Technology Leadership and Coaching: A Support System for Teachers Integrating Technology with Classroom Practice

Ritt, Hilary, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Dexter, Sara, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia

Technology has been shown to enhance math and science instruction when adding value to content understanding; for example, by promoting visualization (Beichner, 1996; Zucker et al., 2008; Grouws, 2006; Jensen, Wilcox, Hatsh & Somdahl, 1996; Windschitl, 2001) and facilitating inquiry (Linn, Lee, Tinker, Husic, & Chiu, 2006; Linn & Slotta, 2000). Yet teachers need support for using technology in ways that enrich teaching and learning (Cuban, Kirkpatrick, & Peck, 2001; Ronnkvist, Dexter, & Anderson, 2000; Zhao, Pugh, Sheldon, & Byers, 2002), and so a key consideration for school leaders is developing leadership practices that create support structures for teachers‘ technology integration. One such support structure present in many schools is the availability of an instructional technologist whose role is to assist teachers in integrating technology and instruction. The support of school leaders is essential in facilitating instructional technologists‘ work in regard to articulating a vision for teaching and learning (Dexter, Louis & Anderson, 2010), defining the role of the instructional technologist (Davidson, 2003; Hearrington & Strudler, 2006; Norton, 2004), providing opportunities to learn (Hearrington & Strudler, 2006; Langran, 2006; Norton, 2004), and modifying the organization to allow for instructional technologists to meet with teachers and gain access to resources (Davidson, 2003; Hearrington & Strudler). The first manuscript presented here, School Leadership Practices that Support the Work of Instructional Technologists, presents the literature regarding how school leaders‘ can support instructional technologists‘ work in terms of these three key categories of leadership practices. With the increasing interest in how school leaders and instructional technologists can contribute to teachers‘ construction of pedagogical content knowledge supported by technology (Mishra & Koehler, 2006), an opportunity to study a model that pairs instructional technologists with teachers who share a background in their same content area is of particular interest. This study takes place in a suburban school district in a mid-Atlantic state. This district was initially chosen because of its innovative system of technology support, which is organized to provide content-specific coaching for teachers integrating technology. District leaders recommended two middle schools to purposively sample; these schools were chosen because of their technology initiatives, leaders‘ involvement in technology leadership practices, and teachers‘ technology integration efforts. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with math and science teachers and teacher leaders, math and science instructional technologists (ITs) assigned by the district office to those same teachers, and the principals of two middle schools, as well as district-level leaders. Focus groups and surveys were conducted with all math and science teachers at the two middle schools as was an observation of one math and one science IT as they collaborated in a classroom with the purpose of documenting the ways in which the ITs work with teachers and students. Findings reported in the second manuscript in this collection, Content-Specific Instructional Technology Support: Processes and Perceptions, indicate that advantages of the content area specific model include new ideas, time to plan, and access to technology, while the only constraint was lack of availability of instructional technologists. Teacher needs unmet include just-in-time coaching, content-specific formal professional development, support for technology alignment with school vision, and facilitation of sharing technology knowledge among teachers. Findings reported in the third manuscript, An Investigation of the Relationship Between School-Based Technology Leadership Practices and Teacher Technology Integration Knowledge and Practices, suggest a positive relationship between technology leadership practices that focus on developing group understanding of the technology vision and the teachers‘ knowledge and practice of technology integration. These analyses will be of interest to district- and school-level administrators as they organize technology leadership and support systems within their district and to researchers investigating models of support and leadership for school-based technology integration.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
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