You know those moments where the world seems to crack open, and you never see the world the same way again? Well, I think that pretty much sums up what is happening right now in our lives and our schools. This pandemic has brought to the forefront the importance of instructional technology and the role it plays in educating our students, but I think with a few misconceptions.
I've noticed a lot of educators discussing whether there will or will not be a need for instructional technology teachers in schools when this crisis is over. After all, teachers are doing hard things. They have stepped up to the plate, swung the bat, and have hit a home run (or at least gotten to second base).
But this is what I want everyone to think through. Knowing how to use the tools is the first step. Instructional technology is more than sharing an assignment in Google Classroom or creating a screencast. It's redefining what you are already doing that isn't done without technology.
The Importance of Instructional Technology Coaches
The biggest obstacle to moving this needle, as it relates to instructional technology, has always been time. A teacher never had time to take what was taught during a professional development session or coaching lesson to try things out for themselves. Now that we have the opportunity of time, we can go deeper.
So why do we need instructional technology coaches? Let's say, you're a professional baseball player. They are the best players around. Why do they need a coach?
They probably don't need someone to tell them how to play baseball. Just like a teacher may not need someone to help teach students. However, I'd argue we don't have the right mindset about coaching in our schools. Think for a moment about the purpose of a coach. A coach helps guide, motivate, and lead others to their greatness.
In my mind, coaching is a collaboration between two professionals. An instructional technology coach helps bridge the gap between what a teacher already knows and moves them forward and supports their innovation. It usually takes more than one to learn and grow.
Distance Learning Doesn't Equate to Instructional Technology
Another takeaway and one I hope to make clear is distance learning doesn't equate to how we use instructional technology in the classroom. For the most part, we are substituting what we are already doing in school. There are a lot of obstacles in the way to redefine our instruction truly. I discussed this more in-depth here.
Relationships are at the Heart of Education Not Instructional Technology
My third and final takeaway, and maybe it goes without saying, but teaching is a relationship job. Technology cannot ever replace the relationships we have with our students and colleagues. While technology is impressive, it's never going to replace the teacher.
In this time of social distancing, the lack of human connection has made us more aware that we are social beings. While I'm an introvert at heart, I long for the time when I can sit down with my colleagues, share a good book with my kiddos, or give a hug to a special friend.
If you'd like to learn more about what I have to say about this topic, check out my YouTube channel for the full video.
If this topic interests you, check out a few of my free resources in which I go more in-depth about distance learning activities you can do with your students, as well as a few lesson plans. Click below to learn more.