This academic year I embarked upon my second masters degree (gulp!) in an effort to grow in my role as technology integrator and coach. What came as a pleasant surprise was the option to present my final project in a format of my choosing. How wonderful it is to be a part of a program that acknowledges the changing times, and how communication and literacy are no longer limited to just print on a page! Don’t get me wrong, I have a lot of admiration for people who present their ideas with eloquence through the written word, I just personally have a greater passion for sharing through more visual forms of media. For this reason, I will be presenting this particular project in a video/slideshow, and use this blog post to elaborate a little on how I decided on the topic for this project.
This class was on Equity, Ethics, and Social Issues in Educational Technology. We read a number of texts through the course and the goal of this project was to either dig deeper into an equity issue we had reported on earlier in the semester, or to create some sort of plan related to our current setting. In a way, I chose both of these options. My equity report, focused on teacher training in technology integration, specifically in the early childhood division. I wanted to explore this idea further, but in my own setting because I currently work as the technology integrator for PreK-2. As someone who is meant to not just work with students but also with teachers, I wanted to use this project as an opportunity to dig deeper into how I could provide a more equitable coaching environment and meet different teacher needs.
Looking back through the various readings we covered during the semester, the first one that triggered my idea for this project was Digital Dead End by Virginia Eubanks. In this book Eubanks takes a closer look at the social issues surrounding experiences with technology that create barriers to equity. The big idea that I took away from this book was that we all bring personal experiences with us which affect the way we approach technology. Without a deeper understanding of where people are coming from, it can be hard to create the right environment for training to meet their needs. In the same way that Eubanks spent time talking to women at the YWCA, I hoped to spend some time with several of the early childhood teachers at my school to gain a better understanding of the people I was working with, and create a more educated plan for myself as a coach.
Danah Boyd’s book, It’s Complicated, was the first book we touched on at the beginning of the semester and then came back to toward the end. During the course we read the chapter on Inequity twice, once at the beginning and once again at the end, to see how our thinking changed after the second read. What I noticed was that I began with a focus on how creators of technology and educators bring their own biases when making decisions. During my second reading of the chapter, I didn’t focus as much on human biases as a problem or barrier to technology integration, but rather, began looking at it as information that I could use to seek equity. How could I understand teachers perspectives better, learn what barriers and/or biases were, or why they had difficulties teaching with technology? Boyd mentions that how we use or interact with technology can be influenced by the patterns of use of the people around us. So, apart from finding out what has influenced each teacher’s practices with technology, I wondered about how I could be influential toward them.
Kolesinski, Nelson-Weaver, & Diamond (2013)
Toward the end of Kolesinski, Nelson-Weaver, & Diamond’s book, Digital Solidarity in Education, there is an outline of what can be done to support the development of digital tools within a program. Some of these ideas include beginning with a needs assessment, which I hoped to achieve through the interviews. It also highlights the availability for training and ongoing support. However, emphasis is placed upon the fact that training should be based on the needs of the audience. At the end of the day, getting to know the teachers better seemed to be my best bet at building effective training and support.
Nashar & Hayden (2012)
In October, I attended a workshop led by Diana Beabout and Carlene Hamley on coaching. They introduced me to a video entitled, “How to Lead Innovation: The 3 Carriage Train” by Nashar and Hayden, which discusses how coaches and leaders can begin to influence change. The video suggests that members of a school generally fall within one of these three carriages, and as leaders, it is best to to focus our energy on those in the middle carriage. This concept was what helped me to choose which teachers I would interview for my project. I targeted teachers I felt were in that middle carriage, and focused further on teachers from our early childhood program.
So, without further ado, here is the video which outlines some of the key ideas that I learned from the teachers I work with and how I plan to use this new information to provide more need-based support.