The Long Game

In search of EAL goal setting strategies for team teachers and coaches

They call me a “technology coach” around here. When I first heard the title, even coming from a background of technology education and experience working with adults, it immediately conjured images of me shouting suggestions from the sidelines instead of being a player in the game. In my experience, that’s rarely been true, as we are all learners of technology in this rapidly changing world. Being a coach has called me out as a “subject matter expert” who brings a certain skill set to the team, but I’m still a player in the learning game. I rely on the strengths of my team to achieve student erudition, and sometimes they rely on me.

Karen Johnson’s article for Edsurge discusses coaching in learning communities and cited studies discussing implementation as a key factor in the success of those initiatives. I like where the research is heading… teachers value coaching from peers, rather than administrators, and see increased value in coaching when it becomes a regular part of their work experience. Aside from every teacher’s struggle with time, I think I’m with it there. Now let’s try add being a language teacher to the mix.

When I try to apply my understanding of my role to being a language teacher, I have difficulty defining where I stand among the impressive experience of my peers. I have tactics for tech. How do I set goals to improve them for English language learners, while supporting those of the teachers I support? Techniques for coaching adults do not always apply to teaching children. My greatest obstacle in teaching children is the breadth of material and the lack of time to differentiate. Many lessons are “left hanging” as the next thing comes along. How do I ensure that the lessons I design integrate unit, skill, language and the individual learner? It’s a little bit daunting. 

So it’s time to play the long game, the one that needs strategy as well as tactics. I need to identify attainable goals before I can set them. I wrote previously on the codification of language and I hope to use that as a starting point… leveraging the multimedia, symbols, gestures and simulations of technology to find common ground, whether coaching or teaching. I would like some coaching feedback from teachers and TAs who do not have English as a first language to better develop my tech teaching tactics for the professionals I work with (@emilieqi, @theanysiv, @valeriealpanes, I’d love to hear your comments). As for teaching children, my first step is to make differentiation and language support part of my collaborative planning for tech integration as opposed to leaving it as the responsibility of “the classroom teacher” or “EAL specialist” that I then rely heavily upon. It’s a start, but as in all things, I’d love to talk about making it a team effort. 



2 thoughts on “The Long Game”

  1. Hi Matt, in our Environments focus group on Friday we were looking at how we can promote multilingual environments. One of the things we noticed was that images and symbols can be a great meeting point for different written and oral languages. When we start with an English word and branch out, we have already given precedence to one spoken/written language. Your work on ‘leveraging multimedia, symbols, gestures and simulations of technology to find common ground’ may be an excellent connection for our group.

  2. Hi Matt,

    One thing that this post made me think about it yet another subject area in secondary – one dedicated to information and communication technology. I feel that there is a lot of important information about how to use, how to talk about using, how to select the best way to use everything from software to hardware that overlooked in traditional curriculums. It is often frustrating to have to stop teaching skills and content of my subject area to try and teach the skills and content of technology before we can return to the original subject. Obviously in an ideal world these two things should be merged.

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