Tuesday, March 18, 2014

MOOC-Ed: Coaching Digital Learning, Unit 1 Reflection

Last week, the MOOC-Ed, Coaching Digital Learning: Cultivating a Culture of Change, began. This MOOC will help participants:
  • Learn what it takes to coach educators to integrate technology
  • Explore a variety of frameworks such as TPACK, SAMR, and the four Cs
  • Explore opportunities for personalized application
  • Create a Technology Coaching Action Plan
I am most excited to learn more about the different frameworks, connect with other coaches, and create my own action plan.

For the first week, we had to respond to two questions about being a coach. What are the most Effective Coaching Strategies and the what are the Biggest Challenges? Here are my responses.

What strategies have you found effective in your coaching?

Small Steps
When providing technology integration support, I often tell teachers to pick one way or one thing to do with the technology in the classroom or a lesson and focus on that. Practice that one thing often until you becoming comfortable with it. I think, all to often, teachers are given all this great technology, but it becomes too overwhelming or there are too many options to explore. Pick one thing, one technology, or one way to use and keep it consistent. Use it, make mistakes with it, learn from it, and become comfortable with it!

Seeking Leaders
What we quickly realized at my school is that there is a handful of teachers that serve as the pioneers for technology integration. These teachers instinctively know how technology enhances instruction, engages students, and improves learning. As a Technology Coordinator, I realized that I needed to harness the power of this group. So we deemed these teachers the "Grade Level Technology Leaders" and now they help make important school-wide technology decisions. We meet quarterly to have important discussions about the technology in our school, ask questions, and provide support. These Tech Leaders are also responsible for reporting back to their grade levels, for testing out new technologies in the classroom, and for provided help and professional development for the staff.

Patience
I learned quickly that I need to have a significant amount of patience while dealing with teachers that our new to technology. I believe whole-heartedly in the concept of digital natives vs. digital immigrants. Although our students are quick to learn and often come to class already with the technological skills required, teachers are the exact opposite. These digital immigrants need simple step-by-step directions, they need it to be explained to them several times, and then again several weeks later, they may need their hand to be held. And this is all ok, because as long as they are making progress, it's a #EduWin in my book!

What are your biggest challenges as a coach?

Time
The first challenge is time. Time for me and time for the teachers. I wear many hats: teacher, robotics coach, IT specialist, IT support, school leadership, professional development, coaching, maintenance and repair, etc. It's difficult to find the time to support teachers, when I must also support the students and the technology. However, I strongly feel that supporting teachers is the most important part of the job, because if teachers are well supported, then so will everything else. Teachers, themselves, have so much on their plate, especially in the public sector. Finding time to let someone in to their class to support them with instruction and technology integration can be difficult to do.

Commitment
Commitment falls in line with time. And I find that it can sometimes be difficult for teachers to commit themselves to trying something new, to changing their curriculum and instruction, to allowing their students to explore a new device or tool. There may be many reasons for this. One reason could be not enough time. Another reason could be their comfort level with the new technology. As a coach, I must help teachers to hold strong to these commitments, for the benefit of themselves and their students.

The Old Way
I find that there are always a few teachers who are very reluctant to trying new things in the classroom, especially with technology. And I think it might be because they trust so much in the old way of doing things. I can't blame them for that. Why would I change my way of doing things, when it has worked for me and my students for so many years? It's a good question to ponder. But there is a great answer for that. Sticking to "The Old Way" of doing things is a dis-service to the students and society. The old way of teaching and learning might still work in the classroom, but its not going to do those students any good when they grow up and become adults. We need to teach them skills and abilities that will benefit them as adults, and using state of the art technology and tools make it easier, more engaging, more efficient, and more enjoyable. Students have access to these technologies in their personal lives already. Why should we take that away in the classroom? 

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog post. You can still register for the MOOC-Ed and participate! Let me know what your strategies and challenges are as a coach in the comments.

Please comment on the document and add your resources, opinions, and ideas!

My other Coaching Digital Learning MOOC-Ed Unit Reflections:
Check out my Coaching Digital Learning Pinterest Board with all of the resources and videos from the entire course!

Follow Michael's board Coaching Digital Learning, #CDL_MOOCed on Pinterest.