I wrote this three years ago. I am not sure why I didn’t post it then, but as I read today it is still relevant. Thank you to my readers for indulging me with this “hidden” post from the past. 🙂
I’m in my second year as an Instructional Technology Coach. I think about my previous year and what I learned, how I succeeded and how I failed. I also think about where am I and the teachers I work with regarding authentic seamless technology integration into classroom instruction and learning, and where I would like to take my teachers and students. I have teachers who seamlessly integrate already. They are the first to show me what they have learned and will often ask me to partner with them as we take risks and try new approaches and techniques with technology.
That is all good stuff. As a coach it makes me feel pretty awesome. However, that is not where the challenge lies. It is in the places where teachers are not confident in their use of technology and are at the same time adjusting to new curriculum resources, techniques and/or scope and sequence that the true test of my abilities as an Instructional Technology Coach arise. It is there I see I have work to do.
Teachers who naturally integrate… they don’t really need me. They are a bonus in my job as they help me sharpen my own skills and provide me opportunities to “try” things with them before I bring the ideas to others.
For most teachers, however, there needs to be a bridging of a gap or divide between technology utilization and content taught. Some may say that the divide is not that big, but in all honesty it is there and larger than many care to admit. It is easy to get frustrated or even say teachers were given the training and it is up to them to use it. However, I go back to the mantra “We do what’s best for kids.” I argue that if we are doing “What’s best for kids,” then, as an instructional technology coach, I am responsible for making it happen with those teachers that are more reluctant to use technology as a seamless part of instruction and/or provide digital platform choices for students to demonstrate learning.
So I asked myself, “How can I bridge the gap between curriculum and technology?”
These are a few things I have learned and through reflection have realized:
1. A teacher who begins conversations with “I don’t have enough time…” I work with them on ways that they can become more efficient with the use of a technology tool. When they see the benefit they will take that same tool and utilize it in ways for students to demonstrate learning.
2. Honor the content expertise of the teacher. When meeting to determine ways to integrate technology in the lesson or lessons, begin with the end in mind, seeking to understand the learning expectations and goals of the teacher. For example, ask “Could you share with me the learning target(s) for your students? I want to understand the content that students should demonstrate mastery with when this lesson is completed.” and “Would you mind sharing the rubric you plan to use that assesses student mastery of the content for this lesson.” (If the teacher does not have a rubric available, this is a great time to collaborate and create one together.)
3. Design a lesson that reflects the philosophy of teaching on that campus and district. In our district we have moved to a workshop model approach and have campus level Problem of Practice (P.O.P.)/Instructional Focus to address areas of continuous improvement. As I continue to move forward bridging the gap between curriculum and technology, I consider how I can help teachers seamlessly integrate from the opening, to the work period, and then at the closing. Additionally, at every turn the process will be measured against how the integrated technology and instruction work toward the P.O.P./Instructional Focus while delivering the content.
4. Streamline paperwork. Teachers are inundated with forms, data collection, and progress monitoring tools. When teachers see technology as a seamless way to perform their behind the scenes duties they become open to ways to integrate in the classroom. Providing tools that streamline this and provide them ways to better interpret the data and make informed decisions about how to best meet the needs of students is essential. If we don’t meet them in the areas that consume their conference time and relieve those time demands via efficient tools then they won’t make the time to learn ways to integrate technology into daily instruction.
5. Change the mindset of how the Instructional Technology Coach is viewed. If you are still getting emails or being stopped in the hall to fix a printer, politely offer to show them how to put in a help desk, but then take the opportunity to ask them about upcoming instruction. Take that opportunity to share a way for them to go paperless with that lesson. When they email you asking for a fun new presentation tool you would recommend, refer them to a database of tools, but then ask them what is the lesson target and could you meet with them to see how the lesson could be fully integrated and student learning redefined.
6. Perform your own walk throughs and collect your own data. How many students are actively utilizing devices for learning? Are the students interacting/collaborating with the lesson via their devices or is it to record information? What level on SAMR is being demonstrated in the class instruction and student product? What are some next steps that could happen very easily with technology? What is motivating about the lesson and the teacher’s use of technology? (ask a student) Then share your data with your administrative leadership team.
The gap is getting smaller, but there is still much work to be done. Teachers can no longer ignore the essential need for technology in the classroom learning environment. Technology if used just as a tool or toy is not beneficial to anyone. Technology is only beneficial if it is partnered with good instruction and fully integrated into instruction and learning with purpose.
What are ways that you are closing the gap between tool based technology implementation and a separate content implemented curriculum?