At St. Philip’s I’ve gotten the most results integrating technology when I’ve modeled classroom management strategies using a particular tool for a teacher. This strategy allows teachers to visualize instruction in ways they were not exposed to in the past, identify opportunities they may not have thought possible, reflect in the moment more deeply than they would if they were responsible for the class, and sets clear procedure expectations for the students which makes behavior management a bit easier for the first time the teacher leads a similar activity.
The way Technology Coach modeling works at St. Philip’s I first meet with the teacher to align on both short and long-term objectives for a particular tool. I also learn their typical classroom expectations, share my recommendations for any new expectations relating to the technology and ask for any input. I then lead a lesson modeling a technique or use of technology. I debrief with the teacher immediately afterwards (often while students are doing in-class work). Based on that conversation I gauge the teacher’s comfort level recreating the technique. Depending on their level of understanding and confidence I might model the activity again, meet for further coaching and support that day, or the teacher may be ready to lead a lesson next period or the next day. Regardless of the path we take, within a week the teacher replicates the technique while I’m in the room. I record my feedback and send it in a written email. We meet in person to discuss and set next steps. The teachers will often refer to my written notes to prepare the next time they launch a similar activity.
I’ve modeled lessons ranging from preschoolers using a SMART table as part of a set of learning stations, to preparing fourth graders to participate in a student-led videoconference, to using a student response system with seventh graders that maximizes their in-class time while the technology is set-up.
The biggest benefit of modeling for teachers has been increasing their confidence to use technology in the classroom. Just recently a new sixth grade teacher that was extremely hesitant to use technology as she mastered other teaching skills met with me to problem solve how she could meet her goal of mastering one in-class technology this year. I suggested a simple activity using laptops, realizing she needed the confidence to see her students performing productively with the added distraction of a laptop cart. Within three days she and I were drafting a curriculum to roll-out a flipped classroom model at least 3 days a week in her class. She has requested to have a cart permanently stationed in her room and is now sending me emails informing me not only of the benefits, but also problems she encountered and how she solved them herself.
There are two steps I would take next year to make this even more successful. I would prioritize modeling for new teachers closer to the beginning of the school year. This year I tried to give them time to get comfortable in their classes before stepping in. I believe if I had started sooner, even with a simple activity, they would have developed less anxiety about technology projects. As I get to know the students better I find I’m better at anticipating and planning around potential roadblocks. I would start asking the teachers to brainstorm likely behaviors of particular students with me in advance to be better set-up for success.
My favorite aspect of this strategy is its transparency. Through our conversations and written communications my teachers clearly understand my approach. My most outstanding technology teachers are now replicating the way I model and taking ownership of their favorite tools to work with teachers in the same way I do.
This is something any school can do. Here's what I would suggest:
- Use this strategy with teachers who are receptive to integrating technology but delay prioritizing it or teachers who have a lot of concerns about integrating technology
- Teachers who are early adapters of technology may find modeling slightly stifling to their creativity. I will model for them only when they are encountering a specific roadblock. Otherwise I concentrate my energies brainstorming with these teachers and encouraging them to model for others
- Timeliness is critical to this strategy. Clear your schedule for the week so that you have enough time to check-in with the teacher you’re working with at least 30 minutes a day, or even an entire class period
- Set your teachers up for success by providing time for them to debrief their experiences and problem solve while the activity is still fresh in their minds. This may mean taking on a lunch duty or other commitment so that they can have an extra prep period
Some things to consider in advance:
- Are you comfortable giving clear, specific feedback to other teachers? If not, would role playing or learning specific feedback models make you more comfortable?
- There are many choices you can make when thinking about what to model. What aspects of a technology you are using do you think would be most impactful if you showed a teacher instead of simply describing it?
Questions about how to make this work at your school? Please ask me here via the community or follow the link to our discussion below.
Is this a strategy you already use or might use? Let's brainstorm together: Finding time to meet with a teacher or teachers multiple times in one week is a key factor to success in this model. How could you creatively tweak schedules to make that happen? Let us know here!