When we think of a coach, we often picture a person who drives us to be our very best. A good coach will recognize both talents and needs, as well as foster a can-do mentality to accomplish things we otherwise may not have thought possible. As Natick Public Schools’ Teacher on Special Assignment (TOSA), Jed Sefanowicz fits this description to a T. Funded by a one-year grant from the Natick Education Foundation, Jed is the TSOA providing support for integration of technology this year. A TOSA is a teacher leader hired from within a school system, whose task it is to offer instructional coaching to their district. A third grade teacher at the Brown Elementary School, Jed Stefanowicz was appointed to the position of TOSA, acting as a “Technology Integration Coach” for his peers across all five of Natick’s elementary schools for the 2017-2018 school year.
Jed believes in a personalized approach to provide job-embedded professional development and instructional coaching for academic technology integration. “The TOSA (Teacher on Special Assignment) model is such a great way for districts to provide leadership pathways among their faculty while bringing opportunities to share and showcase thinking, strategies, and practices.” states Stefanowicz.
This first year in the role has been more of an adjustment than he anticipated, but Jed has found his way into classrooms everyday through coaching or co-teaching. “The role has changed me completely as an educator,” says Jed, who believes in the importance of developing credibility among his peers. “Coaching is a natural role for me because I am comfortable talking about best practices with other teachers.” Whether balancing a 1:1 classroom, providing professional learning community support or running coaching sessions, Jed’s understanding and district experience instills trust, credibility, and enthusiasm for effective academic technology integration, making this role work for Natick’s elementary schools. “Just like every student is unique, so is every teacher. Whether someone’s tech skill or comfort level is emerging and developing, there is room to transform teaching and learning in any learning space, but I also know that the process takes time to happen.” says Stefanowicz. “I love working with individual teachers, as well as teams, administrators and even our district preschool to share and develop ideas!”
When asked about different strategies to enhance learning with technology, Jed’s focus is first on student engagement. He believes that learning should be meaningful, memorable and measurable in helping to create digital learning environments. “I’m particularly interested in helping to shift students from consumers of content to creators. Rather than using devices to simply access information or collect knowledge, today’s technology and resources allow students to curate and share their own thinking in dynamic ways,” states Stefanowicz. He is inspired by creativity and innovation in finding new ways for students to engage with content, and meaningful ways for all students to show what they know. Passion and commitment to learning are also keys to success in making this happen.
Some ways he has led the charge to create digital learning environments that are meaningful, memorable and measurable are teacher choice in how they integrate technology, redesign of learning spaces and the launch of the STATION initiative (Students and Teachers Accessing Technology, Innovation, and Opportunity in Natick), through which STEM kits are now placed in every building for teachers to use with their students. This project also provides training to teachers, as well as access to materials for every student in the district.
As for the future of academic technology integration, Jed’s focus is on digital climate change. Once technology is readily available, the shift from access to opportunities to engage learners will occur. “It can be intimidating for a teacher when students surpass their ability to help them”, says Stefanowicz. While pockets of innovation exist everywhere now, he believes in the future that innovation will become a natural part of learning. “It’s about the practice… one where students can engage differently, have memorable experiences, and love learning!”
Jed Stefanowicz is a third grade teacher and TSOA for Natick Public Schools
Follow him on Twitter @Stefanowicz135
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