Thursday, July 9, 2015

#ISTE2015 Takeaways: Tales of 10 Best Practices for Instructional Tech Coaches

    ~~See all my posts from ISTE with lots of links and resources shared by others here~~

    Alyssa Tormala

    My Notes:  (comments are in blue italics)
    What is a tech coach?
    • Informed collaborator  (doesn't mean the expert) This is a big misconception that we have to overcome.  I have gotten better at saying, "I'm not sure, let me ask my colleagues" or "I don't know, let's look it up together".  However, there is still this idea that I know (or should know) everything about technology!!!  I'll continue to work on that mindset this year.  My view of a coach is: "I am a collaborative, non-evaluatory, non-judgmental thought partner and colleague who strives to help you enhance and improve the teaching and learning in your classroom by finding effective, efficient, engaging, and enjoyable uses of technology.  As we work together, our processes are personalized to fit your needs and desires and our pace is individualized to challenge you appropriately.  My goal is to meet you where you are and offer you resources that uniquely respond to your particular needs."

    • Tech helper (basic things… we are NOT I.T.!) Oh this is a fun one to overcome.  Yes, I can help with basic things.  But I don't really have a lot of time in my day to help you figure out why your computer is running slowly or how to hook up your printer.  I would probably just go to Google and try to fiddle with it to figure it out.  Thankfully we have an amazing on-site IT guy, which I do provide basic support for so he can handle the bigger issues, but my big focus is on things that impact teaching and learning.
    • Policy adviser  (getting pulled in to provide insight in admin meetings, etc) I am lucky to be able to meet with the admin team once a week to check in and provide any insight for things that are coming up or things we want to do.  While I'm not a decision maker for most things, I do value being able to provide insight.

    The real coaching doesn't happen on a schedule.
    The conversations that really result in change happen out of the blue.  The "Water cooler" conversations. "Spontaneous hallway meetings"
    How true is this!  Now, the deep, continuous coaching with my fellows does happen "on a schedule" per say since we consistently meet.  But ideas that come up for them will happen out of the blue.  This mainly applies to my non-fellows - having a presence on campus has been invaluable for me.  My office is right up front next to the administration and right outside the lounge, so I am able to run into teachers all the time.  I can't tell you how many connections have been made and ideas that have been deepened because a teacher happened to "pop in" or see me in the lounge and say "I have a quick question".  Some teachers will email me or schedule appointments, but others just value the "water cooler conversation" that has an impact on their practice.

    "Send me an email" and I'll get back to you I need to remember to do this more... I've learned now with a crazy schedule, if I don't write things down and put them on my calendar in that moment, I will most likely forget. Argh!  My Type A personality hates that!

    Getting teachers to jump in:
    Invitation + Attraction

    10 Tips:
    1. Practice what you teach
      1. Teachers trust other teachers who are current & relevant.
    2. Uncover collaborators
      1. We are lonely - find people to share and work with when trying new things
    3. Create an active online presence
      1. Twitter, Website/blog
      2. Get connected!
    4. Find your village
      1. This is different than collaborators
    5. Know who is really in charge
      1. Not always the administrators
    6. Lead as a learner not an expert
      1. Ask them what they know first
      2. Tailor suggestions and advice to what they need
    7. Recruit & nurture the master teachers
      1. Really encourage them - these are the ones that take negative comments very personally because they want so badly to be the best.
      2. Teachers get threatened by people knowing more than us.  - not "What's the problem and how can I fix it?".  But "How can I help you?" "what would you like from me?"
    8. Keep PD short, engaging & choice-based
      1. Try to avoid whole-faculty trainings
      2. If you do have to do whole-staff, do "Speed Geeking"
        1. Get 5 or 6 teachers who have done something cool in their class that they are excited about
        2. 3-4 minute explanation of it, with examples
        3. Faculty split into smaller groups
        4. 5 minutes at each table, ring a bell, move on
        5. I love this idea for a staff meeting or PD for next year!
    9. Know what your job is NOT.  Don't be afraid to stand firm
      1. Don't say "yes" to too much
    10. Believe in the power of failure
      1. Constantly learning
      2. By accepting and embracing our own failures, we are modeling that for our kids and our teachers - most of whom are terrified of failing!

    ~~See all my posts from ISTE with lots of links and resources shared by others here~~

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