|1d. Implement strategies for initiating and sustaining technology innovations and manage the change process in schools and classrooms.|
Coaches are often called on to lead or be a part of the adoption and implementation process for new devices or tools. Innovations and adoptions take time, sustained support and can require a lot of change from staff to adopt new ways of thinking and doing. I have lead a number of software adoption processes from identifying a need through the actual implementation of the tool. There are a number of things I have learned through the years:
- It is difficult to know what kind of tool you need if you are not clear on what the need is in the first place. I spend a lot of time, sometimes up to a year depending on the adoption, to do professional development around best practice, standards, defining the problem and defining the characteristics of the tool we would need to solve the problem. With technology tools I also keep in mind the Henry Ford quote “If I had given people what they asked for, they would have asked for faster horses.” If we want people to think about technology differently we have to take the time to show them what is possible so that they know they do not just have to look for a fancier version of what they already have.
- Teachers will not be motivated to use tools that do not work. It wastes valuable instructional time and is very frustrating. It is important that our devices and infrastructure work as consistently as possible so we are meeting the very basic reliability needs of teachers (21st Century Technology Hierarchy of Needs). The tool also has to be easily accessible by teachers and students and needs to be easy to use.
- All of our teachers have different readiness for adopting new technology. One of my projects during this program was Differentiating Professional Development for Teachers. I still love the idea of this approach to professional development and training but I was never quite able to make it happen consistently this year. I think it will be something I have to develop over time as I develop more online learning opportunities for staff and find the tools that will allow me to easily collect evidence of learning and create different pathways of learning. Canvas has many of the tools I am looking for but I will need to do more thinking and learning about what the process could look like. I intend to keep working on the idea.
- The change process works slowly in education. I believe three years is reasonable for most implementations to be widely accepted, if you have the support of the administration. You will always have some people who adopt more slowly but part of a coaches job is to work with the reluctant learners to get them from their Point A to their own Point B. As long as we are making progress every year with everyone we are working with we are being successful.
- Finally, we need to be constantly evaluating where we are in any adoption cycle. Regular check ins and readjustments are vital to staying on track with any implementation. Part of that process is also evaluating the lessons that the tool is being used with to ensure that it is meeting the goal of helping students reach standards. I wrote a blog post called Evaluating Tech Integration that looked a few good tools that can be used by coaches to help teachers evaluate how technology is being used in lessons or projects. All of the models have questions that can help guide thinking about how to improve the quality and purpose of technology in lessons as well.
In addition, we will need to begin making changes in our professional development models to better support change processes in education. The new definition of Professional Development that was part of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Legislation calls for professional development to be “sustained (not stand-alone, 1-day, or short term workshops), intensive, collaborative, job embedded, data-driven, and classroom-focused.” (Learning Forward, 2017) We will need to think differently about using or strengthening our Professional Learning Communities and leveraging more of our existing leaders in the buildings. Providing connected professional development throughout the year in which the goals and outcomes for staff learning are clear and we make the learning paths personalized and accessible in a variety of different ways can become the new norm for teachers to access professional development that addresses their individual learning needs. As technology coaches we will need to collaborate with content specialists and administrators to ensure that technology does not become “stand-alone” training but is integrated into the delivery of all professional development.
A New Vision for Professional Learning. (2017). Retrieved from https://learningforward.org/docs/default-source/getinvolved/essa/essanewvisiontoolkit