additionally, for the purposes of this article, I recognize English teachers’ online participation as the creation of new content on the Web in an exploration of issues at the center of an English teacher’s work: teaching, learning, and literacy” (Rodesiler, 2018, p. 3).

Admins – Let Instructional Coaches Be your Marketing Team

Leaders who believe they can delegate the articulation of a vision for how technology can support their organization’s learning goals are those who will be the most successful in this reciprocal process. As district officials and school administrators do not have press relations managers nor do they employee marketing directors, they still need to communicate the districts message and brand.  It is important that those looking to move to the neighborhood understand who the school’s leaders are and how they will help their children. Rodesiler goes on to explain that when leadership is delegated one can “draw(n) from a content analysis of collected artifacts to document three acts of leadership embedded in the routine online participation of [English] teachers in the study: (a) making teaching practices public; (b) speaking out on topical issues in education; and (c) creating platforms for others” (2018, p. 4).  I think these three acts of leadership can lead to better job satisfaction for the administration, better community advocacy and involvement, and in the end teacher retention. 

Making teaching practices public

Before I started the DEL program at SPU, I was in need of finding people who were public about the teaching practice.  As an educator, it became crucial for me to communicate with people who were like-minded and I could find mentorship for my future.  This task required me to go online and seek these people out myself.  As I got more and more involved with Twitter and other public practices I witnessed how teachers “participated online, teachers in the study spoke out about topics tied closely to their work as educators, including curriculum decision-making, professional development, and the de-professionalization of teaching. In doing so, they took on the responsibility of adding their voices to conversations that all too often seem to be dominated by those outside the field of education” (Rodesiler, 2018, p. 3). As documented, the Web offers teachers multiple and varied avenues for exercising their influence and inviting others to do the same.  This evidence of influence can only help administrators and district officials make a case for the power of their school and their vision. 

Speaking out on topical issues in education

Although leadership in technology is needed across all levels of the education system, the need in PK–12 public schools is acute. Getting technology in schools is a multi-layer systematic change that takes budges and board members approval.  But it needs to begin to move quicker because as of 2017, twenty percent of school-aged children media consumption comes from mobile devices. Children’s use of electronic media is increasing, resulting in significant part from tech transformations, easy access to mobile devices, especially cell phones. Which meansThe majority of students may not be able to stop by the classroom after school but could interact with school while using some sort of technology. This can allow for real-time access to resources, due dates, and feedback.  On top of that  Did you also know…Only 58% of parents of school-aged children carried smartphones in 2010. Now 94% of parents of are smartphone users.  This means that the topical issues and the information being shared are happening online and on mobile devices. 

Creating platforms for others

Whichever tools the administrators condones for the educators to spread the great news of the district in school be it Twitter, Edmodo School Pages,  Facebook, Linkedin, or perhaps something like WordPress or another blog system like Medium. Demonstrating how administrators have used some of these platforms for positive career development should help persuade reluctant educators of their importance.  I believe that instructional coaches could take on the role of also demonstrating how educators can become their own advocates, self-promoters, and networking gurus if they are only willing to make their practice a bit more public.

Student Communication Tools

Resources:

Bishop, D, Lumpe, A., Henrikson, R, & Crane, C. (2016). Transforming Professional Learning in Washington State – Project Evaluation Report. Seattle Pacific University: Seattle, WA. http://www.k12.wa.us/CurriculumInstruct/WA-TPL/pubdocs/2016-WA-TPL-Evaluation-Report.pdf

Rodesiler, L. (2018). Toward Online Participation as Teacher Leadership. English Leadership Quarterly, 40(3), feb, 3-6. Retrieved February 25, 2018, from http://www.ncte.org/library/NCTEFiles/Resources/Journals/ELQ/0403-feb2018/ELQ0403Toward.pdf

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