Hands-on training for coaches
Technology for teachers was in short supply at Carlynton Junior-Senior High School. “We only had a few carts with old laptops,” explains principal Michael Loughren. “That made it challenging for students to have access to learning tools.”
During the 2017-2018 school year, the school participated in the Dynamic Learning Project (DLP) to help its teachers get hands-on support in using technology. As part of the program, the school also received Chromebooks. However, leaders like Loughren and instructional technology coach Ryan Gevaudan first needed training in coaching teachers to use technology in transformative ways. The goal, Gevaudan explains, was to help teachers become comfortable and confident in using the Chromebooks before the devices showed up in classrooms.
“The anxiety wasn't there for me,” Gevaudan says of the new technology. “But for the teachers, I knew it was there. They were willing to use technology—and I knew how it can change teaching practices.” But Gevaudan needed guidance in encouraging teachers to become digital champions.
Both Loughren and Gevaudan took part in DLP training. “Much of what Michael and I learned was about changing teachers’ mindsets, as well as their skill sets,” Gevaudan says. “It’s one thing to teach someone how to share a link in Google Classroom. But what we needed to do was change the culture.”
During the DLP summer workshop, Loughren and Gevaudan learned the value of celebrating and showcasing teacher successes—for example, scheduling regular meetings with teachers to share ideas and show support for their use of technology. “We talked about the idea of making coaching celebratory and fun,” Loughren says. “Something as simple as writing a teacher a quick note saying ‘you crushed it today’ can help them get out of their comfort zones.”
Loughren and Gevaudan also learned how to identify where teachers were in their journeys to become digital champions. Some teachers might be resistant and hesitant to test new ways of adding technology to lessons, while other teachers were early adopters and eager to experiment.
“Some teachers are first in to try technology, and some are last in,” Gevaudan says. “We learned how to deal with each type, so there were no surprises. The main takeaway was that every teachers has challenges—we learned how to identify those challenges and work with teachers and our technology to solve them.”
For a teacher seeking new ways to present information in class, Gevaudan can suggest Google Cast, a Chrome extension that allows teachers to share their Chromebook screens with students’ Chromebooks. Or if a teacher is struggling with giving feedback to students, Gevaudan can explain how to use comments and edits in Google Docs.