How Can Coaches Play a Greater Role Through The Use of Technology for Children with ACEs?

ISTE-C Coaching Standard 1 Change Agent reads, “Coaches inspire educators and leaders to use technology to create equitable and ongoing access to high-quality learning”. My focus of study is on educating child protection professionals and educators on how to develop healthy and safe environments for improved student learning for children who have experienced ACEs or Adverse Childhood Experiences. As I reflect on this standard, and specifically the focus of this module on what is essential for successful coaching, I would like to pose the following question: through the use of technology, how can coaches play a greater role in developing effective professional learning, so that child protection professionals and educators can better understand the value of technology in creating healthier, safer and more equitable learning environments for children with ACEs?

To begin addressing this question, I found a blog titled, “Five Key Aspects of Teaching to Support Powerful Technology Use”. Written through the Office of Ed Tech by Missy Bellin and Kasey Van Ostrand, this blog examines “technology’s presence in the American classroom”. The blog explores the successes and failures around the implementation of educational technology, and addresses the need for stronger supports for teachers to deepen their understanding of the best instructional uses of technology. Discussed and explored within this blog, is a discussion that took place during a virtual conference consisting of teacher coaches. Conference participants shared their viewpoints on “how we can recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and leverage technology to build a more equitable and resilient education system”.  I want to explore the insights and strategies from this blog that would apply in coaching practice to enhance understanding and implementation of technology in supporting children with ACEs.

Bellin and Van Ostrand note that “technology is a tool and it is only impactful as the learning experiences it is used to support”. As it related to the virtual conference for which this blog was written, the discussion of coaching started with the question: What kind of instruction is necessary for students to thrive in today’s rapidly changing world? The common ground for addressing this question was that “instruction, whether virtual or in-person, should strive to create powerful learning experiences that prepare students to solve tough problems whenever they arise, be it in the workplace, the community, or in their personal lives”. In addition, “powerful learning can be supported by appropriate and effective uses of technology that allow educators and learners to engage in tasks that may otherwise be challenging to accomplish”. So what insights and strategies can coaches use to enhance their understanding and implementation of technology to create such powerful learning for children with ACEs?

One strategy identified is to create learning experiences that “are authentic and challenging”. Bellin and Van Ostrand suggest project-based learning and challenge-based learning strategies for coaches and educators, which focus on “solving real-world issues”. The idea is that “these practices emphasize collaboration between students, and often between students and their communities, to explore real-world problems, identify big ideas, investigate and communicate solutions, and take action”. An example of this kind of strategy in practice would be coaching educators to leverage social media platforms like Instagram to allow students the opportunity to create engaging videos, collaborate with peers, and publish their work. But how would such a strategy impact a student who is experiencing ACEs?

A 2021 National Library of Medicine article, titled, Adverse Childhood Experiences and Problematic Media Use, notes that “adolescents who have experienced a higher number of ACEs demonstrated a higher risk for heavy digital media use. Specifically, youth who were reported to experience four or more ACEs were at least three times more likely to also have high levels of media use reported by caregivers (more than four hours of use on a typical weekday). The findings from this research suggest that “problems with managing media use could be greater for youth with ACEs”. Coaches and educators need to be sensitive to this understanding when interacting with children with ACEs, and should provide supports and guidance around media use, such as discussing a media plan and recommending other online resources.

A second strategy that Bellin and Van Ostrand suggest is “designing learning to be personalized and accessible”. They note that each learner brings a unique set of abilities, attributes, and experiences to the classroom that influences how they learn. They add that “students and teachers need to feel emotionally connected to the ideas and skills they construct and apply”. For students with ACEs, coaches and educators should assess the strengths and challenges of each student, and help them recognize and develop strategies, through the use of technology, that will work for them in and outside of the classroom. For example, technologies like intelligent tutors “can help students learn to self-reflect by giving timely and specific feedback that augments the teacher and supports a growth mindset”. Coaches can also work with educators to leverage other forms of technology like, simulations, that can help students with ACEs explore and practice skills around self-advocacy to help these students feel safer, and develop greater comfort in seeking support, asking questions, and enhancing their learning.

A final area of insight and strategy centers around digital citizenship. Practicing the use of technology in responsible, safe, and ethical ways means being respectful for the diverse background of others – and for students with ACEs, that is vital. Bellin and Van Ostrand note that coaches need to work with educators to ensure that there are clear “understandings of personal data, and awareness of laws and polices around managing and sharing it”. Strategies for successful coaching should include incorporating learning opportunities that allow students to develop digital literacy skills, and educators to personalize lessons to meet the needs of students with ACEs. This requires coaches to model the safe and responsible use of technology and management of data, and ensure that educators and students are data literate, so that students with ACEs can learn in a healthier, safer and more equitable learning environment.

To answer the question – how can coaches play a greater role in developing effective professional learning, so that child protection professionals and educators can better understand the value of technology in creating healthier, safer and more equitable learning environments for children with ACEs – the answer is: greater ongoing professional support and development. Be it through coaching and professional development that supports educators in creating project-based or challenge-based learning environments, or using technology such as intelligent tutors or simulations to create personalized and accessible learning, coaching teacher professional development on the effective use of technology is vital to creating a healthy, safe and equitable learning environment for students with ACEs.


Bellin, Missy and Van Ostrand, K. Five Key Aspects of Teaching to Support Powerful Technology Use. 2021. Office of Ed Tech.,effectively%20inform%20instruction%20and%20learning

Domoff SE, Borgen AL, Wilke N, Hiles Howard A. Adverse Childhood Experiences and Problematic Media Use: Perceptions of Caregivers of High-Risk Youth. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021 Jun

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