Teachers will not always give clear signals as to when they need help from an instructional technologist or specialist. Teachers who in the course of their busy day are learning new tech skills, teaching their lessons and managing their classroom. They aren’t going to just come out and say “can I learn that new tool that you tried to share with me last week?” One of the first goals of any good instructional technologist is to have five to six strong tools that can have a variety of impact in different classrooms in their back pocket and be ready to present this tool in less than 30 seconds. The opportunities mount and over time develop organically over time into shared experiences with successful technology use.
Most teachers are only going to be open to a referral to a new tech tool or resource for about 1-2 minutes before they are going to need to get back to their class. In order to introduce a new tool and show teachers how it can improve a specific part of their instructional practice it must fulfill an immediate strategic need to satisfy a larger curriculum based goal. Ideally, In the past it has been tools like Google classroom or Dipity Timeline Maker or even tools which make sharing web resources more easily into new opportunities with teachers to sit down with them and share how these tools can streamline instruction with technology.
As an instructional technologist or technology coach you will never know when you are going to be put on the spot. You don’t know if you’re going to be in a classroom that will require a guiding supportive hand to the needs of the teacher or be called upon to be the lead teacher. You also don’t know if the teachers going to be fully receptive to what you’re going to show them. The trick in getting many digital learning initiatives off the ground is connecting the teachers with people who can enable them to experiment and work with teachers to support higher level use of technology in their classrooms.
Often called “pushing in”, instructional technologists or tech coaches are often asked to come into classroom and assist the teachers with learning tools on the fly or sometimes with lessons planned in advance. “Pushing in” needs to be meaningful, and ideally support the teacher at a critical point that the instruction ties with the technology and the core content. The circumstances of a “push in” are also ideally brought on by district initiatives which support tools which enhance the teacher’s instruction. An instructional technologist needs to be an active and involved participant in the school culture as well. Always on display, a instructional technology coach must show their confidence with tools and their willingness to jump in to fix or troubleshoot issues to set the model standard for teachers. Developing a variety of different relationships is essential, confidence to share knowledge with staff, administration and technology leadership assists in acquiring buy in on implementation of tools that scale teachers growth. They must go into offices, classrooms, libraries and a range of other environments to work directly with staff and students to help them achieve their goals.
Supporting the teacher to the point in which they can take the technology on upon themselves is the priority. Instructional technology specialists and coaches are not there to handicap them; they should provide so much support that they feel like they could do the lesson themselves. They should leave teachers feeling confident with technology, answer their questions and provide support and help teachers embed their use of technology tools into instruction. Conclusively, this process is more of an art than a science and it depends on how the coach cultivates relationships in their schools. And, as always, they should be nice!!