Professional Development Strategies from Tech Coaches

With technology constantly changing and the demand for teachers to integrate this new technology into the classroom can sometimes be a daunting task. To help with this large task districts are hiring technology coaches to teach teachers to use the district technology in their daily classroom routines. The ISTE Coaching Standard 2 states “Technology Coaches assist teachers in using technology effectively for assessing students learning in differentiating instruction, and providing rigorous, relevant, and engaging learning experiences for all students” (ISTE). More specifically ISTE Coaching Standard 2e says “Coach teachers in and model design and implementation of technology-enhanced learning experiences using differentiation including adjusting content, process, product and learning environment based upon student readiness levels, learning styles, interests, and personal goals.”. This made me wonder how coaches could effectively model technology- enhanced experiences that best fits the needs of the teachers.

There are many different strategies out there to improve student and teacher learning. ISTE wrote an article titled “Know the ISTE Standards for Coaches: Support learning with technology” by Helen Crompton. In the article Crompton looks at one strategy that would help technology coaches effectively model technology-enhanced learning experiences. Project Based Learning (PBL) is one strategy that helps students learn content and skills through the process of solving a real-world issue. The teacher presents a driving question to the students, who develop their own line of inquiry to address the problem. The result is a student-generated product that answers the question.” Technology can enhance PBL by expanding students’ ability to research, collaborate and share their work. And tech-enhanced PBL can enable teachers to differentiate instruction at various points in the learning process. With modeling and later coaching, student-selected problems and questions, as well as investigation of those problems through technology-enhanced learning experiences, guarantee differentiation of content, process and/or product. Design of instruction, which embeds student choice, addresses learning styles and interests. The technology coach uses PBL and models and coaches teachers to use it effectively with technology and works with them to plan and implement PBL in their classrooms. The coach can create a PBL website as a repository of information and works alongside teachers to use it to locate resources, develop activities to scaffold the process, discuss and select appropriate tools, and design assessment methods to evaluate student products. Add in coaching and modeling how to do these things effectively, and this approach meets all elements of this indicator.

Coaching is most meaningful to teacher when it is content-specific and stimulates collaboration between coaches and teachers in a coaching relationship. The advance of technological tools impacts not only teaching but also coaching. As stated previously, the possibility of virtual coaching allows for coaches to spend more time coaching and less time travelling to school sites (White
et al., 2015). While video-sharing and online conference platforms can pose a challenge to teachers who are not as comfortable with  technology, they have benefits that outweigh the challenges. In addition to helping coaching happen in more efficient ways, technology can also help improve the quality of experience for teachers. For instance, online video-sharing platforms create a way to share exemplar videos with teachers (Kurz et al., 2017). Other platforms have now been created that allow teachers and coaches to interact with uploaded classroom videos, resulting in more timely feedback. In addition to these benefits, these experiences serve as a model to use technology in meaningful ways in service of a larger goal, in this case, the coaching of teachers.




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