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Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to review Dr. Dawn Wilson’s (@doctordkwilson) upcoming collaboration with Dr. Katie Alaniz, Naturalizing Digital Immigrants. Here are some of my reflections on this soon to be published guidebook. The aim of the book is to tap into the power of collegial coaching for technology integration:

This guidebook details the process of collegial coaching for technology integration within educational environments and is intended for use within a variety of settings, from primary classrooms through high schools to graduate educational leadership and instructional technology courses and beyond.
What caught my attention about this concept of “collegial coaching” and its use in technology. Coaching has made quite a splash in certain circles, but I was personally dismayed at the lack of coaching-technology connections. Most coaching efforts are focused on instruction that is totally devoid of technology use. Again, educational technologists are left out the loop, forced to blend technology into initiatives that they are rank beginners in. It’s probably the same kind of challenge that teachers who only “know pedagogy” face when trying to blend technology. It can be a lonely journey and coaching and technology must go together.
My Take-Aways:
  1. A targeted intervention is needed to help veteran teachers feel confident enough to integrate technology into their instruction…collegial coaching from technology-savvy colleagues represents an effective strategy.
  2. The book highlights “effective coaching for technology integration.” This assertion, if true, will be a welcome boon to instructional technologists who are finding themselves as necessary as librarians in a ubiquitous technology environment where few recognize their value.
  3. Collegial coaching provides a professional helping relationship and process in which a coach with expertise and experience aids the learning and acquisition of new skills by a colleague.”
    1. Technological innovations often decrease costs while expanding the productivity of teachers and learners…ongoing, targeted, differentiated professional development is required for all teachers.
    2. Teachers must learn to work and plan collaboratively using productivity technology tools in order to accomplish all of these planning, teaching and assessment requirements.
    3. “Teachers work largely in isolation, so innovation doesn’t spread from classroom to classroom” (Salsito (2013) as cited by Les Foltos, Peer Coaching: Unlocking the Power of Collaboration (2013).
    4. Conversations that acknowledge the culture and context of the school while encouraging conversations about students, teaching and learning, vision, and progress among teachers, administrators and parents…“emancipate teachers from their islands of remoteness.
    5. Collegial coaching differs from other coaching models primarily in that it takes place between colleagues or peers (not someone with administrative and accountability authority).
    6. Collegial coaching might be defined as a professional relationship between a “coach” who has experience in the role or concepts being learned by a colleague who essentially “work together for a specific, predetermined purpose in order that professional performance can be improved as well as validated.”
    7. 90% of teachers will transfer a new skill into their practice with theory, demonstration, and practice within the training, feedback, and coaching.
    8. Coaching directly addresses a number of typical barriers to technology incorporation within classroom settings:
      1. Elementary teachers who began assimilating technology the aid of the a coach more readily overcame barriers to integration such as lack of time, technical issues and integration of technology into a real-life classroom setting.
      2. Educators are more likely to incorporate technology into their instruction when they have access to coaching and mentoring.
      3. Collegial coaching bridged the divide for teachers.
      4. Learning is accomplished in partnerships, as colleagues collaborate in concert with one another, both through one-on-one formats and in small group settings.
      5. In a survey of 1000 teachers, those who utilized technology to facilitate teaching and learning realized greater benefits to student achievement, motivation, and time on task than those who spent less time incorporating technological tools.
      6. “Coaching is becoming popular, in part, because many educational leaders recognize the old form of professional development, built around traditional in-service sessions for teachers, simply doesn’t affect student achievement” (Knight, 2006).
    9. Educator professional development experiences are largely one-size fits all and rarely customized to their individual instructional needs.
    10. Coaching programs invite educators to collaborate with fellow colleagues at their exact points of need.
    11. “Successful coaches do not take on the role of the expert, but rather than answering questions, respond with questions that get your peer to think more deeply about the issues.”
    12. A lack of conclusive evidence regarding the ways in which educators learn novel teaching strategies and the means by which schools effectively circulate such techniques propagate the chasm between professional development experiences and meaningful transformation.
    13. The principle of social learning recognizes that individuals learn vicariously from one another by witnessing others’ actions and perceiving associated corollaries…collegial coaching also emphasizes the vital function of reciprocal learning.
    14. Coaching is described as “the process where teams of teachers regularly observe one another and provide support, companionship, feedback, and assistance” (Valencia and Killion (1988)).
    15. Teachers who experience collegial coaching from a peer with technology expertise, demonstrate a nearly 90% implementation rate…they…
      1. practice the novel techniques with greater frequency and acquire additional skills
      2. incorporate innovative strategies more aptly
      3. apply new-found techniques repeatedly over time
      4. discuss the reasoning behind their teaching strategies with students in order to assist their learners in understanding the associated purposes for implementation and expected classroom behaviors.
    16. Coaching relationships may exist between two equivalent partners but the coach has superior technological expertise.
    17. The coaching process must “ultimately serve to build communities of teachers who continually engage in the study of their craft” (Showers, 1985).
  4. Technology Integration Coaching
  5. Research
      1. 75% of teachers surveyed believe the Internet and other technologies place additional demands on their professional practice.
      2. Teachers feel such resources broaden the scope of content and skill areas in which they must become/remain proficient.
      3. 41% of teachers surveyed perceive that such technological advances required more work from them in order to be an effective educator.
      4. 64% of teachers below 35 years of age view themselves as very confident in using digital technologies
      5. 44% of those 55 or older maintain the same confidence levels regarding technology usage.
    1. Extrinsic barriers (first order)
      1. lack of resources
      2. adequate training
      3. technical support
      4. time
    2. Intrinsic barriers (second order)
      1. teachers’ beliefs
      2. visions of technology integration
      3. levels of confidence
    3. In today’s digital age, simply being capable of utilizing technology is no longer enough. Teachers of the 21st Century must proficiently guide their students in employing technology to investigate, discover, and demonstrate understanding.
    4. “People in organizations unknowingly cry out for meaningful conversations that are positive, fruitful, and constructive. The significance of meaningful conversations is especially critical in schools where administrators and teachers are either working in isolation or at cross-purposes.”
    5. ISTE (2007) says that “students should be able able to ‘use critical thinking skills to plan and conduct research, manage projects, solve problems, and make informed decisions using appropriate digital tools and resources.’”
    6. Determining candidates for coaching: Does this person approach his or her professional life in a way that values opportunities such as research-based mentoring? School leaders should seek out individuals who confidence is so authentic that they are comfortable making mistakes and anxious to learn from them.
  6. Basics of Coaching
    1. A cyclical structure in which coaches and coached teachers naturally progress between phases, only to commence the process again with new candidates.
    2. Keystones of Collegial Coaching process
      1. Adults are internally motivated and self-directed
      2. Adults bring life experience and knowledge to learning experiences
      3. Adults are goal oriented
      4. Adults are relevancy oriented
      5. Adults are practical
      6. Adult learners like to be respected.
    3. Adults—when being coached for technology integration—will obviously be asked to learn something new that they have long avoided as being impractical or too challenging.
    4. The integration of problem-based learning is also embedded.
    5. Collegial Coaching Model for Technology Integration
      1. Establish the need.
        1. Is this a goal shared by only certain members of the administration and faculty or is this something that every school leader earnestly desires? Is the school community seemingly open to change and innovation, or are there those among the administration and faculty that unreservedly (and even loudly) oppose such transformation?
        2. When involved in collegial coaching for technology integration, once the teachers to be coached were identified, the coaches planned to individually meet with these teachers for an initial diagnostic interview. During the interviews, the coaches guided the teachers in exploring their fears, hesitations, insecurities, and overarching goals.
        3. One requirement for coaches was supporting each of their 3 coached teachers through the process of implementing at least 3 new tools.
      2. Create Partnerships.
        1. “We started with what they did in the past, and then talked about how we could tweak their already great lesson or unit to include technology to either deliver content or allow students to demonstrate their learning.”
        2. “Frame conversations with ‘We are learning together!’”
      3. Differentiated Technology Projects
        1. Coaches and coached teachers should consider questions such as:
          1. Can this project be completed within a reasonable amount of time?
          2. If not, can this project be divided into smaller, more manageable components?
          3. Once completed, can this project realistically be incorporated into the coached teacher’s professional activities?
        2. When beginning the coaching process with a teacher inexperienced in technology integration, coaches should first focus on goals related to personal productivity.
        3. As an initial integration piece, coaches should seek to focus upon a project that can be accomplished somewhat easily and within a relatively short amount of time. This will assist coached teachers in quickly realizing the benefits of technology integration, and it will most likely provide them with a boost of confidence and increased motivation to take on more challenging projects.
        4. Once coached teachers have achieved small successes, coaches can play an integral role in helping them transition from teacher-centered to student-centered technology use:
          1. “Content is king!”
          2. Focusing on content provides greater purpose and meaning behind the integration process.
          3. Utilize modeling whenever possible.
      4. Assess the Progress
        1. Coaches need to ask these essential questions:
          1. Am I teaching what I intended to teach?
          2. Is my coach achieving the goals and completing the projects upon which we agreed to focus?
          3. Is there a better way to teach this concept, thereby promoting higher achievement by students or more effective integration of technology?
      5. Reflect on the Integration
        1. Reflection “converts action that is merely appetitive, blind and impulsive into intelligent action” (Dewey, 1933).
        2. Questions to ponder:
          1. What parts of this experience went well?
          2. What did not happen as intended?
          3. What should be tried next?
          4. What changes need to be made to the situation?
        3. Questions regarding student learning:
          1. What did the students learn from this activity?
          2. Did they learn any more or less than they have in the past without technology integration?
          3. Was the best tool applied in this particular circumstance and setting?
          4. What should be adapted for next time?
          5. What was the best part about this integration piece?
          6. What was the most challenging element of this integration piece?
          7. How might this same tool/application be applied to another unit/lesson?
          8. Did the students demonstrate higher levels of thinking?
          9. Did the students achieve the levels of knowledge and comprehension required?
          10. Were there any changes in student motivation?
  7. Developing Quality Coaches
    1. The ideal coach needs to be well-informed and knowledgeable in pedagogy and best practices. He or she must be willing and able to learn about other content areas and disciplines, and he or she should enjoy researching and exploring new ideas.”
    2. “A coach should be an experienced, excellent classroom teacher because he or she must apply ideas, concepts, strategies, and resources to a real classroom in a practical way. Coaches should also be optimistic and realistic, capable of developing a vision and setting goals for other teachers. Most importantly, the coach should practice humility and genuinely seek to meet the needs of the teacher.”
    3. Combined forces of Technology and Teaching Expertise
      1. When a teacher naturally and consistently demonstrates skills as an educator as well as the ability to effectively integrate technology, he or she will inherently hold greater credibility as a coach among peers.
      2. Hallmarks of Coaching in the Digital Age
        1. Coaches must position themselves to assist their fellow teachers in learning and applying the abilities and practices of professionals within the digital age.
        2. Effective coaches recognize that merely being able to use technology is no longer enough..they must:
          1. confidently and competently lead colleagues in applying technological tools and resources to explore alternative methods of delivering content to their students
          2. determine novel ways to engage them
          3. identify new methods for assessing student content knowledge while also discovering new options for enhancing personal productivity.
        3. Excellent coaches:
          1. Guide colleagues in and model the effective planning and implementation of technology-infused learning focusing on content and technology standards.
          2. Guide colleagues in and model the effective planning and implementation of technology-infused learning utilizing a variety of student-centered instructional and assessment strategies based on research.
          3. Guide colleagues in and model engagement of students in problem-solving endeavors that provide them the opportunity to investigate real-life issues, collaborate with others within their school and across the globe, and generate meaningful solutions.
          4. Guide colleagues in and model the effective planning and implementation of technology-infused learning promoting creativity and critical thinking.
          5. Guide colleagues in and model the effective planning and implementation of research-driven best practices in instructional design.
        4. A successful coach must have a solid reputation, both professionally and personally…he or she must be well-liked among colleagues, as this is foundational for establishing trust.
        5. Excellent coaches possess not only strong content knowledge but also an infectious personality, thus helping to encourage and inspire teachers to improve their practices.
        6. Sample comments coaches can make:
          1. “You expertly used the new tool we talked about to engage all of your students in that lesson today! Well done!”
          2. “The time and effort you’ve devoted to integrating this into your unit is really paying off. I can see how thrilled you are about your students’ enthusiasm for this project.”
        7. Comments to avoid:
          1. avoid statements that focus on a teacher’s ability, actual or perceived, to integrate technology
  8. Beginning on the Right Foot
    1. The process of constructing a firm foundation for a collaborative learning environment in which teachers coach teachers.
    2. The good relationship we previously established made it easier for me to understand their felt needs as teachers as well as departmental and school goals for technology use. Much of the technology used by my coaches had been introduced during a faculty-wide professional development, but it as not until the technology was specifically adapted to fit their personal teaching style and lessons that it was implemented for classroom use. The close relationship I had with all of my coaches also encouraged additional accountability.
    3. The ideal candidate for serving as a coach is one who can build strong relationships with colleagues and establish trust based on their professional expertise. A coach must be flexible and able to adjust their goals to fit the perceived needs of their coaches. A coach must also be patient, realizing everyone is at different points in their development as a teacher, as well as problem-solve and find solutions to the needs of others.
    4. “Without reflection, we go blindly on our way, creating more unintended consequences, and failing to achieve anything useful” (Margaret Wheatley).
    5. “When you really listen to another person from their point of view and reflect back to them that understanding, it’s like giving them emotional oxygen.” Steven Covey
  9. Acquiring Faculty Buy-in
    1. In coaching relationships, unity and teamwork are essential.
    2. At first, the coach should be the team member who offers to accomplish the heavy lifting.
    3. Coaches must lead by example, taking the initiative to research applicable technological tools, create learning resources, setup online accounts that might be utilized through the process, and other such foundational tasks.
    4. Once coached teachers have witnessed the benefits of their integration endeavors, coaches can gradually release the amount of work to be done back into the teacher’s hands.
    5. “Coaching one teacher to be an incredibly efficient technology pioneer with an awesome track record only served to alienate that teacher from the horizontal team counterparts…bringing the entire horizontal team along at the same level of competency yields more than improved team dynamics. Team members are able to share experiences with each other. Their cooperation leads to more successful and meaningful application of technology.”
    6. Rather than investing in only a partial product by purchasing technology without taking the necessary steps to support their faculty members in effectively integrating it, today’s school leaders should thoughtfully and strategically seek faculty buy-in and expertise.
    7. Collegial coaching provides an avenue by which to deliver personalized, relevant, just-in-time support for faculty members of differing technology ability levels. 
Reflections
  1. Point #15 above is spot-on. Reflect on any new technology and its introduction into schools and you’ll find this problem at the root of failed replication.
  2. Social learning…and learning via PLNs with Twitter (social media) are supported by point #16. Perhaps making a more explicit connection between the two would be helpful.
  3. The Portion on ISTE, although it clarifies technology expectations for teachers, seems almost a distraction from collegial coaching. Fortunately, it is brief.
  4. Love point #27 because it describes technologists who are teachers, but not necessarily all teachers.
  5. Really glad to see problem-based learning mentioned here.
  6. The “create partnerships” section seemed weak…I was hoping for more formulaic approach to building relationships/partnerships.
  7. Would love to see more case studies in the book or scattered throughout as vignettes/illustrations of concepts.
FINAL REFLECTIONS
What I liked most about this book is the pairing of collegial coaching and technology. Although I have heard about some of the “best practices” and processes instructional technologists engage in, as well as actively sought them out myself, however poorly, I have seldom seen a guidebook, a roadmap to success that fundamentally addresses the issues so well.
The Collegial Coaching Model for Technology Integration is, at the heart of this book, a profound contribution to those of us who are attempting to blend technology into teaching, learning and leading. That model includes:
  1. Establishing need
  2. Creating partnerships
  3. Differentiating technology
  4. Assessing progress
  5. Reflecting on integration
Each of these steps seems obvious, but embedding coaching in the midst of technology integration, or really, vice versa, makes this book more engaging for me. Of course, while no book is perfect, I found myself longing for more case studies that would illustrate each of the 5 points of the Collegial Coaching Model for Technology Integration. Would this pentagram of points serve the coach-tech integrationist and serve to protect them against the legion of failures so long encountered, or not? I also found myself wishing for more vignettes to illustrate appropriate collegial coaching in the context of technology integration.
As I mention in my notes above, I really enjoyed the wisdom in the book that reflects my own experiences:
  • Unless we invest in professional learning, we are only partially funding a technology investment.
  • Reflection “converts action that is merely appetitive, blind and impulsive into intelligent action” (Dewey, 1933)and“Without reflection, we go blindly on our way, creating more unintended consequences, and failing to achieve anything useful” (Margaret Wheatley).
  • Adults—when being coached for technology integration—will obviously be asked to learn something new that they have long avoided as being impractical or too challenging.
  • It’s critical we bring along a whole team, rather than just one teacher on a team. The latter approach results in pockets of excellence.
  • The most exciting quote of the piece is this one because it highlights a universal failing related to technology integration efforts: A lack of conclusive evidence regarding the ways in which educators learn novel teaching strategies and the means by which schools effectively circulate such techniques propagate the chasm between professional development experiences and meaningful transformation.
Recommendation
Would I recommend others buy this book? Absolutely! I had access to the unfinished manuscript and would love to buy it because there is much in the book that isn’t present in my notes. I would love to make it available to campus and district curriculum specialists, as well as instructional technologists (that separation is intentional, BTW), so that they can see how hearkening back to who we are as human beings can make a difference.

Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin’s blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

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