As a technology coach, my favorite part of my job is getting to work in the classrooms of the teachers I serve. I was given the opportunity to coteach a US history lesson with one of our social studies teachers. She had seen Thinglink on a newsletter I sent out and wanted to use it in a vocabulary lesson. She explained that she wanted the students to use pictures and summaries to teach each other different words from their upcoming unit. So she broke students into groups of two or three and they started researching. Because they had so much to share with each other and me, we had chosen to save time by having the kids use a Padlet as a catch all for their ideas and materials. I have used Padlet many times before, but I forgot that on day two students would not be able to edit what they had done on day one because they did not have accounts. Oops, I'm used to one time only uses of the application or when I used it multiple days with people we all had accounts and could go back to it when we needed to. We worked around this problem by making copies of the original text boxes and editing those, then as the owner of the Padlet, I could delete the boxes that were no longer needed. Even with this stumbling block, the product turned out well in all three classes.
After this coteaching experience I took some time to reflect on the things that went well and the things that I needed to change. What I came to better understand from this experience was the importance of being able to have coteachers working together. This is an experience that I wish I had the opportunity to have as a classroom teacher. I remember trying new things on my own, only to have a malfunction of some sort that would require my attention when what I really needed to focus on was my students. With the two of us in the room the teacher was able to keep students on track and focus on helping them build historically accurate summaries while I delt with the technical problems, collection of finalized items, and sharing of the final product. Because we were able to divide the labor, the students benefited. They were able to have their teacher's full focus on them when she was discussing their work and they could still turn in their materials or get technical help without interupting the individuals working with the teacher.
The process was far from perfect, but it was a great deal easier and more managable with the two of us in the room. I feel that coaches are a neccessary piece of a strong school. I am not saying this because I am a coach and I would like to keep my job. I am saying this because I remember the lonely feeling I had when I would try a new technology or method of instruction. I remember the frustration when something did not go right and I had to make the hard choice to either focus on fixing the problem with 30 or more students waiting on me or having to scrap the whole experiment in the interest of not losing too much classtime. Having coaches in a school, wether they are math, literacy, instructional, or tech coaches, is one way to help teachers take the risks they should be taking to make learning better for students.
Parent, Educator, Technology Lover