Saturday, January 4, 2014
Working with Reluctant Adopters
It has been two months since I have written a post. I have been busy, with all the different hats that I wear in my district that, I kept putting off blogging. Today while I was cleaning out my inbox I came across this blog post by Richard M. Byrne @ Free Technology for Teachers , Three Responses to "But I Don't Have Time to Blog". The post is from July, by the way. Which is also a reminder that I need to get more organized.
Anyway, much has gone on since the beginning of November. For the month of November I worked in a middle school science room. At first this was a challenge for me as a coach, because I don't consider myself a middle school person. I prefer upper elementary. The teacher that I am working with has been reluctant to adopt the technology provided by our district. She was doing the bare minimum as far as technology is concerned. She uses the dropbox that comes along with the LMS that our district uses. I was asked by the principal to coach her and support her in adopting more technology in her classroom. She has the qualities that are needed by a good science teacher. She has the passion, knowledge, and skill to teach it.
I started the month by just observing the class. One of the goals of the Instructional Coaches in our district is to get teachers teaching Above the Line. When I observe teachers I have a copy of Puentedura's SAMR model open on my computer. In one column I note the lesson that the teacher is teaching, and in the other column I make suggestions as to how the teacher can move up the ladder of the SAMR model. For some it is starting with substitution for others it is moving above the line to modification or redefinition. I love this tweet from my favorite Apple Education Trainer Dan Schmit @dschmit - "SAMR describes an evolution. Subst. is a massive first step for most. Don't denigrate it. Honor the effort and build on it." It reminds me that everyone has to start somewhere.
I like to ask all the teachers that I work with questions when we first get started. I ask, What are your professional goals?, What would you like to get out of this? and What do you expect from me? In this case one of the answers that I was able to focus on immediately was, "I would like to use Google Drive more." My mind immediately went to using Doctopus the Google Apps document sharing script. The teacher was doing very little even in the way of substitution so suggesting Doctopus was a bit of a stretch. I would consider Doctopus augmentation on the SAMR scale, meaning that it gives improvement to the task process that could not be accomplished with older technology at a fundamental level. After we discussed what Doctopus is and how it could be used in her classroom I asked her to just think about it overnight. When we met again I asked her if she was reflective in her teaching and open to taking some risks. She said yes. I feel that this is very important when I am working with teachers. My job is to support them as they move outside their comfort zone. This is one of the ways we grow as teachers. I also want them to be reflective about what they did so that they can identify where they have been and where they are going. I suggest that they keep a journal.
As we moved forward with the lesson I did a lot of modeling and team teaching. I introduced the lab to the students. I explained how it worked and how it would benefit them and their teacher. One huge benefit was that in the month of November we saved approximately 900 sheets of paper using Doctopus. Another benefit was that the class was less teacher centered. It was difficult for me to not do a lot of the work for her. I just wanted to set up the spreadsheets in Google Drive, so that they would be done, but I knew that I could not do that because she would have to do it solo when I left.
At one point we noticed that some students were not filling in the answers on one of the shared documents. She and I discussed the possible reasons which included: kids not understanding the way the sharing script works, the fact that they needed to be more independent in finishing their work, or they did not understand the assignment. She came to the conclusion that it was because they were having a hard time being more independent, and remarked that she needed to be less of a control freak and let them make mistakes. I thought this was a very revealing and reflective statement on her part.
The first lab we did with the Doctopus script went well. There were a few hiccups because we both missed mistakes in the email addresses on the master roster. Correct email address are crucial to the process (I will give more information on the Doctopus process below). The first lab lasted about two weeks. We began a second lab. Because I had other district duties that I had to take care of I was not able to be around for two days during the second lab. She was forced to work with the children on her own. I was able to go to her classroom before school to make sure she had set up everything correctly and I answered all of her questions about troubleshooting problems that might arise. The lesson was a success. There were two children who could not access their documents, but that was because they forgot their log in information, not because of something she did. I was very excited that it went so well. I'm hopeful that in my absence she will continue to use Doctopus. I checked in with her via email just before Winter Break and she said things were going well in her classroom. I need to be more specific in my questioning in order to get the answers that I want.
As I look back on the experience I realized two things. While I was there I saw so many ways to integrate technology. I thought to myself, If this were my classroom I would change the entire routine. I knew I had to take baby steps. If I did not I would lose her trust and confidence. Also using Doctopus is augmentation and we totally skipped the substitution phase of the SAMR model. I did not read Dan Schmidt's tweet until the middle of November. I have to remember not to skip steps on the ladder. It is a sure way to set my mentees up for a fall. In this case it went ok, but I'm not sure that she is continuing to use what she learned now that I'm gone. Lesson learned - honor each phase in SAMR.
If you want to know more about Doctopus please visit the Google Site that I created for in-house professional development that I teach.
It covers Doctopus and Flubaroo, my two favorite Google apps scripts.