Examining the role of instructional technology coaches as collaborators

Developing a productive relationship is essential for effective collaboration between an instructional technology coach and coachee. Coaching has many similarities to a counseling relationship between a practitioner and a client. In both cases, establishing rapport and developing a positive relationship that is built on mutual respect, trust, transparency, and shared goals is necessary in order to progress towards collaborative work that will improve instruction and student learning outcomes.

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The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Collaborator Coaching Standard states that “Coaches establish productive relationships with educators in order to improve instructional practice and learning outcomes.” Following, I will provide evidence of my understanding of the four collaborator performance indicators.

PI 4.3a: Establish trusting and respectful coaching relationships that encourage educators to explore new instructional strategies

Performance indicator (PI) 4.3.a focuses on developing a coaching relationship built on trust and respect, as a healthy partnership between a coach and coachee is an important foundation for enhancing instructional practices through integration of digital technology. In the DEL program, I explored collaboration within the context of one-on-one coaching relationships, which is reflected in the following two blog posts.

In a blog post titled, “How can instructional technology coaching help motivate educators to explore unfamiliar digital tools? Could motivational interviewing be key?I examined the concept of motivation, including coaching strategies that have been effective in motivating teachers to increase use of digital technology. I also explored how motivational interviewing, a commonly used behavioral change framework in counseling, could be used to motivate educators to explore unfamiliar digital tools. Establishing trust, showing respect, and using a client-centered approach are all important components of motivational interviewing. Time is spent building a solid foundation between the counselor and client while assessing readiness to change before goal setting is commenced. Several useful tools are used to explore a client’s ambivalence to change, including a cost-benefit analysis and a readiness ruler. These techniques demonstrate trust and respect in a coaching relationship because the instructional technology coach would be acknowledging that the coachee needs to be ready to change/take action before diving into lesson plan modifications and being introduced to new technologies.

Further, in a blog post titled,Incorporating Knight’s seven principles of partnership into modeling digital instructional design principles,”  I illustrated how I used Knight’s principles to establish trust and respect in my coaching relationship when exploring new instructional strategies with my coachee.  One of Knight’s seven principles of partnership is “voice.” A coaching relationship built on trust enables a coachee to feel safe and comfortable voicing their needs and expressing concerns. Additionally, several of Knight’s principles of partnership are founded in respect, including equality, choice, and dialogue, which are further discussed in this blog post.

PI 4.3b: Partner with educators to identify digital learning content that is culturally relevant, developmentally appropriate and aligned to content standards.

Identifying digital learning content that is culturally relevant:  A culturally relevant theme I investigated during the DEL program was relevance of digital learning content that among college-aged students, who are typically digital natives. I described characteristics of digital natives in my blog post titled, “Coaching digital immigrants: Considerations for digital equity and inclusion.” I addressed utilization of digital learning content that is culturally relevant to the college population in my blog post titled, “Teaching students how to teach effectively on Zoom.”  Digital natives, who make up the majority of the college population, are technologically savvy and are familiar with gamification apps. Since my students were creating lesson plans to teach synchronous online classes to college-aged students, to be culturally relevant, they were required to include gamification apps as digital learning tools. Some examples included Poll Everywhere, Kahoot, and Jeopardy.

Identifying digital learning content that is developmentally appropriate: Further, two examples that demonstrate my understanding of identifying digital learning content that is developmentally appropriate are specific to designing professional development utilizing adult learning theories and providing student support through assistive technology.

Aligning digital learning content to content standards:  

In my blog post titled, “Pedagogy before technology: Why the cart shouldn’t be put before the horse when integrating technology into student learning experiences,” I discussed the importance of beginning the instructional design process by thinking through our intentions for using various digital tools in our curriculum.  Simply inserting a new software program or app into student learning experiences without an understanding of how it aligns with content standards is not recommended since the digital learning content should first be verified as aligning with content standards and intended outcomes. I wrote about how the Backward Design framework provides clear steps to follow to verify that specific learning activities (e.g., digital learning content) are designed to align with content standards and show congruence with intended learning outcomes.  

PI 4.3c: Partner with educators to evaluate the efficacy of digital learning content and tools to inform procurement decisions and adoption.

According to ISTE, evaluating the efficacy of digital learning content means “establishing that a particular tool or content achieves intended learning outcome, based on research and evidence” (ISTE). Throughout the DEL program, I investigated several digital tools and their use in the educational system. The digital tools I explored include simulation software to teach dietetics students skills in clinical nutrition, infographics, a digital peer grading tool, and the Canvas Learning Management System. In these blog posts, I have connected these digital tools to instruction and learning outcomes and learned what factors to consider when making procurement decisions for adopting new technologies.

PI 4.3d: Personalize support for educators by planning and modeling the effective use of technology to improve student learning.

During Autumn 2021, I had the opportunity to provide instructional technology coaching to a colleague. In this role, I provided personalized coaching support by demonstrating and modeling effective use of technology and assisting with the integration of technology into my coachee’s lesson plans to improve student learning. Additionally, I have written about planning effective use of technology in the following blog posts:

In summary, through collaborative efforts, instructional technology coaches can introduce educators to new digital instructional strategies, partner with teachers to identify digital learning tools that are culturally relevant and developmentally appropriate, assist with procurement decisions, and support educators in in personalizing curriculum to improve student outcomes.

References

International Society for Technology in Education. (2022). www.iste.org.

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