Monday, May 16, 2016

Connectedness. Isn't this what we've wanted all along?

I just started a book called "The Connected Educator" and a line jumped off the page at me as it pertains to our students.

"Their world encourages connectedness."

Funny thing--we as teachers...isn't this what we have wanted all along--even before technology pressed into the world of our students and allowed it to happen in spite of us? So what is the problem then? Why do some teachers seem to buck the use of technology if this is what we as teachers have been striving for all along--to connect our kids to the world? Is it happening too fast for us? Is it because our students naturally jumped on board and left us in the dust?

This connectedness has happened for our students--and because of this we're left with a monumental task--to harness their desire for connectedness and show them how to use it for good. To increase their knowledge about those things they are passionate about. To enlighten them when it comes to teaching content that initially, they had no real interest in at all.

Our kids are connected. It's time we teachers decide how connected we are willing to become...and not just to "keep up with them," but to allow them to connect to their learn...and grow...and make it a better place. 

Getting Teachers On Board. Tech Use and Teacher Support

    So much technology, so little time. So where should our first step be as instructional coaches for technology be when it comes to getting teachers on board? I think it's pretty simple--just as our students need a great anticipatory hook at the beginning of each lesson--an emotional draw to make them genuinely care about what they are learning, teachers need this same things when it comes to seeing the relevance in using technology in their classrooms They must be 


     Feedback should be offered only once we get the ball rolling, There won't be any need for feedback until teachers are feeling vulnerable enough to give it a go without judgement. Professional development early on should come in the form of creating this inspiration. Some things to think about: 

  • Use PD to establish a "I'm learning, too" attitude. Make sure your teachers realize that it's okay to learn right along with their students. 
  • For PD--make sure your teachers have a variety of options from which to choose from, and that the options provide meaningful content for teachers at every level when it comes to technology use. 
  • Make sure teachers don't see the use of technology as an add on, but as a tool to help them individualize student learning and to understand that technology can provide them with valuable data on their students. 
  • Offering to do instructional rounds with teachers so that they can see how others are using technology in their classrooms can be very inspiring. Sometimes we need to get outside of our own little cocoon and see what others are doing to really open our eyes and be inspired to try something ourselves.
     So--just starting out with some great new tech initiative? Then give teachers reasons to love it. Show them all that they can achieve by using it. Make sure they understand what resources will be available to them to support them, and make them not only want to know more about it, but INSPIRE them to want to learn more...for themselves...but most importantly, for their students. 


Thursday, May 5, 2016

What's Your District Up To?

This week an amazing thing happened. Two other technology coaches and some teachers came to visit our district to see how we are using Canvas at the lower elementary level. This was such a valuable experience! Sometimes it's easy to stay nested in our own little cocoon that we forget to look outward to learn from others when it comes to all of this technology stuff! Here's what I took away from our day together:

 Don't just show off the good stuff that's going on--talk about the hard stuff, too. What isn't going well? What are your struggles and how are other districts solving those same problems? It's becoming very clear to me that we often have the exact same issues going on!

2.  Reciprocate--if you visit a district to see what's going on, offer an invitation for districts to come see you. Be vulnerable and let them come see the good, the bad, and the ugly...then-COLLABORATE! 

3.  Involve teachers when you visit other districts. It's great when admin and instructional coaches share a common technology vision, but our teachers need to see it, too. Also--if you can, during the visits allow those teachers to meet with a few teachers from the other district to talk to one another and collaborate. This is so important--it goes a long way for teachers to not only talk about their success, but to talk to others about the common struggles they are realize they are not in this technology thing alone.

So--go on! Break out of your district's technology shell and glean what you can from others. Build relationships that benefit everyone. In the end, it will be our students that get the most out of this endeavor...and that's just good stuff!