Sep 25 2013

Ed-Tech Coaches Are the Orchestra Conductors of K–12 Education

Two educators offer insights on making the leap from teacher to technology integrator.

After spending a few years teaching eighth-grade English language arts (ELA) and history classes at Colegio Inglés in Mexico, educator Isaac Pineda recently decided to make a switch and become a full-time education-technology coach.

There are a few things he will miss about being a day-to-day classroom instructor, according to a post on his blog, which was selected as an EdTech Must-Read K–12 IT Blog this year.

Mainly, he’ll miss the one-on-one time he had with his group of 40 or so students.

“Never before had I realized the magnitude of the blessing it is to have a number of kids every day before you,” Pineda writes.

While he spends far less time with students individually, Pineda does get to reach a larger number of students, overall, as an ed-tech coach. More specifically, Pineda believes he has the opportunity to be an orchestrator of sweet IT music:

When I was teaching ELA and history, I had a direct impact and influence over 46 students divided in two groups of 23 each. That was my magic number. However, as an edtech coach I get to reach out to about 390 students.

The possibilities are more: possibilities for more projects, larger projects and ambitious goals. More can be achieved: You become like an orchestra director with the possibility of putting together a stunning performance.

Pineda’s appreciation for the power of the classroom teacher is no doubt linked to his time spent as one. And it’s a similar line of thought that’s echoed by Krista Moroder, a one-time English teacher who is now a K–12 technology integrator for the Wisconsin school district of Kettle Moraine.

In a post on her blog back in March, Moroder explained that her motivation to be a force for change in ed-tech has a lot to do with improving the teacher’s role in education. In her view, the educator’s role has stagnated, resulting in unmotivated teachers and unfulfilling careers.

I’m choosing to focus on education technology, because I believe that right now, more than ever, our teachers need support. We can't afford to keep losing effective teachers to burnout, and the frustration and exhaustion teachers are feeling is growing more and more prevalent. Our teachers shouldn't have to go home with stacks of ungraded quizzes every night when they can use a tool that will grade the quizzes for them. They shouldn't have to manually shuffle resources and lesson plans when there are more efficient ways to communicate them.

We shouldn't look at technology as a replacement for effective teaching; we should look at it as a tool to help us be more efficient with what we are already trying to accomplish. We continuously talk about the future of learning; but what we aren't communicating is HOW to make this happen. We scaffold all of our instruction for our students- how do we scaffold this shift for our teachers?

Empathy and understanding for teachers play a critical role in the effectiveness of ed-tech coaches and, similar to how teachers must nurture every student in their classroom, so to must ed-tech coaches encourage even the least technology inclined among us.

Candace Hackett Shively, author of the Think Like a Teacher blog (also a Must-Read K–12 IT Blog) and director of K–12 initiatives for The Source for Learning, highlighted in a blog post what a good ed-tech coach does to turn average joes into ed-tech MVPs:

Unless you are in an elite NFL program or an EdTech magnet school, you probably have some players/teachers with natural talent and some who simply have to work hard. You want to help the hard workers but also keep the high-talents moving ahead.

As an EdTech coach, you may want to arrange some extra exposure to elite “camps” such as ISTE workshops or invite a teacher to submit for a conference. A good coach develops all players without making any of them jealous. And a good coach finds some strength even in the bench warmers. Those good-hearted teachers who just keep trying need every pat on the back they can get.

What do you think about the evolving role of ed-tech coaches? Does being a teacher give ed-tech coaches better insight into the role? Let us know in the Comments section.


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