Thursday, February 19, 2015

Academic Technology Coach #edtechcoach #educoach

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A friend recently pointed out that a large, urban school district was hiring for the position of Secondary Academic Coach. This begs the question, "What advice would help someone applying for that position of academic technology coach get hired?" 

The question came on the heels of my previous blog post, Through the Neck of the Hourglass, so I found myself wondering at this myself.

Image Source:
PROBLEM: Many teachers do not know how to design and support technology-rich learning environments. A recent study commissioned by the Richard W. Riley College of Education and Leadership states that teachers who use technology frequently to support learning in their classrooms report greater benefits to student learning, engagement, and skills from technology than teachers who spend less time using technology to support learning, especially in the area of 21st century learning (Grunwald Associates, 2010). The report also stated that, despite this powerful finding, just 34% of the 1000 teachers surveyed use technology 10% of class time or less.   
SOLUTION: Coaching, combined with communities of learning, is a highly effective job-embedded PD model. Effective professional learning is intensive, ongoing, focused on the classroom, and occurs during the teacher’s workday (Darling-Hammond, 2009). Additionally, Michael Fullan’s work on educational change (2008) emphasizes that we need to “connect peers with purpose” if we want to see systemic improvement in student learning and professional learning. We must allow educators to routinely collaborate with trusted colleagues to solve problems and share ideas.
Source: ISTE's Technology, Coaching and Community white paper

I would advise the person to find a way to blend the coaching approach to technology in the classroom. One way to accomplish that might be to create a video series that highlights critical aspects of coaching for technology-blended instruction in the classroom.

Imagine creating a video that captures each of the following aspects of coaching:
  1. Instruction & Technology Coach: This aspect of the coach focuses on the how of instruction, as well as a strong focus on helping staff better use technology-enhanced processes to redefine current teaching, learning and leading tasks, replacing paper-n-pencil pedagogical approaches that no longer make sense in a highly-connected, high-tech teaching and learning environment.
  2. Data Coach: These strategies focus on staff examine student achievement data and to use this to design instruction and to make curricular decisions. This involves analysis of data and its presentation through the District’s Data Warehouse, as well as figuring out what impact this data should have on instruction.
  3. Resource Coach: This aspect focuses on upgrading where coaches maintain resources for each other and staff. This includes management of a variety of digital tools and resources for teachers and students to use in technology-rich learning environments.
  4. Classroom Supporter: This aspect includes working alongside a teacher to model effective teaching and/or observing and giving feedback.  This role requires co-planning, co-teaching, observing, giving feedback and engaging in reflective conversations about teaching and learning.
  5. PLN Connector: This aspect involves "connecting" teachers to other teachers and learners to help accelerate their growth online through the use of social media (e.g. Twitter, Google+). 
Obviously, the title of "academic technology coach" emphasizes the technology aspect of the coaching role. For that, I would make sure I'm familiar with a coaching protocol, such as that elaborated on by Dr. Dawn Wilson and Dr. Katie Alaniz in their soon to be published book, Naturalizing Digital Immigrants. (stay tuned for a podcast series with them, by the way!).

Mary Beth Hertz also offers these points in her article, Advice to New Technology Coaches, in Edutopia:
  1. Define the Coach's Schedule
  2. Be a Good Listener
  3. Learning Comes First, Not Tools
  4. Be available*
  5. Build relationships*
*In the comments to Mary Beth's blog entry, these suggestions also appear and are worth adding on! In fact, I'd make #5-Build Relationships the #1 piece of advice.
One neat idea modeled by one of my team members recently included taking advantage of YouCanBook.Me to help teachers schedule face to face/online meetings. 

What would your advice be?

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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

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