Make Time for What Matters Part 2: Using Technology to Improve Efficiency and Developing Strong Relationships
Part 1 From a Tech Coach Perspective
Matching the right tool to the right goal is a major focus of my work as a tech coach. When I began in this role, I focused energy on ways to improve instruction and learning across content areas.
Now I’m expanding to professionals that support students outside of the classroom. School social workers play a pivotal – and rapidly growing – role in the success of our students. Technology can be associated with words like impersonal, cold, mechanical. But what if technology could improve relationships and Social Emotional Learning goals?Throughout my training (both formal and informal) in Educational Technology, rarely have I encountered discussion of partnership between a technology coach/specialist and a school social worker or counselor. Fortunately, this year I’ve worked with Marjorie Colindres, one of our Social Workers, who has found innovative ways to blend technology into her support of students.
Our partnership led to technology integration along two main strands: 1) Developing more connections and communication pathways with students, and 2) Improving her team’s efficiency in logistical tasks, freeing up more of her time to work directly with students.
For me personally, leaving the classroom to become a technology coach was a difficult decision, but one that I pursued in order to have a broader impact on more students than I could reach in a single classroom. Working together to develop these solutions has helped me achieve this vision while supporting very real, necessary, and potentially life-saving work by Ms. Colindres. A few examples:
- Using Google Forms and Google Scripts to help students self-assess their emotions, and to alert social workers when a student feels the desire for self-harm;
- Using Google Forms and Google Sheets to gather data on daily behavior and emotional goal progress from teachers, and to quickly analyze the data for trends and to determine success;
- Using Google Classroom to create a community space for sharing resources like calming music and self-help articles;
- Using Google Keep to help teachers and social workers keep running records on students to document behavior;
These are a few quick examples that we will expand upon in future blog posts, along with other solutions that help promote relationships and improve teacher efficiency.
Eric Santos is a Technology Learning Coach for Mannheim Middle School in Melrose Park, IL. He is a National Board Certified Teacher, Google Certified Educator, and holds two Master Degrees in Education in both Curriculum & Instruction and Technology Integration. He has presented at conferences like ICE, WIDA, ASTA, and IRC.