Culture & Technology-Enhanced Instructional Practice

Photo: Stephankarg via Canva

School leaders who encourage innovation and model scaffolded risk-taking help create a culture where teachers feel confident and supported in trying new technology-infused instructional practices. Without this type of leadership, even high-quality professional development may not result in changes to actual classroom practice.

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Coaching a Peer

The Community Engagement project for our Educational Technology Leadership class this quarter consisted of coaching a teacher to help them improve a lesson by focusing on areas that promote 21st century skills including:

  • Support for standards such as Common Core or ISTE
  • Improving engagement
  • Using a problem-based task
  • Applying technology to accelerate learning

(Foltos, 2013)

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A Starting Point for Effective Coaching Sessions

In chapter 4 of The Adaptive School (2016), Garmston and Wellman describe seven norms that are essential to group collaboration: pausing, paraphrasing, posing questions, putting ideas on the table, providing data, paying attention to yourself and others, and presuming good intent.  I planned to focus on the seven norms in this post, but after reading chapter 4 more closely, I realized that the success of these norms relies on individual group members being able to monitor their own thinking and behavior. So instead, I chose to focus on the four “group member capabilities” (Figure 1) identified by the authors that underlie the seven norms of collaboration.

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Coaching for Computer Science Integration

My job is to teach elementary computer science and technology classes and when appropriate, help my students’ classroom teachers integrate tech into their classes. Though I am not a technology coach, many of the skills I need to do my job effectively are the same that are required in coaching: building relationships, listening to teacher’s concerns and goals, and understanding how school and district level expectations effect technology and computer science integration at the classroom level.

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Digital Classroom Commons

“Kids Using Digital Tablet in Classroom.” Source: Ridofranz, G Images Pro, via Canva.

Online classroom spaces that enable students and teachers to interact in creative and adaptive ways are making their way to the K-8 level. Young students can use these spaces to access differentiated lessons and show their understanding in ways that were never possible in traditional classroom settings.

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Digital Education Leadership Mission Statement

My mission as a digital education leader is to:

 ♦  Share the joy and promise I find in using technology with educators and students.

 ♦  Promote equal access to digital tools and rich use of technology to help build lifelong skills of independent learning, critical thinking, creative problem solving and collaboration.

 ♦  Deeply understand the needs and concerns of teachers and students so that their digital tools will work for them and not against them.

 ♦  Encourage thoughtful use of technology in a way that reflects the tenants of good citizenship.

Being adept with digital technology is more than knowing how to use hardware and software. It also includes wisely navigating the online world and using technology to enhance human abilities and interests.  To address this, the International Society for Technical Education (ISTE) has developed a set of standards for educational leaders, teachers, students, and technology coaches. Digital Citizenship is a key component of each of these standards and for technology coaches includes:

Standard 5.a.  The promotion of equitable access to technology and the modeling of educational technology best practices

Standard 5.b. Safe, healthy, ethical and legal use of digital tools and information

Standard 5.c.  The application of technical tools for furthering cultural understanding and global communication

(ISTE Standards for Coaches, 2011).

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