Friday, May 6, 2016

My Work Here is Not Yet Complete

Since November of 2006, I have been involved in statewide programs. Much of my focus has been on the seamless and appropriate integration of technology into reading, writing, speaking, and listening about content. This week, I had the opportunity to have some serious discussions with instructional technology coaches who have been on that journey for nearly as long as I have. Upon reflection, I realized that, despite the fact that they have been working with their teachers for many years, our conversation still centered around whether we were using an LMS, which one we were using, and if GAFE or O365 was the right answer.

We lamented the fact that each of the schools has determined that there is not time in a student's school day for formal learning of technology. As a result, teachers are unwilling to try new technologies for fear that they'll have to spend a significant amount of instructional time teaching the tool. Our lament continued…, if no one teaches the skills, that excuse for not using the technology will continue to be valid.

All of us are still spending a considerable amount of time thinking about how teachers can post assignments and learning resources, create self-grading multiple-choice tests, and organize their thinking using digital tools. Don't get me wrong. These are all solid results of 1:1's, easy access to carts of tablets, computers, Chrome Books, and BYOD. However, it became clear to me that, 10 years later, we are still focused on logistics. And the folks I was talking with are the coaches who "get it." They understand that the role of technology is to be used to help students grow in their understanding of content, while creating, communicating, collaborating, and thinking critically. These are the coaches who spend time consulting with teachers on their instructional goals, gather data for them during lessons, and then provide opportunities for teachers to reflect on evidence from their lessons.

All of those around the table philosophically agreed that the combination of a master teacher and appropriate use of technology can engage students with content. Injecting job-embedded professional development, instructional coaching, into the mix provides ample opportunity for the continuation of PD beyond the drop-in session. Yet, 10 years later, none of us is where we want to be.

There is still so much work to be done.

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