Many schools employ technology coaches / integrators, though the role they undertake is wide-ranging and differs greatly from school to school. Like many new positions that are created in schools the role evolves as the landscape shifts, particularly with the rapid development of new and different technologies. While this can be difficult to plan for one thing does stay constant in a school, the stakeholders. Technology use in schools tends to happen on three to four fronts: Students, Teachers / Staff, Parents and Visitors, with the first three being the most important groups requiring support. One of the frustrations for a technology coach is that are unsure of where to spend their time, as there are many demands placed upon them. The best thing about most technology coaches is that do not sit back and let things happen; they are technology activists with great initiative but this does not mean that they don’t get frustrated. A sense of dispiritedness may arise when technology coaches are pulled in so many different directions, a sense of purpose in the role begins to wane. It is vital that schools leaders carefully consider the roles of all their IT staff, in particular, the technology coach. Where should they be spending their time?
Supporting students Technology coaches may work with students in many different ways, from helping students reset passwords through to establishing student technology assistants who are on hand to help their teachers with simple fixes to problems they may experience when using technology in a classroom e.g. the projector not working. Technology coaches may be strongly involved in teaching students about and assisting them with developing good habits when working with technology, such as backing-up, compressing files and password security. Supporting parents Schools that have set up parent portals for them to access, and possibly update, information about their child e.g. information about attendance, grades and class newsletters / blogs. Parents require information about these services and support with using the technology if widespread adoption is to occur. There are some fabulous information systems to involve parents in the life of the school, the education of their child along with supporting the school with updating essential information such as medical and contact details. These systems, however, require, the appropriate level of support and this may well draw on the time of the technology coach(es). Supporting teachers Lastly, but most importantly, the technology coach has an essential role in supporting teachers. The biggest impact on student learning will from how teachers integrate technology to enhance the learning experience and improvement student outcomes, in particular in the area of creativity. This may include support with various software applications and effective use of learning management systems such as Moodle. Teachers also require support in how they can use technology to be more productive and thus support with practical applications such as email, cloud storage and, using and managing their device(s). Further consideration Many technology coaches will say that their main role is to work themselves out of a job. Certainly, they can do this best by working with teachers, first and foremost. If teachers are able to support students with the effective and responsible use of technology, this will allow the technology coaches to spend more of their time supporting teachers. However, if a large amount of time is spent providing ‘customer service’ to parents, then they cannot be as effective in supporting education that provides a better educational outcome for students. It is, therefore, essential that school leaders constantly assess how effective their technology coaches are and what exactly is their purpose. With a greater intention and constant reflection, review and adjustment, we can get the most out of our talented colleagues and their expertise in effectively using technology in our schools.
Technology Coaches also need to be catalysts for change, it is no good just to sit back and support the teachers they also need to gently push and prod and coach the teachers. A gentle challenge while always being approachable and available is very important.
A coach should be an incubator of new ideas and someone who is willing to support teachers in trying new things making lots of mistakes and learning through these mistakes.
That’s where good school leadership comes in by supporting coaches prodding in the right direction