Google’s Certified Coach program empowers coaches to work 1:1 with educators and drive impactful technology use in their schools. Join Nicole Zumpano to learn more about the process and requirements to become certified and learn how the LTC can help you in this journey.
Now more than ever, technology has become an essential part of nearly every classroom. From teaching 21st century skills to teaching remotely, today’s edtech empowers educators to meet their students’ needs and guide them to deeper levels of engagement on a daily basis.
But before a teacher can implement a new piece of educational technology, they must first feel confident in their own mastery of a device or platform. In many cases, educators at any grade level can reach that summit by working with an instructional technology coach.
This year, the Learning Technology Center (LTC) is expanding its popular Instructional Technology Coaching Program. We believe that many districts across Illinois can benefit from embedded instructional technology support, and that our program can make that resource both accessible and affordable.
Already, one of the LTC’s instructional technology coaches has made a marked difference for three districts in northern Illinois. Learn more about our current program below to see if it is a good fit for meeting your district’s ongoing edtech needs.
What is an Instructional Technology Coach?
At their core, an instructional technology coach serves as a partner to a district’s teachers by offering them personalized support with their edtech integration. After identifying a classroom challenge, instructional technology coaches and teachers collaborate to brainstorm solutions, implement strategies, and reflect on progress afterward.
In a larger sense, instructional technology coaching is an ongoing, job-embedded form of professional learning that is grounded in day-to-day teaching and learning practices. Over the long-term, instructional technology coaching is designed to enhance teachers’ utilization of educational technology, with the further goal of improving student learning outcomes.
What does an Instructional Technology Coach Do?
As part of your district’s support team, an instructional technology coach can play a critical role in keeping teachers on the right track toward continuous professional learning. To do this, an instructional technology coach can take on a wide variety of responsibilities, based entirely on your district’s needs.
Some of the most common instructional technology coaching responsibilities include:
· Facilitating coaching cycles
· Co-teaching and modeling
· Offering observational feedback
· Resource creation
· Data analysis
· Group instruction
· Device or platform-specific training
· One-on-one meeting
Our instructional technology coaches are not limited to a certain set of tasks, however. The district retains a high level of control over daily responsibilities and overall goals. As a result, our instructional technology coach’s work within your district or even a specific building can be modified to meet the faculty’s evolving needs.
For example, one of our current instructional technology coaches, Elizabeth Byam, was working with several districts in northern Illinois during the first half of 2020. As a result, she played a critical role in helping her districts transition to fully remote learning. Even now, as those same schools begin to transition back into the classroom, Elizabeth has helped teachers in all of her districts learn to use platforms like Google Classroom, Seesaw, Screencastify, and more in their standard instruction regiment.
How can an Instructional Technology Coach Benefit my District?
At a basic level, most every district in Illinois can benefit from hiring an instructional technology coach. Between their day-to-day support and their high level of professional competence, an instructional technology coach can quickly make themselves a valuable member of any district’s support team.
Short- and long-term benefits can differ from district to district, based upon their priorities and goals for professional development. Even so, each coach’s consistent goal is to help educators improve their teaching practices and enhance their technology integration – all while improving student learning opportunities.
Instructional technology coaching programs can also provide administrators and other decision-makers with an up-to-date understanding of their faculty’s technology competence and confidence. To that end, an instructional technology coach can help take the pulse within an educational team and offer insights to key stakeholders when it comes time to evaluate progress.
As an added bonus, working with an LTC instructional technology coach will also put you in direct connection with the LTC’s skilled team of edtech experts. This includes access to the LTC’s online community, as well as the ability to seek further edtech support through our network of regional educational technology coordinators (RETCs).
Simply put, an instructional technology coach can make the difference when it comes to reaching your district’s edtech utilization or integration goals. Whether they are initiating one-on-one coaching cycles, facilitating grade-level team discussions, or leading large-group professional learning opportunities, they will help make long-term technology integration a reality in your district.
What’s the Cost of Hiring an Instructional Technology Coach?
Hiring an instructional coach on your own can be challenging when it comes to cost. However, the LTC utilizes a cost-sharing model that makes instructional technology coaching accessible to more districts in a geographic region.
In essence, this shared-service model identifies several schools or districts in a region that are seeking instructional technology support. Then, we work to find coach candidates who can split their time between those several facilities. Each district has an opportunity to contract their coach for between 10 and 180 days a year, too, so costs can be controlled accordingly.
Through a shared-service model, small- and medium-sized school districts that do not need a full-time instructional technology coach can access the benefits of coaching without adding staff or committing to a full-time employee.
Supporting your Instructional Technology Coaching Needs in 2021
This spring, the LTC plans to work with districts across the state to identify their instructional technology coaching needs. From there, we will begin hiring LTC-employed instructional coaches and pairing those coaches with districts in shared geographic areas.
If you are interested in joining our Instructional Technology Coaching Program, then we want to hear from you. Contact Tim McIlvain at firstname.lastname@example.org so that we can begin to access your district’s needs.
You can also learn more about the Instructional Technology Coaching Program on the program’s homepage.
Join coaches from around the Chicagoland area to learn from each other on supporting districts, administrators, teachers, and students in student growth. There are a variety of topics ranging from professional development, tech tools, and communication & collaboration. Coaches will provide ideas for remote learning, face to face learning, and a hybrid model.
This is a FREE workshop! When you register you will see a payment section that is required on the general registration form. Select “district check” and bill school “no”.
Join area instructional coaches in a conversation about coaching while sharing resources and ideas. You will have the opportunity to network and learn from area coaches.
Teachers from Lemont Bromberek School District will provide a K-8 perspective on remote learning and highlight how they are offering incredible learning opportunities for students and teachers. During the chat, attendees will be able to submit and receive feedback and tips.
Instructional technology coaches meeting open to any interested coaches in the area. A chance to network and hear what other districts are doing. Anyone in a school district with a technology focus is welcome to attend!
Nicole Zumpano, Regional Educational Technology Coordinator. Nicole is a National Board Certified Teacher as well as an adjunct professor at three universities. Within her 26 years in education, Nicole has served on two board of directors and has been nominated for and/or received several awards for excellence in teaching. She has 15 years of classroom experience along with 10 years of instructional coaching experience. Nicole holds Masters degrees in Administration & Supervision and Technology in Education. She is a Google for Education Certified Trainer, a Google Certified Educator, and an Apple Teacher. Nicole blogs about instructional technology at Zumpanotechlab.blogspot.com.
If you are a professional development provider like I am, you get into the profession to make a personal connection with people. There is nothing I enjoy more about my job than getting into a room with a group of educators and getting to know them in the often too short time that we are together. With the current reality of the situation we are living in, the prospect of getting back into a room with people seems a long way off. This means that many of us will have to shift toward delivering our content virtually via a platform like Zoom or Google Meet.
Leading professional development in this manner can be a challenge. It is much different than having everyone’s attention in one room. Teachers are probably at home, distracted by kids, pets, or spouses. As the presenter, it is up to us to make sure our delivery methods are enough to keep our audience engaged and learning with us.
To that end, I have my five tips for leading professional learning online. I have had vast experience leading groups of educators through online training, and with that comes quite a few ups and downs. While the process is never as smooth as in-person delivery, these five tips can assist in making the experience better for you and your audience!
Outline of Tips in the Video
- Be prepared
- Have your presentation ready and well prepared.
- Have questions and discussion prompts available to start conversation with your audience.
- Be prepared for silence, you might have to talk the whole time
- If you are using Zoom and want discussion to occur, use the breakout room feature.
- Have your system set up for delivering quality content
- Have your camera placed on an elevated surface or use a webcam that is eye level.
- Have a quality microphone, this might not mean headphones, some of those mics are worse that the one on your computer! Test your audio quality with someone ahead of your presentation.
- Be in a room with good lighting so people can see you better.
- Turn off your notifications on your computer and phone. These can be distracting to you and your audience.
- If possible use two monitors, or at least a second device like an iPad. This can be helpful in looking up information while your presentation is on the screen.
- If possible, have a co-host
- They are great for assisting in moderating the chat for you.
- They can listen more closely to discussions for things you might have missed.
- They are helpful to talk to in times of silence.
- When the session is over they are someone to debrief with.
- Know Your Platform
- Whether it is Zoom, Google Meet, or something else understand it’s basic features
- Know how to share joining information with audience members that are attempting to join late
- Know how to start and moderate the chat
- Sharing your screen is of utmost importance. You will most likely have a presentation, make sure people can see it.
- Know how to mute your rouge audience microphones. It might not be their fault but mics turn on sometimes, know how to shut them off.
- Have empathy for your participants
- Don’t force them to sit and listen for long periods of time, keep sessions reasonably short and give breaks if needed.
- This is a new experience for many, if they leave their mic on don’t be mad about it, understand they didn’t mean to interrupt you.
- Silence from the group doesn’t mean they don’t understand, sometimes silence is just how video instruction goes.
Who do you call when you have news to share? Your parents? Spouse? Friends? Often, when something ‘big’ happens we have a core group to turn to for support.
This is incredibly important during these uncertain times with the COVID-19 outbreak. While we no doubt are talking to those close to us (probably more than we should be) there are times when we need to talk to others who understand us in a different context.
Educators around the world have been catapulted into online learning. Some are prepared and welcoming the opportunity while others are going in kicking and screaming. Although I am no longer school-based I am in the “thick of things” just like educators- only in my role, I’m supporting multiple counties, districts, and coaches. Who do I turn to for support?
The following is a list of groups I’ve leaned on during these chaotic times. All are free and welcoming of new arrivals. Perhaps they will work for you too.
- Online Learning Collective: A Facebook group of higher education professionals sharing and planning together.
- The Ultimate E-Learning Support Group: A Facebook group of e-learning educators that support each other.
- Educator Temporary School Closure for Online Learning: A Facebook group started as a group for international educators who were quarantined and has evolved into a much larger group of stakeholders that are affected by Coronavirus.
- Twitter: Connect with educators around the world who are tackling similar problems.
- The Daily Connect with Lucy Gray: Educators from around the world have the opportunity to jump on a Zoom call daily to connect and share information.
- LTC “Office Hours”: The Learning Technology Center is holding open Zoom meetings daily as an opportunity for educators to connect and share.
- “Women Leader Exchange”: A colleague started a “chain mail” opportunity in which we have the chance to send an uplifting quote or email to a female colleague we admire. I was grateful to be added to the list.
How are you connecting with supports to get through COVID-19? Let me know on Twitter so we can support each other.
In my role as the Regional Educational Technology Coordinator for ISBE‘s LTC, one of the perks is I get to work with instructional technology coaches. As a coach for 10 years prior to this position, it is where I feel most at home. In Chicago, coaches aren’t plentiful. I was the only one in my building, in a city without many others. All of my professional personal growth came from opportunities I sought outside of my district, and on my own: volunteering, serving on boards, Twitter chats, conferences, etc.
Recently in one of my meetings, there was a discussion about how there isn’t much out there for coaches to improve on their own practice. After all, many coaches strive to improve the practice of educators in their school building. In response to this, I created a reflective journal for coaches to use if they were interested in improving their practice on their own. The journal contains 8 sections:
- Learning Style & Connecting with Others: an area for coaches to identify where they go for personal growth and how they like to learn.
- Your Job, Today: coaches have a space to reflect on their current role.
- Deep Dive into Evaluation: the journal contains a safe space for coaches to reflect on the most recent evaluation from their administration.
- Goal Setting: a template for coaches to focus on one particular goal.
- Read & Reflect: articles related to coaching with a space for reflection.
- ISTE Standards for Coaches: the new standards are broken down into an editable table where coaches can add comments, resources, and links.
- Resources for Coaches: books, podcasts, Twitter chats, and other digital resources for coaches.
- Final Reflection: a space for coaches to wrap up their reflection journal.
If you are interested, please make a copy and share it with those you think could benefit from this professional growth opportunity. I wish I had something like this when I was coaching.
Upcoming LTC events for Coaches:
IETC Meet & Greet for Coaches
November 14 | 4:00 pm | More information will be available online
West Cook County Instructional Technology Coaches Meeting
November 6 and December 3|1:00-3:00 pm | Hillside
ROE #39 Instructional Tech Coaches Roundtable
December 11| 9:00 am-noon | Macon/Piatt ROE#39
North Cook ISC Instructional Technology Coaches Meetings
December 19 | 1-3 pm