A Technology Coach Looks at Her Role During COVID
December 3, 2020
December 3, 2020
By Katie Fielding
We’re just a couple months into school and I’ve already learned more lessons about coaching than I did in my first three years combined. What I have to offer my colleagues isn’t something optional, something they can use to “jazz up” a lesson—it’s a set of non-negotiable skills needed for remote teaching. To technology people it always seemed like a non-negotiable that the skills students could gain from technology-infused lessons were necessary in our world. Teachers know what students need, and my job has been to help those teachers be themselves.
Here are five lessons I have learned so far this year:
1. I could exchange the word ‘coach’ for ‘counselor’ now. As much as I’m helping teachers utilize tools they need to connect with their students, I’m counseling them that they “can do it” and “it’s going to be OK.” I’ve been calming people after tears and making that kind of care more important than tech wizardry.
2. Your thankless tasks are someone else’s quick wins. A task that could take me 40 seconds to do might take someone else 15 minutes. If I have power to make a teacher’s life easier right now, I’m going to do it for them. Sometimes this may be against district “recommendations,” but as long as it doesn’t put students’ safety and privacy at risk I’ll do what I can to help.
3. More than ever I am everyone’s coach. Every day I’m meeting with stakeholders across the spectrum: administration, support staff, teachers, students and, more than ever, parents. I’ve had to use productivity tools to make myself accessible and easy to meet with. Calendly and Todist are saving my home life.
4. Collaboration is key. I think everyone is seeing that we all must collaborate to make things work. As a coach I don’t have all the answers, so I rely on my coaching colleagues, find people that complement your skills, and make a super team. I found my team with ITCs4All and UnisonEdu.
5. Lastly, the most important thing I’ve learned is to keep it simple. I’m usually one to dive into projects and to have a few irons in the fire, but I realize my sole responsibility right now is support. If I get a 5-minute pause I don’t have to fill it. I need to be available for that teacher on the Zoom who needs a virtual hand to hold. Scaling back is OK.
Hopefully, you see some of your own experience in these lessons. Also, never forget that COVID-19 disproportionately affects communities of color—not just students of color but educators of color too. These teachers need extra care and support now.
Fielding, a Prince William Education Association member, is an instructional technology coach at Woodbridge Senior High School. She was named Coach of the Year by the Virginia Society for Technology in Education.