Everyone needs a coach
A good coach knows the unique talents and abilities of all of his players. He identifies his starters, his second string players, and his bench players and intends to train them according to their ability level to help them succeed. A good coach also knows that to win you have to start your best players. Starters lead the team to success by displaying superior performance and modeling the right moves for other players.
Who are your starters? As the technology leader at your school, you are the Head Coach looking to lead a team. When you think about your best teachers - the ones with the most passion and enthusiasm for integrating technology to improve learning - who comes to mind? Those are your Schoology Coaches. They are the teachers who you want training, motivating, and supporting the rest of the faculty.
Every school has its share of slow technology adopters, just like the Rodger’s Adoption Cycle suggests. Strangely enough, leaders often think that the best way to bring these people on board is to spend countless hours working to convince them to use technology. But the opposite is really true. Instead, focus that precious time and energy on improving the quality of the most innovative teachers. Their success in the classroom will multiply exponentially and the entire faculty will benefit.
The Schoology Coaches model is one that empowers your strongest teachers to take ownership of innovative teaching and encourages them to spread their knowledge. By using Schoology Coaches to train faculty, every teacher receives the one-on-one attention he needs to be successful integrating Schoology in the district, building, or school.
Here's how it works:
Choose your starters
Identify your most innovative and passionate teachers who are excited to share ways they are using Schoology. Keep in mind that this is not always the teacher with the most experience using Schoology - this is the teacher who is willing to be innovative with instructional styles and try new strategies to help keep students engaged and create a student-centered learning environment.
Use Schoology To Do It: Analytics
As a system admin, you can look at each user’s specific analytics to see how they are using their course. Search for the teachers you expect to see using Schoology heavily and take a look at their analytics to assess their current use of Schoology and look for areas where they are strong and can offer guidance to other teachers. You can also use the analytics tab in their course to see how often they engage students to interact with Schoology.
Give Your Coaches a Pep Talk
Empower these teachers by giving them the title “Schoology Coach.” Cast a vision for these Schoology Coaches for how they can impact their school and transform learning by providing support to other faculty members. Bring the coaches together and spend time leading them in conversations about how to improve Schoology implementation and use their input to create a plan for the next phase of implementation.
Use Schoology To Do It: Groups
Create a group on Schoology for your Schoology Coaches to interact and learn from one another in between in person meetings. Add regular encouragement by posting videos for them on the feed or ask for their input on important topics by starting a discussion thread.
Practice to perfect
These teachers are chomping at the bit to get on the field and try new ideas - let them! Challenge your Schoology Coaches to become the model teachers for the blended learning classrooms using Schoology’s features. Play to each Coach’s strength and challenge them to go paperless, flip their classrooms, or gamify learning using Schoology. This provides the Coaches with the incentive to stay innovative and it creates concrete classroom examples for Schoology Coaches to share with faculty. Let Schoology Coaches know they will be highlighted among their peers and use Schoology Coaches’ classrooms as exemplars for other faculty members to visit so they can experience a transformed classroom environment.
Use Schoology To Do It: Course Materials & User Tools
Train your Schoology Coaches on Schoology features that others may not be using yet like Blogs, Portfolios, Badges, and Media Albums. Give them access to the newest tools so they can try to integrate the tool uniquely in their classrooms. Ask them to test out a new tool for their class so that they can offer solutions for teachers who want to try the new tools next.
Schedule a scrimmage
Let your Schoology Coaches be the faculty trainers. Provide EdCamp style PD or Lunch & Learn opportunities for faculty where the Coaches can highlight Schoology. Have Schoology Coaches provide specific trainings on topics that will interest the faculty - play to the Coach’s strength and have them present a Schoology tool they use often. Schoology coaches can also prepare blended learning online modules in a Schoology course for teachers to reference after a session. As practitioners, Schoology coaches bring valuable insights because they use Schoology with students every day and have practical solutions to the questions faculty will ask during a training.
Use Schoology To Do It: Courses
Create a specific Schoology PD course where teachers can access the blended learning materials on specific Schoology topics. Make all your Coaches admins and allow them to build out modules on the topics that they have expertise in. Add all your teachers to the course, then use the calendar feature to share upcoming learning opportunities. Your teachers should always know where to find the next PD offering from Schoology Coaches.
Call a timeout
Training in a large group setting only goes so far. The benefit of having Schoology Coaches is that they are able to follow up with teachers individually after group training to provide additional support. Their impact is powerful because they are easy for teachers to access - a Schoology Coach should be a peer teacher a few classrooms down the hall or a fellow teacher they would see at lunch. When teachers have access to a Schoology Coach to ask quick questions or inquire about a new Schoology feature, those teachers are better supported. One-on-one coaching is the most powerful professional development tool that we have because it provides personalized attention and specific problem solving, which allows teachers to be more willing to try new instructional practices.
Use Schoology To Do It: Badges
As coaches make progress with teachers, award the teacher’s progress by assigning her a badge in the PD course. For example, if a Schoology Coach works on building a rubric with a teacher and the teacher completes the Rubrics PD module, she earns a Rubric Builder Badge. Teachers who take the time to learn from a Schoology coach and improve their practice should be highlighted and praise so they become new evangelists for Schoology tools.
It’s time to turn the tables and place the ownership of the professional learning on your innovative internal lead teachers. Empowering them will create a culture of peer sharing that is more powerful than other formats of professional development. And most importantly, this strategy personalizes every teacher’s professional growth by putting a coach by their side to encourage and support them.
Try This Tomorrow: Use Schoology Coaches to enhance your LMS implementation!
Allison is an K-12 Instructional Coach at Mount Pisgah Christian School near Atlanta, Ga. Her goal is to empower educators to maintain a learning mindset that encourages them to grow continually.
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