Supporting 350 K-5 teachers across seven buildings is very challenging in my role as an Instructional Technology Integration Specialist. Especially when teachers have such limited time and varied comfort levels with technology. Often teachers will see technology as “one more thing” being added to their plates. As an edtech coach, I encourage and support teachers to see educational technology as a digital co-teacher to swap with things on their plate – or better yet – take things off their plate. It can be a struggle to get teachers to embrace technology. I try to create a soft, safe place for them to land and offer a HUG to get them to embrace edtech coaching. My advice for other edtech coaches trying to get their teachers to embrace technology, is to offer a H.U.G. – highlight, understand, & guide them through what their edtech coach can do for them.
Highlight what you have to offer.
I try to model how leveraging technology can amplify and enhance the curriculum and in-person learning. I provide templates & classroom-ready materials to open the doors. Since I don’t know all of the curriculums for all grade-levels, I will create seasonal templates that makes it easy for the teachers to integrate their materials. For the teachers that are not comfortable with the templates, I ask them to share the content with me, and I complete that template with them. I offer different levels of support based on what they’re comfortable with. I can create it for them and then teach it to their class for them. Then once they are familiar, they tend to me more likely to try it on their own the next time.
Understand what teachers need. Build relationships.
Find one person you have a personal connection with, listen to what they need, not what you want to teach them. Work the edtech around their lessons, classroom needs, and curriculum, not the other way around. Once you work with that one teacher, share what you’ve created with the other teachers on the grade level. That ripple effect will open doors when they see you’ve created to support them. Especially when teachers see that it’s already been created for them and it’s not more work.
Guide them through the process of implementing edtech in their classrooms.
This is where the power of video can be instrumental in supporting teachers. We see the power of video in our classrooms, this applies to teachers too. I record step by step directions to go along with the print directions. I edit the videos to zoom into what they need to focus on, add text to direct them through the process, and eliminate other distractors on the screen to help them focus. This makes me accessible even when I’m not. Teachers can get the support they need on their timeline. Modeling through video increases understanding, makes the task less intimidating, and allows me to reach more teachers. The other advantage to the video, is that the teachers always have it accessible to refer back to when I may not be available. Information is available when the teachers are ready for it and when it’s convenient for them.
Offering this gently, H.U.G. and utilizing videos to guide teachers through technology integration has really helped teachers. For most they appreciate having the visual aides and step-by-step directions to follow along. The ability to pause and rewind the video when they are stuck is invaluable. If it was a large group instruction, if they’re confused they’ll be reluctant or unable to ask questions and back track. Video resources enable teachers to work at their own pace and comfort level.
Other edtech coaches could create a website, shared folder, or Google Classroom to post their resources to expose teachers to what options are available and have access to them when they’re ready. Sharing successful edtech support sessions via email, faculty meetings, newsletter or social media is also a great way to plant seeds and inspire teachers to embrace edtech coaching.
Leveraging educational technology to amplify in-person learning is only as powerful as the teacher’s ability to implement it. Providing video resources to teachers casts a wide net to support all teachers regardless of ability or timeline. By giving teachers support and guidance they will be more likely to embrace edtech coaching and increase educational technology integration.