It's time to chase Innovation instead of reacting to the status quo.
Is there a program that....
This is probably the question i am asked the most. Teachers are wanting to know if there are different apps or abilities for ideas that they have in their classroom. I enjoy being able to sit with teachers and brainstorm their ideas with them. I am constantly on the lookout for new ideas, strategies (and yes apps 😎) that teachers can bring into their classroom on a daily basis.
As I have been within this position though I have started to realize that "Technology Coach" is pigeon holing me into a very limited range of education consulting. Technology is huge, and technology in education will never stop growing. There will always be the "new app". But as a Technology Coach, I have found that I have become different types of coach when working with teachers and administrators.
Instructional Design Coach
Recently I was asked to sit down in a discussion about the combination of two levels of language class into a single room with one teacher. Each section of each level averaged between 3-5 students, which is not enough for the school to let the course happen. Because of this students are not able to get this extra level of language learning. The solution was to create a hybrid multilevel course that would accommodate both levels under one teacher. What an opportunity to sit down and use some instructional design skills to help mould a pseudo-flipped/blended learning experience for a language that I cannot speak! The discussions have been great, I hope to move forward with this project if the school approves
20 Time Coach
One aspect of moving into this position that I am so thankful for is the ability to find and experiment with different teaching and learning strategies. 20 Time has been on my radar a great deal when I was in the classroom, but I never had the "time" (all puns intended) to make it work. Within this new role, knowing what was going to happen this year, a colleague and I proposed that our 8th grade academic fair be transferred into a 20 Time project. This got approved, so now we are bringing in the new learning experiences as we give students 20% of their advisory(homeroom) time to work on a project they they decide. My role though has been coaching and prepping the teachers to be "advisors" rather than teachers. To be curious like the students, embracing the opportunity to learn something new. So far from the teachers, we have learning a language, tap dancing, and wood carving on the table. Its going to be good! As the 20 Time coach I am looking forward to leading the teachers through this process to allow students to have an incredible learning experience. One resource that really helped me connect with the teachers about this project was a TED talk by Josh Kaufman on "The First 20 Hours"(check it out below).
On major change from my role as a teacher versus Technology Coach has been the ability and responsibility to make purchases. Now I know that every school/organization is different on how they are able to purchase resources, but for some reason within our school the process is one that has many different paths that could take you the very wrong direction. Think choose your own adventure...but not fun at all. Anyway, I have now become very clear on the purchasing process and power of the school. I have already communicated this with teachers, helping them get their resources quicker and easier.
In preparing for this position I read The Art of Coaching: Effective Strategies for School Transformation by Elena Aguilar, which is a great resource for all types of instructional coaches. The big takeaway that I got from this book was the ability to sit, listen and use questions to help teachers find their own way. When I think about my basketball coach, he always would tell us "I can't go out and play it for you, you have to do it!" Though the temptation as a Tech Coach is to be an expert at everything, it's more important to help teachers find their way through their thinking. This is a skill that is taking me time to work on, but when the right questions hits, the inspiration and excitement is tangible within the teacher/admin that I am working with. It's awesome to experience!
Ultimately, my job and my position is to work with teachers on the integration of technology into their classrooms. The more I work with teachers, the more excited I become about the possibilities that can come from someone like me. I can bring in ideas, I can help the teachers think outside of the curriculum that they may have been stuck in. To work side by side with teachers, bringing in new opportunities for ideas that allow for innovation and growth to ultimately help the students succeed in their learning.
Taylor currently serves as a Coordinator of Innovative Learning for a mid-sized school district in Texas. He is a speaker, writer, and coach for all who are in conflict with the status quo.