During my three years as a tech coach I have been able to incorporate many strategies to engage learners. One tool, beginning of the year surveys, I have used for years. The other tool which fosters creative thinking, Design Thinking, I have experienced as a learner and hope to incorporate more into my job as a tech coach this year.
Each year brings about change and many times I am working with a brand new faculty. It is my job to quickly get to know my learners in order to meet their needs throughout the school year. According to Piskurich (2015) my first task is “to figure out generally who your audience is and then to gather all the information you think you may need about them” (p. 92).
One way I do that is to determine teachers’ prior knowledge of technology integration. At the beginning of the 2016-17 year, I sent out a Google Form which had each teacher from my three different schools rate themselves on their comfort level with certain products, their knowledge level with the ISTE Standards, and an open-ended response so each teacher can let me know about certain goals they have for themselves. I chose these items because we had been in our second year of Google Apps for Education (GAFE) implementation, and I had predicted most teachers felt comfortable with the suite of products and were ready for deeper integration in their classroom. This would also allow me to identify teachers who might still feel uncomfortable, and I could work with them one-on-one to help them gain confidence. Our elementary tech team had identified a main goal for the year was to help teachers become familiar with the SAMR model and ISTE Standards for Students. The survey question was put on the survey to identify knowledge level for each teacher. I had predicted this would be low, and I would use the data to compare knowledge growth at the end of the year after we discussed in monthly team meetings.
I could also use the information teachers typed in for their individual goals, to create small Professional Learning Communities (PLC) and allowed me to communicate information which might be interesting to them throughout the school year. Using Google Forms allowed me to analyze the data as a whole with all three schools. It also gave me the flexibility to separate the data by school. I referred to this data for the entire year as I was conducting professional development sessions which allowed me to differentiate all of my trainings to just what the teachers needed. This ultimately allowed me to be as efficient as possible with the limited time I was given. Piskurich (2015) reiterates this concept when he says “you want your trainees to learn everything they require to do their jobs, but you don’t want them to waste their time learning things they don’t have to know (p. 63)”.The second strategy, Design Thinking, is fairly new in the education world. The video below shows a quick synopsis of the process.
Our technology coordinator, Kelli Lane, experienced Design Thinking first hand at Google and brought it back to us this past fall to our small group of tech coaches. The process begins with posing a problem. In this case, Kelli asked us to design a highly effective professional development model. We broke into small groups after Kelli set up the scenario of developing a new PD model. We then brainstormed many different solutions. When we came back together as a large group we decided on one idea, badging for professional development, and then designed a prototype of the badges. We will be testing the idea this school year and will continue the process as we refine the design.The process was highly engaging and effective. I believe we all felt valued because we were creating a solution to a problem. I believe this process will be highly effective with the teachers I work with for the same reasons. It is also a strategy teachers can take back and use in their own classrooms.
Stanford Graduate School of Business. "Design Thinking in Executive Education”. YouTube. N.p., 2016. Web. 22 July 2016. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8XxlBoX14UI
Piskurich, G. (2015). Rapid instructional design: Learning ID fast and right. New Jersey: Wiley.