Whilst we should expect teachers to take initiative to explore new possibilities, reflect on their teaching practice and evolve as new teaching methods emerge, unfortunately the reality is we can't expect teachers to just 'know what they don't know'.
There is no question that technology is here to stay and that there are pockets of teachers doing amazing work with technology in the classroom. There is no question we must not get left behind and embrace it. There is no question that technology can be a fantastic tool in engaging students and developing the necessary skills for future work and life.
Here's how I have been working to build capacity with my colleagues…
Building teacher capacity through ICT Peer Coaching:
It's fairly common place to see schools squeezing ICT Professional Learning opportunities into the once off, afterhours whole staff meetings/PDs. I don't know many teachers who are feeling fresh and ready to learn after a full day of teaching. Demonstrations are more often than not based around 'how to use the technology'. You'll see the champions off and racing, finding some time in the coming weeks to try and refine their skills, but what about those who need some extra support? At our school we try to avoid this where possible and use a coaching approach to building teacher capacity… because…. well it works!
Coaching is certainly not a new thing and has been around for years. Many schools are already using the methodology for Numeracy and Literacy curriculum support. Showers and Joyce conducted a study in the 80's investigating the types of professional learning teachers were commonly exposed to and the impact it had on transforming learning in the classroom. The results were pretty clear cut with 'Study and Theory' style learning improved knowledge by 10% and 'Practice' style learning improved knowledge and skill by about 60%. However in reality both of these methods generally only saw an impact of 0 - 5% back in the classroom. 'Peer Coaching' on the other hand built knowledge by 95%, developed skills by up to 95% and saw the likelihood of classroom practice changing by up to 95%. It's a no brainer!
When learning for teachers is focused on real/meaningful work where they can develop curriculum built around the stuff that they can implement in their classrooms on 'Monday' not 'someday'; the work is tailored and teacher centered whereby they can set their own short term (personal) goals; and there is an opportunity for feedback and reflection, capacity grows and technology in the classroom increases. ICT Peer Coaching is a methodology involving a cycle or process that works systematically where the professional learning is ongoing over time. The feedback from staff has been extremely positive and has resulted in not only building teacher confidence but has been a powerful tool in transforming teacher practice with technology in the classroom at our school.
ICT Peer Coaching in not designed to be an 'expert/novice/mentor' style relationship but a collaborative partnership between two teachers. The role of a coach is not to advise or tell but to ask questions, provide support and skilfully communicate (active listening and the ability to ask probing/challenging questions) to encourage the 'coachee' to reflect and come to their own decisions.
I have trained as a Microsoft ICT Peer Coach Facilitator which explored ICT pedagogies and gave me all of the resources, templates and even a bag of ICT tools that I could take with me into the coaching conversations that I now have with my colleagues. Coaching has proven a great vehicle in driving our school wide goals and been an invaluable support to our teaching staff seeking support with integrating technology in the classroom.