Hands-on training for coaches
Technology for teachers was in short supply at Carlynton Junior-Senior High School. “We only had a few carts with old laptops,” explains principal Michael Loughren. “That made it challenging for students to have access to learning tools.”
During the 2017-2018 school year, the school participated in the Dynamic Learning Project (DLP) to help its teachers get hands-on support in using technology. As part of the program, the school also received Chromebooks. However, leaders like Loughren and instructional technology coach Ryan Gevaudan first needed training in coaching teachers to use technology in transformative ways. The goal, Gevaudan explains, was to help teachers become comfortable and confident in using the Chromebooks before the devices showed up in classrooms.
“The anxiety wasn't there for me,” Gevaudan says of the new technology. “But for the teachers, I knew it was there. They were willing to use technology—and I knew how it can change teaching practices.” But Gevaudan needed guidance in encouraging teachers to become digital champions.
Both Loughren and Gevaudan took part in DLP training. “Much of what Michael and I learned was about changing teachers’ mindsets, as well as their skill sets,” Gevaudan says. “It’s one thing to teach someone how to share a link in Google Classroom. But what we needed to do was change the culture.”
During the DLP summer workshop, Loughren and Gevaudan learned the value of celebrating and showcasing teacher successes—for example, scheduling regular meetings with teachers to share ideas and show support for their use of technology. “We talked about the idea of making coaching celebratory and fun,” Loughren says. “Something as simple as writing a teacher a quick note saying ‘you crushed it today’ can help them get out of their comfort zones.”
Loughren and Gevaudan also learned how to identify where teachers were in their journeys to become digital champions. Some teachers might be resistant and hesitant to test new ways of adding technology to lessons, while other teachers were early adopters and eager to experiment.
“Some teachers are first in to try technology, and some are last in,” Gevaudan says. “We learned how to deal with each type, so there were no surprises. The main takeaway was that every teachers has challenges—we learned how to identify those challenges and work with teachers and our technology to solve them.”
For a teacher seeking new ways to present information in class, Gevaudan can suggest Google Cast, a Chrome extension that allows teachers to share their Chromebook screens with students’ Chromebooks. Or if a teacher is struggling with giving feedback to students, Gevaudan can explain how to use comments and edits in Google Docs.
Coaching improves technology adoption
In late 2017, Carlynton’s first batch of 180 Chromebooks arrived. The DLP training, Gevaudan says, made an difference in when and how teachers used the devices to enhance lessons.
“We had G Suite before the DLP training and Chromebooks, but there wasn’t a lot of uptake,” Gevaudan says. “Having the training first, so we could coach teachers as soon as they received Chromebooks, was hugely important. I don’t think we’d have gotten as far as we have without it.” Before the training, only one or two teachers had created Google Classrooms to manage lessons and assignments; today, about 80 percent of teachers use Google Classroom.
Loughren sees the impact of coaching every day. “There’s much more student engagement,” he says. “They work collaboratively now, and they publish what they create. We even see students leading lessons.” A language arts teacher recently asked students to create reports about neighborhoods in the Carlynton community; students used videos and images in addition to writing, and presented their findings to classmates.
DLP training allows Loughren and Gevaudan to support teachers who can lead by example. “We’re seeing teachers emerging as innovation advocates who can help other teachers benefit from technology,” Loughren says. “We had a math teacher show other teachers how to create a flipped classroom, and you could hear the excitement in his voice as he was explaining it.”
Managing student safety and security with Chrome OS
Carlynton now has about 300 Chromebooks shared by 700 students. The security protections built into the Chrome operating system help teachers and instructional technology leaders broaden access to devices, since students and teachers can log into any Chromebook. “That’s very beneficial,” Gevaudan says. “The Chromebooks become students’ personal computers just by signing in. It’s like having your own backpack there when you need it.”
School IT managers save time because they don’t need to install security programs on Chromebooks—those protections are built into the Chrome operating system, which also updates automatically. “We don’t worry about spam or malware downloads,” Gevaudan says. “And when students log out of their Chromebooks, no one else has access to their files.”
However, Gevaudan knew that keeping students safe online required more than just secure software: Students needed education in safe behaviors as they conduct research and communicate with each other online. As part of DLP training, Loughren and Gevaudan were invited to a follow-up workshop on the Be Internet Awesome program, which teaches students about online safety and digital citizenship.
The Be Internet Awesome curriculum is now used in 7th grade computer science classes taught by Gevaudan, and covers online topics on information sharing, phishing and scams, privacy and security, being positive and kind , and asking for help. Presentations are integrated with Pear Deck to allow students to answer questions and share their responses on whiteboards. “I’ll ask students if they've seen someone post something negative online, or what they’d do in an online bullying situation,” Gevaudan says.
Before the Be Internet Awesome program, digital safety was only taught sporadically at Carlynton. “Now we can give students a focused way to think about what they do online—something very important as they get older,” he says.
With coaching that builds teacher enthusiasm for engaging students in learning, Carlynton is on track for continued improvement in student achievement. “Our state assessments have risen steadily,” Loughren says. “I’m proud of the way we’ve been able to use technology to change the culture here—and to focus on helping students be successful.”
“I’m proud of the way we’ve been able to use technology to change the culture here—and to focus on helping students be successful.”Michael Loughren, Principal, Carlynton Junior-Senior High School