You might know him as Big Tech Coach, but Keith George is doing awesome things to support and promote the importance of Instructional Technology Facilitators and Coaches across the United States. We met after Keith took my Coaching Digital Learning Massive Open Online Course for Educators and we have been talking ever since. Recently I was featured in one of his podcasts talking about how Coaches need to be recognized for their expertise, valued for their insights and become a partner with educators in K-12 schools, and not just the tech-savvy person who get get the internet back up and running when it goes down, or fix that smart board that has been acting up again.
These educators are superheroes and kudos to Big Tech Coach for reaching the masses. Check out my podcast with Keith (Episode 1, "It's Alive"), and all the podcasts of Today's Tech Coach.
It was an honor to be a part of his first podcast and I hope to do it again!
Big Tech Coach Blog
Keith George Personal Website
My work with the SAMR model and my graphics and video are getting a lot of attention of late, so much so I decided to share with the EdTech Coaches Network on their monthly synchronous Twitter Chats #ETCoaches.
The Educational Technology Coaches Network promotes the development and collaboration of educational technology coaches who support the professional growth of educators as they use technology to enhance learning.
What made it extra special was that it was my birthday! And the outpouring of love and well wishes from my digital coaching community was overwhelming and awesome. Thank you so much folks, for all the learning and knowledge I gain from you, but that you are so dedicated to your craft and supporting learning and teaching for the betterment of our kids!
Check out the Storify of our conversation.
So, today something pretty cool happened! Carl Hooker, and educator and coach I admire and have been following for sometime, contacted me today. He came across my work on the SAMR model, and I reference him in that work, and asked me if I would not mind being part of his upcoming book, Mobile Learning Mindsets, the fourth and fifth editions are out the end of June, 2016.
Sweet! Thank you Carl and please note that I have now on public record that you have not only promised me a copy of the book, but, and even better, I actually get to meet you - an honor I have not yet had. See you at the ISTE Conference, Carl!
Erase the Line and Swim Laps!
For years now I have been sharing the TPACK and SAMR models as foundational frameworks for educators and leaders alike to incorporate as a cornerstone of technology supported curriculum and instruction for school and district’s transition to a digital culture of learning and teaching. While those I coached immediately connected to TPACK, they were reluctant and hesitant with SAMR – seemingly overwhelmed and anxious with the prospects the model had to offer. Why was this significant model, one receiving so much acclaim in the academic arena, getting such a lukewarm reception with educators in the field? Through candid conversation, modeling, and feedback, I was able to pinpoint the problem – and it was incredibly easy to fix.
Dr. Ruben Puentedura developed the SAMR model as a way for educators to reflect on how they are incorporating technology into their instructional practice: Is it an act of Substitution? Augmentation? Modification? Or Redefinition? This model is often depicted as steps, a ladder, or a swimming pool, suggesting that educators climb or swim towards the Modification and Redefinition categories. There is a line separating Substitution and Augmentation from this Modification/ Redefinition goal – a line dividing educational “Enhancement” from educational “Transformation”. The message given is that educators must “teach above the line” with a focus on Modification and Redefinition. This, however, is where a problem arises.
To understand the dilemma we must look at another popular model – Bloom’s Taxonomy.
Most educators are familiar with Bloom’s Taxonomy, a way of promoting higher forms of thinking in education. I suggest that, just as educators work across Bloom’s levels (Remember, Understand, Apply, Analyze, Evaluate and Create), that the levels of the SAMR model must also be flexible and align to what students are doing in the classroom. Only teaching at the level of Evaluate and Create is impossible and ineffective, just as only integrating technology at the Modification and Redefinition levels are unrealistic. Thus the SAMR model, in its current form, is not sustainable.
If the SAMR model was a swimming pool, and we all jumped in the deep end or “swam” above the “line,” we would exhaust ourselves and sink – but, if we swim laps, imagine the possibilities. Working across the SAMR model will support student-centered learning just as educators teach across Bloom’s Taxonomy to support student’s skills and abilities. Then imagine too the myriad of educators swimming in these technology waters: some will be doing cannonballs in the deep end (Modification, Redefinition), while some would rather stay in the shallow end (Substitution and Augmentation), while even more may need special floatation supports represented by professional development, coaching support, and professional learning networks, etc. Yet, even in these digital waters, educators cannot tread water and sustain teaching “above the [SAMR] line” as popularly suggested. Thus, I designed this new interpretation of the SAMR Swimming Pool inspired by the work of Carl Hooker.
Having shared this perspective with dozens of schools and administrations, this modified version is not only making sense, but is a means of taking successful steps towards a digital culture in schools and districts – especially when there is a struggle to get educators to embrace teaching with technology. The goal now is not to “teach above the line”, but to reflect and maintain a flow of student-centered, digitally supported instruction in each of the SAMR categories as appropriate to the context of the learning and teaching environment. One hundred percent of my experiences sharing this new model has swayed reluctant educators and given them a perspective on teaching with technology that they feel they can attain while growing toward the higher levels of the SAMR model. Rather than climb ladders or stairs, what we really need to do is swim laps.
SAMR Swimming Pool Infographic
SAMR Swimming Pool ThingLink
SAMR Swimming Pool Animation
We can all agree that while a growing number of schools and districts across North Carolina are making the transition to technology-enabled learning, technology is not the driving force behind these initiatives; teaching and learning always need to be at the forefront. On October 28th & 29th, we hosted over 130 enthusiastic Instructional technology facilitators, media coordinators, instructional specialists, technology-driven educators and mentoring staff who have taken the lead in implementing digital transitions in their schools and districts, leading their colleagues towards the future. In honoring this effort and their work, we went Back to the Future for this year’s event and when we do Professional Learning, we don't just engage, we have a blast!!
It is an honor and so much fun to be in charge of this annual event at the Friday Institute. The Coaching Digital Learning Institute (formerly the Technology Leader’s Institute) offered by the Professional Learning and Leading Collaborative at NC State University's Friday Institute for Educational Innovation, just wrapped up it’s 7th year, (My fourth year leading this event).
This one of a kind professional learning event is designed to support K-12 educators’ digital transition needs in districts supported by the Golden Leaf Foundation, our partner for this institute. It is a fun-filled two days of learning, playing, and digging deep into what it means to coach others through a digital transition.
There may not be flying cars and hover-boards in 2015, but there truly is so much to offer our students when it comes to digital learning and teaching. Twenty-eight guest educators and instructional coaches from across North Carolina, along with Friday Institute and NC State University staff, facilitated 30 workshops, a mini-EdCamp, a MakerSpace inspired playground experience, a Goose Chase, Breakout EDU challenges, a participant driven tool-slam, and an ignite talk by Spring Lake Middle School Principal and 2014 NASSP’s National Digital Principal Award recipient, Derek McCoy. Needless to say it was a packed two days filled with exploration, taking risk with intention, failing forward, building professional networks, and sharing best practices and strategies to support student-centered learning and empowering educators at all levels.
As the dust settles on what was the best Coaching Digital Learning Institute (CDLi) event we ever have had, we are already preparing for next year. The feedback and overwhelming response tells us we are doing something right, and we cannot wait to continue to support the growth and capacity of our educators in North Carolina.
This year’s institute was created with the amazing support of Emmy Coleman, Lisa Hervey, Alex Kaulfuss, Brittany Miller, and the amazing Friday Institute Coordinators – Thank you, Team!
Interested in more about this year’s CDLi, 2015? Check out our website.
The instructional technology coach strives to engage and support digital transitions in their school and district, to empower educators to take ownership of their technology and align its use to curriculum and instruction… but, though we try, at times all we as coaches seem to do is become the help desk for tech support. Why is that?
We know we must be available for those “tech emergencies”… those moments where we need to swoop in and save the day. Yet, we suffer the perception of our colleagues that this tech-support role is one we play on a daily basis – oh, but there is so much more! What does it take to effectively guide educators to use instructional technology to directly support and enhance student learning and content mastery? How can you share with others how your role impacts highly effective digital age learning and teaching? What strategies can be put in place to take your coaching to the next level?
It is up to the instructional technology coach to champion the school culture necessary for successful digital transitions. They are the guide and the expert, but more importantly, coaches must be the fount of trust. Building relationships with those you work with is the key, fostered naturally as you set clear and realistic expectations while sharing your competence in technology integration, lesson design, and becoming the agent to help build capacity – not dependents. Even something as simple as keeping your office door open and posting office hours for your colleagues can promote open communication and collaboration with your colleagues. It is also important that coaches not be part of the evaluative processes – to do so would blur the lines of the open and supportive relationships you seek to create.
Consider, too, those that are in your own support group. Foster your Personal Learning Network (PLN) with educators both locally and globally to build your own capacity, and create a dedicated team to support your work on the ground. Key members of your team should include individuals from your administration, educators, students, parents and community members. Engaging these stakeholders in the development of your school/districts’ digital initiative program, as well as the implementation will not only promote buy-in, but can also be aligned to existing initiatives going on at the district and school level. Work hand in hand – this is not a boutique initiative, after all – the more people you have invested, the more successful you will be.
Relevance and Rigor
Authentic and meaningful content and coaching is going to support building those strong relationships. If professional development and resources are not aligned to 21st Century Skills and the 4Cs, targeting real world applications, student ability and standards – what value is an educator going to see in giving up their time to learn? Model, use questioning strategies, create open ended questions and consider giving educators a chance in telling you what they want to learn. Voice and choice can be a powerful combination to ensure not only that you are meeting educators where they are, but that you are challenging them to push out of their comfort zones and removing the barriers that come with preconceived notions of your role or the digital initiative at large.
The best thing you can do as a coach is to listen. How do you capture feedback from your colleagues – and not just at the beginnings and ends of a given school year, but throughout? Survey often. Ask questions about current learning and teaching practices to have and begin crucial conversations with educators. Then, of course, put their feedback into action whether it be in the form of topics to cover in professional development, or one-on-one meetings with resources. This kind of active listening followed by deep reflection proves that you hear your colleagues and you value them: thus tying back into building those essential relationships and providing opportunities for innovation in a risk-free environment.
As coaches we know that digital initiatives transform professional learning through pedagogical shifts to meet the needs of all learners, and foster creativity and innovation. Creating this habit of mind around building strong connections, challenging your colleagues and assessing your progress regularly will define the digital culture you want to see in your school/district. And don’t forget to pull together your collaborative groups, partnerships and teams, both in your school/district and virtually through your PLN. We need to break beyond just playing the role of technology “fixer” and start showing our colleagues just how much we have to offer.
Jaclyn coaches and assists K-12 educators, ITFs, and Administrators to adapt, not adopt – fostering digital initiatives to transform professional learning through changes in pedagogical shifts and meeting the needs of all learners to champion creativity and innovation. @jaclynbstevens