ISTE Standards for Coaches 1: Visionary Leadership
Technology Coaches inspire and participate in the development and implementation of a shared vision for the comprehensive integration of technology to promote excellence and support transformational change throughout the instructional environment.
Coaches should inspire and lead us down paths that are manageable, interesting and — as much as I hate to say it — intimidating. They should help us go places and do things that we may not have considered. Their role is to use the knowledge of the systems that we live and work in to create a vision for how to incorporate inspiring and engaging technology tools in the classroom.
The ISTE Standards for Technology Coaches (ISTE StandardsC) address the role that tech coaches play within a learning environment beginning with Standard 1: Visionary Leadership.
What does a visionary leader look like and do? In his book, An Integrative Theory of Leadership, Martin M. Chemers proposes that "theorists and researchers might say that leadership is a process of social influence in which one person is able to enlist the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a common task." This is what tech coaches do daily. They work in our schools, online and in our communities to develop relationships and support teachers as they challenge students to develop higher levels of knowledge.
As visionary leaders, coaches have collegial and professional relationships with all members of the organization. They often bridge the gap between administrators and practitioners because they have the unique opportunity to view the academic system from a global perspective, which they connect to the everyday work of teachers and students. Technology coaches are comfortable working with district leadership in the planning, development, communication, implementation and evaluation of technology-infused strategic plans. They help school leaders refine their personal technology use and develop a broader vision of learning for our classrooms. And they provide group and individual professional development while designing engaging lessons with a classroom teacher. This all helps educators create learning activities in the technology-rich environment that today's students require.
Tech coaches also advocate for funding. Often the technology coach is the person teachers or administrators look to for recommendations when purchasing software and materials to enhance learning and teaching. Coaches stay current on the trends and educational strategies that research shows have a positive effect on academic success. They accomplish this by participating in webinars, blogs and professional learning communities and by attending and presenting at conferences. Coaches also help support staff learn how to complete tasks efficiently while showing them how to use the strategies, tools and equipment in the classroom for their own professional development.
Tech coaches are critical to any school system because they help staff maneuver into the future and prepare students for an exciting, technology-rich life.
Kara Gann holds a M.Ed. in administration and is the strategic integration director for Atomic Learning. She was a member of the ISTE Board of Directors (2008-12) and its Executive Committee. Gann has received a Presidential Volunteer Service award as well as an ISTE Making IT Happen award.
This article is an updated version of a column that was originally published in the April/May 2012 issue of Learning & Leading with Technology.
Want to learn more about coaching teachers to use technology effectively to improve student learning? Sign up for our self-paced Coaching Academy for step-by-step guidance on proven ways to help your colleagues embrace digital age teaching.