Most districts have technology offices or departments that deploy coaches to individual schools and campuses on a scheduled, or as-needed basis. However, more and more schools are choosing to get in-house ITC, to better formulate and deliver on their tech integration programs. ITC (or, Instructional Technology Coaching) is a prevalent method of deploying continuous professional, or teacher development, with a focus on technology integration in both the curriculum and method of instruction.
Using insights from 12 Rules of Effective Instructional Technology Coaching by Susanna Holz, and 3 Strategies for EdTech Coaches, by EdTech Coaches by Team ISTE, we've put together some helpful guidelines to get you on the right track.
"Being an effective coach has more to do with building relationships and interpersonal skills then it does tech knowledge. You can have all the technology knowledge in the world. You can be an Apple Distinguished Educator or a Google Certified Trainer….that’s all great! But if you cannot relate to people, if you cannot form relationships all that know-how is worthless." -Tech Is About Relationships
Ensuring the Basics
Have your edtech coach develop an introductory course to ensure a consistent level of technological understanding among staff members. If you have an LMS, you may be able to develop an online course, which would save a lot of time & resources. This way, your coach could focus on teachers that require more assistance, while the more advanced teachers can just focus on the online course.
Relationship-Building with Teachers & Establishing Trust Early On
You may be surprised by how many teachers are resistant to technological change; this is why it's particularly crucial for the coach and instructors to be on the same page. A good start would be to have your coach acknowledge current successes that some teachers at the school are already having with technology in their classrooms, and encouraging others to do the same.
Also, not all interactions between teacher and coach have to be tech-related. For example, engagement can happen at a personal level or through common interests - interactions started this way are conducive to a much higher level of collaboration than strictly impersonal dialogues.
Staying Up to Date
It is crucial that your coach stay current on any new technological trends and best practices that may arise during his/her time in your school. The job of an instructional technology coach is to serve as a mentor for teachers in all things tech-related; this means continuously educating teachers about the latest and most effective methods related to edtech.
These days, technology is evolving at a much faster pace; excluding continuous learning & tech-integration from your curriculum would set your school at a disadvantage against other schools.
Build platforms, in which teachers can share experiences, questions, and ideas. Doing this will encourage participants to work with each other in order to make ITC a more collaborative program at your school. Software such as Slack, or SmartSheet is ideally suited for this type of online collaboration. By encouraging communication amongst teachers, the entire program will have a much higher chance of being received positively by your staff.
Aligning ITC with School's Mission
As is the case with any institution, cultural traits are embedded in every action your staff takes. You want to make sure your coach is a part of the development and communication of the school's mission & beliefs - this way, you can avoid risking ensure that technology is appropriately integrated into the teaching culture, rather than an addition to it.
In conclusion, ITC is more than just training staff members to use edtech in classrooms. It's about building the foundations for a new educational standard at your school. The programs being created right now will serve as a guiding compass to any current, and new teachers towards the modernization of your school's curriculum and resources.
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