Coach teachers in and model use of online and blended learning, digital content, and collaborative learning networks to support and extend student learning as well as expand opportunities and choices for online professional development for teachers and administrators
Being a leader is often about modeling. As an instructional technology coach my role includes modeling instructional practice while integrating technology. In my post, Blended Learning in PD, I found that research says the most effective way to integrate technology into a curriculum is to have a perfect match between curriculum and digital tools, however that isn’t always possible. In my post I go on to discuss other ways to support blended learning, collaborative learning networks and digital content in professional development. Some of those ideas are to integrate a specific tool into curriculum PD, and I would add that highlighting the instructional purpose of that tool is also necessary. Partnering with teacher leaders to offer PD is another great strategy that can highlight digital content and build learning networks. The above work may lead to development of a blended learning PD model in a district. I also think there are specific steps that instructional technology coaches and other leaders can encourage to grow professional learning across a school district. Some of those ideas were highlighted in a list in my post, Designing Meaningful PD for Teachers – What’s Out There? I still see the need for PD to be on-demand, happening whenever a teacher can spare a minute, so Twitter seems like a great resource for ongoing PD. A district Twitter hashtag or weekly chat would expand PD opportunities and could be used by teachers and administrators. A final method I want to highlight is microcredentialing. I was excited to see that my current district already does a form of microcredentialing along with online PD. Now the focus can be shifted from traditional, whole group PD for all teachers to differentiating some of our offerings and expanding the use of our online PD system.
One other way we engage teachers across the district is through a blog that the district instructional technology coaches try to update every two weeks. We use the blog to share successes from across the district, innovative practices we have seen in classrooms, as well as to share new tools or tips and tricks for efficient use of technology. While writing these posts we try to keep them very short to be manageable for staff to read quickly. Our hope is that an informal learning network can develop.
These are some ways that professional development and modeled use of tools by instructional technology coaches can support student learning. Creating stronger professional networks within and outside of a district will support teacher growth and help to extend student learning through transforming teachers practice. As an instructional technology coach, I think this indicator is fundamental to our role.
For more information about changing the current model of professional development see my complete post on Designing Meaningful PD for Teachers – What’s Out There?.
For more about blended learning, collaboration and personalization of professional development see my complete post on Blended Learning in PD.