For this first module in EDTC 6105 Educational Technology Leadership, I decided to explore two ISTE Coaching Standards for Change Agent, 4.1 (ISTE, n.d.):
a. Create a shared vision and culture for using technology to learn and accelerate transformation through the coaching process.
c. Cultivate a supportive coaching culture that encourages educators and leaders to achieve a shared vision and individual goals.
As I was reading The Edtech Coaching Primer by Ashley McBride (2021), I was immediately brought back to the Apple Coach training I had completed earlier this year in 2023. I was informally an Edtech coach during the pandemic, it was one of my additional duties during our PLC times at my small school in rural Western Washington. The part of McBride’s first two chapter’s that I most connected with was the part on formal professional learning, because I remember being burnt out on PD by the time that the pandemic hit, and I was only in my 2nd year of teaching at this point.
I developed two questions for two research for this module. The first question I approached from the perspective of a teacher and the second one I approached from the perspective of an administrator now that I have started my principal internship. How does a technology coach develop rapport and trust with teachers who may already be experiencing PD fatigue to create a shared vision? My second question changed over time to how can I convince administrators to see the continued value in technology coaching now that the pandemic is ending so we can continue to cultivate that supportive coaching culture that was developed during the pandemic and move forward with the vision of taking edtech into the future?
The Apple Coaching training program taught me some very key lessons about coaching that can be summed up in this info graphic that I created:
The Apple Coach training is fully aligned with the ISTE coaching standards and has an ISTE Seal of Alignment, earned in 2022 (ISTE). Apple isn’t the only group that speaks to the importance of building trust in order to build a shared vision, Shernoff et al. (2017) talk about the how important it is to honor the confidential nature of the relationship between coach and teacher. This is especially important for administrators to keep in mind when they contemplate asking the coaches to report back on what teachers are or are not doing in their classrooms. They may be asking their coaches to violate the relationships that they are working hard to build their mentees.
During the pandemic, Edtech coaches found that they had to work harder and that it took even longer to build relationships with teachers (Bakhshei, 2020). One valuable insight that these coaches provided from their work during the pandemic was the importance of building and maintaining personal relationships with teachers. Building those relationships and being willing to be vulnerable was important because teachers need your support as a coach, especially during uncertain times. Without taking the time to build relationships with teachers during the pandemic, it would have been nearly impossible to have done the work of building a shared vision for what teachers and ultimately students needed from their technology during the pandemic.
I read an article in November of 2022, right before I signed up for the Apple Coach training from “We Are Teachers” by Bartek (2022, Nov 30). The article was about tech coaches and IT specialists beginning to be removed from some schools now that the pandemic is ending. This article is now almost a year old, so why am I talking about it? The teachers quoted in the article are eloquently arguing to keep their edtech coaches and IT specialists. Their arguments include: the coaches add value, they provide guidance on best practice, they offer great PD and training sessions, and expertly pick the right tech resources for their classroom (Bartek, 2022, Nov 30). This feedback from teachers sounds like they do have a shared vision and that the teachers quoted in this article do have a shared vision with their tech coaches. It also sounds like they are lucky enough to work in a school system that has a dedicated edtech coach, not all districts have the funding to have these professionals in place.
Now I want to address the administrative part of my second question. Now that the pandemic is ending, how can I convince administrators to see the continued value in technology coaching so we can continue to cultivate that supportive coaching culture that was developed during the pandemic and move forward with the vision of taking edtech into the future? First and foremost, it is important to remind our administrator, our school boards, and our families, that technology is not going anywhere. The best way that we can serve our students is to equip them to be able to utilize technology in their future.
Joshi (2021, June 22) had some amazing answers and ideas for this question. From a legal perspective, technology enhances access and accessibility for our students with IEPs and 504s. Most administrators have a vision that includes access and equity for all students, educating them on how technology can make this a reality for these most vulnerable students, will help to remind administrators of the importance of edtech coaches. These coaches will help the administrator to enact and follow through on their vision. These coaches also have the ability to help make learning fun and more engaging, they have the ability to help student develop future-ready learning skills, all things that are listed on most school district vision statements (Joshi, 2021, June 22). This directly connects to the SAMR framework and really moving teachers to the modification and augmentation tiers, or transformation regions of the framework, which is the ultimate goal of coaching (Terada, 2020).
When administrators and teachers partner with edtech coaches, and they truly learn how to build trust with one another, amazing things are possible in education. Teachers learn new skills, Edtech coaches learn new skills, innovations are made, common visions are agreed up, and ultimately, it is our students who benefit.
Apple Coach Training, (2022). Apple education community. https://education.apple.com/en
Bakhshei, M., Seylar, J., Ruiz, P., & Vang, M. (2020). The valuable role of edtech coaches during the COVID-19 pandemic: A national survey. D. Promise. https://digitalpromise.dspacedirect.org/items/fd1d2f26-7b23-4dd8-9cd6-35f85e92e0c3
Bartek, M. (2022, Nov 30). Why we need tech coaches and IT specialists in our schools, according to teachers. We Art Teachers. https://www.weareteachers.com/tech-coaches/
Dunworth, M. (2023). Build trust.
Dunworth, M. (2023). School is closed.
ISTE. (2022). ISTE seal of alignment review of findings report: Apple learning coach, Apple Inc. I. S. f. T. i. Education. https://craftcms-live-95s-media.iste.org/iste-seal/reports/Apple-Learning-Coach-FindingsReport-ISTE-Standards-Coaches_2022_final.docx-4.pdf
ISTE. (n.d.). ISTE standards: Coaches. International Society for Technology in Education. https://www.iste.org/standards/iste-standards-for-coaches
Joshi, S. (2021, June 22). The role of technology in education, post pandemic. eLearning Indutry. https://elearningindustry.com/the-role-of-technology-in-education-post-pandemic
McBride, A. (2021). The edtech coaching primer : Supporting teachers in the digital age classroom. International Society for Technology in Education. http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/spu/detail.action?docID=6683479
Shernoff, E. S., Lekwa, A. J., Reddy, L. A., & Coccaro, C. (2017). Examining Teachers’ Attitudes and Experiences with Coaching to Inform Research-Based Practice: An Iterative Developmental Design Study [Article]. Journal of Educational & Psychological Consultation, 27(4), 459-485. https://doi.org/10.1080/10474412.2016.1255850
Terada, Y. (2020, May 4). A powerful model for understanding good tech integration. Edutopia. https://www.edutopia.org/article/powerful-model-understanding-good-tech-integration/