Monday, November 23, 2015

Learning To Be An Instructional Coach

I've watched the role of Technology Coaches evolve in some powerful ways in recent years. The first generation of Technology Coaches focused on finding and teaching the tools. Pedagogy for most was secondary to the shiny new web resources or device. We put the old proverbial carriage before the horse. We made huge strides integrating technology into classrooms, but many questioned if we made any significant impact on the ways we teach and learn. A webquest after all was frequently little more than a digital worksheet. 
Times they are a changing.  The new generation of technology coaches no longer focus on the tools first. In fact, I've begun to see many districts replace the title of technology coach with the title instructional coach. Today's instructional coach is no long just an expert on how to use different technologies. We instead focus on technology to enhance good teaching methodologies. Good pedagogy usually comes first, with the tools added in as an enhancement. 

We've tried to model pedagogy before tech tools with our staff in several ways:
  • First, we focus on the why before the tool. When a teacher is looking to get something done, we first try to focus on essential student skills connected to the task before finding the tool to support the activity. 
  • Second, we look for tools that can be used for students across content areas. We prefer tools that support students throughout their day. Instead of focusing on tools that only support a science classroom, we instead look first for tools that can support different activities in multiple classrooms. 
  • Finally, we try to always emphasize that technology alone does not have the power make a bad lesson great. Technology at its best only enhances what is already there. Great teaching must come first or the power of the instructional technology is often reduced. 
As an instructional coach, I try to focus on these 5 broad areas as I look to support teachers and students: 
Here are a few resources we use to plan our professional development activities: