Saturday, July 12, 2014

The Hardest Thing About Being a Technology Coach For Me

I don't have a classroom. Students don't come to me for instruction. I co-teach with in-classroom teachers on subjects that they want to infuse with technology. Most of the time I have great leeway in helping those teachers decide what type of technology they want to use and what apps should be taught or offered for certain projects. I appreciate the fact that my co-teachers allow me to try new things with their students, but I miss having time with my students (especially the one on one bonding it allowed) and being able to do things on my own. I realize that the structure we are in now is best for the place we are now, at our school. My co-teachers feel they can call on me to guide and support them as they venture into using technology more regularly. This can only be a positive in terms of using more technology for instructional purposes across the board (and yes, I see more technology usage in the classroom as a positive because it leads to individualized instruction); but I miss being able to have my "own" agenda. Now don't take that wrong, I am not trying to deviate from curriculum or teach inappropriate or subversive technology. I miss opportunities to try out new things I've heard about to see if they are truly as good as people are talking about. I miss my "guinea pig" moments.

In the past, when I was part of the related arts rotation, students came to me once a week for instruction. It wasn't the ideal way for technology instruction but the consistency allowed me to do things that I just can't do as a technology coach anymore. I miss that. Now, every single time I try something new in the classroom with a teacher it has the potential for "realness" to be all up in the lesson. Playing around with an app as a teacher and teaching an app to 24 students is very different and can have remarkably different outcomes. Now before you shake your head and say "Psssh, she teaches apps." Yes, I do. I try to teach new apps to students all the time, not because I feel like every project should just be done one way, but as an elementary technology coach I see part of my job as filling their technology tool belt with different options for later on in life. That being said, we do a lot of app-smashing projects and as the year floats by students are given options on how they want to do a project. It doesn't matter what means the end results are made with because they are graded by a rubric. So don't judge us technology coaches so harshly for teaching apps or websites. Somebody has to do it!

This year I am trying to find a solution for missing out on that exploratory instructional time. Do I start an elementary tech club after school? Do I find some teachers that might be willing for me to take time to just try things occasionally? Do I use a teacher's aide to play with an app that I am considering and just watch to see what questions they might have? Do I just go for it and see what kind of realness happens?

Regardless of the answers to the above questions, I love the fact that part of my job is to always be looking for new things. It fills a basic part of who I am. I never get bored with my job because it is always evolving and changing. It can sometimes be overwhelming because I also can never just pull out an old lesson plan, but for now, that's just fine. The hardest part is less continuity with the students, both professionally and personally, that's now a void that I struggle with filling. Teaching faces occasionally verses teaching names and personalities weekly is a big adjustment for me.