The short answer:
- More focused collaboration with colleagues to improve learning (ideally supported by a team)
- Improving good practice through collaborative design of better outcomes and learning objectives
- Not starting and ending with technology (though it matters!)…
For a start.
The Long(er) Answer
The idea of educational coaching is not entirely new but, like many relatively new ideas, it has many meanings to different people. I am sharing my thoughts on it briefly here.
Step 1, The Historical Context: Educational Technology Coach
It seems to me that more widely known is the development of educational technology coaching. Most agree that technology integration in schools is necessary. With no more time available and increasing demands on curricula, teachers seek to embed the development of technology skills and understandings into their prescribed units of work.
The pace of technology, however, can add strain to overworked teachers making it difficult to keep up. Enter the technology coach. Ideally experienced classroom teachers from the start, these people combine the best of specialist teacher and co-teacher. These coaches:
- Bring new ideas based on the ever-changing technology landscape
- Offer insights into how technology can be integrated into the curriculum
- Support teachers and students in the development of related skills
- Help students and teachers reflect on the bigger picture of how technology fits into our world and how it supports learning (the meta aspect)
Evolution of the Tech Coach
As technology becomes a more and more natural part of the planning process, however, many begin to wonder if this position is still necessary. Now, this is my take on things here but…
For this to be true it must address the facts noted above; most importantly, the fact that teachers still have increasing demands made upon their time. Valuing a position in which teachers have access to new ideas from an in-house expert should not be disregarded.
Enter the Innovation Coach
This is a natural step, hence my reference to it as evolutionary. As also alluded to, the need for innovation with technology is widely accepted. This transformation to innovation coaching addresses the fact that it will always be necessary but that innovation has never and should never begin and end with technology.
The idea of developing proven talent with the passion for teaching with and through technology, the introduction of a more far reaching role, not limited to technology, seems quite natural in this context.
Professional Learning vs. Professional Development
At their best these change agents support teachers empathetically to develop strategies for reflecting on practice to constantly improve (see cognitive coaching).
And this is all done in-house, in an ongoing fashion to support teachers through taking responsibility for their own professional learning and development. We’ve all attended weekend workshops that may be inspiring at the time but fail to help us achieve lasting change. This obstacle can be overcome to some extent by participating in high energy, learner driven events where professionals choose their own learning pathways and work in ways that best support their own unique learning styles (As we strive to enable our students to). The constancy of in-house, learning communities, however, is still the core.
Of course, when professional development is mapped out and informed by a clearly defined and monitored vision of professional growth this can also be a powerful force for change. In a model in which selected groups are sent to workshops with the directive of developing action plans (see ASCD action research) then we achieve the best of both worlds. Taken further to a departmental and school wide level by administrators you can get a sense of what a school may become through the strength of a synergistic approach.
Employing further an actively global networked approach allows educators to reach further outside of these immediate communities for fresh ideas to share within their school groups of practice as well.
Go here for more on:
There is far more to consider than is practical for this (short?) blog post. We’ve only brushed upon the ideas of cognitive coaching and action research without even considering the use of standards such as the International Society for Technology in Education’s famous “ISTE’s“. These are an effective source of reflection for teachers to use in order to assess to proven standards and supply students with appropriately reworded rubrics for formative, reflective and summative assessments (another whole blog post there).
A Final Word for Coaches and Would-be Coaches
Be generous. You are learning all the time in your drive to support others.
Share it within:
- your department
- your school community
- your area
- your region
- the world.
When you need to support someone with a more skills related task make a digital record of it. Make the screencast. Make the Google Slides tutorial. Then set up some sort of repository (see personal example here) to share with others for inspiration or as a resource that can be used again and again as more people become interested.
Share this around!
TPACK is an effective visual on the ideal of integration
Still need more? Check out Seán McHugh’s more scholarly post on Digital Technology Coaching (DTC, another term for plain old Tech Coach though descriptive) here.
Also look for:
- Technology Integration Specialist
- Technology Integrator
- Educational Technology Coach
Oh and speaking of ideals, check out: