Dan Kinkade, a science teacher at DeWitt Perry Middle School in Carrollton, Texas (a Dallas suburb), doesn’t consider himself a techie. “I don’t own the latest phone or have the most powerful computer, and I don’t spend much time checking out the latest in technology and software,” he says. So he was surprised when his school’s principal approached him in 2017 about a new position as a technology coach for the Dynamic Learning Program (DLP). The DLP empowers technology coaches at underserved schools to work with educators, helping them discover the many ways technology can be used in the classroom to create better learning outcomes. As it turns out, Dan was a perfect fit for the coaching post: “I know teaching, and I found I could learn the technology.”
Dan was a quick study, learning about technology through the DLP summer training program for coaches, absorbing insights from other DLP coaches he met along the way. He continued to further his knowledge on his own so he was ready to help DeWitt’s teachers make the most of technology to solve their problems and inspire their students. “Together,” he notes, “we could come up with solutions that worked in their classroom.” Pam Rogers, a language arts teacher at DeWitt Perry Middle School, agrees. “Coaching was very effective because when stumbling blocks happened, we could explore new options.”
"The Dynamic Learning Project has transformed our school, our students’ learning, our teachers, and me."Dan Kinkade, DLP Coach
The relationships between students and teachers were also a key component of the program. “Technology allowed teachers to build and change their relationships with students. It allowed students more voice, and (helped them feel) empowered, while teachers became facilitators in a student-centered classroom,” Dan notes.
Thanks to the DLP and Dan’s coaching, a variety of technology-based tools and strategies were used for the first time at DeWitt Perry during the 2017-2018 school year, ranging from G Suite for Education to Flipgrid, and Classkick to YouTube. Dan says that this is another reason why the DLP is so transformative. “It was not about any one product or strategy. Each cycle, teachers worked on a specific challenge that they felt needed to be addressed in their classes, and each had a different combination of tools and strategies employed,” he explains, adding: “technology is not the end goal... it’s just the tool.”
Everyone was quickly engaged in the new technologies that Dan helped introduce to the school. “Early in the program,” Dan says, “it became obvious that teachers and students were making incredible gains using technology.” As DeWitt Perry’s technology specialist, Tim Slack, noted after the program was underway: “We have already accomplished more in two months in accelerating technology and skills in our school than we have in the last two years.”
One of the reasons that Dan believes the DLP has had such an impact is that it doesn’t just help teachers address individual challenges as they arise; it allows them to strive, he says, for “continuous improvement and they are never quite satisfied.”
At the end of the school year, the changes brought about by the DLP and Dan’s coaching were evident throughout the school. “Instead of watching a cartoon or video, students in a science class are doing an extracurricular project and researching something they are passionate about,” Dan says proudly. Language arts students are no longer doing endless worksheets—they’re collaborating and conducting a webquest to find an "iconic" image from their lifetime and reflecting on its meaning. “Students are learning how to code instead of decorating their notebooks. Students are taking charge of their own learning, and it’s transformational,” Dan shares.
In summing up his experience as he looks forward to a new year of coaching (in which he’ll also be doing some hands-on teaching while continuing to expand his knowledge of technology that he’s gained on this journey), Dan explains, “The Dynamic Learning Project has transformed our school, our students’ learning, our teachers, and me. I love teaching. I have been blessed to work with outstanding teachers, principals and staff, and I love what an impact great education can have on students and our communities.”