The first days of my new job as technology integration specialist were quite surreal. For 25 years I had worked as a classroom teacher integrating whatever tools and techniques were at my disposal to make learning engaging and effective. What I knew or wanted to know was highly contextual and personal, always centered around my own personal interests or the needs of the students I was teaching. Now I found myself cast in the role of an expert on all things technology. I received calls for assistance with tools that I had never personally used or even heard of! I was training (a word I hope to use very little in the future) teachers to use technology in ways that made very little sense, to me or to them. What had I gotten myself into!
Things are changing. After attending and hosting an EdCamp event (EdCampMSP), I got a glimpse of what self-directed learning in a professional setting could look like. After taking two Powerful Learning Practices courses, Teaching Online: Becoming a Connected Educator and Connected Coaching, I realized how professional development could be designed around a teacher’s needs and strengths.
Perhaps the single most head-spinning encounter was with the book Evocative Coaching. Authors Bob and Megan Tschannen-Moran set forth a powerful professional development manifesto that is a perfect fit for those of us tasked with technology integration, without once using the word iPad!
Instead, the Tschannen-Moran’s focus on the importance of the relationship that must develop between two people in order for growth to occur. And this relationship is predicated on a few principles:
- Teachers are capable adults and can be trusted to figure out things for themselves
- Learning takes place when people actively take responsibility for constructing meaning from their experience
- Coaches focus on improving their relationships with teachers, so that teachers get motivated and empowered to improve their own performance and quality of life
- Evocative coaches collaborate with teachers through exploring story, understanding feelings, appreciating strengths and enhancing strategies