As a classroom teacher one of my strengths was my ability to reflect. I can remember having a lesson 1st hour and then it being completely different by the end of the day based on experiences from my other classes. This provided to be a critical part of my success in the classroom.
So I sat down the other night was thinking, what have I learned this year in my role as an Instructional Technology Coach at Waukesha North? What are some successes I have experienced, and what are some challenges that still face us in the coming wave of Waukesha One and a 1:1 iPad program?
1. Teachers need support. Classroom teachers are asked to do so much today. Admins, coaches, and colleagues need to help each other so students can succeed. Working in a PLC with course alikes is such an advantage for teachers and is so critical in improving achievement, instruction, and efficiency Teachers supporting teachers is very powerful and is needed at all schools. But, coaches and admins are a critical element. Working together for students can help a building achieve more.
2. Coaches must be visible. Whether one is an instructional coach, or a technology coach, coaches need to be in the hallways and classrooms being seen by teachers and students. This was crucial for the rapport building that I had to have in my first year at Waukesha North. I knew...maybe 5-6 teachers, so building relationships was a an important priority for me. Being in the hallway, talking during PLC's, and establishing trust was very important for my first year.
3. Tech integration is not about tech, but improving instruction. And really, that is what we are trying to do with technology...improve instruction. There are skeptics to technology, and I get that they have concerns. But, maybe it is not really concerns about technology, rather a difference in philosophy on the direction of education. Technology allows for better instruction, but if you don't think students should be creating or that the role of the teacher is changing, you might not buy into certain parts of technology integration and the role it can play in student learning.
4. Leadership matters. In order for a school to improve it must have leaders throughout the organization. And while it starts with the principal, you also need stakeholders from all groups including teachers, coaches, parents, students, and admins. Improving student achievement takes leadership at all levels, and this is critical to a buildings success.
5. Google and Apple can play well together. While I could write a separate blog on just this topic (and I might) it is clear to me know more than ever that these two huge companies are critical in education. The Google Apps for Education are a must have for school districts. It is an amazing array of apps that allow students to create and demonstrate learning. Apple's hardware solutions are 2nd to none. The iPad is an amazing device that is not just a screen with a keyboard in front of students, but a device that allows for amazing creation, collaboration, and communication. The combination of these two companies and the technologies they have can truly lead to better learning and instruction for students.
It was a great school year. Becoming a technology coach was one of the best decisions of my professional career. It has been fulfilling, engaging, and full of stuff I love (Google, Apple, and helping teachers). We have a lot of work to do in Waukesha and at North. I am so excited to help learn and lead in such an exciting time.