Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Staying Educationally Relevant in Instructional Technology

Five years ago ISTE posted Technology Coach standards on their website with the following description "Technology coaches help bridge the gap from where we are to where we need to be. The ISTE Standards·C describe the skills and knowledge they need to support their peers in becoming digital age educators" (http://www.iste.org/standards/standards/standards-for-coaches). In the past few days I have been thinking about the future of educational technology at my school and what that support should look like. I have in my mind what I think would look best but I realize I'm often too close to the forest to see the trees. 

It has always been my goal for technology integration to look seamless in a classroom. And to be honest, it has taken a while for me to see that happen. There is a natural learning curve with integration and overcoming newness. I think back to my first year and see so much leading with the technology. I feel like I've grown tremendously through the process of supporting my peers in becoming digital age educators. 

This may sound completely wacky but one of the ways I became a better technology coach was by some soul searching of seeing myself as an innovation coach instead of tech coach. I realized it was my job to help teachers integrate technology but I also feel like it is my job to find the best tool at hand to meet the need, to teach the skill, to support the learning. Sometimes...that is modeling clay or a poster board, or a robot. More often than not, it may be all of the above depending on the student. 

Just like I've learned that innovation doesn't have to be technology, I've learned that technology doesn't have to look cookie cutter- nor should it. Meeting administrators, teachers, and students at their point of need and moving them forward in their technology knowledge is the goal. Like anything in life, everyone won't land in the same place each time. The goal is to keep on moving forward even when it's two steps back and one step forward.

I'm at a place where I look at what has been deemed the needed standards for technology coaching 5 years ago and still see gaps. It is my desire for technology not to be seen as a stand alone entity working in a silo room somewhere on campus. But this becomes a paradigm shift from what has been the norm for so many years. Technologists speaking into pedagogy seems like heresy to some. 

Am I to follow and be held to the ISTE coaching guidelines of best practice that include:

  1. Visionary leadership
  2. Teaching, learning, and assessments
  3. Digital age learning environments
  4. Professional development and program evaluation
  5. Digital Citizenshp
  6. Content knowledge and professional growth
If so, there has to be some changes. We are at a crossroads in education in the way we, as a society, view what technology integration and philosophy should look like (and should it look differently in different schools? Grade levels? Classrooms?)  More precisely we are at a crossroads as to who does what, supports what, controls what, and is seen as an expert at what? Instructional technologist must be valued, respected and admitted into the inner decisions of curriculum in order to not always feel like their job is an "us against them" mentality and putting out the largest fires everyday. 


  1. Thank you for your thoughtful post! I feel exactly the same as you. I have been an Tech Coach for 6 years now and am now at a new school. In this new school, I am not included in the "inner decisions" just yet. The school is new to the position and teachers, administrators and pretty much everyone else is trying to figure out what to do with me. :-) .

    Thanks again.

    1. Thanks Shannon! Changing culture is hard, proving your value is hard, feeling like it isn't personal is hard too! Hoping you feel more and more connected and a part!