Friday, July 22, 2016

Training Strategies for Tech Coaches

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.

Piskurich, G. (2015). Rapid instructional design: Learning ID fast and right. New Jersey: Wiley.


  1. Design Thinking is a concept that I have never heard of. Thanks so much for sharing it with us Sara. I will definitely be researching and looking more into this active learning process. As anyone in education can attest, time is the one thing that we all work against. It was interesting to read in your post how this design thinking allowed you to more effectively and efficiently present your PD training which resulted in a more productive training experience for your trainees. This design I believe is just what Piskurich is hinting to in his book when he mentions that we should leave out what is interesting during our training presentation and give the trainee the just gist or important information that they need to perform or master their tasks. At first this sounded really boring to me as I thought. “well then the trainer is going to convey a bunch of facts to me that I will have to regurgitate back to them.” Boring as ever. However, by adding the concept of blended and active learning experiences, Piskurich revealed information that I as a teacher use quite often in my classroom. Through these strategies, learners are engaged in the learning process through real world experiences and this makes it more interesting to them. Thus, they begin to see value in the lesson. Coupled with problem solving and hands on learning experiences, these strategies work inside my classroom. This summer, I had to attend AMSTI training sessions. The first day was horrific as the trainer laid the foundation for teaching science using a PowerPoint slideshow which seemed to contain a million slides and tons of information. Information overload and disconnect is what I felt throughout the whole first day. However, over the next several days, she allowed us to perform some of the experiments that we would be getting in our kits for our students. This made the training more engaging and the days went by faster. Moreover, it cemented the concepts that we would teaching to our students into our schema. Thus, we developed new knowledge and skills for presenting science lessons in our classrooms. Hand on and problem based learning experiences, even for adults, can add so much to training sessions.

    Piskurich, G. (2015). Rapid instructional design: Learning ID fast and right. New Jersey: Wiley.

  2. Sara it seems like you do a great job meeting the needs of your teachers and technology. I think when it comes to the design process your use of surveys will be so beneficial. You can basically design your entire meeting based on the data you collected at the beginning. That will allow you to focus on the main interests and needs of your participants. I also enjoyed reading about the design thinking tool. As an elementary teacher, I couldn't help but relate it to my kids doing project based learning. It is a great way to incorporate self-discovery in something. Piskurich discussed different training activities and it made me think about the trainee-centered activities and how important it is for them to have a part in the process and how it will relate to what they are expected to know.

  3. Sara,
    I agree that is essential to examine the data when developing instructional programs and trainings. Often times, my district would advertise Google trainings for expert users; however, when going through the training, it always seemed as if they were geared towards novices. Consequently, I wasted an entire training on information that I already knew. Piskurich (2015) argued for the use of needs assessments to determine what the participants know. I think this aligns with your data analysis, insomuch as you have already identified the strengths and weaknesses of the participants.

    Piskurich, G. M. (2015). Rapid instructional design: Learning ID fast and right. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.