Dublin Unified has 10 Full time release academic coaches that are specialists in subject areas. We also have a fair number of edtech coaches that are full-time teachers paid a stipend to support teachers at their sites with technology integration.
The needs of these two groups vary. academic coaches are expected to be both subject matter experts and savvy with technology so that any lesson can be infused with some form of integration. Building the capacity of edtech coaches and academic coaches can be met with the same approach: ask them what they need and support them with ongoing targeted professional development. Professionals that are asked to do something beyond educate children, moving into the area of educating adults, are not often given the tools necessary to be successful in schools. There is an assumption that great teachers make great coaches. I have not always found that to be true.
At the beginning of the 2015-2016 school year, I surveyed all coaches around their individual professional development needs. There were very different needs. Academic coaches wanted to learn iPads for modelling instruction and video for filming & sharing with teachers. The edtech coaches wanted to learn about Google Classroom, tips and tricks with browser functionality, and best practices for their own toolkits. So began a year long series of professional development delivered sometimes in person and sometimes via Google Hangouts. The monthly focused meetings that occurred with both groups often included a professional development component with homework and sharing with one another what they had discovered and learned and how they would infuse it into their own practice.
Now at the end of the 2015-2016 school year during final meeting with both groups, I asked they reflect on their year’s worth of focused meetings with a professional development element. The discoveries that were made and shared with one another drove much of what we will attempt to achieve as a group in 2016-2017.
Most of the coaches shared that they had grown significantly with technology integration in their own daily work, as well as the professional development that they deliver to teachers at school sites. Google Classroom was a big win for our school district the school year as was the full integration of Google Drive and Google Apps for Education to meet the needs of our student body. We focused a lot this year on the use of Google Hangouts as a venue for meetings, staff development, and classroom instructional practice.
As we move into 2016-2017, I believe our coaches will be far better equipped to utilize the suite of tools at their fingertips in integrating technology more thoroughly in classrooms across all school sites. The focal point of our work in 2016-2017 will be furthering our exploration of Google Classroom related to instruction, the use of video for students and staff for their own learning, and blended learning models.
My goal as the CTO is to keep the rhythm of the work that has been outlined in the Learning & Technology Plan at the focal point of technology integration with teachers and staff. In 2014-2015, we kept our professional development goals related to technology integration to three tools: Google, blended learning, and online videos on demand.The same areas will be the focus of the 2016-2017 school year keeping it simple and keeping it consistent with options to dive deep into only a few tools to further everybody’s exposure and comfort level.