Technology has benefited many sectors around us. One such is the education sector. Modern methods are replacing traditional teaching ways. The integration of technology in classrooms is speeding up everywhere.
Education is no more about the curriculum. It is about enhancing the curriculum with the help of technology. Educators and teachers must stay up-to-date with technology teaching methods.
Here arises the need of technology coaches.
Technology coaches help teachers to integrate technology into their lesson plans. Such coaches introduce new methods of teaching by making the most use of technology.
Today’s students are learning faster than ever before. Technology coaches help educators to support fast and innovative learning. They do so by maximizing the use of various technology platforms and techniques.
Are you passionate about technology?
Do you like to teach or see kids learn and grow?
Do you think technology can improve the methods of education? Do you have the skills to make this happen?
Yes? Then why not become a technology coach and convert your passion into a profession?
This article will tell you all about technology coaching and technology coaches. Let’s start by first understanding what is technology coaching.
What is technology coaching?
Imagine that there are two schools. One of them have smart classes for students, another doesn’t.
Which school would you prefer your child to be in?
One with the smart classes, right?
It is simple, you know that with this technology your child can learn and grow better.
But what if the teachers don’t know much about how to use this technology? Do you think they would be able to give your child the benefits of this technology?
This is one of the examples of why technology coaching is important.
A study reveals that:
“70% of schools nationwide in the USA have had groups of new hires. 26%-50% were incapable of using technology efficiently in their classrooms.”
Technology coaching helps in making better technological teachers.
It can be difficult for teachers to use classroom technology effectively. Classroom technology also involves huge burdens of investment. If people don’t follow proper methods then the benefits won’t reach the students. Also, the cost of investment won’t be worthy enough.
Here comes the role of technology coaching. Technology coaching is the process of empowering teachers to use technology in teaching. It also helps in maximizing investments.
But what is the meaning of technology coaching?
“Technology coaching means helping the teachers to integrate technology in their teaching. It means using technology to redefine and improve the curriculum.”
Technology coaching includes one-to-one coaching sessions with teachers. The focus of the sessions is to maximize student learning with the help of technology.
Not only teachers, technology coaching includes programs for admins too. The process considers all the technologies that make the educational institute function.
Technology coaching helps in building good teaching strategies and instruction. Technology coaches know how to use instructional strategies in the classroom. They coach the staff for using technology in a way that can make the strategy most effective. They guide on making the best use of educational technology tools.
What are the benefits of technology coaching?
There are many interesting benefits of technology coaching:
- Teachers and staff better understand how to integrate technology best to boost learning.
- Boosts creativity, collaboration, and innovation in the class.
- Prepares the students to become productive digital-age citizens.
- Supports educators in improving their relationships with the students.
- Minimizes accessibility and equity gaps.
- Better learning experiences to meet the different needs of students.
- It helps to assess and analyze better.
- It makes the study interesting for the students.
Who is a technology coach?
I hope by now you understand the idea of technology coaching well.
Now, the questions arise – who is a technology coach?
It is simple, a technology coach is the one who drives the process of technology coaching.
Technological coaches are more important today than ever before. They do a lot more than introducing the teachers to technology. They support the teachers and the admin in creating more powerful learning experiences.
Such coaches develop the best strategies to enhance the curriculum of the students. They take a leadership role in schools about using technology. They create and support a vision and strategic plan for technology use.
Such coaches work side-by-side with the teachers to meet learning goals. They guide the teachers on how to use technology to boost personalized learning. These coaches coach the teachers to take technology-based assessments for their students.
What skills do you need to become a technology coach?
With passion and dedication, having the right skill set is equally important.
Do you want to know what are the skills that you should master?
Alright, below are some of them. Let’s have a look.
- Knowledge of ed-tech tools
- Teaching skills for co-partnering with the teachers.
- Communication skills to articulate ideas well.
- Ability to ask creative questions to determine needs and pain points.
- Listening skills to understand and fill voids
- Analyzing skills to be able to analyze the situation need, priorities, and feedback.
- People skills to engage better with teachers and students.
- Empathy to be able to relate with the school administration, staff, and students well.
Why do schools hire technology coaches?
Are you wondering why would someone hire you as a technology coach?
Are you still unsure of whether to start a technology coaching business?
No problem, that’s pretty easy to address.
I would like to tell you that the demand for technology coaches do exist. And, it is ever-increasing.
Let’s have a look at some of the reasons.
To identify the right technology
Often schools don’t know the latest technologies that they should use. Technology coaches guide them on using the right platforms and tools.
The coaches have discussions with the school coaches and staff to identify the needs. Then, they analyze those needs and build an action plan with the help of their coaching philosophy.
To encourage technology integration
Technology integration is not at all easy. This requires efforts from teachers, staff, and students.
Teachers may feel shy in the beginning. Adapting to modern teaching ways may take time. The benefits of integrating the curriculum with technology may evolve slowly.
Technological coaches can lessen the learning curve. They have the right knowledge and experience with which technology integration can become easy and fast.
To build an educational technology plan
Without the right direction, overcoming technology integration challenges is difficult. Technology coaches are professionals who have great coaching skills. They bring the right plan and process to benefit the teachers and students the most.
To cut the struggles
Technology coaches conduct effective coaching sessions with teachers. These sessions are full of great coaching questions and meaningful conversations. This allows the coaches to address the needs and pain points of the teachers better.
Such coaches also provide coaching to school administrators. This helps them to overcome investment struggles. The coaches also guide them on when and how to make a worthy investment.
6 fundamentals of technology coaching that a tech coach must know
Many schools start new technology without coaching teachers. In such cases, technology coaches act as supporting teachers. They launch and continue the marriage of technology and curriculum.
As a technology coach, you will have a great role to play.
But at the same time, you also must be aware of some fundamentals to drive the process well.
Do you think one way of coaching will fit all?
There is no one-size-fits-all approach. Each school will have different needs and the environment. You will have to come up with a customized plan for your coaching.
Of course, your experiences on the ground will teach you more. Still, knowing and applying the fundamentals of technology coaching can help perform better.
Let’s have a look at some of them.
Build connections with teachers
As a technology coach, you must build connections with teachers. Don’t think that you alone can bring results. This won’t be possible.
Teachers would generally not take the first step. You will have to take it.
Try to know the teaching methods of the teachers. Understand what are the sources of confidence for them. Identify their weaknesses.
You can even visit a classroom to see the teacher interact with students. This will give you more ideas about how his/her teaching methods can be improved with ed-tech tools.
Let teachers know that you recognize their teaching abilities. Give them confidence that the tech tools would not deprive them of their natural teaching still. Instead, they would enhance it.
Discuss IT Integration plan
Do you know what should be your first step as a technology coach?
A discussion of the IT integration plan with the teachers and school administrators.
You may think that a certain app or website for maths is good. But, your target audience may not think so. Teachers must find the need for a specific tool.
How should you start then?
You must start with a solid instructional idea. Then, check how the idea can enhance the unit, lesson plan, assessment, etc.
There are a few questions that you must ask yourself for better technology integration.
- What is the goal of the lessons in the curriculum?
- Which technology should you use?
- How will it enhance the current approach?
- Will technology make the idea more relevant to students?
I know that you are confident that technology would enhance the curriculum. Now, your main task is to convey the same to your prospects.
Test the tech tools in the classroom
The next step is to take the plan and put it into action.
And how will you do that?
By taking demo class. This is when you will show the teacher, how effective the choice of tool can be.
Don’t forget to honor the expertise of the teacher. Lean on the teacher during crucial times of the lesson to confirm the content.
Analyze the lessons learned from IT demo
Reflect on the lessons that you learned during the IT demo. You can also take notes. Ask the teacher too if he/she feels comfortable.
After the demo, take feedback from teachers and students. Spend some time to analyze that. If you feel that there is a need for certain improvement do that.
Have some one-to-one conversation with the teacher as well. Take his/her points too into consideration.
Work with teachers to install new solutions
At this stage, you will feel proud. After all, you have given a teacher a new tool to complement her/his teaching skills!
Ask the teacher for hurdles if any or other help if required. Once the teacher gets comfortable with the integration he/she may reach out to you for another tool.
Take feedback and follow-ups
Take regular feedback and follow-ups. Stop to see how classes are progressing. Ask the students how they like the new tools.
What should be your next steps as a technology coach?
I am sure that you are eager to know what steps should you take next.
So if you are want to begin from scratch, here are a few things you must have:
- An answer to the question – “Why do you want to become a technology coach?”
- Your target audience
- Solid coaching business plan which outlines your marketing, and finance strategies amongst others.
- Coaching model which identifies your coaching process and style.
- Outstanding coaching website design. Offline and online marketing plan.
After setting the basics, there are some other points that you must consider. Below I have mentioned them. Let’s have a look.
Join community networks
If you simply google, you will come across many offline and online networks for tech coaches. One such network is the TeacherCast Tech coaches network. It has a thousand tech coaches from all over the world.
Build a plan
Tech coaches have a huge responsibility. Most tech coaches are responsible for the professional learning of the entire school district.
This demands a robust plan. You must also have peers around you to support you during difficult situations. If you come across an opportunity to become a part of a group of tech coaches who take certain initiatives, never let it down.
Facebook groups, Instagram, LinkedIn connections – all are important!. Leverage them to build your community. Engage with fellow partners and establish authority.
Twitter hashtags can benefit you a lot. There are various educational hashtags that you can use. Some of them include – #AskTheTechCoach, #TechCoach, #EduCoach etc.
Subscribe to blogs and podcasts
There are several blogs and podcasts that focus on tools and pedagogy. You can subscribe to them. This can add to your wisdom.
There are several coaches but we know the names of only some.
Do you know why does this happen?
Because the ones who are famous and are only coaches. They are influencers. They believe in building thought leadership. Only by sharing one’s knowledge and helping others, one can become strong influencers.
Actively take part in discussions and don’t hesitate to share your knowledge. You can even create some case studies based on your unique experiences. This will give your audience the impression that you are the right resource for them.
Tips that a technology coach must know
Do you know what should be your main focus as a technology coach?
Seamless Integration of technology into curriculum and method of instruction.
You can have your own style and process but the result should be the above.
Well, let me tell that this is not very easy. Many times there is a group of tech coaches handling a district school. Change management does become a difficult task.
There are students whose future lies in your hands. As a tech coach, you cannot just say – “Hey let me try this tool and see if it works.” Experimenting is not what you have been hired for.
You have to show your expertise. You must have confidence and skills to not just boast but bring the results.
Are you thinking about whether you can do this or not?
Of course, you can!
Below are certain tips that will help you to keep coaching relevant, interesting, and fun.
Ensure the basics
What would be your ed-tech introductory course?
Which tools are you planning to include?
How will you develop technical understanding across the staff?
All of the above forms the basics. Before you proceed, you must set the basics right.
It’s not always about technology
Don’t try to build technology for technology’s sake. If you find certain teaching methods that work well in school then keep them intact.
Your focus should not be replacing the existing process. Rather you must find where an actual need of technology exists. Then, try to fulfill that need and enhance the process.
Expect and accept resistance
Sometimes it can be surprising for you to see that teachers aren’t as passionate as you. Don’t be demotivated. No one accepts change so easily.
Begin with the enthusiasts first. Present your success in staff meetings and other workshops. This will entice further interest.
Try using a mix of many ways
Try using different ways and approaches. You need not always have online coaching sessions. You can also try workshops, individual coaching, presentations, video library, etc.
See what suits your stakeholders the best. You can continue with that approach.
You must know the current ed-tech trends. Most of the teachers will expect this from you.
You can also consider sending the ed-tech newsletter to your teachers. This will emphasize your role to them.
Workshops for the teachers have become boring. Also, uninteresting training sessions may not bring many results.
Your approach as a tech coach should be collaborative. Build platforms or provide opportunities where teachers can collaborate. This will help them to share their experiences and ideas. This way teachers can learn from each other.
Focus on the teaching and not the teachers
Don’t focus on developing teachers. Focus on developing teaching methods and making teachers comfortable with that. All your efforts must have one goal – better students’ learning outcomes.
Always align with the school mission
Your role should not be ad-hoc in nature. You must deeply understand the school’s mission. Make sure that you are a part of the communication of the school’s beliefs. Ensure that technology integrates into the school culture than being an add on.
Do you need certifications to become a technology coach?
Well, my answer would be – “No, you don’t!”
According to me, most of your learning comes from coaching on the ground level. Your skills, expertise, and client testimonials assert your credibility to a great extent.
Always try to have excellent client testimonials. This will help you to set up a solid referral system too.
But this doesn’t make certificates worthless. Many organizations and individuals do ask for certificates. Why? Because they believe that certified coaches have better professional training.
Whether you want to go for certificates or not, is your personal choice. Before you decide I would suggest you analyze the need for coaching certifications well.