Digital Learning and Leading Self-Assessment

I am new to my position as an Instructional Coach in my district this year, and I have been learning many new things. Leadership comes naturally to me, and building relationships with the teachers on my campus has been wonderful. There is more interest in having me come teach lessons and help plan lessons now, and I am in and out of many classrooms all day long.

One thing that I’m realizing as I help teachers with lessons involving technology is that I have a good understanding of how to use devices, but trouble thinking of creative ways to implement it. This becomes more difficult when there are fewer digital devices, but even in the classrooms where we have 1:1 access to iPads or laptops it can be a stretch for me.

I heard about the SAMR (substitution, augmentation, modification, redefinition) model for the first time this year from the new Instructional Technology Specialist at my school. After hearing about the higher levels of this model, I realized just how short I was falling in teaching with technology. I began reading the book Amplify: Digital Teaching and Learning in the K-6 Classroom recently, and came across the SAMR model again. Muhtaris and Ziemke (2015) say, “Puentedura and Vega’s review of research remind us that

when we bring technology into our classrooms, we must place emphasis on what our students will do with it. How will they create? How will they construct meaning? How will they connect the learning they do in the classroom with that of the real world?”

(p. xiv) These three questions are simple and straightforward, and I feel like they can guide me in my move up to the modification and redefinition levels of Puentedura’s model.

The UNESCO ICT Competency Framework for Teachers gave me some ideas of areas in which I can help transform classrooms at my school and in my district. “Teacher professional learning will be a crucial component of this educational improvement. However, professional learning has an impact only if it is focused on specific changes in teaching.” (UNESCO, 2011, pg. 8) UNESCO suggests developing socially active classrooms, which is something that I have a passion for. In my classroom, students were often working in groups, interacting collaboratively and cooperatively, and creating products to show what they learned. I encourage this type of work when I am planning with teachers, and model it when I teach lessons for teachers. The resources included with the framework will be helpful in planning lessons that are more technologically advanced, and will assist me in finding creative ways to incorporate technology.

Some areas of technology that I am growing in already are blogging ( and Twitter (@KariMaurer1). I have been part of a math leadership cohort of teachers this year, and one of our tasks was to create and keep up with a blog. I have enjoyed posting things about the math that I’m seeing around my campus. I have learned different ways to include photos and even videos, and am working to make my posts more enjoyable to read. Another goal of our cohort was to become proficient with Twitter. I am working to grow my followers and learn about what people like to read in their newsfeed. A few times this year I have participated in Twitter chats, and have also been part of a world-wide book study discussion through Twitter. My favorite thing is to find new blogs to read and follow, and new people who have great ideas.

The leader of our math curriculum department and the math leadership cohort is very knowledgeable about technology and how to best use it for teaching and learning. He has used video-creation software to add new elements to our district curriculum webpage, including video overviews of each unit. He has encouraged me as a coach to try recording simple videos to teach things like how to start a blog in WordPress or how to participate in a Twitter chat. He is also helping our district branch out with our professional development, and next year we will be trying some online teaching and learning opportunities. I feel like I have learned a lot about using technology at school from him, and hope to continue working with him to add technology to my coaching.

For many years I considered myself one of the most technologically-knowledgeable of my peers. I am lucky enough to have had a PC in my house since it was introduced in 1981, and a father who has always kept up with the latest and greatest in technology. I’m realizing that now my 9-year old knows more about many devices than I do, and is more intuitive as well. As a teacher and a leader, I want to be able to keep up with the most current practices in teaching with technology, and create innovative lessons to help all students learn.



Muhtaris, K., & Ziemke, K. (2015). Amplify: Digital Teaching and Learning in the K-6 Classroom. Portsmouth, New Hampshire: Heinemann.

UNESCO. (2011). UNESCO ICT Competency Framework for Teachers. Paris, France: UNESCO.

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