In a couple of weeks, the last quarter of the Digital Education Leadership (DEL) program at Seattle Pacific University comes to a close. Part of the DEL program, requires graduate students to participate in a practicum. I chose to work along side two technology coaches from my district. For over 19 hours, I observed coaches teaching technology lessons, supporting students in technology, facilitate meetings, attend district technology meetings, and coach educators across the district.
Goals for the practicum
- Better understand the role and responsibility of a technology teacher leader at each school;
- Learn how to support teachers and staff in using educational technology in the classroom.
- Facilitate two technology sessions with an instructional technology coach to help teachers integrate technology skills in the classroom.
- Become familiar with the district’s goals and expectations for educators and students in utilizing the technology.
This post highlights a few of the learning experiences that I encountered over the six week period.
Role and Responsibilities of Technology Coaches
Prior to the practicum, I met with the technology coaches to become familiar with the role and responsibilities of a coach. The technology coaching model used in the district has three coaches supporting a number of elementary schools. Each coach facilitates the school’s TTL or technology teacher leaders. This team, then supports their own teachers with professional development on implementing technology into the classrooms. While most of these technology coaches support between five to ten schools each, it appears nearly impossible to meet the technology needs of the district’s schools. Therefore, sustaining the TTL in technology professional development is vital for each school, technology coach, and achieving the district’s instructional technology vision. As a result, coaches spend a considerable amount of time creating professional development sessions, researching new technology resources, and visiting schools.
Attend District Meetings
Another role that involves the technology coaches is attending the various district’s technology meetings. During the practicum, I had the opportunity to attend two such meetings. The District Technology Advisory Committee meets several times a year and is comprised of not only the district’s technology director and coaches, but various educators representing elementary and secondary schools. The purpose of the committee is to make district instructional technology decisions based on the district’s vision and to communicate clearly between schools and the technology department.
The other meeting, called the “Chromebook meeting,” involved technology coaches and technology specialists who meet every week to discuss the distribution of Chromebooks in the elementary and secondary schools. This group formed because of the district’s technology levy which provided 1:1 laptops for students. For this to occur coaches and technology specialists needed to effectively collaborate and communicate. Coaches provide information to their schools on the distribution and the tech specialists ensured the proper procedures were in place for distributing the laptops.
Attending meetings such as the Technology Advisory Committee and the Chromebook, demonstrate coaches participating in the “shared vision represented in the district’s technology plans and guidelines. It also indicates coaches engaged “ in continuously learning to deepen professional knowledge, skills, and dispositions in organizational change and leadership … to improve professional practices” (International Society for Technology in Education, 2011).
Support Teachers in Educational Technology
A key factor for coaches is supporting and sustaining technology in the classroom. Both coaches modeled the implementation of designing lessons and providing “technology-enhanced learning experiences addressing the technology standards” for teachers and students. (International Society for Technology in Education, 2011).
Piloting a Touch-Screen Chromebook
At one school, the coach supported a teacher piloting Asus – Flip 2-in-1 10.1 Touch-Screen Chromebooks. In this Kindergarten classroom, students were paired on one computer with the task to explore three new programs. Student A logged on first, while student B watched. Students worked well together, using language and problem solving skills to discuss the different games/activities. I observed partners helping each other navigate through the activities.
Overall, the teacher believed the touch-screens benefited her students in learning basic technology skills. Hoping to have access to these Chromebooks next year, the teacher’s goals are to place these laptops in the hands of students earlier in the year. So that students could engage in activities such as entering information into a teacher-provided template.
Coding with 6th graders
The technology coach provided an opportunity for me to observe a lesson in coding. Using lessons from Code Studio, the coach taught 6th grades the vocabulary words- loop and iteration. After the lesson, students spent 40 minutes working on course 2 of Code Studio.
Students worked their way through each lesson of a unit, while the coach monitored the students’ progress. I helped several students work through challenging lessons.
Overall the coding lesson went well. Students were engaged with their lessons or were helping their peers through difficult tasks. Now, coding has piqued my curiosity and I plan to begin with Course 1.
Facilitate Technology Sessions
To facilitate a technology session was one of my practicum goals and furthermore I wanted to utilize my coaching skills. Along with our building technology coach, I helped facilitate a ½ day meeting with our technology team (three classroom teachers: 1 primary teacher, 2 intermediate teachers, and the school librarian).
I created the agenda for the meeting and led discussions on the boldfaced topics below:
March 14, 2016 Agenda for Technology Team
- Review School District Technology Vision- MS
- Benchmark end of unit assessments in Google Forms
- SeeSaw online learning journals/blog/portfolio and other info presented at the last CLP meeting- MS
- Flocabulary and Kiddle.co- MS and CR
- Dedicated tech learning times and topics
Co-facilitating a technology meeting, with the support of my coach, provided me with an opportunity to work with adult learners on improving their professional practices. Teachers at my school know that I am available to support them and strengthen their abilities in using technology effectively in the classroom.
Support the District’s Goals and Expectations
My last practicum goal states to “become familiar with the district’s goals and expectations for educators and students in utilizing the technology.” This goal was chosen because as a technology coach or teacher, I need to gain a better understanding of the expectations of the district’s technology vision.
Technology coaches across the district are now working closely with teachers in using the SAMR model to impact their teaching. Developed by Dr. Ruben Puentedura, the SAMR model is an acronym for “substitution, augmentation, modification, or redefinition.” This model guides teachers in rethinking how technology could be better implemented in their classroom.
I observed a coach in a professional development session share the SAMR model with 5th and 6th grade teachers. The tech coach helped the team understand how to use the SAMR model to integrate technology in the classroom by providing teachers time to explore several digital tools. After exploring, teachers were led into the discussion of using digital tools with the SAMR model. Teachers who explored the WeVideo site considered the activity on the SAMR model as “modification” since students would be engaged when presenting their informational report. In addition they felt students sought out resources to complete their project, and therefore, WeVideo could fall into the “modification category.” Listening to teachers’ final reflections on the activity made it clear that they appreciated the time spent on learning more about the SAMR model to improve their teaching practices.
Final Thoughts on Practicum EDTC 6108
The practicum experience provided a learning opportunity to not only follow two experienced technology coaches, but to catch a glimpse of how coaching skills are applied with educators across the school district. I can understand why these coaches enjoy their job. When coaches help teachers implement the new technologies into the classrooms and then teachers notice the transformation that occurs in their students’ learning, it is a feeling of success for everyone.
International Society for Technology in Education. (2011). ISTE standards: coaches. Retrieved from http://www.iste.org/standards/ISTE-standards/standards-for-coaches
SAMR Observation Protocol. (n.d.). [Handout] Edmonds School District.