If you’re an instructional technology coach, instructional technology specialist, educational technologist, or whatever edtech coaching title you may have, a crucial skill in the work of supporting teachers is being a good communicator. It’s essential. It must be a regular, well thought, purposeful component of the job.
A quick email or Google Form can give you just the right information you need ahead of working with teachers, administrators, or support staff. The more you know ahead of time not only helps you be better prepared, but also helps you make the learning more relevant for your audience. It doesn’t matter if it’s one teacher or a big group; invest the time to reach out, learn their needs, and be prepared to meet those needs to the best of your ability. This includes providing necessary information to help your audience be best prepared to learn.
For those of you that are receiving the communication mentioned above, please take the time to help us better help you. We want you to feel like your time with us was worth it. It’s important you have successful learning experiences because that means giving our students better learning experiences.
I hope to expand on some communication tips and tricks in future posts!
My job is to support teachers with technology integration. Sometimes it’s technology that they’ve learned from me, and sometimes it’s technology they have sought out on their own via a conference, Twitter, a colleague, or some other avenue. I really enjoy sharing new tech tools with teachers. It’s important for teachers to be equipped with a reasonable amount of options for how they can infuse more technology into teaching and learning. The end goal is to positively impact student achievement. That should be the #1 driver of anything we do with technology. I want to help build teachers’ capacity so that they leverage technology to bring innovative learning experiences to students.
I’ve discovered through my experiences being the provider of support and a facilitator of learning opportunities, that teachers don’t like to feel overwhelmed any more than students do. That is certainly the last thing I want a teacher to feel. A barrage of too many edtech tools will leave teachers feeling confused as to which one is best and without a clear plan of action going forward. It can feel like you’re trying to take a drink from a fire hose. In my role I follow a simple rule: If I’m sharing it with you, that means I’ve vetted it and it’s worth your time.
If a teacher is initially overwhelmed with this firehose style delivery, it can cause real damage to that teacher’s willingness to try out new tech. ~Kerry Gallagher
Why do so many conferences and other professional learning events offer so much of the “firehose” style experience? You can easily see it with a quick glance over any conference program. We see so many sessions like “842 edtech tools in 60 minutes” (I admit this is exaggerated) or “72 ways to use Google Forms in your classroom”. I sincerely appreciate the willingness to share, but is that what’s best for teachers that want to become comfortable with new ideas?
If you’re leading professional development you have to be cognizant of your audience’s needs and make sure to have adequate sandbox time sprinkled throughout.
If you were having students create a multimedia presentation we wouldn’t throw an unnecessary amount of tool options their way. We’d give them a few and if they find others and want to give one a go that’s great too. I’m all for options and not being locked into just one way to show mastery, but I think an overabundance of options doesn’t make for a good learning experience for teachers either.
Less is more, right?
We’re quickly approaching that time. The end of summer draws closer and the excitement of another school year begins. Many teachers enjoyed some relaxation as certainly did our students. Many of those same teachers also invested a lot of time and energy to learning about new ideas and technologies; whether that be attending a conference, edcamp, adding new books to their professional libraries or taking a grad class. The opportunities are, and will continue to be, plentiful.
From my own experience, as well as something that can be quickly deduced by chatting with any educator interested in edtech, keeping up with it all is a never-ending challenge. We always have new tools, new devices, this movement, and that movement. To try to keep up with it all can feel like quite a daunting, yet incredibly satisfying task all at the same time.
Just like Uncle Ben told his nephew Peter, “With great power comes great responsibility.”. We now have the power to keep ourselves at the forefront of educational technology. We can connect and learn on Twitter, through reading blogs, attending face to face events, taking classes, or by just doing a quick search on YouTube. Even if we don’t have every device available or are using every tool that’s available, it’s important for teachers, as well as school/district leaders, to keep our eyes on the horizon for what’s possible. The horizon always looks far away, but it should represent a place where we want to go professionally and be a place we want to take our students to in their learning.
Excellence is the gradual result of always striving to do better. Pat Riley