Monday, April 14, 2014

Sweet Spots

After completing periodization workouts with the bike up on a trainer all winter, I’m ready to hit the open road. The strategic and systematic classes I’ve struggled through all winter (with coach Kristen Meshberg) have hopefully prepared my body for the upcoming season. By working on various heart rate zones (bpm) and cadences (rpm), I’ll be able to maintain my desired speed (mph). My goal is to have my brain be in control, rather than my legs, and to shift my mental focus as needed. I’ve learned to seek that perfect combination where my bpm, rpm and mph are in perfect harmony. Being a mileage junkie, I love turning over mile after mile after mile in that “sweet spot”. This is my goal on the bike.

As an instructional coach, I try to help those I collaborate with find that “sweet spot” in their teaching. As I work with teachers to make the shift to merging the use of digital devices into traditional methods of teaching, I’ve recently started using the TPACK model (along with the SAMR model) as a way of illustrating the complex interaction of content (CK), pedagogy (PK), and technology (TK). As a “recovering math teacher”, I’ve always known that deep content knowledge is critical for effective teaching and learning. Having that knowledge in one’s head is useless, however, if the students don’t understand the concepts or cannot apply what has been shared with them. Sound pedagogical knowledge is critical for learning to take place. We need to fully understand how particular groups of students best learn, which approaches are best for the given content, and how to assess for genuine understanding. Content knowledge is necessary but insufficient for lasting learning without sound pedagogy. Integrating technology to teach specific content has vastly expanded the ways we can differentiate learning experiences to facilitate deeper engagement for all students The beauty of this model is that it allows us to visualize where the heart or “sweet spot” of teaching and learning is. I’ve begun encouraging those I coach to view the model and to ask themselves: how can I leverage the technology that is available, along with the use of best practices, to facilitate deep and lasting understanding for this specific class (or student)?

I love this quote! “Effective technology integration for pedagogy around specific subject matter requires developing sensitivity to the dynamic, transactional relationship between these components of knowledge situated in unique contexts. Individual teachers, grade-level, school-specific factors, demographics, culture, and other factors ensure that every situation is unique, and no single combination of content, technology, and pedagogy will apply for every teacher, every course, or every view of teaching” (
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