Saturday, November 26, 2011

Connecting coaching, community and technology

Since my goal setting meeting last week I've been reading the ISTE White Paper on Technology, Coaching and Community.  The introduction to this paper states that effective professional development most often occurs as teachers connect and collaborate with colleagues in an atmosphere of trust to solve the problems they are facing in their classroom.  In my experience it's certainly true that teachers will be more willing to use technology when they know they are being supported by a coach or mentor as it allows them to try out new ideas in an atmosphere of trust and mutual respect where they feel comfortable.  I respect the teachers' knowledge of the subject matter and of the individual students in their classes, the teachers respect my knowledge of how technology can transform the learning.

The White Paper goes on to quote from Harry Wong:
Coaching is customized and focused on providing instruction on what needs to be accomplished.  Coaches tailor support, assess each teacher's progress with observations, use interviews and surveys and have follow-up visits.  Teachers feel more motivated and responsible to act on new skills because coaching makes them personalized and customized on an ongoing basis.
Effective coaching has 3 components:  context, relevance and ongoing.  In previous schools I've coached teachers to take a leading role in using technology within their units of inquiry.  The coaching happens during the planning stages where we have discussed what might be possible, immediately before the lessons so teachers feel comfortable with the technology and tools they are using, during the lessons when they are using the technology with their students and after their lessons as we discuss what went well and what could be improved upon next time.

Teachers who use technology for their own professional learning are more likely to use it in their classrooms to improve student learning, so another aspect of my role since coming to the school has been to try to connect teachers with one another using social media (mostly through blogging and micro-blogging) .  Social media is a powerful tool for professional development:  building a community with others who have similar interests, perhaps teachers who teach the same grade level or subject or teachers in other PYP schools who are doing similar units of inquiry, is powerful professional development.

As I read through the White Paper I'll be blogging more in the next few days about my ideas on how I can provide more effective professional development to our teachers through coaching.

Photo Credit:  23rdian by  bitzi ☂ ion-bogdan dumitrescu AttributionNoncommercial

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