A Technology Coach’s Biggest Mistake: Part One

Getting teachers to adopt new practices with technology isn’t easy, and (despite what many people think) it isn’t because of age or how savvy they are with the newest gadgets. It’s about buy-in. If a majority of the teachers with whom you are working have not decided that your goals are worthwhile, your efforts will fail. It’s that simple. Ignoring teacher buy-in is a mistake you can’t afford to make.

In the first of a two-part series, Adam Cole, our Innovative Learning Strategist offers some tips for getting your teachers onboard with your efforts.

A Guide to Getting Your Teachers Onboard 

Help Teachers Understand the “Why”

Free jean day and doughnuts will only go so far in getting teachers to try technology in their classroom. If you want teachers to make a long-term effort to reach their technology goals, it has to be intrinsic. That means they need to understand the “why.” These steps are important when getting teachers to understand the reason behind your coaching goals.

  • Have a vision that defines what the future will be like. When people understand where they are headed, they are much more likely to ignore all the roadblocks that stand in their way. Create goals based on a solid vision.
  • Keep your message consistent. Keep your vision simple and easy to understand. Anyone should be able to give a clear indication about the vision in less than a minute.
  • Start at the top. You have to get your administrators involved.  Even if that means ghost writing emails or creating presentations that they can use, do whatever it takes to get them involved.
  • Communicate, A LOT. Whatever communication you are doing now, it likely isn’t enough.  Try putting out your vision every day through morning teacher greetings, personal phone calls, or even Facebook, Instagram, and other forms of social media.  Email alone isn’t enough.

Don’t Be Afraid to Get Emotional

People make decisions with emotions, and those types of decisions often have the longest-lasting effects. Not convinced? Try convincing someone to start rooting for a different sports team or that their favorite author isn’t any good. You won’t have much luck because they have an emotional connection that runs deep. How can you translate that to help you accomplish your vision? Here are some things you can try to create an emotional appeal:

  • Market Your Vision. Creating a brand for your vision isn’t a bad idea. Try creating a catchphrase or hashtag that reminds teachers of why what you are doing is important.  When you are creating a brand for your vision it should make teachers feel something, and that feeling should be associated with making a difference.
  • Understand Your Audience. Getting buy-in means understanding how teachers think and the work that drives them. If you are trying to connect with teachers emotionally, focus on some issues that will motivate them. We recommend keeping a student focus. That’s why they started teaching in the first place.
  • Be Inclusive. Everyone wants to feel like they are a part of something that makes a difference. Teaching is one of the most important jobs around, but are we making it FEEL big enough? Providing examples of how they can make a difference by supporting your vision can motivate them to work hard and recruit others to help.
  • Use a powerful story. Picking an emotional story that helps illustrate your vision will help teachers to see the impact that they are making. Are there examples of teachers in your schools that are doing great things? What are some stories of students showing growth through technology? Storytelling is one of the most effective ways to connect with people.

The secrets to a successful technology integration aren’t really secrets. If you are a coach or leader working with teachers, the first step is to invest the time necessary to engage them in the process. Ready for more? Check out Part Two.

Written by Adam Cole