I’ve been spending this morning planning my literacy coaching work for the year ahead, and I’m realizing that the way I approach technology integration as a coach has everything to do with how likely teacher efforts might truly improve student learning. Those in my learning network often question the effectiveness of leading these efforts by focusing on tech tools first, and I couldn’t agree more. Facilitating processes that enable teachers to identify the learning needs of students well, design interventions that attend to those needs, and measure the impact of their efforts is part of the much larger work to be done.
It’s impossible to make choices around tech tools until we understand where we need to support kids better as learners and create plans for accomplishing that. These plans have to be systemic in nature in order to effect change. This requires expertise in so much more than technology. For instance, it requires some understanding of systems-thinking. It requires that we know how to capture and make meaning from various kinds of data well, how to design strategic plans that will lead to growth in learning, how to measure progress, and how to align tech tools to this much larger vision in a way that will ensure they are being used purposefully. It requires that we are striving to define what literacy is even as the elements of it are changing shape and that we understand how curriculum design, instructional practice, and assessment work in concert with one another in order to produce it. Creating learning opportunities for educators that result in real change demands so much more from coaches than showing up with strategies, resources, and well-crafted demo lessons. The work of the literacy coach lives inside of larger organizations, and the work of that system determines the success of the coaching initiative, the teachers we aim to support as coaches, and the students who will benefit from their work in a thousand different ways.
I spent the better portion of last week considering the Communities for Learning Framework and how I might leverage it to enhance my facilitation of the WNY Young Writers’ Studio and my work as a literacy coach. Theresa and I chatted briefly about creating a separate protocol that might assist those who are eager to begin integrating the use of wikis, blogs, or other tools within their schools and classrooms, but what I’m realizing now is that the CFL Framework itself facilitates our thinking and action-planning around this process well. Integration requires us to consider and plan for alignment, representation, sustainability, and growth around the Dispositions of Practice. Continually growing the expertise necessary to use that framework in powerful ways is a substantial piece of what it means to call myself a coach and a teacher. I’m realizing it has everything to do with how I approach conversations around the implementation of technology as well.