I did a presentation yesterday to the High School faculty about what me as a tech coach could do for them. During this presentation, I showed a picture of a class that I worked with where we used Sphero robots to code in non-native Chinese classes. As soon as I put up the slide a teacher said (with a hint of cynicism), “What value would that add to learning Chinese?” It took me back for a second, but since I had made a reflective video about the project I had already thought about the benefits it had to learning.
Although strictly speaking, coding doesn’t have much to do with Chinese language learning, it created an authentic learning experience for the students. If anyone has every tried to learn a second language, we all know how repetitive and boring it can be to talk about menus, greetings, and directions. This provided students with new vocabulary and experiential learning while speaking Chinese and using the Chinese interface in the app. They troubleshooted and helped each other when they couldn’t understand why a line of code didn’t work the way they wanted it to, and because of the way coding works, it provided a clear step-by-step process that could be edited easily on the fly when something didn’t work. Remember, this was all happening with teachers and students speaking Chinese.
Although this seemed obvious to me, it’s important to remember as an instructional coach that part of our job is to educate and reinforce the importance of authentic, experiential learning. What we might be used to seeing and doing might not be something that others have seen or done before. Meeting teachers where they are and helping them understand the rationale is an important step in the coaching process.