As a district technology director, chief technology officer, or technology or instructional coach, your role will continue to have a major impact as teaching and learning move from in-school classrooms to homes. You may have a well-established professional learning plan that was working before, but now you may have to alter it to assist administrators and teachers (and student families) working remotely. But you are not alone.
At FETC 2020, I ran a session on technology coaches creating digital toolkits to assist with professional learning. Providing a toolkit is important, particularly now. Teachers and administrators need a place to find the digital tool resources they need. Here are four ways for tech leaders to offer support now.
(My work is based on modeling. Talk with your instructional leaders first. For instance, before you recommend that teachers use Zoom or Google Meet for scheduling meetings with students, administrators should use the tools first.)
1. Create a website for e-learning strategies and communication
Consider using Google Sites, WordPress or even SITE123 to build a website to share digital resources. This site can serve as a landing page to show teachers and administrators how different tools can be used. Remember, try not to overload your website with too many tools. Here is an example of a website created to share remote learning ideas.
Giving educators a digital voice is the most important task when it comes to online teaching and learning
2. Use collaborative tools
Besides creating a website to share resources, you will also need a place for administrators and teachers to share and collaborate with one another. Google Classroom or Microsoft Teams are two collaborative digital tools you can use. Allow teachers to share what is working with students as they teach online. Show administrators how to use these platforms as a way to digitally check in and ask questions. The goal is to keep everyone encouraged and working together.
3. Create professional learning sessions with videoconferencing
The objective is to create a means of sharing professional development as if your administrators and teachers were at school. Zoom, Google Meet or Skype may offer great solutions for synchronous or asynchronous training. As you are sharing digital tools using Zoom or Google Meet, remember that this may be a learning curve for your leaders and teachers. Serve as a guide so they understand the purpose of videoconferencing. These tools will help administrators create virtual staff meetings, and help teachers create learning opportunities with their students.
4. Give educators a digital voice
This is the most important task, in my opinion, when it comes to online teaching and learning. As a technology director, I know we will do our best to provide technology devices, hot spots and digital resources. Technology coaches will provide online learning and teaching strategies. But we cannot forget about the thoughts of our teachers and administrators.
Read: Keeping up connections
Give teachers and administrators the opportunity to speak and offer suggestions. Create a social outlet, such as a Facebook Group, that allows teachers to speak up and motivate each other. Design a survey that asks questions or offers support, and then turn it into a FAQ document. Share the information with administrators and help them strategize ways to show teachers they are listening. For instance, have administrators give shoutouts (digitally of course) to those teachers who are speaking up, sharing resources and motivating others.
Eujon Anderson is the technology director for Troy City Schools in Troy, Alabama, and is a featured speaker for FETC.