These images of Helen’s keys illustrate how busy and multidimensional teachers’ lives are. To be effective, instructional technology support has to take this into account.
At a few of the schools I support I have established a bimonthly coaching day. Teachers know that one day every two weeks I will be available for one-on-one or small group support on the teachers’ prep period or lunch. The response has been very positive. Teachers really appreciate being listened to and involved in their learning. It’s specific, personal and timely. Also, I can check in with the teacher on the next coaching day to follow-up and address any issues.
One of the biggest difficulties I have when facilitating larger group instructional technology workshops is that there is such a range in teachers’ skills and exposure to technology. Some teachers only need an overview and then time to explore. Others need more specific and ongoing instructions. I always want to honour people’s time by making it relevant to their subject area and experience. In addition, if the technology or computers are not readily available in their classroom, teachers find it difficult to practice their new skills and frustrating to have to relearn later. One size fits all is not appropriate for students or teachers.
Every time I work with a teacher, I learn something new. Teachers know their students and their subjects. They can see the possibilities; they just need support to realize their vision. Often, a teacher presents me with a situation I have not encountered before and we work together to solve it. Other times, teachers are surprised that I don’t know about a website or technique. I leave every coaching session with more to offer the next teacher. Working with Helen today reinforced the value of these coaching sessions and I finally got time to learn how to use a Flash plug in to display a (non compatible) document camera image in Smart Notebook. Tomorrow, I’ll show Nancy–Thanks Helen!