5 Things About Being A Technology Coach

August 22nd, 2013 Categories: Procrastination

1. Some teachers will think you do nothing

It’s true. Because you’re not a classroom teacher, some teachers think you sit back in your office and stare at a computer screen all day. And all technology coaches are (or should be) aware of this. I think every teacher in a technology coach position has had the “you only sit in front of a computer all day” sideswipe jibe/joke directed at them one point. I had mine today! And my day is full with teaching classes!

How to combat this scenario:

Get out of your office and into the classrooms (if you’re not tied to a computer lab :p) Modeling, teaching, mentoring and training. If people still think you don’t do anything, you know that’s not your issue but theirs. You’ll find some teachers are jaded with the whole teaching thing and will pick on little things to make themselves feel better and distract themselves for a while.
Also, document everything.


2. We don’t know everything

Yes I stay up to date with as much stuff as I can, I look at Twitter a couple of times a day and I read educational blogs. I know as much as I have read up until today. Basically.

How to combat this scenario:

It’s impossible to know everything.  If I come to a planning meeting and you ask “So our next unit is on Forces, what can we do with technology?”, you sadly overestimate me and we need to talk about how a real collaborative planning session should work! Make your role and job description known to all at the start of each school year. Meet with each grade and get their expectations of a successful collaborative planning meeting. Read blogs and Twitter to see if any cool things fit in to any units of work that are coming up.

 
3. If you don’t have empathy, you’re in the wrong job

If you can’t see from the perspective of a classroom teacher and step in to their shoes, mentally, for a bit then you’re not going to realize how important you are to them. As a technology coach we need to care first and foremost, without caring there’s no sharing! Teachers range from highly capable technology users to reluctant and sometimes pessimistic technology users.

How to combat this scenario:

Have empathy! Differentiate your approach for each teacher (as we do for students). I’m not going to talk to my tech-savvy teacher the same way I do to the reluctant teacher. I will cajole the tech-savvy teacher on to bigger and grander things and I will gently steer and mentor the reluctant teacher in taking a few risks and replacing some activities with technology integrated ones. Baby steps. Kid gloves.

 

4. It’s okay not to be wanted at times

There are a number of teachers at my school who just do things and see what happens when it comes to technology. I don’t know anything about them until they tell me, tweet about it, or put it on their blog. Grade 5 students, this year, went through their PYP Exhibition by and large without consulting a hell of a lot with me. I would like to think that’s because from Grade 3 we introduce them to a boatload of tools throughout their units of inquiry to perform a myriad of tasks.
At first these things can be a little off-putting but it’s pretty much what you want in your school environment. We need teachers and students to be able to choose whatever tools they want, to see if they will do the job they require of them.

How to combat this scenario:

Don’t. Celebrate risk taking and independence.

 

5. You better present well

More than anybody working in your school you had better present well. All eyes are on you. You’re the one who may be deemed to be piling up more work on teachers (always find that funny as in the long run technology makes things more functional and effective, that’s the whole point). There’s a fine line between success and failure when presenting to a room full of teachers. Some might say they are the toughest crowd to please.

How to combat this scenario:

I presented on Google Apps to the whole school faculty at the start of this year. I mulled it over and decided to show practical examples of what Google Apps can do from the previous school year. You can’t have a workshop with an entire faculty. Teachers don’t like to be preached to, they need practical examples and differentiated instruction that relates to their teaching environment. We differentiate with our students and it’s even more important to differentiate when teaching our teachers. Flexibility with teacher training is a big deal.

 

I love being a technology integrator. It’s a flexible, multi-faceted, organic, and rewarding position but if the position fails it fails big time and has massive repercussions throughout the school. As an integrator you float between teachers and students in a never ending dance of instruction and communication. As a technology integrator it’s important to remember professional (and personal) relationships are forged on trust and mutual respect.

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