A Teacher-Centric Approach to Technology Integration
Posted by Greg Jung on September 29, 2020 at 2:30 PM
The rollout of technology is never an easy task for organizations, especially when they are forced to do it quickly due to a pandemic. Greg Jung, IC from Dickenson Public Schools in ND, was eager to share his blueprint for technology integration and the six-step coaching cycle process he put together for a successful rollout.
became my high school's first ever educational coach this year when our district created three technology integration coach positions to support the rollout of 1:1 devices. I already had a lot of experience in piloting and promoting technology at my school, and I felt this position calling my name. At the same time, I was intimidated by the sheer amount of learning I knew I needed to do to become an effective coach.
I began the year as more of a technology trouble-shooter than an actual instructional coach. It seemed like teachers viewed me as an extension of our IT department and it felt like most of my time was spent giving teachers ideas and solving problems for them. Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit and I instantly became the most sought-after person in our school. Our staff had one week to become master technology integrators—and I was the driver of the bus!
When things slowed down from total chaos to manageable chaos, I had the opportunity to chat with one of our assistant principals and told him that I wanted to begin offering coaching cycles for teachers starting in the fall. Through many conversations and brainstorming what this process could look like, I started to create a blueprint for a technology integration coaching cycle.
Putting teachers first
The goal of any technology integration coaching cycle is for teachers to think intentionally about how they could improve their instruction and make their lessons more engaging, efficient, and effective with the use of technology. This year I've found myself hearing teachers, but not listening to them, and I wanted to change that.
I realized that I had to learn to listen and reflect with teachers, not for them, before I could get started with an effective coaching cycle. This is because I want the experience to be about their ideas and goals and how I can support them. As a result, the cycle I've created puts the teacher at the heart of the process from the start. It allows for teachers to have the initial voice in instituting a new idea, goal, or strategy and to keep the focus on them through every phase of the cycle.
The cycle phases
The blueprint of my technology integration is below, and I'll walk you through what's contained in each phase.
Bonus: Here's a link to create your own copy of the Technology Integration Coaching Cycle document I outline below!
In this phase, teachers share their ideas, goals, and strategies without interruption. This helps the coach to listen without judgement, without jumping in. You can provide sentence stems to help teachers think intentionally about their ideas, goals, and strategies. Using Flipgrid to do this can be useful—particularly in a remote or hybrid coaching environment. Teachers can record a video of themselves answering the questions, which I can then watch back at leisure.
Pro-tip: Encourage teachers to center their thinking around standards-based goals or learning targets, as it makes subsequent steps much easier!
After I review the teacher's response, I set up a planning session with the teacher. I use this time to gather more information from the teacher by asking some pre-planning questions. These questions are intended to get the teacher to dig deeper into their thought process. A big part of the my job is to ask the right questions to guide the teacher to a solution, rather immediately providing one. Questions I might ask include:
- What are the real challenges for you?
- How would you like me to help?
- What else is on your mind?
We also spend time deciding on our roles on "launch day." These roles include: an observer, co-teacher, or modeler of the lesson.
During the third phase, the teacher and I formulate an agenda to help with organization of the class period on launch day, with the aim of maximizing efficiency. We decide on how data will be collected and used to support the standards-based goals or learning targets that were set earlier.
Pro tip: Keep in mind that leveraging the right technology tools can aid in the efficiency of the data collection process!
Phase four is made up of two parts: a teacher reflection and a meeting. I've created a new set of questions to help guide the reflection process for teachers, along with another Flipgrid link. After the teacher reflects, I then review what they've said before meeting with them. The Q&A session is important because it drives the next steps in the coaching cycle, giving the opportunity to move into a redesign phase.
Rarely do things work out perfectly the first time we try something new. Fortunately, most of the time a few tweaks are all that is needed. When we're redesigning, I set up a meeting for a targeted redesign Q&A session. This phase is similar to Phase 2, and allows for deeper thinking to occur. We then create a new implementation plan to reflect the changes we made during the redesign process.
It's essential that instructional coaches follow up with teachers to check in on their progress. These check-ins can be an informal meeting, a quick email, or even a text message. Teachers will appreciate that you are thinking about them and it also gives you the opportunity to ask them what else is on their mind. This important conversation may be the springboard to the next coaching cycle with the teacher!
This technology integration coaching cycle process allows for teachers to have a voice in instituting a new idea, goal, or strategy in their classroom. As instructional coaches, we need to become better listeners and ask questions that will guide the teachers' thought process.
Teachers will appreciate that they have the opportunity to be heard and will feel empowered by this process when they see increased efficiency, effectiveness, and student engagement.
About our Guest Blogger
Greg Jung is a 30-year veteran in education. He spent 29 years as a science teacher at Dickinson High School in Dickinson, ND before becoming an IC there. He has been a school leader in technology integration for the last 8 years promoting, piloting, and integrating various aspects of technology with students and teachers.
Outside of the classroom, Greg has been a long-time athletic coach and is currently the head boys and girls cross country coach and track and field distance coach at Dickinson High School. His wife is an elementary principal and he has three grown children.
Be sure to connect with Greg on Twitter @edtech_workshop!
Illustration by Icons 8.