Which Turn Gets My Teachers to SAMR?

New year. I’ve missed my blog. I haven’t been making time to blog. I have a few reasons. But no matter my reasons, I know better. I preach over and over how important reflection is for learning and improving practice. Because I’m no longer in the classroom and my practice now includes adults and adult learning, I have fear my reflection will put my job at risk. A job I love and have worked hard for. But lately I feel stalled and I’m smart enough to know that lack of reflection is part of the reason. So I’m making a commitment to blog more this year. First one starting now.

As I said, I’m stalled. I feel like I’m going in circles. One year when I was in middle school my family went camping through Florida. We got stuck in Tampa. Actually we were outside Tampa in Pinellas County. I know that because they put the county name on everything. Being lost is my panic. Knowing that we were passing the same thing over and over and not driving so having no control drove me insane. I remember asking my mom why my dad wouldn’t just turn off the highway to any road. She told me it was because there were so many options he didn’t know which road would take him to St. Pete. Eventually my dad shared the map with my mom and I, we found our location and where we needed to go. After an hour of being lost, we found the way and in 10 minutes we were on St. Pete Beach. 

I’m in that circle. I don’t really know what will take me to the destination. I have ideas but I’m not sure which risk or idea will take me in the right direction.

The highway I’m stuck on is SAMR. SAMR is the level at which teachers integrate technology. Here’s a diagram that explains SAMR.


The goal with SAMR is to get to the M and R. We want teachers not to just use technology as a substitution to lessons that are already doing but to change how they teach and use the tech to do so. I know that for tech to have maximum impact and for student learning to be most meaningful we need to have students creating, innovating, etc.

How am I, someone not in the classroom, stuck when it comes to SAMR? I’m stuck with the PD I do. I feel like I’m stuck teaching how to use the tech, the basics. Mostly Google Apps for Edu. I love Google and I know the importance of getting teacher buy in to get student use. My job title is “Instructional Technology Coach” and I feel that is my job, coaching teachers to use tech in instruction. But I’m at a place I’m stuck teaching the “how to” not the ways to use in instruction.

When lost and looking at map, you have to find where are located at the moment, then figure out what turns and detours are causing you to keep circling. So I sat down and made a list/diagram of what keeps getting me lost. You know, those roadblocks, excuses, issues, etc, that stand between you and the destination. I could list them all out, but who wants to read a list of complaints? So I put them on this map: (click on the pins if you want to read my roadblocks)

These are my reasons. They may be called excuses or whining but I needed to figure out what highways I’m circling, those are them. Now I can find them on the map I need to look for streets to turn on to go in a different direction. I have some ideas.

  • The easiest may be to stop asking principals to come to their school, but to schedule the school and PD. Makes it hard to get buy in or know exactly what they need but I’m desperate.
  • Make it so when I schedule a PD the school must schedule at least 2 follow up sessions. Schools that did this last year had high tech usage and I had good relationships with teachers there.
  • Start just showing up at schools and stop by classrooms during planning periods and ask what I can do to help. Ask teachers to share with me what they are teaching. As a former teacher, I’m worried that there may be push back did being that guy that is interrupting their planning time without notice.
  • And this is the hardest. I’m not sure if it would work. But I’m wondering if I could create a tech school type program. Create online and face to face courses that teachers can work their way through in cohorts within their school or feeder pattern. As teachers complete levels, they can get badges or incentives. I’m not sure how great the incentives would be. I wondered about sponsors for that but then we have strict laws about teachers getting things from vendors and companies. The main incentive would be the teachers would become experts in their schools. They would also get PD credit for the courses.
  • Or in the similar mindset have a series of challenges with apps and sites then have the teachers complete and post their challenges. Then we’d have a database of sort of lesson ideas for those apps/sites. We could have a prize for those finishing all the challenges and badges.

These are some of the roads I’m looking at. I’d love to hear what you have done and what did and didn’t work. Also I would hear feedback on the ideas above. Help me find the right direction. Hopefully just writing these will get my wheels turning. I’ve missed y’all. I’ve missed writing. I’m going to be brave and take the risk of being back online. Have a great start to 2016!

For more information on SAMR, check out Kathy Schrock’s Guide to SAMR and Blooms.