I recently read a paper written by a group from ISTE titled “Technology, Coaching, and Community”. As I read through the white paper, I found myself affirming many of my beliefs about why I am doing what I am, and more importantly, affirming the most recent position change from classroom teacher to instructional coach. This affirmation comes from the following quote:
“When teachers do not effectively integrate all aspects of technology in the educational process, today’s students are not fully engaged and miss out on authentic learning experiences emphasizing collaboration, creativity, and innovation. This leads to students who are unprepared to be productive digital-age citizens and participants in the highly competitive, global, digital workplace” (Beglau et al., 2011, p. 1).
This struck a chord with me – if our challenge is to prepare students for the world in which they will enter post high school, we really do need to embrace technology. I have witnessed many teachers using practices that are very teacher-centered, and technology is absent. While this will change as new teachers enter the field, it is still important to ensure that technology is not only planned for in instruction, but does so in a manner where the technology complements and enhances the lessons, and learning. This can begin to happen with professional development.
Throughout the article some very common themes emerged for good professional development. It should be technology rich – incorporate some of the technology that is available. More important, it should be delivered through a coaching model, and embrace the community and social learning environments that exist in today’s world. This community and social support is vastly important as teachers begin to embrace technology, an area where most teacher’s will inevitably face some sort of failure in their quest to learn the tech, and discover how it can help their students. Teachers will need support from that community as this discovery and learning happens. Without this support system, a school will only experience a 15% implementation rate for new strategies of instruction. This figure jumps to 85% with the addition of a coach for support (Beglau et al., 2011, p. 5).
The white paper provides three methods of coaching, however, I am going focus on the instructional coaching model, as that is what is practiced with my employment. Beglau et al. (2011) state that instructional coaches help by identifying practices that could effect positive changes for teaching and learning. Instructional coaches can work with teachers, one-on-one or in small groups, to help them plan instruction, model instruction, integrate technology, and providing feedback on these various areas for teachers. This helps to build that community, and allow teachers to begin growing and learning how to more effectively reach students.
My recent move to instructional coach will allow me to help my colleagues grow and adapt their practice to the students that they are, and will, encounter in their classrooms. It is also an opportunity to begin to model effective practices using technology to achieve student learning.
As a final side note, the other two coaching models mentioned in the article were cognitive coaching and peer coaching, both of which have their place. You can read the article to learn more about them.
Beglau, M., Hare, J., Foltos, L., Gann, K., James, J., Jobe, H., Smith, B. (2011). Technology, coaching, and community: Power partners for improved professional development in primary and secondary education. ISTE.