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.

Genuinely integrating technology – An email to #AISQ8 grade 1

Good evening grade 1 team!

Michelle emailed me with a request for some ideas about how to genuinely integrate technology (especially when not all students have iPads). We should probably start with tuning in. I recommend taking inventory of what your students already have. If they have apps that they have already paid for (like iMovie or Explain Everything), let’s get them using those. Other students might then want to use them and ask their parents (you aren’t asking!).

Talk to students about appropriate use of the iPad at home vs at school. Have them create folders for apps – allow them to choose which apps go into the school folder and which ones into the home folder (they could also choose what to call their folders). If they have specific apps that they know are appropriate for school, they will be able to make better choices when given ‘free’ time or choice in how to express themselves.

In the past we have had Explain Everything (a paid app) which allows students to add voice, text and drawings to pictures. Educreations is a good alternative. This might be a great starting point for your students – allow them to take pictures of their work (or other classroom items) and reflect on them. At the beginning of the year it may be difficult to express themselves only in writing and this could be an alternative to start with.

I still have some people to talk to, but I did some finding out for you. Hopefully the resources below aren’t overwhelming and allow you to do some sorting out. With all of this, I’d be more than happy to brainstorm with you further, be in your classroom to support the students while they work, work with small groups of students, co-teach or lead a small lesson. Enjoy and let me know what I can do to best coach you in the quest to meaningfully integrate technology 🙂

iPads & technology resources Wiki (lots of information from beginners to specific subjects)

Using an iPad in a grade 1 classroom

An update to post above (both may be a little outdated but a place to start!)

All iPad posts from Karen

Apps to add voice to pictures (& other resources)

All iPad posts from Leka (including one linked to Common Core)

Where these resources came from:

Leka & her blog

Karen & her blog

Gatorade, Google, Sweat & Social Media #scms12

Day 1 is officially over! Although we didn’t win the Chromebook at the end of the day, it was a decent day. During the keynote by Jaime Casap I found myself nodding along with almost everything he said. To see what people were saying during Jaime’s keynote (and throughout the day), click here.

My session was immediately after the morning keynote. During my 2 years of coaching high school Track & Field, I initiated using social media and google apps with the other coaches, the athletes and the parents. I had a lot of great success! These ideas could also be used for any school group (magnet programs, clubs, after-school programs, etc). I included several links this morning, including one to the ‘fake’ team website. Below is my presentation…enjoy!

 

My husband also did a session about classroom management in a 1:1 environment. I heard it was a must-attend! #proudwife

Google docs and coaching

Just after I was hired, the athletic director approached me and asked if I would be interested in coaching track & field. I was a little wary of the time commitment but ended up saying yes. Last year, in my second year as an assistant coach, I was able to really experiment with using google docs (before my district went to apps for education). This pre-season form was our first experiment…

It worked pretty well for keeping up with athletes’ training routines. Once the season started, I knew the coaches were sick of spending hours together after practice figuring out who would be running what at all of the meets. I was also done with constantly sending different versions of everything back and forth. I convinced the other two coaches to jump on board with google docs (you don’t have to have a gmail account to use gdocs!). We shared spreadsheets to organize meet entries, keep track of top times & varsity letter points and create scouting reports & rosters. We were then able to allow anyone with the link to view these documents so that students and parents could access them on our facebook page and website (social networking with coaching & teaching to come later).

Throughout the season we used two more forms to gather information – one to get contact information from parents and another to collect RSVPs for the end of the year banquet. Throughout the year, google docs saved us countless hours and headaches. We were able to edit the schedule without having to re-send it to parents each time we changed it. We were able to quickly and easily get information to our athletes. In addition, google docs are compatible with most smartphones and other devices so people could access the information wherever & whenever they needed.

Using google docs to make more efficient use of our time as coaches was when I first really started to get obsessed. This year I have been able to use google docs almost primarily in my classroom…more to come later.