Thursday, 4 February 2016

A Coach's Dream: Teachers Willing to Try Anything

Even though I'm no longer a classroom teacher, I still get excited about trying new things in a classroom and seeing if they work or not. As a classroom teacher, I was always looking for resources online that could fit into my units to try with my class and just throw them out to my students to trials. The sense of uncertainty of how the lesson would go with this new tool or strategy made teaching interesting. For if the lesson went well, it usually went really well with the kids getting excited about whatever we were trying to use and the learning was enhanced to another level. If it didn't work, it meant either problem solving to make it work or finding an alternative on the fly to rework the lesson.

In a role as a technology coach, I often come across neat ideas that are worth giving a go but without a class of my own, I have to be okay with some teachers not wanting to take the same risks in their classes. So when I find a teacher that is always ready to try something, it makes me excited about the opportunity to work with that teacher and class.

This week has had a few of those moments. First of all, the education technology department led a professional development session on Monday about different tools for integrating videos into teaching and learning including screencasting, iMovie, YouTube and EdPuzzle. By the following day, a few of the teachers had already taken what they had learnt and integrated it into their lessons. As a coach, it makes these sessions meaningful  and worthwhile when teachers can actually see the practical use of the tools and are willing to try them out. Beyond that, it's important they share with us their feedback about how it went so we can help support them more or celebrate their successes.

Guinea pig teachers are rockstars in my mind. I went to one teacher this week with Plickers - a formative assessment tool for teachers using iPads and the cards students use to respond to a question. The students hold up an assigned card in one of 4 directions with the multiple choice letter they agree with and the teacher uses the iPad to scan for the results. The app allows teachers to gain feedback on individual student knowledge and data on the whole class' understanding immediately.

I simply explained to the teacher what it would do and asked if she was interested and we installed the application on the iPad right away. I made the cards for her and by the next day she had set it up and was ready to try. I was also grateful to be invited in to see how it would work in the classroom. With a minor issue that was quickly problem solved, we gathered data on students' understandings of problem solving and action in a matter of seconds. This data is so useful as a teacher as a formative tool but could also be used as preassessment or an exit activity from a class. From there, we shared our learning and experience with the teachers in the year group and got them started on it as well. Great things really do spread.

Not all teachers are willing to be technology enthusiasms as innovators or early adopters but I absolutely love working with these staff members. These teachers help me get excited about my job and the positive impact technology can make on teaching and learning for students.

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