A number of our staff recently attended the Africa Learning2.014 AISA conference at ICS, Addis. Unfortunately I was unable to attend but I used the conference hashtag #learning2 to following along via TweetDeck.
Whilst there were many good talks, two by the COETAIL co-founders, Kim Cofino & Jeff Utecht, one in particular caught my attention as it linked to my new role as PYP Edtech Coach. This talk by Colin Gallagher, a witty and entertaining Irishman, drew upon his 10 years of experience as an Edtech coach to discuss 5 Things About Being a Tech Coach. As a person starting out in this field, I certainly took notice and reflected upon what I was doing and what I can do better to support staff and students.
Below I have listed the 5 things Colin spoke about along with what I am doing within my new role.
- Some teachers think you will do nothing.
- Be visible. I am out and about, in and out of classrooms throughout the primary school when and where possible. Through informal observations and discussions I have gained a clearer understanding of what is happening, and hopefully what is required. Where possible, I try to follow this up with an email to say thanks, and if needed, suggest where tech could have been integrated into the lesson.
- Be proactive. Instead of waiting for teachers to approach me I have been accessing planning via ManageBac and looking for opportunities to integrate technology based on the learning outcomes. Thanks to the support from a new colleague who has helped me expand my PLN, I am working on creating two documents that will be able to support teachers in their planning.
- Primary Tech Curriculum Map based on UOI
- iPad App Map for the individual year groups based on categories with description.
- Be approachable. By dropping in an out of classrooms and having short informal conversations I have been trying to make myself more available and “open” to being approached.
- We don’t know everything.
- Like within the classroom when students ask questions that I do not know the answer to, I freely admit to it, then I go about modelling how to find the answer, or I find someone who does! This is exactly what I have been doing within my role.
- Making sure the everyone is aware of my role and expectations during collaborative planning, including expectations has been vital.
- If you don’t have empathy, you are in the wrong job.
- Once again, getting in teacher’s classrooms allows me an insight into what they are dealing with day in, day out. From here I can ascertain the level of confidence and competence of teachers and support them accordingly.
- I freely admit to the fact that they know their students better than I do and listen to their feedback and/or suggestions.
- This also relates to the role of the teacher which I tweeted about during a #pypchat. The same goes with teachers.
A3 Interesting readings today which highlight a major attribute for me….caring. Genuinely enjoying their students & knowing them. #pypchat
- It is okay not to be wanted at times.
- I have already come across this on a couple of occasions where teachers were using technology to enhance the learning and I was not aware. For me, it would have been nice to know about it because what they did could most likely be applied somewhere else. Like Colin mentioned, we want teachers and learners to be risk takers, to try new things and see how it goes. Getting teachers to freely share what they did too is essential in creating a collaborative approach to integrating technology.
- You better present well.
- Since joining up with COETAIL I have been exposed to the a wide range of informative and riveting presentations, from TED talks to Inbox Zero. All successful presenters know their stuff implicitly, and tell it like a story. They believe in what they say and know the ins and outs, and like a good sales rep, are extremely convincing.
- I know that teachers are busy and have a lot on their plate which I seem to be adding to! Knowing this, I need to be succinct and convincing in its worth. For some, I will need to be on hand to lead them through it to encourage their use. For others, a gently nudge in a specific direction.
I recently ran an iPad familiarization tech session for Teaching Assistants which I felt went rather well. I planned for a variety of activities so that the participants could move on instead of waiting. I roved about to identify those who needed extra support and to gauge an understanding of the flow of the session so that things didn’t become “stagnant”. In summing up the session, I used what we were doing to demonstrate the range of expertise within the room, and how we as colleagues can be on hand to support, thus, hopefully initiating a collaborative mindset for support amongst staff.
Lastly, the title of this blog post is a bit of a play on words with regards to the role of the Edtech Coach. Some people need the extra comfort and support that a coach (British definition) can provide whilst starting out on the tech integration journey. Some however, need the guidance and tweaking from a coach to help point them in the right direction, expose them to something new, or to refine current approaches and practises.