Establish trusting and respectful coaching relationships that encourage educators to explore new instructional strategies.
When I worked in ETM, I already had 10+ years of IT work under my belt at SPU. It made the transition to working solely with faculty, a little easier because I had already built up a reputation and had created my own “toolbox” of skills and practices that would help me build rapport with the people I worked with. Things like active listening, focusing on empathy and not sympathy, being non-judgmental, avoiding assumption, being open and friendly and working hard to make sure my body language and other non-verbal cues matched the words coming out of my mouth.
I was really excited to be able to explore the complexities of building trust during this program because I had often thought of building rapport and trust, like having a set of skills and practices, aka my toolbox of things I did to be trustworthy, but I think that caused me to initially have a transactional approach to my relationships, rather than a relationship that went beyond the “I have an issue and you provide me an answer” aspect and would start including “how are you really doing?”
The pandemic really helped me step into that more through the concept of affective labor. The idea that my team and I needed to be calm and consistent and “present” with each of our faculty to hear their struggles, stressors, exhaustion, concerns and on the flip side joy when things worked and went well, and excitement at future possibilities. There was an element of this before the pandemic, e.g. a stressed individual calling about an urgent issue, but these types of interactions didn’t happen as often as they did during the pandemic. I recall being on support with someone who just needed to vent – no solutions, just vent. I’ve done that for coworkers, but never really had the chance to be there for a faculty member and in that moment, what I felt was honor. I felt honored that someone trusted me enough to share their real feelings and felt like I was on their side and would have their back.
It’s that type of trust that helps get us into transformational work in our coaching relationships. This is what helps me introduce new ideas like Student Centric Professional Development, new technologies like when we changed our LMS 5+ years ago and our Lecture Capture System 3 years ago. It helped us move a largely face to face campus with less than 40% LMS usage, to fully online with 90+% of our courses on Canvas in a matter of months. These projects would not have seen the success they did if it weren’t for all the work, we had done ahead of time to build relationships with each other and the faculty we served.
Partner with educators to identify digital learning content that is culturally relevant, developmentally appropriate and aligned to content standards.
I think this is always going to be a work in progress for me. When I was in m old position, I also served as Diversity Committee Chair for my building and helped prepare professional development to help our areas become more culturally responsive. This led to me thinking about how I could do this more seamlessly in my own work too.
Some of the ways I tried to make adjustments, was to hold sessions on Taking the pulse of your course, discussing the digital divide in Seattle and its roots in the practice of Redlining, Creating a more Inclusive Online Classroom as well as Closing the Digital Divide in the Classroom.
I also worked with my colleagues to read through Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain by Zaretta Hammnond and the study guide she put together. We worked through 1-2 chapters per month this past academic year and I really enjoyed hearing different perspectives, experiences, and attitudes towards some of the questions and content. It really got me thinking more and has allowed me to also provide feedback to my department on our current diversity action plan.
Lastly, I tried to be a Diversity, Equity, Inclusion (DEI) lens to my own work by trying to create a rubric that incorporated DEI elements and include how we could include DEI in technology tool evaluations.
Partner with educators to evaluate the efficacy of digital learning content and tools to inform procurement decisions and adoption.
I didn’t have many opportunities to evaluate curriculum content, but I did have quite a few opportunities to work with faculty on the development of their courses, so in that context, I was able to ask questions about how they would “know” how their course and content were doing. This was accomplished early on, by introducing the content in Taking the Pulse of your Course into our first Winter Academy and then discussing elements from that content in various professional development offerings by my office, such as Course Climate, Community, Inclusivity & Accessibility, and even Assessments where we could talk about reducing bias and improve questions so they wouldn’t put multi-lingual learners at a disadvantage. All of these helped us and the faculty we worked with think more about how students were experiencing their courses and could have a better understanding of how something they chose to implement in class impacted students.
Some of the work I am most proud of, is the work ETM did to improve our technology procurement process. My supervisor and I held a “fireside” chat of sorts, to discuss how we thought about technology and be more transparent about our processes. We also linked resources that helped inform our conversations and documented in a public location, our review process for looking at tools. Since I had time to think about this more, I was even able to start bringing this process into my current position. Often, we receive requests to have software installed on computers in the classrooms on campus and by having a process, we become more consistent, but we also create more awareness about how technology choices in the classroom can impact students.
Personalize support for educators by planning and modeling the effective use of technology to improve student learning.
One of the most effective ways I think I demonstrated this standard was when I put together a conference proposal with my team to discuss how we made our professional development more “student-centric.”
In Student Centric Professional Development, I created a presentation and video about how my department revamped the professional development during the pandemic to help faculty move to emergency online teaching. We created our concept of a “Learning Lab” where there would be hands on opportunities to practice and discuss things we were learning or working on, which were all presented as exemplars that faculty could then experience and take with them for their own classroom planning. We saw high participation and enrollment numbers and heard from many faculty how much they enjoyed being able to experience Canvas like a student would.
Another area where I got to practice this standard was through the day to day support my team provided to faculty through our support tickets, walk-ins, and phone calls. In a short amount of time, I need to evaluate and determine what a person needs, and then do my best to provide a response that is straightforward, meets the person where they’re at in their use of technology, and provides food for thought. Some faculty are more open than others and as I got to know them more, I was able to get better at knowing when I should “teach a person to fish” as opposed to “fishing for them.” Each interaction though, was an opportunity for me try to model and encourage effective uses of technology – whether that be discussions how their choice impacted students, but also how their choice could’ve inadvertently made more work for themselves. As a person who administrated systems, but also got to wear the Instructional Designer hat, it was my job to help faculty think from a variety of perspectives and how they might plan or adapt in order to create a better learning experience for all students.