5 ways to help tech coaches maximize their role

How can tech coaches make the most of their limited time with each teacher they support? Here are 5 ways to maximize this important role.

[callout]This post is written by Nadine Gilkison, a District Technology Integration Specialist for Franklin Township Schools in Indianapolis, IN and an Innovation Specialist for the Office of eLearning with the IDOE. You can connect with her on Twitter @nadinegilkison or Instagram @negilkison.[/callout]

Tech Coach, Technology Integration Specialist, ecoach… No matter the title, the role of this specialist focuses on helping educators successfully integrate technology into their curriculum in a meaningful way. Having been in this role for 5 years now, I often get asked, “How do you do it?”

As I am the sole person for my district serving 10,000 students and staff, my hope is that this post will help a coach that serves ANY amount of schools/districts.

Here are 5 ways to help tech coaches maximize their role.

1. Push in for model lessons

Teacher time is sacred. Rather than coming to offer a few tidbits of information before school or during prep, I switched to offering model lesson days in buildings. I take the time to look at the pacing guide/curriculum map ahead or contact a teacher in that grade level for advice on what will be actively taught that week. I then design a lesson with technology integrated within. In this way, I am actually modeling for the teacher how the lesson is taught to students AND the teacher is learning the pieces of technology in action. WIN WIN!

Click on the image for HyperDoc examples created for model lessons.

Maximize how many classrooms you visit. In my district, we have an elementary school that has 8 sections per grade of K-5. It was a struggle to feel like I was making enough of an impact, so I changed how I do my model lessons. Rather than going to classrooms, I asked to be in the large group instruction room and take 4 sections of each grade level. This may sound crazy, but it was amazing! Teachers could see how I handle classroom management with devices on a large scale, as well as, effective technology integration rooted in pedagogy. To see video feedback from the teachers I support click here.

2. Have a tech coach swap

Prior to being in this position, I was a classroom teaching at the elementary level for 20 years. Providing support for all of K-12, I completely recognize that secondary is not my background, but that does not mean that I cannot help. I scour resources and chat with other tech coaches around the state of Indiana and beyond to gain the insight needed.

Recently, @MrKline_EdTech and I did a “Tech Coach Swap”. I traveled to Delphi schools to train his elementary teachers on HyperDocs and he came to my district offering his expertise on Getting Googley with Math and GSuite, as his background prior to his position was secondary math. I am now arranging “Virtual Tech Coach Swaps” to maximize the expertise of my PLN. Just remember you don’t need to be the expert in everything, just know who to contact with the expertise needed.

3. Create a resource hub

Having a one-stop location for teachers in your district to get information is key, especially when you cover multiple buildings. I created www.fttechtips.com to house my model lessons, trainings, and student tech team updates. This way if a teacher says they missed my newsletter or email, I have a location to refer them to for further support. Also, for those who want their PD anytime, anywhere this provides 24-hour access.

4. Be mindful of your marketing

When I first started this role, I sent out “Tech Tip Tuesdays”, comprised of weekly tidbits about tech to help teachers. Well, it back-fired… Teachers started telling me, hey I get your tips so often I don’t read them at all… Then, I began to go down to once a month, which was much better, but I was still looking for strategies to get them to put ideas into action.

Now I focus on sending out a newsletter once a quarter with an emphasis on teachers at each school that I can showcase effective integration. The number of people reading and tapping on links quadrupled. Here’s what I noticed… they want to see what fellow teachers are doing in the district. I purposely focus on featuring teachers that are at various points in their career, so they are assured that veterans and first-year teachers are managing the balance of district initiatives and technology integration.

Other creative ideas to get your word out there include PD on the Potty, Appy Hour and TweetUps!

5. Become a Jack of all trades

In this role, you work in tandem with several groups and leaders… Many of whom rely on your expertise in BOTH curriculum and technology. While I report to our K-12 curriculum directors, I definitely am in constant contact with our head of Information Technology, SPED, ELL, principals, and instructional coaches as well. I attend curriculum related meetings to keep abreast of current district initiatives, always looking through the lens of technology integration. This is why the job is never-ending. Teachers will always need support regarding any initiative, as technology is only rapidly changing, not going away.

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