Learning to Coach, Coaching to Learn pt. 2

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

Week 3
In collaboration with the teaching colleague you identified last week, select a focus for working together, including a lesson to observe in the next week. Have a pre-observation coaching meeting and use a coaching strategy in your conversation. Share your experiences in a reflective post in our community.

As I started thinking about the format of my first meeting with Joanna, I wasn’t really sure where to start. I wanted ways to ask questions and even some specific questions to ask. As I skimmed the readings, nothing popped out at me. I knew I wanted to discuss goals and giving/receiving feedback, but I didn’t really know what to ask and how to ask it. I needed coaching strategies.

Since I know that I process my ideas best through talking them out, I called Christina. As we were talking I realized that what I really needed was to pull from my experience as a Critical Friend. Through my time in Critical Friends Groups (CFG), I have come to understand that protocols can be guiding documents for conversation and coaching. After our conversation I realized that ACSD also recommends a Critical Friends approach to collaboration: “teachers became critical friends who enhanced one another’s teaching practice.” With this lens, it became much easier to plan a format for our discussion.

  • Each of our meetings will start with Transitions. This simple protocol allows “participants set aside distractions before beginning the work at hand.” I am particularly interested in “speak[ing] thoughts so we may release them and feel more connected to the here-and-now.” As our days are sometimes hectic, I find it powerful to start with an activity that creates a blank slate and helps us be present.
  • I will use this pocket guide to questions & feedback. Although I am quite familiar with this guide after participating in 3 different CFG, I brought this guide with me during our first meeting as a source of comfort. Yes – I was a little nervous!
  • I will check in with Joanna frequently during our discussions to make sure that I understand what she is saying. During our first meeting I took notes while she was talking; then frequently interjected with “What I’m hearing you say is…” so that we did not get too far with a misunderstanding. Clarifying questions also helped me to further my understanding of what she was saying.
  • I will use probing questions to further Joanna’s thinking and give her feedback in a non-threatening way. During our conversation about goals, I used probing questions to help me get to the bottom of her goals. I wanted to understand why she is interested in integrating technology, not simply the tools she wants to use.
  • I thought it was important as we embark on our coaching relationship to learn about Joanna’s preferences for receiving feedback. ACSD confirmed my thoughts – “Criticism stings, even when it’s offered with the best of intentions. It can provoke frustration, fear, and a sense of failure. It can stimulate resentment and resistance, undermine self-efficacy, and increase unwillingness to change. In short, it can make performance improvement less, rather than more, likely.” I want to make sure that the feedback I give her is builds her up instead of breaking her down. In order to find out about her preferences, I did a modified Feedback Nightmares protocol. I had her tell me about a time when she received feedback and it was a horrible experience. Then she told me about another time when she received feedback and it was a wonderful experience. These helped us see feedback themes that will help her grow during our work together.
  • We ended our time by coming up with a list of essential agreements that we could both abide by. Although this was a spur of the moment thought I had during our meeting, it wrapped up our first meeting incredibly well.

Joanna’s goals include:

  • integrating technology into all subjects (both teaching & learning)
  • using Twitter professionally
  • games (webquest)
    • review, fun, learning, putting ‘my spin’ on activities instead of getting them online
  • becoming comfortable so I use integrate technology more often
  • becoming comfortable with the resources we already have
  • fun yet educational
  • kids know more than I do
  • include technology in centers
  • Khan Academy (for centers) – use as resource & practice

When I pushed Joanna further with probing questions, she was able to articulate some deeper thoughts on why she is interested in integrating technology:

  • important because technology is where things are going
    be on par w/ other teachers
  • life skills
  • how I was taught vs I want to be a better teacher every year (yay for growth mindset!)
  • search vs creating minecraft world
  • learning vs memorizing

I then shared with her my goals for integrating technology and coaching:

  • authentic
  • meaningful
  • skill-based
  • improve student learning (keep the focus student-centered)
  • collaborate
  • reflection & growth
  • invisible
  • necessary

While we were talking the IB Learner Profile Traits on the classroom wall inspired me to connect her goals to the Learner Profile. Joanna chose the following traits to focus on:

  • Knowledgeable (Joanna) in order to become…
  • Risk-taker (J & Students)
  • Balanced (J & S)
  • Open-minded (J & S)

Joanna already knows that elementary is my area of least expertise. Sharing this with her again, we talked about how we will sometimes both have to be coaches during our time together. As Kim said (#4), Joanna & my expertise lie in different areas and we will be to be open-minded in order to learn from each other.

Joanna’s feedback nightmares lead to a list of ways I will be able to provide her with feedback that she will use to grow:

  • specific
  • focused on growth
  • tell the facts
  • probing questions (but not too many)
  • sharing ideas
  • include action plan
  • constructive

When creating our essential agreements, I made a point to let her know that we will check back in throughout our coaching to make sure that I am honoring our agreements and change anything necessary.

  • honest + open + comfortable = caring
  • consistent communication & check-ins
  • be present during our time together
  • ask for what we need (risk-taking) & be open-minded to other’s needs
  • action oriented

Our conversation left me feeling energized. I came away feeling as though I had channeled both my Critical Friend and PYP knowledge to start our coaching relationship off on the right foot.

 

Learning to Coach, Coaching to Learn pt. 1

In the spring while I was busy finishing up my MEd with UKSTL, I wondered what my fall would look like. How would I possibly stay busy and fulfilled? Looking back, I just have to laugh at myself. Of the many things that have kept me working (seemingly) nonstop is the Eduro Learning course, Coaching: From Theory to Practice. When this course first debuted last fall I wanted to take it right away but decided against it since I was still in the middle of my MEd. Fortunately for me, AISQ8 decided to pay for a cohort of leadership to take the course together. W00T! I love that we’re committing not only to a cohort model of professional learning but also the new commitment to coaching. Our forum posts are private and I’m not used to such a closed environment after COETAIL. I asked my coachee if I could post my reflections on my blog…thankfully she obliged!

Week 1
Briefly introduce yourself here (in our group forums, where all of our online conversations will take place) so I can get to know you a bit. In the same introductory post, can you please share: one key “Essential Agreement” you think AISK needs for coaching to be successful, and why; and
a goal you have for this course.

My name is Lissa and I’m a PK – 12 Technology Integration Coach. This is my 4th year in this position and in Kuwait. Before moving to Kuwait with my husband, I taught HS French in South Carolina. I’m a COETAIL grad & Coach and finished my MEd in School Tech Leadership in May. I love teaching and collaborating with teachers around the world to enhance student learning.

I’ve been excited to take this course since it debuted last fall. My goals are to further my thinking on what it means to be an instructional coach and to incorporate research based practices into my daily coaching practice.

An essential agreement that I think AISQ8 needs: We challenge & push each other to extend our professional practice in a way that exhibits the IB Learner Profile.

Week 2
In a reflective post on our course community, share your thoughts on the process of selecting a colleague to work with, including at least one goal for your work with this colleague over the next six weeks.

Even though I knew it was coming that I would have to pick a teacher to work with, I was still unprepared. When I took a minute to think about it, I thought it would be great to work with one of our current AIS COETAILers. I would be able to double-dip…I’m also a COETAIL Coach. When I reflected on going that route, I decided against it. The teachers starting COETAIL might already be a little overwhelmed and I didn’t want this to be just another thing on their plates. So I made a list of all the AIS teachers who expressed interest in COETAIL but weren’t able to commit for whatever reason. It turned out to be a list of several people I would love to work with. How to make the decision?!

Earlier this week Matt and I received an email from two grade 3 teachers. They were interested in having us come into their classrooms to teach their students about presentation programs they could use. After a few back & forth emails, we asked them if we could meet to chat and figure out a plan. Throughout the course of the discussion we decided that we would first start with how to present information (skill) and then transition into the programs (tools) they could use. We also realized that the expert in the room about prezi wasn’t one of the tech integration coaches, but one of the teachers. It was a planning meeting that reminded me of Diane Sweeney’s 5th ‘Practice for Student-Centered Coaching’ – we planned the big picture together instead of us simply telling them what we would do. Further, our discussion was pedagogically driven, not simply tool driven (p. 53).

Last night when I reflected on my list of candidates (which included one of the grade 3 teachers above), I felt as though she had chosen me. Clearly she was interested in technology integration and our planning conversation resonated with her. W00T! I emailed her before I left school to ask if we could chat today, I had a favor to ask her. Today I went with my little sticky note of what I would be asking of her. I was nervous! Turns out she was nervous too – she wasn’t quite sure what I could possibly need from her. When I asked her, she told me she was honored and excited. And wanted to give me a hug. Wow. Although I’ve realized during the last 3+ years as a coach how important relationships really are, our conversation and Kim’s post really hit home. We went on to talk for the next 15 minutes about graduate programs and college football. I believe that our first interactions went a long way towards her seeing me as “approachable, dependable, collaborative, friendly, and above all, willing and able to support their needs.” We both went from nervous to super excited to work together. Bonus: Andria is working with the other grade 3 teacher that took part of our meeting. As friends, I think it will be great that they are both getting coaching from this group. I can’t wait for our journey to begin!

One of my goals for coaching during the next 6 weeks is to focus on teaching and learning, not simply the technology. I want to ensure that we are working towards effective teaching in order to improve student learning. I want to stay away from taking the easy way out and defaulting to tools. Our goals need to be based on effective pedagogy and student learning, not the cool new tech tools.

#AISQ8chat – an #IBOLP series

Sometimes I’m really dedicated to blogging. Sometimes I’m not. If I’m absent for an extended period of time it’s because I’m just too dang busy living life to sit and write about it. But there are some pretty great posts floating around in my head (and even written down somewhere!). 😉 In order to prompt me to actually sit down and blog, I need to be so excited about something that I just can’t help myself. After 5 months, today is the day!

Thanks to the efforts and excitement of a lot of my colleagues, #AISQ8 has grown from 4 or 5 people to over 30 in the last year! If that isn’t something to get excited about, I don’t know what is. Besides sharing the great things happening in our school (we were inspired by #sisrocks), I have enjoyed engaging in discussion on a weekly basis ever since Christina and I started #AISQ8chat in February. Browse our 2014-15 topics, 2015-16 topics and all the archives.

Since its beginnings, I’ve wanted to do a multi-week series. Part of my motivation was that Christina and I never seemed to have enough topics to chat about and many times we were still coming up with questions on Monday evenings. But most of it was that I wanted to go further with my colleagues about how (and why) we actually live and teach the IB Learner Profile. Thanks to Heidi and Christina, today this became a reality! [Insert giddy squeal here]

Here are the details & vocab you need to know to participate in the #AISQ8chat Learner Profile series:

  • Everyone is welcome!
  • Starts Tuesday, 10/27, and will continue for the next 14 Tuesdays (except December 22 & 29).
  • View the IB Learner Profile
  • We made up some new hashtags:
    • #IBOLP = International Baccalaureate Organization Learner Profile
    • #IBOLPT = IBO Learner Profile Traits
  • IBOLPT Continuum: ⌧ checking the box <——————————————–> way of life
  • We will be releasing the questions each Sunday (although they will be the same each week, just with a different #IBOLPT).
  • In week 1 we will explore why and how we, as stakeholders in the school community, live the #IBOLPT.
  • We will spend 1 week on each of the IBOLPT starting with Risk-Takers next week.
  • After exploring 6 traits, the week before (12/15) and after (1/5) winter break we will take time to reflect and make some conclusions.
  • Our last chat (2/9) will focus on hiring staff who live (professionally & personally) the IBOLP.

Here are a few tips & tricks I shared with #AISQ8:

  • During our Tuesday slow chats we usually release Q1 by 8am, Q2 at 11am and Q3 by 2pm (just in time for our faculty meetings!). However you are welcome to reply to any question at any point throughout the day.
  • When you have time on Sunday and Monday, start formulating your As to the weekly Qs. Then use Hootsuite to schedule them for Tuesday so that you don’t have to take time away from teaching. [Don’t worry, you can still edit pending Tweets if you change your mind.]
  • When you do have a couple free minutes on Tuesday, browse #AISQ8chat and engage in the conversation. Ask the community clarifying or probing questions. Twitter is your Personal Learning Community – you will get out what you put in 🙂
  • Christina will be Storifying #AISQ8chat every Wednesday morning. Didn’t have a chance to engage in the conversation on Tuesday? We still want to hear from you! Feel free to answer any of the previous week’s Qs from Wednesday to Monday. Please just remember to include #AISQ8chat. You can also add #AISQ8unchat if you’d like.

#AISQ8chat banner 10.27.15

ISTE, #AISQ8chat, #AfricaEd & Digital Citizenship

As my MEd with UKSTL winds down, I’m disappointed in my lack of reflecting on this blog. At it’s core, my blog is a place for me to reflect on my learning and practice. Unfortunately I’ve realized that a full-time job and Masters at the same time leaves little time for writing. Or I haven’t made the time. My goal is to start putting things on ‘paper’ that have been swimming around in my head for the last year. Starting today!

This week’s #AISQ8 slow chat is all about Digital Citizenship. When Ryan asked if we could do a joint #AfricaEd & #AISQ8chat this week, we were on board. Today we’re reaching more people than we’ve been able to in the past. The power of a hashtag! As we started discussing what digital citizenship is and its role in our connected world, I got to thinking about the ISTE Standards. Each of them (Students, Teachers, Coaches, Admin, Computer Science Educators) mention digital citizenship. But I wanted to compare them. So I quickly threw together this spreadsheet in order to visualize all 5 at the same time. Would love any feedback 🙂

Keeping Design Alive

We have a dilemma at AIS Kuwait. We weren’t able to find a high school Design teacher on the recruiting trail. Because of this, our two K-12 technology integration coaches may have to each teach 2 classes next year. To be clear, I think coaches teaching can be a great idea in some situations. However in our case we have 2 educational technology positions for a student body of 2000 students and over 200 staff. I am eager to see both Design and educational technology thrive at AIS.

There’s still hope…but only if we can find and hire the right candidate. Please spread the word to anyone still looking for international teaching jobs for next year. Jeff or I would be happy to answer any questions you have. And Dave Botbyl is eagerly awaiting your application.

Need a little more information about IB MYP Design? Read on…

From the IB MYP Design Guide (2014):
Nature of Design Design, and the resultant development of new technologies, has given rise to profound changes in society: transforming how we access and process information; how we adapt our environment; how we communicate with others; how we are able to solve problems; how we work and live. Design is the link between innovation and creativity, taking thoughts and exploring the possibilities and constraints associated with products or systems, allowing them to redefine and manage the generation of further thought through prototyping, experimentation and adaptation. It is human-centred and focuses on the needs, wants and limitations of the end user. Competent design is not only within the reach of a small set of uniquely skilled individuals, but can be achieved by all. The use of well-established design principles and processes increases the probability that a design will be successful. To do this, designers use a wide variety of principles which, taken together, make up what is known as the design cycle.

  • Designers adapt their approach to different design situations, but they have a common understanding of the process necessary to form valid and suitable solutions.
  • A designer has a role and responsibility to the community and the environment. Their decisions can have a huge impact and, therefore, their ethics and morals can and should be questioned regularly.
  • A designer should have the ability to maintain an unbiased view of a situation and evaluate a situation objectively, highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of a common product or system.
  • Good communication is a key trait of any good designer through visual and oral presentation.

Designing requires an individual to be imaginative and creative, while having a substantial knowledge base of important factors that will aid or constrain the process. Decisions made need to be supported by adequate and appropriate research and investigation. Designers must adopt an approach that allows them to think creatively, while conforming to the requirements of a design specification. Both the ideas of design and the process of design can only occur in a human context. Design is carried out by a community of people from a wide variety of backgrounds and traditions, and this has clearly influenced the way design has progressed at different times. It is important to understand, however, that to design is to be involved in a community of inquiry with certain common beliefs, methodologies, understandings and processes. MYP design challenges all students to apply practical and creative thinking skills to solve design problems; encourages students to explore the role of design in both historical and contemporary contexts; and raises students’ awareness of their responsibilities when making design decisions and taking action. Inquiry and problem-solving are at the heart of the subject group. MYP design requires the use of the design cycle as a tool, which provides the methodology used to structure the inquiry and analysis of problems, the development of feasible solutions, the creation of solutions, and the testing and evaluation of the solution. In MYP design, a solution can be defined as a model, prototype, product or system that students have developed and created independently. A well-planned design programme enables students to develop not only practical skills but also strategies for creative and critical thinking. The MYP expects all students to become actively involved in, and to focus on, the whole design process rather than on the final product/solution.

Aims of Design: The aims of MYP design are to encourage and enable students to:

  • enjoy the design process, develop an appreciation of its elegance and power
  • develop knowledge, understanding and skills from different disciplines to design and create solutions to problems using the design cycle
  • use and apply technology effectively as a means to access, process and communicate information, model and create solutions, and to solve problems
  • develop an appreciation of the impact of design innovations for life, global society and environments
  • appreciate past, present and emerging design within cultural, political, social, historical and environmental contexts
  • develop respect for others’ viewpoints and appreciate alternative solutions to problems
  • act with integrity and honesty, and take responsibility for their own actions developing effective working practices.

The MYP Design Cycle:
Every designer may approach a problem in a different way. Depending on their specialism, designers tend to have their own methodology, but some general activities are common to all designers. The design cycle model underpins the design process. The design cycle model (Figure 3) represents the MYP design methodology of how designers develop products. The process is divided into four stages: inquiring and analysing; developing ideas; creating the solution; evaluating. This incremental process allows the designer to go from identifying a design opportunity to the testing and evaluation of a solution. This process leads to the creation of solutions that solve a problem. It is important to note that, while the design cycle includes several successive stages, the design cycle is an iterative and cyclical process. When using the design cycle, students will often need to revisit a previous stage before they can complete the stage they are currently working on. Solving design problems is not always a linear process.

#EdcampQ8 – it’s a thing

This has been an exciting year for progress at AIS. It seems like we’re starting to be more open-minded to trying to new things. It’s been fun!

First semester the ES did a series of 3 Edcamps during weekly staff meetings. Inspired by the feedback, our MS/HS professional development planning team decided to try out the Edcamp model during our half-day PD. Although I’m not part officially part of the team, I helped on the back end. Kudos to Christina, the rest of the team and the entire AIS staff for being risk-takers! To see more details from a different perspective, check out Christina’s post.

  1. The PD planning team solicited topics and introduced Edcamps:
    1. edcamp1

  2. People who proposed topics were asked if they wanted to facilitate (in the Gform). If they didn’t, the PD planning team asked other staff members to facilitate the proposed topic.
  3. Christina held an Edcamp facilitator ‘orientation’ where she shared information & answered questions.
  4. All staff were asked to sign-up for topics. The facilitators were kept ‘secret.’ This isn’t the pure Edcamp model but the planning team wanted accountability and to keep the numbers low in the sessions. When a topic reached 10-12 participants, it was closed.
  5. Christina assigned topics/facilitators to rooms in the HS for each 45-minute session on a master schedule.
  6. Facilitators were asked to capture the conversation in some way (with a suggestion).
  7. I made a copy of the suggested spreadsheet and then shared it so that anyone with the link could edit. I took notes during our discussion and then emailed it to the participants so that they could add anything they wanted. I also added a link to the master schedule so that other staff members could keep the conversation going.
  8. After our mini-Edcamp, Christina sent out a feedback survey to get an idea of the overall reactions to Edcamp and also to the individual sessions.
  9. Lastly, Christina sent out an email with suggestions to encourage staff to “continue and extend the conversations and learning from Edcamp sessions.”
    1. You know who’s in charge of your development? YOU.edcamp2

We’d love to hear about other grass-roots Edcamp movements! We’re hoping this can become something bigger and we can host an Edcamp for all of Kuwait in April.

In other news, we’re slow chatting this week over on Twitter. Feel free to join in the fun 🙂 Yesterday the ES did another staff meeting Edcamp. This time it was themed – differentiation. Abby facilitated “Differentiating your own PD.” They discussed using Twitter as a professional learning network for both teachers and students. Love what’s happening at #AISQ8 🙂