I had started a different post earlier today, but after tonight’s #CDL_MOOCed twitter chat, I have a new topic to discuss…how to best roll out TPACK/SMAR, digital age skills, 4Cs, 21st Century Skills…whatever you want to call them!
I don’t believe that the top-down model is the most effective way to get teachers moving in new direction like the above mentioned list because it’s often done in an ineffective way: little PD, lots of list of what to do and what not to do and little time to master the ideas. Instead, a peer-over coaching manner seems to be more effective and longer lasting. So what is the peer-over coaching method? Let me share a story:
Seven years ago, I became the technology teacher/coach in a K-5 elementary school. There was one floating Smartboard and one hanging in the lab. (This is by no means a plug for a tool…hang in there.) After chatting with one of the fifth grade teachers, who was very interested in trying new things in her classroom, I encouraged her to house the smartboard in her classroom so it would not collect dust in the pod and just try using it for one thing during her day. Every few days I would check in with her, give her some tips for using the board, creating a notebook or accessing some resource to use with her class. Over the course of just a few months, she was using the board and notebooks for all subject areas and teaching her students to create notebooks to present information to their classmates. Other fifth grade teachers noticed. The board was shared out and by the end of that year, the fifth grade teachers were writing grants for smartboards and projectors.
The other fifth grade teachers peered over to a what a peer was doing and wanted in on it. They saw the benefits, the ease of information delivery and the future possibilities. In later years, all of our teachers received Smartboards and these 4 fifth grade teachers became “go tos” for many of the other teachers in the building. So I give you the peer-over method. Sometimes, allowing peers to learn from each other and not necessarily the authority figure creates more meaningful learning and application of what we are trying to teach.
This may mean letting go of a little control for some coaches or digital leaders. I’m ok with that because I know that the most important thing is not WHO teaches the new idea or concept but just that it’s ACQUIRED by the learner.
Have you learned from a peer and then shared with another? You are part of peer-over coaching!