Instructional Technology Coaching
Resources for utilizing coaching strategies in K-12 districts
Building coaching capacity in all K-12 districts
Current research is clear – embedded instructional technology coaches can help teachers harness educational technology’s full potential and improve student outcomes. Instructional technology coaches can also help district’s achieve existing technology integration goals and enhance district-wide instructional practices, starting from day one.
The LTC is committed to helping all Illinois K-12 districts utilize the latest instructional technology coaching practices, including start-up guidance and funding support.
The benefit of instructional technology coaches
In 1:1 and group settings, instructional technology coaches can work with individual educators and help them brainstorm solutions for overcoming their classroom challenges. Tech coaches also offer a structured framework through which teachers can integrate new tech-related strategies and reflect on their progress, ensuring that every teacher has an opportunity grow professionally and make a continuous impact on student learning outcomes.
Recent studies have also demonstrated that technology coaching programs can improve overall school culture while also increasing teacher retention year-over-year. Visit Digital Promise’s Instructional Coaching Playbook to learn more about the individual and institutional benefits of embedded technology coaching.
Technology Coaching Funding Sources
We’ve collected a few federal, state, and philanthropic funding sources that can help make instructional technology coaching a financially-viable professional development option in your district.
LTC Instructional Technology Coaching Program
The LTC Instructional Technology Coach Program is a year-long program through which schools gain access to 1:1 instructional technology coach support at a fraction of the cost.
Google Certified Coach Mentor Program
The Google for Education Certified Coach program empowers instructional coaches to drive impactful technology use in schools. With Google’s tailored curriculum and research-based 5-step coaching model, coaches are equipped with coaching strategies, guidance, and a coaching framework to be an effective coach.
3 Steps to Building a Sustainable Coaching Program
Adding instructional technology coaching to your district can feel like a daunting task at the onset. However, districts large and small have found innovative ways to make tech coaching a mainstay, ensuring that all teachers have access to the support they need to make robust edtech integration a reality.
Consider these three stages as you begin planning your district’s efforts to fund, facilitate, and expand its instructional coaching program.
Once you’ve committed to starting an in-district technology coaching program, it’s time to begin laying the foundations for a sustainable program that’s both effective and responsive to teachers’ needs. Consider these steps while working to establish your district’s new coaching program:
Identify Adequate Funding Sources
Funding will likely be a chief concern among district stake-holders when it comes to starting an embedded coaching program. Fortunately, a variety of grant-based sources can be utilized to fund a coaching program, many of which are listed above.
However, there are very few funding sources that are explicitly set aside for starting or maintaining a coaching program. Instead, these sources provide funds to support equity, evidence-based professional development, and larger technology initiatives. Coaching funding can often be secured under these broader banners, so long as a clear connection can be made between the strategy’s implementation and the funding source’s primary goals.
Also, multiple funding models are available to districts, including cost-sharing models that lower the financial barrier to entry for individual districts. Districts may also opt to hire their coach as a teacher or set aside funds from their existing professional development budget to pay their new coaches.
Outline Tech Integration Goals
To achieve success with a new coaching program, district stake-holders should set aside time prior to the program’s launch to outline the program’s goals. These could include an increased tech integration rate, as well as other benchmarks for success based on student engagement and learning.
Adopt an Effective Coaching Model
Once goals are agreed upon, district stake-holders should research and select a coaching model that can serve as a framework for achieving their stated tech integration goals. While there are an assortment of established models to choose from, districts should ensure that whatever model they choose, it provides their new coaches with a set of common expectations and methods for achieving the district’s coaching goals.
An effective model should also balance structure against professional autonomy, ensuring that each coach feels empowered to solve teachers’ challenges in a timely manner.
Hire Suitable Candidate(s)
Because of the one-on-one nature of technology coaching, effective candidates can make or break a program in its early stages. As a result, districts should endeavor to identify and hire coaches who are proficient collaborators who can leverage a growth mindset into helping teachers succeed on a day-to-day basis.
While technical skills with current edtech are a must, districts should also consider seeking candidates who are themselves former educators. This can help create an immediate report with current teachers and ensure that empathy plays a role in the coaching process.
With the foundations laid, you can launch your new technology coaching program. Consider these following steps as your newly-hired coaches begin working with your district’s teachers:
Define Coaching Roles and Scope
Once coaches begin working with teachers, stake-holders and program leaders can work together to refine coaches’ roles within each building or in the district as a while. This step can be especially critical if new or emergent needs arise among the teachers, making it necessary for their coaches to expand the scope of their support in turn. This type of evaluation can also help stake-holders understand how much time coaches spend with teachers, and advocate for program expansion if adequate collaboration time becomes too thin.
Solidify Buy-in from Administrators
If it has not already been accomplished, coaching program leaders should ensure that district administrators have bought into the program success. Often, program leaders can achieve this type of buy-in by involving administrators in early decision-making processes as well as keeping them adequately informed of the program’s successes and shortcomings. Regular, carved out meetings can help facilitate these conversations, as well.
Maintain & Assess
After launching your coaching program, you’ll need to begin looking toward the future – especially if you want it to continue meeting the needs of your district’s teachers. Consider these steps as you strive to maintain your new program’s progress:
Foster a Collaborative Culture
A culture of coaching can make a big difference in your district because it allows teachers the space to consistently reflect on their progress and set their sights on new goals. Fostering this type of culture can also give individual teachers the confidence needed to seek out and learn new types of edtech – especially if their successes are regularly celebrated and their shortcomings are presented as an opportunity for growth.
Make Data-Informed Decisions
Throughout the initial launch period and beyond, coaching program leaders should collect data on short-term progress. These frequent benchmarks can make it easier to see larger trends down the line and ensure that the larger impact of the coaching program is easier to communicate to administrators and stake-holders.
Plan for Professional Growth
Like the teachers they work with, technology coaches must strive for professional growth in order to remain reliable allies in the classroom. This can accomplished through a variety of routes, including in-district PD geared toward coaches and regular attendance at tech coach networking events. Districts can also support their coaches by offering them the opportunity to earn new certifications, such as through the LTC’s Google Certified Coach Mentor program.
Depending on how your district allocated start-up funding, your district may need to regularly evaluate their program’s funding source in order to keep on steady ground year-to-year. In particular, districts utilizing state or federal funds to establish their coaching program should be aware that these government-based grants often run out over time. As such, long-term program planning should include conversations about alternative funding methods.