How Building an Instructional Playbook Can Support Teacher Growth and Meaningful Technology Integration
This post was written by By R. Erin Comninaki (@RComninaki).
As an instructional technology resource teacher (ITRT), one of my primary responsibilities has always been to support teachers in integrating technology effectively into their classroom instruction. Before 2020, teachers could use technology at their own pace, incorporating it where they felt it would be most effective. However, with the shift to remote learning, teachers had to rapidly adapt to using technology in ways they may have felt less comfortable with. So, while technology became a lifeline for instruction during this time, it also resulted in some teachers using it in less meaningful ways. As a result, ITRTs and coaches must place greater emphasis on prioritizing effective teaching practices and subsequently utilizing technology as a tool to enhance impactful teaching strategies. One way to do so is by creating an instructional playbook.
Your Instructional Playbook is Your Garden
A well-thought-out playbook is a brief yet comprehensive guide that outlines evidence-based teaching strategies utilized by instructional coaches to assist teachers and students. Typically, the instructional strategies featured in a playbook form the basis of a district’s professional development program. Creating an instructional playbook is like tending to a garden. Gardeners must carefully cultivate and care for their plants to ensure growth and health, and a coach must put in the time and effort to create a core playbook tailored to their team’s needs.
Preparing the Soil:
Before planting in your garden, you must ensure the soil is prepared. Similarly, before you can create an instructional playbook, you must ensure you clearly understand your division’s and teacher’s needs and goals. Start by gathering information about what teachers are struggling with and what they hope to achieve through the use of technology in their classrooms. This will help you to identify the key areas where your playbook can provide the most value.
Planting the Seeds:
Once you clearly understand the needs of your district, school, and teachers, it’s time to start planting the seeds. The content you create for your playbook should be aligned with your district and school strategic plans and should also consider your teachers’ unique needs and preferences. In other words, you need to develop the content that will go into your playbook. This may include a one-page description of an instructional strategy and a checklist for implementation. After these have been determined, created, and discussed, instructional technology and specific tools that support effective technology integration can be considered. By taking a collaborative approach and involving all stakeholders in the process, you can increase buy-in and ensure that the playbook is tailored to the needs of your district and school.
Watering and Fertilizing:
Just as plants need water and fertilizer to grow and thrive, your instructional playbook needs regular maintenance and updates to remain relevant and effective. This means you should revisit your playbook periodically to make updates and adjustments based on feedback from teachers and changes in technology trends. Consider creating a system for ongoing support, such as a help desk or hub, providing teachers with additional resources and support.
Harvesting the Fruits of Your Labor:
After putting in the time and effort to tend to your garden, you’ll eventually be rewarded with a bountiful harvest. Similarly, after creating and implementing your instructional playbook, you should see the benefits of increased teacher confidence and effectiveness in implementing high-impact teaching strategies and integrating technology into their instruction. Ultimately, you will see improvements in student engagement and achievement. Celebrate these successes with your teachers and use them as opportunities to refine and continue your work.
Creating an instructional playbook is like tending to a garden. It requires careful planning, ongoing maintenance, and a willingness to adapt and adjust. Just like a garden can benefit from the expertise and effort of multiple gardeners, creating a playbook with others on your team can provide a variety of perspectives and ideas that can help your playbook be more comprehensive and effective. By taking a thoughtful approach to creating your playbook and regularly tending to it, you can help educators enhance their teaching practices, empower them to effectively integrate technology into their instruction, and achieve their goals for student learning.