Learning 2 : Re-Imagine : Shift the Narrative

In October, Jeff and I attended Learning 2 Asia at Saigon South in Vietnam. It was (another) great Learning 2 experience…I was reunited with some awesome people, met lots of new ones (several that I felt like I already knew thanks to the internets), explored a new country with my husband and was pushed outside my comfort zone by Jabiz during the Re-Imagine Strand. Who could ask for anything more?

I didn’t want my Re-Imagine project to end at Learning 2, so I’ve been meaning to record it for awhile. Today I finally made the time to sit down and just do it. It got me excited all over again. I hope you’ll join me in shifting the role of tech coaches and technology instruction.

Join me to shift the narrative and explore technology through guided inquiry.

Slidedeck

Technology Integration & Collaborative Planning in #IBPYP

Although my default compass point is West, the last 4+ years in a Pk-12 instructional coaching role have allowed me to hone my East skills. More and more I strive to make a systemic impact on student learning (a large part of why I left the classroom). Below is one small way that this plays out in my daily practice.

After attending the PYP Collaborative Planning workshop in October at AISQ8, my desire for trying to figure out how to better collaborate with my colleagues in order to positively impact student learning increased exponentially (it was already pretty high). Thankfully, Sanja and I were invited to each of the ES grade level planning meetings for the upcoming units. Our goal during this first round of meetings was to be non-judgmental observers, providing input only upon request, in order to better understand the structure and flow.

We still have a lot of (collaborative) work to do in figuring out how to best be part of the unit planning process. However this week we wanted to follow-up with teams. My Eastern (and Western) tendencies came out in taking (extra) time to draft a standard email that we could use across the grade levels. We wanted it to be focused on teaching and learning, not simply technology. I used a What? So what? Now what? structure to guide our communication. Our goal was to make sure teachers felt heard before (re)introducing our ideas. Below is our general structure and an example.


Good morning/afternoon grade _ team,

Thank you for allowing us to be a part of your 3-block planning for the ______ unit. We appreciated the peak into the teaching and learning that is occurring in grade _ classrooms.

What
What the unit planner says, what we heard them say
During your discussions, we heard you focus on…
We heard you say that technology might be integrated in the teaching and learning in the following ways…

So what
Connection to Learning w/ Technology Standards
In the Teaching and Learning with Technology document released by the IB last year, they introduce the AID lens. The three principles (Agency, Information & Design) are intended to aid and extend teaching and learning. Based on your unit planner and what we heard you say, your unit might be viewed through the ____ lens where ___.

[A future version will focus on our new standards that are in development.] The Learning w/ Technology Standards are AIS standards that are we are currently drafting and piloting. They are based on the ISTE Standards, ALA Standards and IB documents. Based on your unit planner and what we heard you say, your unit connects to _____ (strands). Specifically, the following standards might enhance student learning:

Now what
Our ideas
Based on and in addition to this, some ways that we might be able to support you in integrating technology would be_________. These also connect to your ______ (Common Core) standards.

How can we support you and your students as you continue to create opportunities to make connections outside our school walls?

How can we support you in using the AID lens to consider how subject areas and themes can be combined with technology to create new learning experiences?

How can we support you and your students as you continue to create authentic, real-world assessments?

Looking forward to continuing to collaborate with you in order to positively impact student learning!

 


Good morning/afternoon grade 1 team,

Thank you for allowing us to be a part of your 3-block planning for the How Do We Express Ourselves unit. We appreciated the peak into the teaching and learning that is occurring in grade 1 classrooms.

During your discussions, we heard you focus on students inquiring into cultural identity and expression. We heard you say that technology might be integrated into the teaching and learning in the following ways:

  • Research
  • Search engines accessible for grade 1 students
  • Netflix (Human Planet)
  • Video recording interviews during the International Day

The Learning w/ Technology Standards are AIS standards that are we are currently drafting and piloting. They are based on the ISTE Standards, ALA Standards and IB documents. Based on your unit planner and what we heard you say, your unit connects to Global Communicator and Collaborator and Knowledge Constructor. Specifically, the following standards might enhance student learning:

  • Global Communicator and Collaborator
    • GCC1: Students choose the appropriate platforms and tools for meeting the desired objectives of their creation or communication.
    • GCC3: Students communicate complex ideas clearly and effectively by creating or using a variety of digital objects such as visualizations, models or simulations.
    • GCC4: Students publish or present content that customizes the message and medium for their intended audiences.
    • GCC5: Students use digital tools to connect with learners from a variety of backgrounds and cultures, engaging with them in ways that broaden mutual understanding and learning.
    • GCC6: Students use collaborative technologies to work with others, including peers, experts or community members, to examine issues and problems from multiple viewpoints.
  • Knowledge Constructor
    • KC1: Students plan and employ effective research strategies to locate information and other resources for their intellectual or creative pursuits.
    • KC3: Students curate information from digital resources using a variety of tools and methods to create collections of artifacts that demonstrate meaningful connections or conclusions.

Based on and in addition to this, some ways that we might be able to support you in integrating technology would be to facilitate connections to other countries, schools, and students and investigate/share grade level appropriate research databases. These also connect to your Speaking and Listening (Comprehension and Collaboration) and Geography (G1 and G2) standards.

How can we support you and your students as you continue to create opportunities to make connections outside our school walls?

How can we support you and your students as you continue to create authentic, real-world assessments?

Looking forward to continuing to collaborate with you in order to positively impact student learning!

#AISQ8 DP1 French Blogs

Our IB DP1 Language B French students have just started blogs. The more authentic comments they can get on their writing, the better. It would be wonderful if you could comment (en français bien sur) or share their blogs with other French speakers (teachers, students, etc). See below for a note from their teacher & the links. Merci bien!


 

Bonjour,

Je suis en train de travailler avec mes élèves de DP 1 sur le thème de la Communication et les Médias . Ils ont créé des Blogs pour parler de la télévision.  J’aimerais vous demander une faveur, si vous avez un peu de temps, rentrez sur  leur Blog et laissez un petit commentaire. Ça fera plus authentique et ils vont devoir répondre à votre commentaire.

Je ne vous demande pas de les juger ou de corriger leurs fautes de langue. Je le ferai moi même, mais ils seraient tellement ravis de voir que d’autres personnes que moi s’interessent à leurs écrits.

Merci beaucoup,

Amel

Les liens des blogs:

Raj- https://rajfrenchblog.wordpress.com/

Leina- https://discoursindirect.wordpress.com/

Nicholas – https://cheznicholas.wordpress.com/

Vaibhav – https://chezvaibhav.wordpress.com/

Abeer – https://chezabeer.wordpress.com/ 

Why are you connected?

Tomorrow (afternoon of February 2) I’ll be facilitating a workshop for #AISQ8 (elementary) staff on using social media in teaching and learning. From my experience educators need to buy-in before spending (precious!) time learning and developing their social media presence. And that presence is essential if you want to genuinely use social media in teaching and learning. How can you help your students become connected if you aren’t?

I would love your (my wonderful PLN) thoughts on some questions to (hopefully) help garner some buy-in from teachers. Feel free to discuss here, on Twitter, on my COETAIL blog or if submit here if you prefer to remain anonymous. Merci bien!

  • Why have you chosen to use social media to create an open network and be professionally connected? What sparked your commitment?
  • How did you become connected? What, specifically, did you do to cultivate your PLN?
  • Why do you stay connected? What keeps you coming back to your PLN?
  • How do you stay connected? How do you balance what you put in (time) with what you get out (benefits)?
  • How do you balance creating your social media brand with staying authentically you (in a space where many people don’t actually know you personally)?
  • How has being connected impacted your learning? Your teaching?
  • Why have you chosen to use social media to create an open network for your classroom/students? What sparked your commitment?
  • Why do you keep your classroom connected/open? What impact has this had on your students?
  • What advice do you have for teachers who are looking to start using social media for teaching and learning?
  • What ‘connected’ experiences have impacted you/your classroom the most? These personal stories can have a huge influence on other educators thinking about becoming connected.
  • Any other thoughts are also welcome and appreciated! 🙂

Learning to Coach, Coaching to Learn pt. 5

I just finished the Eduro Learning Coaching: From Theory to Practice course with the AISQ8 leadership cohort. Since the our forum posts are private, I’ve asked my coachee if I could post my reflections on my blog. Thankfully she obliged!

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4

Week 7
Create a coaching implementation plan that fits your school’s needs. Ensure that you:
*highlights specific strengths and weaknesses of current school structure with specific suggestions for improvement.
*provides specific steps for implementation (including your strategy for empowering learning leaders) with a realistic timeline.
*includes an overview and rationale for administrators to consider.
*include a reflective post in our forums that highlights your key learning from this course and how you will be able to apply and implement that learning in your setting, based on your Action Plan.

As this final project has loomed, I felt increasingly anxious about starting it. It took me quite a bit of reflection and several ah-ha moments to realize what was holding me back from moving forward.

  • I was intimidated. The project options seemed big and important. How was I supposed to create something that grand in a short period of time? Then I looked at previous final projects. I wanted my final project to be amazing (yes I’m a perfectionist) but felt too overwhelmed to even start.
  • I was focused on having all the answers. During a conversation today, I realized (again) that this project is simply an action plan. I need to make sure my action plan includes time for tuning in, finding out and sorting out before we make any conclusions. Those are my actions – I don’t need to have everything figured out right now.

Writing my post last week helped me find a focus for my project. I am most interested in the vision behind the coaches, ensuring that staff know our purpose and receiving regular feedback on our effectiveness. These originate from my biggest complaints during my 3.5 years in this position:
*we aren’t sure (or agree on) what our purpose is and neither is any other stakeholders.
*we haven’t received minimal feedback on our effectiveness.
This very quickly and easily leads to a closed heart (slide 60):

When you lead people, you often begin with a desire to contribute to an organization or community, to help people resolve important issues, to improve the quality of their lives. Your heart is not entirely innocent, but you begin with hope and concern for people. Along the way, however, it becomes difficult to sustain those feelings when many people reject your aspirations as too unrealistic, challenging or disruptive. Results arrive slowly. You become hardened to the discouraging reality. Your heart closes up.
Heifetz & Linsky (2003) Leadership on the line.

I’m not that person. But sometimes I become that person. I don’t want to be that person now or going forward. My action plan is intended to allow our hearts to stay open.

How do we stay visible, effective and mission-focused? During my action research project last year, I had the opportunity to work collaboratively with 4 AIS teachers in a Critical Friends Group setting. Although the participants were from 4 different subject areas and 2 different divisions, I felt as though this group coaching model allowed us to learn with and from each other. This model has the potential to be even more effective with more cohesive groups (grade level teams, departments, etc). My action research also forced me to think about evaluating the success of professional development. Gayton & McEwen offer evaluation levels for professional development (page 90). This might be a great place to start investigating how to evaluate the effectiveness of the coaching program (and coaches) at AIS.

Just as the IB Learner Profile is not something we do but something we live, I am looking forward to our action plans creating a culture of coaching at AIS. Instructional coaching has the potential to slowly become embedded in everything we do, to become our way of life.

Excited to continue this journey with you all!

Empowering is difficult

Part of my job involves teaching and supporting teachers in learning new technologies. In my 3.5 years here, this has included apps (iMovie, Keynote, etc), online gradebooks, blogs, Google Apps and more. Every time I work with a teacher I have to make the conscious effort NOT to do everything for them. Sometimes this is easier than others.

It’s not uncommon for me to walk into a classroom and have the teacher offer me their seat at the computer. I never allow this to happen and make it clear (in a caring way) that they will be the ones doing the work and I will simply be talking them through the steps (coaching!). Many times it would be infinitely faster if I just took over and made all the clicks. When it’s especially frustrating and time consuming I have to physically & mentally force myself to stay away from the mouse (or other device). What I could do in 10 minutes might take an hour to walk a teacher through (like my most recent experience that prompted this reflection).

straitjacket-rear

I have to focus on a couple things to help me keep my hands to myself:

  • I am a coach and a teacher. Neither coaches nor teachers do the work for athletes or students. Instead we provide learning experiences to allow our students (whoever they might be) to grow. I am doing my job well if I there is a gradual release and the teachers need less assistance next time.
  • The excitement that teachers (inevitably) feel when they, not me, have accomplished something. When I am leaving the classroom and the teacher is profusely thanking me, I have to make sure they understand that this accomplishment was theirs, not mine. Being present to see the process and completion of a task is a powerful experience that I have to keep at the forefront of my mind when I’m most frustrated.

My job is about empowering, not doing. It can be incredibly frustrating (and time consuming) but also so rewarding. And that is what makes me love teaching and coaching teachers. #gratitude

Learning to Coach, Coaching to Learn pt. 4

I’m currently taking the Eduro Learning Coaching: From Theory to Practice course with the AISQ8 leadership cohort. Since the our forum posts are private, I’ve asked my coachee if I could post my reflections on my blog. Thankfully she obliged!

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

Week 6
Develop a strategy for supporting and empowering learning leaders in your school. This will become part of your action plan to be completed next week.

As we’ve progressed throughout this course, a couple things have planted themselves in my head and they’ve been bouncing around ever since. I don’t know the answers or if there even is a black/white answer. But I need to let them out for discussion & analysis.

To be a high-quality, sought-after coach, what level of content expertise is needed?
Effective coaching thrives not on quick fixes and ready answers, but on questioning and listening. (It’s All about the Questions)
If we are not meant to give advice but instead use questioning techniques to help “teachers explore the thinking behind their practices” and to come to their own conclusions about their practice, do we actually need to be content experts? Many of the U14 girls that I coach could outplay me in soccer. Does that mean I am not qualified to be their coach? How many years of teaching experience do I need in order to be considered for an instructional coaching position? Or do I “simply” need to have training and experience coaching teachers? My thoughts on this question vary on a daily basis. To effectively coach a teacher on integrating technology into their instruction, I probably need some level of pedagogical knowledge about technology integration. However if my main goal is not to walk into their classroom and impose all my ideas on them, what level of knowledge do I actually need? I have spent the last 3 years expanding my content knowledge through COETAIL and an MEd in School Tech Leadership. Going forward, I am increasingly interested in honing my coaching skills. This class has allowed me to find and sort out but I want to go (much) further. Right now I’m trying to figure out how I can finagle getting trained in Cognitive Coaching and become a Critical Friends Group Coach in the next 2.5 years. 😉

How much time should instructional coaches spend teaching students in other teachers’ classrooms?
If we are instructional coaches, how often should I be taking over a teacher’s classroom? Is is appropriate for me to spend a significant amount of time developing lessons (by myself) and implementing them in someone else’s classroom? Assuming that most of us went into education for the students, it’s difficult to be disconnected from the classroom, to lose the control that having your own classroom gives us. But if our primary job is to help teachers examine their own instructional practice (see above), how much time should I spend instructing? I waffle on my thoughts to this question less than I do the last one. If a coach is going to model a lesson, I believe that there need to be structures in place to ensure that the modeling/observation is a learning experience for both the coach and the coachee. It is counter productive for me to teach a lesson without the teacher in the classroom. Just as there is a pre-observation & debrief when the teacher is being observed by the coach, model lessons taught by the coach need to have these same meetings. After our Critical Friends Group last weekend and the current #AISQ8chat about 2015 successes, I’ve become a little obsessed with the Success Analysis Protocol (there are many versions of the protocol here and also many other observation protocols here). As Christina and I were chatting, we brainstormed using a Success Analysis for a modeling/observation. In the debrief, the teacher (observer) identifies a success from the coach’s (model) lesson, determines why it was so successful and then identifies how that success might have an impact on their own practice. Model lessons taught by coaches & observed by teachers might also be a great place to incorporate lesson studies. The relationship then becomes a collaborative, co-coaching relationship, instead of purely specialist coaching, that allows all involved to grow professionally. This kind of relationship is about “two creative people fine-tuning their best ideas” with a focus on student learning and great teaching.

Who needs a coach?
My thoughts on this one vary the least. Everyone. The question really comes back to how we define coaching: “The responsibility of coaches is ‘to help maximize personal and professional potential, while concomitantly upgrading their own professional proficiency. Coaching is customized and focused on providing instruction on what needs to be accomplished. Coaches tailor support, assess each teacher’s progress with observations, use interviews and surveys, and have follow-up visits. Teachers feel more motivated and responsible to act on new skills because coaching makes them personalized and customized on an ongoing basis’ (Wong & Wong, 2008).” Is our “personal and professional potential” ever truly maximized? If we employ a growth mindset, then there is always a need for a coach. If we make another link to athletic coaching, you’d be hard pressed to find an athlete in the world who doesn’t have a coach. Even professional and Olympic athletes have coaches. They know that their potential hasn’t been reached and they keep striving. At that level it is nearly impossible to find a coach that is a better athlete than they are. However all athletes at all levels still have coaches. Educators at all levels have the potential to get even better. And they need coaches to help push them to reach and exceed this potential.

Right now I’m most interested in the front-end and back-end of coaching at AIS.
Front-end:
During my 3+ years in the position of Technology Integration Coach, I feel as though we are the most obvious coaches (we have it in our title) however we are the least utilized. Why? My hypothesis has two major factors:

  • A lack of shared vision around educational technology.
    • If you asked educators at AIS why they should integrate technology into their lessons, you would probably receive as many different responses as their are staff members.
  • Teachers don’t understand our purpose (and maybe we haven’t always understood it either).
    • Unlike many of the other positions of leadership at AIS, no one is required to work with us in any way. Teachers have regularly scheduled meetings and collaboration with many of the other leadership positions (HoDs, Programme Coordinators, Literacy Coaches) however tech coaches have never had a consistent in-road to working with teachers.

My job title next year changes to Instructional Coach – Technology Integration. Both a shared vision and purpose are necessary for anyone in this position to have the opportunity to be successful going forward. I am most uncomfortable advertising my services however teachers need to know I exist in order to elect to work with me. My action plan needs to include vision & mission driven steps to make AIS staff aware of the benefits of working with people in my position.

Back-end:
At the end of the year (or my time here), how will I know that I’ve been successful? How will I know that I am competent at my job? I crave feedback. But it needs to authentic and valid. Some of the only feedback I’ve received from administration on how well I’m doing my job in the past 3.5 years has been based what they’ve heard from teachers. Do we base teachers’ worth and quality solely on what the students who choose to engage in discussion with admin have to say? No? Then we probably shouldn’t base a coach’s worth on the same thing. We need to implement feedback and assessment practices so that coaches have the opportunity to continue to learn and grow. The ISTE Standards for Coaches are a great place to start. My action plan needs to include steps for measuring and evaluating the effectiveness of coaching.